JAZZ MANDOLIN PROJECT 9/1, HOUSE OF BLUES Like Medeski, Martin & Wood, the Jazz Mandolin Project started out on the Boston indie label Accurate, now records for Blue Note, and has attracted the affection of the jam-band crowd with help from members of Phish--Trey Anastasio sits in on the surf ditty "Hang Ten," the final track on the JMP's new Xenoblast. The group's music is built on the attractively loose, occasionally funky grooves of drummer Ari Hoenig and bassist Chris Dahlgren--whose formidable talent is better experienced on his own jam-free album Best Intentions (Koch). But the bulk of the frontline action is handled by mandolin player Jamie Masefield, who in his use of effects is kin to guitarists like Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, and too much of it is little more than minor rhythmic variation. Good enough if you want to close your eyes and spin around in circles, but not if you're looking for more. SLOBBERBONE 9/1, SCHUBAS On its third album, Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today (New West), the Texas quartet Slobberbone seems to have confused maturity with excess. The group has introduced horns, piano, and various string instruments into its leaden, overamplified roots rock--sometimes all in the same song. And even on a spare ballad like "Josephine," the bald overemoting of singer and guitarist Brent Best predicts what Jay Farrar might sound like if he tried to imitate Lemmy Kilmister. This is the sound of four people trying way too hard. NEIL YOUNG 9/2, NEW WORLD MUSIC THEATRE Though it took three years to finish, Neil Young's new Silver & Gold (Reprise) is nothing special. It was supposed to be Young's first solo album, but he was dissatisfied with the early sessions and called in some old pals, including legendary Memphis bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and keyboardist Spooner Oldham, to rerecord the material. Unfortunately Young wasn't as picky about his songwriting: when he's not mythologizing his own past ("Buffalo Springfield Again," which may be the first-ever jingle for a CD box set), he's sleepwalking through hackneyed love songs ("Love's the answer / Love's the question," he reveals in "Horseshoe Man"). And it's downright embarrassing to hear a guy who dived headfirst into computer music way back in 1982 (on Trans) warble, "My software's not compatible with you." On this tour Young and the band from the record are reportedly playing a set of laid-back tunes from various phases of his career. DYNAMITE HACK 9/3, METRO These waggish Austin knobs have attained band-of-the-moment status with their emasculated cover of N.W.A's "Boyz-N-the-Hood," which sounds little like any of the hopped-up, self-consciously sung pop-punk tunes that make up the rest of their awful debut, Superfast. But Dynamite Hack is just one of countless darts tossed at the board by the blindfolded A and R geniuses at Universal, and will almost certainly be bumped loose in the rounds to follow. Weezer, a group that's miraculously avoided the same fate, headlines this sold-out show. DAVE STUCKEY 9/3, SCHUBAS For five years rhythm guitarist Dave Stuckey stood in the shadow of Deke Dickerson in the Dave & Deke Combo, a campy Hollywood western-swing band that broke up in 1996. On his first solo album, Get a Load of This (Hightone), he turns out to be a barely adequate singer and workmanlike guitarist with exceptional taste in both sidemen and material. With a supporting cast that includes Jeremy Wakefield and Leroy Biller--the Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant of the LA rockabilly scene--as well as members of the Asylum Street Spankers and the Hot Club of Cowtown, he assembles a swell variety of boogie-woogie, early rockabilly, and western swing covers and throws in a few originals for good measure. He'll be accompanied here by Biller, Wakefield, and bassist Billy Horton. TIM O'BRIEN 9/7, IRISH AMERICAN HERITAGE CENTER Last year on The Crossing (Alula), progressive bluegrass singer and guitarist Tim O'Brien investigated the impact of Irish immigrants on American bluegrass and string-band music. Mixing traditional Irish ballads with originals and employing top-notch players from both bluegrass (Earl Scruggs, David Grier, Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Darrell Scott) and Irish music (Seamus Egan, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, Maura O'Connell), he managed to avoid academic didacticism and let his findings--such as the connection between the old Irish tune "Ireland's Green Shore" and countless Appalachian murder ballads--reveal themselves. For this gig he'll be supported by a band that includes Scott (on guitar), fiddler Kevin Burke, banjo player Dirk Powell, singer Karen Casey, squeezebox star John Williams, and bassist Mark Schatz. PAUL VAN DYK 9/7, CROBAR German dance producer Paul van Dyk is one of the biggest names in clubland these days, but I've never been able to see how his antiseptic isolation-tank melodies, ethereal synth washes, and metronomic beats could appeal to anyone who actually listens to music. Then again, I also think pacifiers belong in the mouths of infants and not around the necks of adults.
Monica Kendrick is on vacation.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Carlos Amoedo.