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BOGGS 8/30, SCHUBAS; 8/31, FIRESIDE The Boggs' daft, passionate, eloquent, and frenetic We Are the Boggs We Are (Arena Rock Recording Co.) is a pretty successful attempt to do for (or to) old-timey string music what the Pogues did for (or to) trad Irish music--though you'd never guess this from the cover, where one band member sports a tight striped tee and a vintage English art-school mop and another flips through a mag with fellow New Yorkers the Strokes on the cover. Singer Jason Friedman only sounds like he has bad teeth. HASSAN HAKMOUN 8/30, AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF the ARTS To much of the "world music" scene, Hassan Hakmoun was a "discovery" of Peter Gabriel, who released Hakmoun's 1993 album, Trance, on his Real World label. But the singer, composer, and sintir player had started performing as a child in the squares of his native Marrakech, contributed to the Kronos Quartet's mildly controversial Pieces of Africa album in '92, and had records out on Flying Fish and Knitting Factory. Hakmoun's a natural fusionist: He's a Gnawa, a descendant of black Africans enslaved, transplanted to Morocco, and converted to Islam about 500 years ago. Gnawa music is already related to both Afro-Latin music and qawwali; Hakmoun's MO is to meld it with yet other traditions, from jazz to reggae to pop. The heavily orchestrated pan-African pop approach on his latest album, The Gift (Triloka/Razor & Tie), sacrifices a certain intensity in favor of accessibility, but with the arguable exception of the title track, a duet between Hakmoun and his wife, Lilith Fair vet Paula Cole, it maintains his sensibility. TOMMY KEENE 8/30, SCHUBAS Contrary to current revisionist history, Nirvana was not the first band out of the rich and vital American indie scene of the 80s to draw notice on mainstream radio. We spent the whole decade watching that shit happen, from the commercial rise (and artistic fall) of greats like X and pretty-goods like the Bangles to when R.E.M.'s audience expanded like a sponge in water after Document. Tommy Keene, who specialized then as now in wistful jangle pop, teetered on the brink for a while too. Surprisingly, he's hung in there honorably since, working with Paul Westerberg and Velvet Crush and making more or less the same music. The still haunting "Places That Are Gone" wouldn't sound out of place on his new The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down (Spinart), which features guest appearances from Wilco expat Jay Bennett and ex-Gin Blossom Robin Wilson. I'm not sure if this implies deep artistic integrity or just marks Keene as a one-trick pony--but what the hell, I like that trick. The Boggs (see above) open. MAYFLIES USA 8/30, BEAT KITCHEN Reportedly singer-guitarist Matt McMichaels wanted this Chapel Hill outfit's third album to feel something like Exile on Main Street. Goes to show what intentions are worth: the clean, peppy, buttoned-down (and, don't get me wrong, very likable) pop sound of Walking in a Straight Line (Yep Roc), recorded in Chicago with Keith Cleversley, is about as far removed from that murky, bluesy classic as rock gets--reviewers who are buying this line don't stay in and listen to old records enough. SOLEDAD BROTHERS 8/30, EMPTY BOTTLE It's hard to believe there was a time when studying the blues was considered essential for anyone who wanted to play rock 'n' roll. I'm not saying everybody needs to devote themselves to rock's prime source all the time, but nowadays there's an awful lot of stiff, bloodless, rootless crap that would surely benefit from (or dissolve in) a little Delta mud. The Soledad Brothers, on the other hand, are soaking in it. On 2000's Soledad Brothers, as a drum-guitar duo, they interpreted the rusty heartbeat of their home turf (which straddles Michigan and Ohio) as a raw, raucous, rhythmic throb; the liner essay by John Sinclair (whom they've backed in the past) might have been a little over-the-top, but it is a reasonable approximation of the passion, if not the room-leveling force, of the MC5. Their new second album, Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move (both are on Estrus), introduces a third band member on sax and electric piano but doesn't diminish the ache. SUE GARNER 8/31, HIDEOUT Longtime New Yorker Sue Garner has one of the most beautiful voices in indie rock, but she wields it like the Georgia girl she is, seducing you by degrees rather than just grabbing you by the collar. Her songs, which've grown increasingly meditative over the past few years, can be simultaneously sweet and angry or pastoral and primal. Even under her own name, she collaborates extensively with her husband, creative percussionist Rick Brown; he plays on her forthcoming Shadyside (Thrill Jockey), along with friends like Marc Ribot and Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew. This show, where she'll be accompanied by accordionist Ted Reichman, is a bit of a teaser; she'll be back with a full band in the fall. JASON RINGENBERG 8/31, SCHUBAS Jason & the (Nashville) Scorchers made their name in the 80s taking the traditional structure of country music and landing on its emphasized syllables with the full force of a Pete Townshend power chord. Ringenberg had the songwriting skills to make this fly; their first few albums had ragged glory aplenty, and though they did record a rare passable hard-rock version of a Hank Williams song, the most memorable cuts now are Ringenberg's Civil War mini-epics, like "Hot Nights in Georgia" from 1984's Fervor (to which Michael Stipe contributed vocals). Ringenberg's last solo record, the all-acoustic A Pocketful of Soul, struck a more wistful note, but his new collection of collaborations, All Over Creation (Yep Roc), announces its relative return to raucousness from the first cut, "Honky Tonk Maniac From Mars," recorded with Hammell on Trial. "Bible and a Gun," written with Steve Earle, is an old Scorchers song that benefits from Earle's participation on vocals; the new "Erin's Seed" (a tearjerker, written with a historian, about Irish immigrants who wound up facing off across the Mason-Dixon line) features members of Lambchop. BR5-49 backs Ringenberg on the gender-adjusted "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," Tommy Womack cowrote and sings on "Too High to See," and Kristi Rose and Fats Kaplin contribute to a misty version of the Gun Club's "Mother of Earth."

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