Here are your best options for musical entertainment this weekend. For more choices, check out our comprehensive concert calendar.
Some of the most exciting West African music happens to come from Niger, the largest region in the nation. Based in the capital city of Niamey, Tal National, the group formed in 2000 by guitarist Hamadal "Almeida" Moumine (who still performs with the band when not engaged in his duties as teacher and municipal judge) is creating that music. The sound is a raw, energetic concoction bearing the traces of the dilapidated conditions in which it was recorded, as heard on Kaani, the group's third album and its first export. A speed rush of contrapuntal guitar lines, hard beats, and chattering mbalax-flavored talking drums, Tal National's music is a high-octane hybrid greater than the sum of its parts. Fans of Janka Nabay's Sierra Leonean Bubu sound will notice similarities, too. RICHARD GEHR
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Blues belter Candye Kane easily lives up to the title of her ninth album, Superhero. Not only has she recovered from cancer (twice), she's used the stuff of those awful experiences to infuse the lyrics of original songs like "Hey! Toughen Up!" and "Don't Cry for Me New Jersey" with a shot of positive energy, wicked humor and soulful defiance. "I'm going to be just fine," Kane declares. "I'm going to live 'til a hundred and nine ... a white-haired lady with a lot of soul." She's actually more obsessed about a different, more incurable disease -- doctors refer to it as a broken heart -- in such tunes as "I Didn't Listen to My Heart." This wondrous woman even uses all of her superpowers to rescue Willie Dixon's "You Need Love" from memories of Led Zeppelin's plagiarized desecration "Whole Lotta Love," giving it a primal, seductively funky blues beat. FALLING JAMES
Friends and family members of the late Margo Reed, an incomparable local jazz vocalist who passed away last month, will gather to honor and celebrate her life, legacy, and music at the Rhythm Room on Saturday, May 2. Many of Reed's fellow collaborators - including Andy Gonzales, Judy Roberts, Alice Tatum, Renee Patrick, Delphine Cortez, and Joel Robin - are scheduled to perform and pay tribute during the four-hour event, as will her siblings Michael Reed, Francine Reed, and Tabitha Reed.
Gregg Allman has lived the type of life that spawns movies. The singer of the Allman Brothers found fame and riches creating classic rock staples like "Ramblin' Man" and "Whipping Post." Depending on whose legend you believe, he either coined the term "Southern rock" himself or inspired it with the Allman Brothers Band's countrified blues and bluesified country. Gregg kept the Allman Brothers Band going for 45 years through countless reformations, pushing on after the fatal motorcycle crash of his brother Duane, and only calling it quits last October out of fear of turning into a nostalgia act. That's without even mentioning Gregg Allman was once married to Cher.
So it was only fitting that Hollywood would come calling. But art had to imitate life when drama and tragedy hit on the first day of shooting Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story and a crew member was killed on set. Lawsuits and criminal charges due to negligence were filed, and Allman has seemed to disassociate himself with the project. So we might never get the cinematic version of Gregg Allman's life. Fortunately we still have the opportunity to experience his music as he embarks on a solo tour. Surprisingly, the live stage still terrifies him even after all the accolades, including a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. As he told Esquire magazine, "Stage fright is not a thing about 'Am I any good?' It's about 'Am I gonna be good tonight?' It's a right-now thing. It helps me. If I went out there thinkin', Eh, we'll go slaughter 'em, I'm positive something would go seriously wrong." He'll have a legion of fans hooting and hollering to give him moral support as he takes the stage at Talking Stick Resort on May 2. DAVID ROLLAND
When Andy Phipps started woozy indie rock band Pro Teens, he had an aesthetic in mind: "Surf Michael Jackson." His former group, lauded Phoenix band St Ranger, fielded "surf" comparisons, too, but in the case of Pro Teens, "surf" serves more as a description of the overall vibe than a direct comparison to the Ventures or Duane Eddy. Everything So Far, a collection of recordings posted on the band's Bandcamp page, does have a connection to surf's mellow, reverb-drenched, and languid feel, but its connection to Jackson-esque soul pop is more literal.
"I listen to Mega 104.3 everyday, so [an] R&B influence [has planted a] firm foundation within my brain," Phipps says, citing KNRJ, the old-school Cordes Lakes radio station locked on his FM dial. The band's EP definitely showcases Phipps' interest in vintage R&B, but he isn't exclusive to decades like the '70s, '80s, and early '90s. "I listen to the modern stuff and the oldies. I can fuck with some Ginuwine and even Trey Songz." JASON P. WOODBURY
While trance music may not have caught on as much in America as it has in other parts of the world, the trippy, uptempo electronic dance music genre still maintains a huge following here in the states. Local trance fanatics will find sanctuary at Talking Stick Resort in North Scottsdale this weekend when superstar DJ/producer Dash Berlin performs during the kickoff weekend of its summertime Release pool party series on Sunday, May 3. And it's a gig that EDM fans probably don't want to miss, considering that the Dutch-born DJ/producer is arguably one of the biggest trance acts in the world right now.
Berlin, born Jeffrey Sutorius, is currently ranked number 10 on DJ Mag's current Top 100 and is up for "Best Trance DJ" and "Best Trance Track" at next month's International Dance Music Awards in Miami. Those are just two of his latest coups, however, as he's racked up a slew of other awards and honors over the years, not mention a big bankroll and numerous festival and club appearances around the world.
If you're into EDM, you've probably heard Dash Berlin's remix of Krewella's "Live for the Night." Although Krewella definitely fits into an electronic/pop music style, Dash Berlin's sets are typically straight up melodic trance with sparkling synths and tons of vocal tracks, all of which are laced together with a high-energy tempo and uplifting breaks. Dash's singles tend to be emotional songs with depth and an underlying message of love. It's all positive, melodic and just kind of flows. AMANDA SAVAGE
A-Trak will have you know that he isn't just a DJ -- he's a turntablist. Raised in Montreal and now based in New York, he was just 15 when he won the DMC World Championship, one of the world's most prestigious DJ competition. Now 33 and half of the dance production duo Duck Sauce, he's scored a pair of ubiquitous global hits with "Barbra Streisand" and "Big Bad Wolf." He's hit the road with Kanye West and launched uber-hip label Fool's Gold.
Merging hip-hop with electronic dance music, the man born Alain Macklovitch straddles the underground and mainstream like a Russian gymnast. He's dropped rap tracks while opening for electronic giants Swedish House Mafia at Madison Square Garden, and even scratched his way through the latest electro-house festival hits. He transcended the hipster world with "Barbra Streisand," however. He and his Duck Sauce partner, veteran house DJ-producer Armand van Helden, released the anthemic, disco-flavored jam in 2010, and it went on to top numerous countries' charts. The video has more than 75 million views, and it showed up in Glee. LIZ OHANESIAN
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Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.