Warehouse Live, May 29
On its recently released tenth album, Berkeley to Bakersfield, Cracker comes full circle back to its California origins, though admittedly the band has never strayed far from its reliable sonic template. Front man David Lowery, who has become a very visible and vocal advocate for songwriters fighting for higher royalties from outfits like Pandora, once again delivers some of the smartest lyrics in the business, whether it’s a rocking love song like “Waited My Whole Life” or a funny character sketch like “King of Bakersfield,” which contains the hilarious aside “go on, play it weird, this ain’t Nashville.” You also have to love the whole anti-rock-star attitude the band continues to project; it's certainly part of the attraction for Cracker's Deadhead-ish followers, who make up one of the most vigorous and likeable cults on the American musical landscape. With Whiskey Gentry and Not In the Face. (WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH)
Miller Outdoor Theatre, May 29
Cassandra Wilson has been one of the first ladies of American jazz for decades, so recording an album of Billie Holiday songs on such a timely occasion — 2015 is the 100th anniversary of arguably the first great U.S. jazz vocalist's birth — might sound like her birthright. But for Coming Forth By Day, a collection of 15 songs strongly associated with Holiday, Wilson augmented her regular collaborators with Americana and alternative-rock musicians like T-Bone Burnett and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on guitar, and the rhythm section from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds; the album was produced by Nick Launay, also known for his work with Cave's band, and the strings arranged by Brian Wilson muse Van Dyke Parks. The haunting, moonlit result stands not only as a sincere but hardly obsequious tribute to Lady Day, but a gorgeous piece of art all on its own.
A Sundae Drive
Notsuoh, May 30
Occupying an especially sweet spot between dream-pop and noise-rock, A Sundae Drive soothe as much as they squall. On last year's The Senseless & the Sound, the Houston four-piece's first full-length to go with 2011 EP You're Gonna Get Me, unhurried tempos and feathery vocals give way to forceful guitars and cloudbursts of drums. It's music that's easy to get lost in, until it shakes you awake and makes you get up and dance. A benefit for the Houston Food Bank; with Chris Lively, Satellite Brigade, Fox Parlor, Treehouse Project, Empty Shells, Since Always, Missing Sibling and Volca Black. Cover is $7.
McGonigel's Mucky Duck, May 31
Unless you’ve been paying close attention, it would be easy to simply label John Moreland as a bright new star of Americana. Suddenly he's all the buzz, what with a new album on Nashville powerhouse label/agency Thirty Tigers and unending string of tour dates. But fact is Moreland, who doesn’t turn 30 until June 22, has been at this almost a decade, having released a half-dozen albums with former punk/metal bands Thirty Called Arson, Black Gold Band and Dust Bowl Souls. But the singer and songwriter dropped metal for acoustic folk after hearing Steve Earle, who he describes as “my gateway drug.” Now Moreland's recently released High on Tulsa Heat is earning him all kinds of kudos in a variety of music press, and the album is certainly one of the best lyrically of 2015. Don’t act surprised if this early show sells out way early, but Moreland also plays a 3 p.m. in-store at Cactus Music Sunday for anyone interested in hedging their bets. (WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH)
House of Blues, May 31
Former chef Action Bronson often revisits his culinary days in his hilarious, no-holds-barred rhymes, where he's as apt to get so excited about skybox seats to Billy Joel at the Garden as to admit, “first time I whacked off was a Penthouse.” A Queens native whose life was changed by the Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the 21-year-old Bronson has definitely picked up an appetite for the Clan's evocative and offbeat samples, but it's the healthy appetite for adventure and the spoils of life as a successful MC – on display in the “Actin' Crazy” video, from his 2015 Atlantic/Vice debut, Mr. Wonderful – that makes him one of the most charismatic, easy-to-root-for rappers in the game. With Meyhem Lauren.
FIVE OTHER SHOWS WORTH CONSIDERING
The Music of Led Zeppelin: Starring Brent Havens on baton, Randy Jackson on vocals and the Houston Symphony as “The Ocean.” (Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 29)
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Royal Thunder: Opening for Wilco last month, Atlanta psych-rock foursome flattened and impressed the crowd with songs from 2015 LP Crooked Doors. (Fitzgerald's, May 29)
Steve Krase & Trudy Lynn: Powerhouse Houston blues duo in an intimate setting up north. (Main Street Crossing, May 30)
Shawn Colvin: “Sunny Came Home” songstress most recently bared her soul on 2012's All Fall Down; collaborators there include Patty Griffin and Jakob Dylan. (Dosey Doe, May 30)
GBH: Birmingham (UK) pioneers playing all 22 minutes of 1981's game-changing Leather, Bristles, Studs and Acne in its entirety; with The Business, Total Chaos and the Stand Alones. (Fitzgerald's, May 31)