Ashley Raines, Monday, August 29, at Jilly's. The
Princess Dies, Wednesday, August 31, at Mike's
Despite what Kanye says, the Midwest is not "young and restless" -- young and bored and willing to do anything to get out is more like it. Just ask Overland Park native Ashley Raines, who, according to his bio, began hitchhiking as soon as he could walk. Throughout his teens, the budding folk musician followed a Western, holy-bum ramble, writing songs, hitching rides and playing for whomever would listen, until he met up with a fellow wandering minstrel who led him to Howlin' Dog Records. Five years and four albums later, Raines is coming home with his duo, the Princess Dies, with him on electric and Mike Clausen on drums. Raines is an exceptional singer, with a full-throated, earnest voice born of camping in the desert one night and playing for noisy rooms of unappreciative strangers the next. His songs are straight-ahead and simple, the greatest strength being in the vocal delivery; Raines often sounds like the guy who could have been Gavin DeGraw or Adam Levine if he'd had a little more help and helluvalot more cash. Don't let those popstar names scare you, though; the Princess Dies (and Raines himself, largely) is all rock.