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Top shows: Menomena, Maroon 5

The Soil & the Sun



Thursday (February 28)


True indie rock journeymen, the members of Menomena have been crafting thoughtful music since 2000. The Portland-based band has incrementally grown a cult-like fan base. The absence of a single breakthrough moment suits the band’s understated sensibility. The 2012 release of “Moms,” the band’s fifth album, demonstrates that Menomena continues to gain artistic momentum. Accentuated by a saxophone and hyper-kinetic rhythms, many of its new songs are among Menomena’s best work. The fuzzy throwback pop of opening act Guards will delight fans of Best Coast and Sleigh Bells. Guards will also appear at Ink’s Middle of the Map festival in April.

Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $13 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Wake Owl


Riot Room

Wake Owl is the ideal band for anyone who finds Bon Iver a tad too arty or for listeners who find themselves wishing that Mumford & Sons would ratchet back the histrionics. The strum-happy folk-rock of Wake Owl is beautiful without seeming pretentious or overly dramatic. The Pacific Northwest-based ensemble led by Colyn Cameron is poised to win over lovers of winsome songwriting as it tours in support of its debut album. Two Kansas City-based acts— the U2-inspired Saint Lux and Dollar Fox’s Tommy Donoho — open the show.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $8 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

The Soil & the Sun



Music fans who are bursting at the seams in anticipation of Ink’s Middle of the Map festival might consider Tuesday’s show a tasty preview of the April blowout. The Soil & the Sun is just one of more than 100 up-and-coming acts slated to perform at the festival. The official biography of the Soil & the Sun describes the band’s dreamy sound as “corn-fed, Michigan-made New Mexican Space Music.” A fiddle and insinuating rhythms enhance the rapturous sensibility of the expansive coed indie rock collective. Kellen & Me, a Chicago-based one-man-band who makes engaging psychedelic folk-rock, and the Elliot Smith-esque folk of Kansas City’s Chase Castor open the show.

Tickets to the 8 p.m show are $5 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Yonder Mountain String Band


Liberty Hall

Just a couple of decades ago, bluegrass was primarily the domain of rural Americans. The majority of the music’s fans were likely to sport John Deere gimme caps and overalls. Not anymore. Both musically and culturally, bluegrass is increasingly performed and appreciated by city slickers. While they’re respectful of the music’s tradition, the members of Yonder Mountain String Band are just as likely to evoke Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead as bluegrass icon Bill Monroe. The topical approach has made the Colorado-based band one of the most popular bluegrass-oriented acts on the jam band circuit. Opening act Wood & Wire, a frenzied quartet from Austin, Texas, perform bluegrass as if their hair is on fire.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $22.50 in advance and $25 on the day of the show.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Bettye LaVette



Bettye LaVette has a chip on her shoulder. The soul vocalist’s stellar 1960s recordings are every bit as powerful as the work of Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin. Yet LaVette slipped into obscurity when her career unaccountably stalled. Beginning with the stunning comeback album “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise” in 2005, however, LaVette has been given a second shot at stardom. She’s making the most of it. LaVette seems bound and determined to out-work and out-sing celebrated peers like Turner and Franklin every time she hits the stage.

Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $26 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Maroon 5

Wednesday (February 27)

Sprint Center

Give Adam Levine credit. The frontman of Maroon 5 continues to resist the undoubtedly enormous temptation to initiate a solo career. Levine’s prominent television work as an actor in the series “American Horror Story,” host of “Saturday Night Live” and judge on the reality program “The Voice” have elevated him to the status of an elite celebrity. Yet Levine remains true to his relatively anonymous band mates. His admirable loyalty to Maroon 5 means that fans will hear undiluted versions of the band’s many dance-oriented hits at the Sprint Center on Wednesday. The rousing rock of Neon Trees and the fizzy pop of Owl City set the stage for Levine’s band.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show range from $27.50 to $77.50.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Robert Earl Keen



Like his longtime friend Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen doesn’t possess the alluring face of a movie star. And Keen’s husky voice awkwardly dances around the notes he strives to hit. In spite of those liabilities, Keen’s exceptional skill as a songwriter has made him one of the most successful Texas troubadours of the past three decades. Keen is best known for his elaborate story songs (“The Road Goes on Forever”), gut-busting comedic material (“Merry Christmas From the Family”) and passionate tributes to his home state (“Amarillo Highway”). Louisville-based singer/songwriter Andrea Davidson opens the show.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $25.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter


Helzberg Hall

The hits may have stopped coming, but the affection fans feel for Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin has never waned. Carpenter added an uncommonly intelligent lyrical sensibility and a robust sound to country radio in the 1990s. The slightly more esoteric folk-rock of Colvin earned a loyal following during the same era. The recent recordings of both women indicate that their artistic vitality remains intact. The songwriters will perform as an acoustic duo Sunday as they assist each other with material from their respective catalogs and collaborate on renditions of their favorite songs.

Tickets to the 7 p.m. show range from $29 to $59.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink

Chris Tomlin


Independence Events Center

Chris Tomlin’s new year opened with a bang. His “Burning Lights” album topped Billboard’s secular album charts in January. The accomplishment is a rare feat for a contemporary Christian artist. But Tomlin isn’t an ordinary faith-based star. Not only has Tomlin sold millions of albums, his songs are modern-day standards at many worship services. Musical versatility is one key to his success. The praise songs on “Burning Lights” include rousing Coldplay-inspired anthems, country-tinged tributes to God and dance-oriented celebrations. Tomlin’s fellow Texan and sometime collaborator Kari Jobe opens the show.

Tickets to the 7 p.m. show range are $31 and $42.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink


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