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Live music picks: May 11-17

Mississippi's Paul Thorn is a truly great songwriter, but his latest album is a collection of covers. You'll probably get some of his terrific takes on the work of other, but he's sure to play some of his own fine songs when he takes the stage at the Variety Playhouse Friday, May 11. Photo courtesy Conqueroo

Mississippi's Paul Thorn is a truly great songwriter, but his latest album is a collection of covers. You'll probably get some of his terrific takes on the work of other, but he's sure to play some of his own fine songs when he takes the stage at the Variety Playhouse Friday, May 11. Photo courtesy Conqueroo

SATURDAY
Paul Thorn

A former boxer and the son of a Church of God minister, Thorn has slowly built an audience with his scruffy charm and terrific songs that straddle the boundary between country and rock. He can be laugh-out-loud funny one moment and have you weeping in your beer the next. He’s on the road supporting a new album, “What The Hell Is Goin’ On?,” released earlier this week This time around, Thorn takes a break from songwriting. The all-covers album includes songs written by Buddy Miller and Ray Wylie Hubbard, a tune from Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ pre-Fleetwood Mac duo album and the gritty blues-rocker “Walk In My Shadow” from Free’s 1968 debut “Tons of Sobs.” Mississippi singer-songwriter Steve Forbert opens the show.
8:30 p.m. May 12. $22.50; $20 in advance. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. N.E. 404-524-7354.

SATURDAY
WRASfest

After a three-year hiatus, the fundraiser for Georgia State University’s “student voice” is back. Athens’ Elf Power will headline the show, but genre-spanning radio station WRAS also offers sets from the NEC, the Difference Machine, From Exile, Featureless Ghost and Cute Boots.
6 p.m. May 12. $10. The Goat Farm Arts Center, Goodson Yard, 1200 Foster St., Atlanta.

SATURDAY
Zac Brown Band

Before these Georgians became a national phenomenon and Grammy’s best new artist, Brown and his band built a dedicated and fervent fan base in the Southeast, show by show. Even before he was a star, Brown was a charismatic performer and an all-around nice guy who could turn just about any crowd into loyal followers. Success seemed inevitable, and it’s well-deserved.
7 p.m. May 12. $45-$75 reserved; $29.50 lawn. Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, 2002 Lakewood Ave. S.E. 404-443-5090.

Mastodon plays a homecoming gig at Masquerade Music Park Saturday, May 12. Photo: Cindy Frey

Mastodon plays a homecoming gig at Masquerade Music Park Saturday, May 12. Photo: Cindy Frey

SATURDAY
Mastodon, Opeth

This tour brings together two of the finest purveyors of progressive metal currently recording. Atlanta quartet Mastodon, on the road with new album “The Hunter,” has established itself as one of the most thoughtful, complex heavy rock bands ever. Norway’s Opeth has, in recent years, melded the two sides of its split personality. The galloping double bass drums and vocals that sound like the monster in your closet gargled with drain cleaner are much rarer on recent releases. The guitar crunch and speedy tempos are still there, but they’re integrated with the band’s softer side, which is pretty in a ’70s prog-metal way, with sweetly stinging guitar lines, a piano and normal-guy voices.
7 p.m. May 12. $29.50 in advance. Masquerade Music Park, 695 North Ave. N.E. 404-577-8178.

SATURDAY
Von Grey

This quartet of classically trained sisters from Alpharetta gets rave reviews for their evolving musical blend of pop and folk, and it’s just a matter of time before major labels are clamoring to sign them. See them now, because a few years down the road, you might have to pay big bucks for nosebleed seats in an arena to catch these talented musicians. They’ve already signed with prestigious Red Light Management in Los Angeles and are recording a new EP with Grammy-winning producer Nick DiDia.
9 p.m. May 12. $15. Swallow at the Hollow, 1072 Green St., Roswell. 678-352-1975.

SUNDAY
Pierre Bensusan

This French-Algerian musician is an innovative acoustic guitar wizard who blazed new trails in combining his instrument with electronic effects — though these play a smaller role in his current work — and unusual tunings.
7:30 p.m. May 13. $22. Eddie’s Attic, 515 N. McDonough St., Decatur. 404-377-4976.

MONDAY
M83

Frenchman Anthony Gonzalez, the guy behind M83, crafts a beautiful blend of ’80s electronic pop and the whoosh-and-whir of ’90s guitar rock. Take a little Depeche Mode, with whom Gonzalez has toured,  and a dash of Smashing Pumpkins, whose “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” is an acknowledged influence, and add the boundless imagination, melodic invention and modern sensibility of Gonzalez, and you have latest M83 album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.”
7 p.m. May 14. $23. Masquerade Music Park, 695 North Ave. N.E. 404-577-8178.

Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller brings his solo work to Eddie's Attic on Monday, May 14. Photo courtesy Big Hassle

Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller brings his solo work to Eddie's Attic on Monday, May 14. Photo courtesy Big Hassle

MONDAY
Rhett Miller

This whip-smart songwriter’s main gig is fronting the country-tinged rock combo Old 97’s. His stylistic range expands on his four solo studio albums. His latest is a live set that explores his influences. The set list includes two David Bowie songs, tunes by Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello, the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” and the gorgeous 1984 gem from Aztec Camera, “The Birth of the True.” He’ll play songs from his forthcoming album, “The Dreamer,” out June 5.
8 p.m. May 14. $20. Eddie’s Attic, 515 N. McDonough St., Decatur. 404-377-4976.

THURSDAY
Trace Adkins

Since his 1996 debut album “Dreamin’ Out Loud,” Adkins has been a consistent hit-maker. He scored his fourth No. 1 country single duetting with Blake Shelton on “Hillbilly Bone” in 2009. His 2011 album, “Proud to Be Here,” spawned another Top 10 single with “Just Fishin’,” bringing hit Top 10 total to 14.
7:30 p.m. May 17. $39.75-$75. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway. 770-916-2800.

THURSDAY
M. Ward, Lee Ranaldo

Portland, Ore.-based singer-songwriter M. Ward’s indie-pop quietude is a poignant mix of pain and beauty, tradition and innovation. It’s all leavened by blasts of unexpected humor. But it’s his extra-curricular activities that are probably best known. He’s half of She & Him with Zooey Deschanel and part of the indie supergroup Monsters of Folk with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Centro-matic’s Will Johnson. Ranaldo is also best known for his work as part of a band. He spent 30 years as a member of Sonic Youth.
9 p.m. May 17. $19. Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Road N.E. 404-843-2825.

Shane Harrison / sharrison@ajc.com

4 comments Add your comment

matt jones

May 10th, 2012
9:35 pm

Enter your comments here

reno88

May 11th, 2012
6:57 am

good lord. look at the ticket prices. $30 for mastadon. $45 to see zac brown. are you kidding me? how do they get their trousers on every day? the sad thing is that many people will pay top dollar to see these and other mediocre bands.

jambee3

May 11th, 2012
8:03 pm

I hear you reno88. Maybe Obama can get the evil 1% to help pay these costs us. Did you make the Eagles a couple of weeks ago?

boots

May 16th, 2012
10:02 pm

Huh? These shows have already happened. Nice, AJC.