Note: While Paris, Tx and Murder By Death are also slated to appear on tonight's bill, Harry Dean Stanton and Peter Falk have not been confirmed. -- Scott Faingold

Wednesday, July 21, Fat Cat's, 4216 Washington Avenue, 713-869-5263.

Davin James and Larry Joe Taylor

Jason Allen
Jason Allen

Say you're a nimble-fingered hot-licks hotshot and you're invited to an all-Houston guitar shoot-out. Quick, name the one guy you hope has a broken hand that night. Of course there's a whole passel of fine pickers in H-town, but if you want the prize, you'd better choose Davin James to boot to the sidelines, or even better, to a gig in Wisconsin. Whether he's tearing the strings off his acoustic in a duo with his guitar brother Jesse Dayton (they usually play until one or the other runs out of strings) or laying on the Southern-fried boogie licks with Les Paul in front of his ace country-rock band, James is one bad guitar hombre. The bearded Kingwoodian served a long apprenticeship backing up Larry Joe Taylor, known as the Texas Jimmy Buffett, and they continue to play shows together. The intimate setting of Wrecks Bell's Old Quarter Cafe in downtown Galveston is perfect for a warm, humid evening filled with hot licks and broken strings. -- William Michael Smith

Thursday, July 15, the Old Quarter Cafe, 413 20th Street, Galveston, 409-762-9199.

The Red Light Sting, Gerling and By the End of Tonight

Punk rock is most certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Vancouver, British Columbia. However, the Red Light Sting, Canada's best answer to the void left by At the Drive-In, might just change all that. Both aggressive and loud without overloading on noise and feedback, the band knocks down genre barriers with a fusion of raw power, onstage antics and a smart-ass sense of humor.

Another band defying genres is Gerling, an Australian trio with a snotty distorted-vocal, spiky-guitar dance-punk sound that would seem more likely to have originated in a grotty corner of New York than in sunny Sydney. If you think Australia's all about retro-rockers like Jet or Nirvana wannabes like the Vines, Gerling will prove a big surprise.

Indie instrumental noisemongers By the End of Tonight open the show. And as anyone who's witnessed the drummer's Fisher Price-style drum kit can testify, size obviously doesn't matter -- this Alvin foursome packs more punch into their collective pinkies than most bands dare dream about. Fireworks On Ice -- their debut EP -- should be released in August, with a full-length album in the spring. -- David A. Cobb and John Nova Lomax

Thursday, July 15, Fat Cat's, 4216 Washington Avenue, 713-869-5263.

Jason Allen

Jason Allen has been anointed by more than a few hyperventilating music scribes as the heir apparent to George Strait. That's a huge burden to lay on any artist, but the Montgomery County native who now calls Austin home seems to have kept his head squarely on his shoulders, taking the hype in stride and sticking to his music. It doesn't hurt that he has a twangier, folksier voice than Strait or that his latest album, Wouldn't It Be Nice, has already spawned a No. 6 hit on the Texas music charts, the catchy, Buck Owens-like "Your Heart Turned Left and I Was on the Right." Since the release of his first album, which appealed primarily to the younger Texas music set but also found supporters among older traditionalists, Allen has been a regular on the Texas charts with such tunes as "Body and Fender Man," "Something I Dreamed," "Being Loved Like This" and "Lucky Arms," which topped out at No. 1. No doubt boots will scoot across the wooden dance floor when Allen hits the stage. -- William Michael Smith

Saturday, July 17, the Bill Mraz Dance Hall, 835 West 34th, 713-864-HALL.

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