Friday 11

CANIZARES Spanish guitarist Juan Manuel Canizares has been known to play unreconstructed flamenco, but he’s also collaborated with musicians far outside the tradition, like ex-Soft Cell vocalist Marc Almond and jazz players Michael Brecker and Al DiMeola. One of his biggest breaks came in 1989 when he joined a trio with fellow flamenco-guitar maverick Paco de Lucia, who built his career by pushing the boundaries of the genre. Canizares himself sometimes pushes too far–his debut solo album, Noches de iman y luna (1998), has strong classical leanings and sounds rather florid in places. Hopefully he’ll play it straighter at this show, where he’ll be accompanied only by a bassist and percussionist. 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $24. All ages. –Peter Margasak

Saturday 12

BETTIE SERVEERT “Don’t get stuck somewhere in the middle,” Bettie Serveert singer Carol van Dyk pleads on the pep-talky title track of Attagirl (Minty Fresh/Palomine), but this veteran Dutch band always struck me as a stuck-in-the-middle kind of act itself. I’ll cast no aspersions on their competence, their good taste, or their way with a wistful tune and well-placed sudden turn. But they’re the very embodiment of the modern indie combo whose records get played in record and clothing stores, impeccably fitting the atmosphere of the place and disappearing completely from your mind as soon as you leave. On Attagirl they take a few more steps away from their early Luna-Velvets worship, moving confidently into decorative-arts Europop; the album’s seductive and wanky in all the right places. Locals the Zincs, who’ll release their terrific second album, Dimmer, on Thrill Jockey in April, open. 7 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $13 in advance, $15 at the door, 18+. Bettie Serveert also plays a free in-store at Tower Records; see Sunday. –Monica Kendrick

TRES CHICAS There’s a short but rich tradition of female singers who create their best work when they get together just for fun: Freakwater and the Shams began as casual spin-offs from their members’ “real” bands. More recently, North Carolinians Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown), Tonya Lamm (Hazeldine), and Lynn Blakey (Let’s Active, Oh-OK) formed the low-key side project Tres Chicas, whose work easily eclipses everything the women have done with their other bands. Their vocals blend smoothly whether they’re singing bluegrass gospel, raucous honky-tonk, or sweet ballads; their debut album, Sweetwater (Yep Roc), released last year, contains sharp covers of Lucinda Williams, George Jones, and Loretta Lynn, but all three contribute originals that are just as good. Dolly Varden opens. 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $10. –Peter Margasak

Sunday 13

BETTIE SERVEERT See Saturday. 3 PM, Tower Records, 2301 N. Clark, 773-477-5994. Free. All ages.

KAREN STACKPOLE Percussionist Karen Stackpole has worked with some of the Bay Area’s most freewheeling improvisers, including double-reed maestro and ex-Chicagoan Kyle Bruckmann. On her stunning 2001 solo album, Metalwork: Music for Gongs (Limited Sedition), she produces dazzling tones and textures from a variety of gongs, which aren’t usually considered the most flexible of instruments. Some of the pieces are dynamic patchworks of shifting colors and timbres, while others slowly undulate with grand, ringing drones. The venue’s resonant acoustics should provide a primo setting for this show. 6 PM, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8670. Free. All ages. –Peter Margasak

Monday 14

GRADA These promising young Irishfolk, who released their second album, The Landing Step (Compass), last year, transcend any tendencies to slickness with a raw songwriterly sensibility; they’re unafraid to stir a little small-gauge grit about the clash between modern Ireland and the postcard version (“Weight of the World”) in with the willow-and-urn tragedy (the Oscar Wilde adaptation “Tread Softly”). a 8:30 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118 or 312-559-1212, $10. –Monica Kendrick

PHENOMS These locals have been together for nearly four years, and they’ve become one of the best live muscle-car punk bands in the city. Improving on their 2002 debut, the new Home Brain Surgery Kit (Beercan) is thick, tight, nimble, and surprisingly complex for a band that specializes in shit-kicking. This show is a release party. Plastik Explosives and It Burns open. 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $7. –Monica Kendrick

Tuesday 15

ENTOMBED These Swedish metal veterans are touring behind the release of Unreal Estate (Threeman), which documents their collaboration with a ballet troupe at Stockholm’s Royal Opera House in 2002. If you were thinking a CD of a ballet might be missing something, you’d be right–maybe you’ll want to hold out for the forthcoming DVD. Entombed’s typical live shows, of course, have been going just fine for about 17 years with hardly any dancing at all. Pro-Pain, Crowbar, and the Mighty Nimbus open. 8 PM, Joe’s, 940 W. Weed, 312-337-3486 or 312-559-1212, $17. –Monica Kendrick

AMOS LEE By signing Philadelphia folk-soul singer Amos Lee, Blue Note Records clearly hopes to replicate its success with Norah Jones. So far so good: Lee’s eponymous album doesn’t come out until March 1, but he’s already snagged an opening slot on the upcoming Bob Dylan-Merle Haggard tour. As Jones’s sales figures showed, a middle-of-the-road aesthetic is a great way to get ahead in these days of stylistic stratification, but Lee takes inoffensiveness to new heights. He draws upon the weightless grace of Bill Withers, accents it with some broad strokes borrowed from Jeff Buckley, and still has all the bite of James Taylor singing the John Denver songbook. 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508. Free. –Peter Margasak

Wednesday 16

SAGE FRANCIS Rhode Island MC Sage Francis is an impressive rapper–so long as you don’t have to listen to him. On his second album, A Healthy Distrust, he continues to stuff his rhymes with dense wordplay and even denser ideas. On “Escape Artist” he lays out a mission statement of sorts: “So I think to myself, ‘What’s worth remembering? Verses defending the size of my manhood or confessional canned goods?'” He keeps his vocab lively, his imagery vivid, and his metaphors sharp, and esteemed underground types like Alias, Sixtoo, and Danger Mouse handle production duties. But nothing seems to help Francis transcend his wheezing flow; he delivers his rhymes like a drunk carnival barker, with all the musicality of a sputtering engine. Sol-Illaquists of Sound and Jared Paul open. 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $19 in advance, $21 day of show. All ages. –Peter Margasak

LOST SOULS OF THE GREAT LAKES This folk-rock ensemble, made up of full-time and satellite members of Poi Dog Pondering, brings upwards of nine musicians to the stage, and for their monthlong residency at the Hideout they’ve been creating a romantic maritime mystique in the cabinlike space of the club’s music room. The patrons at the show I caught last week were few, friendly, and apparently well acquainted with both the musicians and one another; the band itself has a blokey, jokey stage presence, and I’m always up for more Pogues covers. The intimacy of the setting is nicely offset, though, by a sad grandeur permeating the music. They play again tonight and next Wednesday. Jane Baxter Miller and Painted Saints open. 9:30 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, 773-227-4433, $5 suggested donation. –Monica Kendrick

Thursday 17

BOOKS ON TAPE This project is the nom de bleep of laptop artist Todd Drootin, who’s been recording loopy beats since the late 90s under various monikers, including Sluts on Tape and Tape Science Version. His 2003 album, Books on Tape Sings the Blues, sounded jumpy, restless, and playful, but The Business End EP (Greyday Productions), released last year, has a focus and density that, in an odd electronic way, comes off as warm and charmingly vulnerable. He plays second; Demix opens, MirrorAmerica plays third, and .22 headlines. 10 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $7. –Monica Kendrick

ZUTONS Liverpudlians enamored of American music are nothing new, but the Zutons approach it from such odd angles that they’re constantly pushing their luck. Who Killed the Zutons? (Epic), their debut album, is a rattling, jarring melange of pseudo-N’Awlins punk-funk-country that’s so laid-back at times it conjures images of Deadhead puppy-pile naps; at other times it’s shrill, hyperactive, and uses Sly Stone-ish horns like weapons of war. Keane headlines; Redwalls play second. 6:30 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800 or 312-559-1212, $21. All ages. –Monica Kendrick