Pokey LaFarge, with the Wilders
The Wilders bummed some of us out earlier this month by announcing that they're taking an "indefinite hiatus" after 12 years as a band. Lucky for Kansas City, the country-bluegrass act had already booked a few local gigs, including this Sunday at 4 and 6:30 p.m. at Reading Reptile in Brookside. Another appearance is two days earlier at Liberty Hall, where they open for Pokey LaFarge. LaFarge slicks his hair back, wears a baggy suit and generally looks like a character on Boardwalk Empire. He and his band come from St. Louis and draw inspiration from 1920s and '30s American music — a stew of ragtime, Dixieland, blues and folk. And they recently cut a 7-inch for Jack White's Third Man Records called "Chitlin' Cookin' Time in Cheatham County," which is perhaps the finest song title of 2011.
Friday, December 16, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, in Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
La Guerre, with Hidden Pictures and Fullbloods
Katlyn Conroy, one of the leading ladies of Lawrence's music scene, performs and records solo in addition to her duties as a full-time member of Cowboy Indian Bear. Of late, Conroy has been working on a new batch of songs with Hospital Ships' Jordan Geiger, and she performs them Friday at RecordBar under a new stage name, La Guerre. Joining Conroy on the bill is Hidden Pictures, a Lawrence folk-pop outfit that may or may not perform a cover of mid-'90s Cranberries hit "Dreams."
Friday, December 16, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Moon Duo, with Long Shadows
Wooden Shjips, a heavy stoner-rock act out of San Francisco, released one of my favorite records of 2011, West. The band marries powerful, repetitive classic-rock riffs with spaced-out ambience, connecting the dots between Ozzy Osbourne and the Velvet Underground. Moon Duo, a side project of guitarist and vocalist Erik "Ripley" Johnson, embraces the same aesthetic: lots of dense, two-chord burners; wild guitar solos; and big, fat layers of fuzz. I'm sure Johnson views Moon Duo as distinctly different from Wooden Shjips, but I can hardly tell the difference. Which is great: If you count Moon Duo's Mazes, Wooden Shjips put out two excellent records in 2011.
Monday, December 19, at the Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts, 785-749-7676)
The Fray, with We the Kings, and Gravy and the Biscuits
It's been a minute since I last pondered the Fray, the mid-'00s kings of piano-pop ballads. Six years ago, the Denver group's overwrought Applebee's rock was going head to head with Coldplay and Keane in the battle for the sensitive spots on sorority girls' iPod playlists. That momentum appears to have dropped off these last few years, but all it takes is another hit, which might come on the band's third LP, due out in early 2012. Perhaps there will be some teases of new material at this show. I also suspect a moment when the singer falls to his knees and sings an especially poignant lyric.
Sunday, December 18, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9900)