Tonight, Tonight: Ryan Bingham at House of Blues, The Soft Pack and Those Darlins at Sons of Hermann, Mayer Hawthorne at The Loft, Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights at Trees, Big K.R.I.T. and Curren$y at Club Life, and Two Cow Garage at Double Wide

Tonight is insanely busy. It's obnoxious, really. Thanks, ACL!

Ryan Bingham and Scott Copeland at the House of Blues
With his gruff voice and earthy appearance, Ryan Bingham is the poster-child for the current wave of Americana. It doesn't hurt that Bingham recently won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind," a song from the film Crazy Heart. But Bingham's no one-hit wonder. On tour in support of his fine new effort, Junky Star, Bingham has a quality back catalogue that includes a bevy of insightful tunes. Such songs as "Dylan's Hard Rain," "Southside of Heaven" and "Bread and Water" show Bingham to be a songwriter on par with legends like Townes Van Zant and Willie Nelson. Yes, he's that good. Fort Worth's own Scott Copeland opens things up and he's an excellent choice seeing that his music mines similar influences to that of Bingham.

The Soft Pack, Those Darlins and Here Holy Spain at Sons of Hermann Hall
San Diego's The Soft Pack used to be called The Muslims, but changed their name due to bigoted and racist comments directed at the band from various sources. Such is a sad commentary on the state of things these days, but The Soft Pack remains a spry, indie rock quartet with a phenomenal self-titled debut. The first single from that album, the hip "Answer to Yourself," shows the band at the top of its game, playing earnest garage rock with style to spare. Tennessee's country/punk outfit Those Darlins splits this impressive bill, which will be opened by Dallas locals Here Holy Spain.

Mayer Hawthorne & The County at The Loft
Originally from Michigan, but now residing in L.A., Mayer Hawthorne plays real soul music--not just some approximation of soul, but the real deal. Influenced by legends such as Marvin Gaye and Al Green, Hawthorne croons away while his crack band sets a steady and mellow groove. Songs like "Maybe So, Maybe No" and "I Wish it Would Rain" are classic make out tracks, performed without even a hint of cheese. If you're going to this show, take a date. Hawthorne's music is practically an aphrodisiac.

Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights at Trees
The major label-approved local Southern rock heroes in Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights are about to embark on a tow-month tour of the States as their 2010-released Pardon Me gets geared up for a second push from the folks at Atlantic. This show serves as the tour kickoff--and it's not a bad take at all at just $5 a ticket.

Big K.R.I.T. and Curren$y at Club Life
Never heard of Club Life? Us either--although cursory research reveals that it's located just off the Tollway, between Belt Line and Arapaho. Not exactly prime music scene territory, no. But no matter--this show's worth the trek. Underground hip-hop has had a big return in 2010, thanks in large part to the impressive bursts onto the national scene from these two super-talented rhymesmiths. Highly recommended.

Two Cow Garage at Doublewide
I've been singing the praises of Two Cow Garage for a number of years. This quartet from Columbus, Ohio just keeps getting better and better. Speaking in Cursive, the band's 2008 release was the best collection Micah Schnabel and crew have put together. One reviewer wrote that Two Cow Garage sounded like John Mellencamp fronting Nirvana. I couldn't put it any better myself.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers