Music News & Reviews

This week’s top shows | Chris Cagle, Rodney Crowell and Bilal

Chris Cagle
Chris Cagle Sun Sentinel

Chris Cagle

Thursday at KC Live

Chris Cagle isn’t likely to be honored by feminist-oriented organizations. While there’s nothing overtly unseemly about Cagle’s hits like “Let There Be Girls” and “Chicks Dig It,” the popular songs reinforce gender dynamics that some listeners might deem offensive. The Louisiana native’s arsenal of hits also includes odes to the country life including “Got My Country On” and “Country By the Grace of God.” The down-home approach makes Cagle a perfect match for the Power & Light District’s free Hot Country Nights concert series. Whiskey Myers, a brawny country-rock band from Texas, gets Thursday’s party started.

Details about the free concert are available at


Thursday at the RecordBar

Parallels is proving that nostalgia for the ’80s is irresistible. The highly-touted Canadian band’s sound is based squarely on the decade’s sparkling dance-pop. Madonna’s “Lucky Star,” the Thompson Twins’ “Lies” and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play” are obvious reference points for Parallels’ throwback sensibility. Rather than seeming like inferior reproductions, however, Parallels’ songs contain just enough modern flourishes to attract fans of both the source material and of contemporary electronic dance music. Kodascope, a Kansas City electro-funk band featuring former members of Molly Picture Club, will set the mood on Thursday.

Tickets are $8 in advance through

Anthony Hamilton

Friday at the Midland

Al Green and Smokey Robinson don’t get around much anymore. Yet the soulful sound they played a role in establishing endures. Anthony Hamilton’s earthy voice — an amorous rasp tempered by an innate sense of heartbreak — is one of the greatest instruments in the storied tradition of the form. The North Carolina native’s hits including “Charlene,” “Can’t Let Go” and “The Point of It All” are among the most exceptional pure R&B selections of the new millennium. Mali Music, an inspirational crooner from Los Angeles who merges gospel and hip-hop, opens the show.

Tickets range from $38 to $58 in advance through

Rodney Crowell

Friday at the Folly Theater

Rodney Crowell’s duet with his former father-in-law Johnny Cash on a radically transformed version of “I Walk the Line” serves as the great songwriter’s statement of purpose. Crowell suggests that while “I’ve seen the Mona Lisa/I’ve heard Shakespeare read real fine,” his life was changed “the first time I heard Johnny Cash sing ‘I Walk the Line.’” The native Texan’s transformative experience has been a boon for country music. Crowell will perform a portion of his highly literate catalog during his appearance as part of Bill Shapiro’s Cyprus Avenue Live series at the Folly Theater.

Tickets range from $20 to $35 in advance through

Backstreet Boys

Saturday at Starlight Theatre

More than 20 years after the Backstreet Boys’ inception, fans continue to insist that “I Want It That Way.” The smash 1999 ballad has retained its charming innocence even as the five members of the band — Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A. J. McLean and Kevin Richardson — continue to age. Fans don’t seem to mind. Unlike most acts originally marketed to young women as heartthrobs, the Backstreet Boys have defied the odds by retaining much of their fan base. Avril Lavigne has been less successful in her quest to sustain the elevated status she held as a teen sensation in 2002 with frothy hits like “Sk8er Boi.” She will serve as the Backstreet Boys’ opening act on Saturday.

Tickets range from $25 to $125 in advance through


Saturday at the Uptown Theater

Bilal’s 2000 hit “Soul Sista” is to Train’s 2009 song “Hey, Soul Sister” what Little Richard is to Pat Boone. The languorous vocals and crafty songwriting of Bilal have been imitated by countless artists. Even though these replications may be more commercially viable than Bilal’s work, few of the counterfeiters are capable of duplicating his mesmerizing charm. Bilal is best known for lending his jazz-informed singing to recordings by stars including Beyoncé, Jay-Z and the Roots, but the Philadelphia native re-established his solo career with the excellent 2013 album “A Love Surreal.” Eric Roberson, a veteran neo-soul star from New Jersey, opens the show.

Tickets are $40.50 to $57.50 in advance through

Pigeon John

Sunday at the Riot Room

Many artists bristle when asked to classify their music, but their art usually falls neatly into one or two categories. Pigeon John’s expectation-defying music transcends genres. During the past dozen years, he’s been identified alternately as a hip-hop, pop, rock, R&B and Christian artist. Born in Omaha and based in California, Pigeon John is a godsend for modern music lovers with attention deficit disorders. Grayskul is the most notable of the slew of artists joining Pigeon John at the Riot Room on Sunday. The crew from Seattle has been expanding the boundaries of hip-hop since 2003.

Tickets are $5 in advance through

Steve Earle & the Dukes

Tuesday at Knuckleheads

Steve Earle’s gradual transformation from a scrawny upstart hell-bent on upending the country music establishment to the burly elder statesman of American roots music seems inevitable in hindsight. When Earle topped the country albums chart in 1986 with his stellar debut “Guitar Town,” the achievement seemed to signal a revolution in the staid format. It wasn’t meant to be. Earle’s contrary nature and organized opposition from the powerful gatekeepers in Nashville marginalized his stupendous talent. Rather than starring as an arena headliner, consequently, Earle has to settle for his status as a revered troubadour. The New York-based husband-and-wife duo the Mastersons open the show.

Tickets are $30 in advance through

Nikki Lane

Wednesday at the Replay

Nikki Lane operates a clothing boutique in Nashville named High Class Hillbilly. The name of her shop exemplifies Lane’s musical aesthetic. Not unlike Tammy Wynette or Neko Case, Lane’s twang-laden music is performed with a knowing wink. Her exceptional new album “All Or Nothin’” was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Hugh Bob & the Hustle, a similarly self-conscious ensemble led by Hugh Robert Masterson, is touring with Lane. Devotees of unconventional Midwestern singer-songwriters will be delighted by the Milwaukee-based Masterson.

The cover charge is $3. Details are available at

Band of Skulls

Wednesday at the Granada

The electronic dance elements of the Black Keys’ new album “Turn Blue” have distressed many of the band’s longtime fans. The veteran British blues-rock ensemble Band of Skulls is poised to pick up reactionary listeners who are jumping off the Black Keys’ bandwagon. Rather than investing in a ticket to the Black Keys’ upcoming concert at the Sprint Center, aficionados of psychedelic roots-rock would be better served by attending Wednesday’s show at the Granada. The presence of Deap Vally, a trash-rock duo from Los Angeles, further sweetens the proposition.

Tickets are $18 in advance through

Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star