An old favorite comes together.

by John D

The nice thing about writing this column is that I get to let you know about great artists and bands that are coming to Birmingham. I also choose a recently released album and listen to it in its entirety while writing. It sets the mood for the column and, if it is a good album, I let you know that you should check it out. (Unfortunately, I have heard a stinker of an album or two recently, but that is a discussion for another time.) So what am I listening to as a write this? A live show by The Afghan Whigs, recorded at the Bowery Ballroom in New York earlier this year. There is nothing here that is new, as a matter of fact it is all music that was released before their 2001 break-up. So just why am I telling you about music that isn’t new?

I am telling you about it because The Afghan Whigs got back together, hence the recording from earlier this year. Why should you care that a band popular in the 1990s and more of a darling of the critics than a commercial success has re-formed? You shouldn’t, unless you like dirty, dark rock and roll that pushes boundaries every now and then. What might interest you is my excitement. By the time you read this, I will have gone to Atlanta to see them play. Even if they are not on the top of their game, it will still be a great show. I will, I’m sure, sing along to every song, dance like an idiot and be hoarse at the end of the night. I will pay too much for a hotel room near the venue, stay out too late, feel less than well the next morning and, given the chance, would do the same the next night. Why? Because it is music that moves me. Music that excites me. Music that I listen to when I need something to “amp” me up. I discuss this here because I sincerely hope that you have a band that does the same for you. You might be familiar with The Afghan Whigs. You might even not care for them much. But you can’t deny the effect their music has on me. I just hope that you have a band like this in your life. I am genuinely excited about driving to another city to see a band that has taken a 10 – year break. I had even originally planned to see them in New Jersey, but the band announced an Atlanta date before I bought plane tickets. But enough about what I am looking forward to. Here is what you have to look forward to here in Birmingham.

Willie Nelson December 1 at the Alabama Theatre. Willie Nelson is coming to town. That has almost the same ring to it as Santa Claus is coming to town. Nelson has done it all, seen it all and is still going. His cover of “The City of New Orleans” is the first song I knew the lyrics to as a child. A chance to catch Willie, one of the greats,  at an intimate venue like the Alabama Theater should not be missed.

JD McPherson November 9 at WorkPlay. McPherson, from Broken Arrow, Okla., is touring to support his album Signs and Signifiers. One listen and you realize that McPherson is more at home performing 1950s rockabilly than he is sounding like everyone else out there today. The album has been out for two years but was in limited distribution until a bigger record label picked it up.

Japandroids, November 23 at Bottletree. Japandroids bring their fuzzy noise pop to Birmingham. Using the term “fuzzy noise pop” does not truly describe their sound, as they just put out good rock and roll, evidenced by the sophomore album, Celebration Rock. Listeners familiar with the band have already bought their tickets, but you still have time to snatch some up.

Glossary, November 17 at Good People Brewing. Glossary, with alt-country Lucero bass player Todd Beene, is a prolific band (seven albums to date) that has always been just under the radar and should be more widely recognized. More known for their live shows and dedicated fan base, Glossary brings in keys, horns and twangy guitars to make each live show a party (meaning you will be dancing, even if you have never heard them before).

Other Noteworthy Shows

Justin Townes Earl w Tift Merritt 11/17 @ WorkPlay

St. Paul and the Broken Bones 11/22 @ The Bottletree

Gregg Allman 11/7 @ The Alabama Theater

Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys 11/15 @ WorkPlay (rescheduled from earlier this year)

Rachael Yamagata 12/13 @ The Bottletree

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