Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik
In 2011, folk-pop legend Suzanne Vega wrote and starred in an off-Broadway play, Carson McCullers Talks About Love, and she collaborated on the play's music with singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik. Sheik is best-known for his mid-'90s triple-A hit "Barely Breathing," but he also draws water on Broadway as a composer. The two, who apparently hit it off, appear side by side at JCCC. Sheik is promoting his most recent release, Covers 80s: Duncan Sheik, a folkie-oriented take on '80s classics by such bands as the Smiths, the Cure and the Thompson Twins — it isn't quite as cheesy as it sounds.
Saturday, April 21, at Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College (12345 College Boulevard, Overland Park, 913-469-4445)
Pontiak, with Expo 70 and Muscle Worship
Be good to your ears and bring along the plugs for this triple bill. Pontiak, a brotherly three-piece from Virginia that's signed to Thrill Jockey, sludges out '70s stoner rock in the vein of Black Sabbath. Similarly thunderous but more thoughtful and restrained is Lawrence's Muscle Worship. Expo '70, a project from Kansas Citian Justin Wright, is more partial to noisy electronic drones but it, too, is quite loud.
Tuesday, April 24, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Better Make Room, the latest from IndyGround Entertainment figurehead Steddy P, dropped April 17. It features guest spots from many of the usual local rap suspects — CES Cru, Soul Servers — along with a new approach: completely original beats, no samples involved. Joining Steddy and DJ Mahf on the tour in support is IndyGround engineer Matthew Sawicki, whose guitar playing ought to add a fresh element to the standard hip-hop MC stage show.
Friday, April 20, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Saturday's RecordBar show (see Music feature) doubles as a farewell for the breezy dance-pop act Minden, whose members are packing the car and relocating to Portland, Oregon. That's a bummer — frontman Casey Burge has been steadily evolving into one of KC's more polished songwriters — but we wish them luck in the Pacific Northwest and greedily await this stacked bill, which also includes Ghosty and the ACBs.
Saturday, April 21, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
JJ Grey & Mofro
Mofro is not, as I have long thought, the name of some hippie dude who plays music with JJ Grey. Turns out, Mofro is the name of Grey's backing band. I like it my way better, but the act's blossoming fanbase doesn't seem to care one way or the other. Grey works Southern blues, roots rock and liberal jams into his sound and comes out the other side sounding like an amped-up Allman Brothers Band. Grey hails from the South but has chosen Knuckleheads to celebrate the release of his first live DVD/CD, Brighter Days.
Thursday, April 19, at Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
Daniel Tosh isn't as obnoxious as Dane Cook but he has become nearly as famous by simply standing in front of a camera playing YouTube videos and then making mean jokes about the people in them. (I've noticed that many of the same people who were finding Cook funny back in 2005 are big-time fans of Tosh's Talk Soup-like Comedy Central show, Tosh.0.) Tosh's jokes often are racist and misogynistic (Tosh is as white as a glass of milk), which goes over well with, you know, racist and misogynistic people. The whole thing kind of grosses me out, and I'm pretty sure it's a net loss for society. But he's occasionally funny without relying on latent racism, and boy, do the kids love this guy.
Sunday, April 22, at the Music Hall (301 West 13th Street, 816-513-5000)