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CYRO BAPTISTA & BEAT THE DONKEY 5/27, manifest; 5/28, HOTHOUSE Cyro Baptista's list of credits as a sideman starts with Geri Allen and ends with John Zorn, with stops at Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, and Caetano Veloso, to name a few. But I'm even more impressed by what the master Brazilian percussionist can do with his own ten-piece outfit, Beat the Donkey. On a self-titled Tzadik release from 2002, the merry mob easily matches its ringleader's musical range: shameless Led Zeppelin rips come tearing out of avant-garde Carnaval street-parade beats; ambient trance is shot through with funk guitar and brief choral eruptions. There's no fuzzy-headed "one-world" vibe--the genres collide with an invigorating strangeness. ("Rio de Jakarta" sounds like gamelan music beamed down into South America.) Beat the Donkey's live show regularly includes costumed dancers and acrobats, and the band whips up an awesome display of coordinated frenzy on a stage cluttered with nearly every rhythm instrument ever devised, from hollowed-out gourds to digital samplers. The Thursday performance is part of Manifest, Columbia College's arts fair in Grant Park, and begins at 7:45 PM; see the Fairs & Festivals listings for more on the event. The Lonesome Organist opens at HotHouse. BARN BURNING, BIG BREAKFAST, GRAHAM LINDSEY 5/28, HIDEOUT This is a showcase for Catamount, the eclectic and slightly eccentric Americana label run out of Nashville by Bloodshot cofounder Eric Babcock and his wife, writer Paige La Grone Babcock. Barn Burning, from H.P. Lovecraft's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, recently reissued their painfully lovely debut, Weatheredbound; its murky folk rock is the kind that lives or dies on the strength of its romantic melodies, but this stuff nearly always lives. The local quartet Big Breakfast--led by a singer who's played in an "aggro-Irish" duo and a guitarist who's put in time with Mount Pilot and Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire--just put out their second full-length, Stripper Music, a bleak and moody collection of wordy narratives that's dense with impish instrumental flourishes. Wisconsin native Graham Lindsey might have the best tales to tell of anyone on the bill: he was a member of prepubescent punk band Old Skull. On Famous Anonymous Wilderness he sings like he's been sleeping in a roadside ditch for years--and enjoys it. JAY BENNETT 5/28, GUNTHER MURPHY'S Wilco veteran Jay Bennett has a link on his Web site to a photo of "the other Jay Bennett," a chubby, beflanneled farmer with a boat who's caught a whole mess of fish. I couldn't help thinking, "I'd like to hear his record." The local Jay Bennett, our Jay Bennett, just released Bigger Than Blue and has two more solo albums from the same session scheduled for release later this year. Now, I've seen I Am Trying to Break Your Heart; I understand he's got some shit to work through. And the restless, workmanlike singer-songwriter rock on Blue has real potential. But has the man ever heard the phrase "flooding the market"? HUNNS, CATHETERS 5/28, BOTTOM LOUNGE The Catheters have just released their third album, Howling...It Grows and Grows!!! (Sub Pop), a tornado of the usual Stoogisms and Dolls parts (though with much slicker production than the venerated originals). Musically this Seattle four-piece seems more nimble and intelligent than most such knockoff artists, but front man Brian Standeford sings like he's got a wet handkerchief balled up in his mouth. The Hunns are the new project from former U.S. Bombs front man Duane Peters, who's recruited fire-breathing amazon Corey Parks, formerly of Nashville Pussy, to play bass. MONSTER TRUX 5/29, DOUBLE DOOR You don't have to be a skater to love the new Monster Trux album, Destroy (hell, I never even learned to ride a bicycle). A fondness for monster movies--or even "Sigmund the Sea Monster"--will probably do you just fine. Destroy is both tighter and weirder than previous releases from these local punks: the heavy, heavy riffs and follow-the-chord-changes sing-alongs are all present and accounted for, but somebody's been having fun with effects pedals--"Old Ghosts" and the spacey "Psycho Stick" almost qualify as stoner rock. Unsane headlines. CERBERUS SHOAL 5/30, EMPTY BOTTLE To wrap up its spring tour, this collective is gigging all the way back to Maine from a Seattle date with the Sun City Girls. It'd be reasonable to use the word "experimental" to describe the eerie, precious, invigorating music on their eighth album, Bastion of Itchy Preeves (North East Indie), but only because there's no word yet for what it really is. On occasion things get bloopy, bleepy, or proggy, but you never get the impression you're enduring the natterings of self-conscious avant-gardists. Bits like the phone noise that interrupts the lulling pulse of "Bogart the Change" and the swelling chanted choruses that mark the peaks of many songs (and the valleys of others) make this stuff sound like it arose organically from a small, weird tribal culture. File under world music, subcategory imaginary countries. POWERKNOBS 5/31, EMPTY BOTTLE Turn On the Powerknobs (Wildebeest) is this local band's first full-length, after a generous seven-song EP last year. The 'Knobs seem to be high on pure frustration, pounding out garagey, ham-fisted rockabilly with more ambition than skill. But it's the kind of crudeness that borders on brilliance--e.g., the ravishingly dorky guitar solo on "Full Metal Assault." Sheer beer-spilling pleasure--and even better, there's no cover charge. Locked Sound headlines.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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