Coming out of Memphis, Lucero has always possessed a scruffy, Replacements-like heart. Singer-guitarist Ben Nichols' songs tend to revolve around booze-soaked alienation and angst. That is no surprise that Jim Dickinson, the late Memphis music legend who produced the Mats'
Pleased to Meet Me
, was also behind Lucero's 2005 album,
. The quartet expanded to a sextet and went on to add horns on its 2009 major-label debut,
1372 Overton Park
, saluting its home city's soul heritage, while retaining the band's grounding in punkish rock with occasional country touches. A new album,
Women and Work
, is coming in March. Meanwhile, the musicians of Lucero are closing out 2011 as the road warriors they have long been.
- Nick Cristiano
Part of the fun of a Diplo show is not knowing just what crazy stuff Wesley Pentz might pull together, and that unpredictability has been a constant going back at least as far as his Hollertronix parties in small venues around the city nearly 10 years ago. His mash-up aesthetic embraces the familiar (from the Beatles to Paul Simon to Outkast) and the obscure (whether it be Brazilian baile funk or underground club music from elsewhere in the world). Now, the tireless Philadelphia DJ, producer, multimedia artist, Mad Decent record-label executive segues among producing tracks for Beyoncé to directing videos for Bonde do Role to working on a new Major Lazer album. His DJ set Thursday is sure to encompass a world of party-starting, smile-inducing mixes. Also on the bill: Chiddy Bang's Xaphoon Jones as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
- Steve Klinge
With her distinctive blend of Texas roadhouse boogie and Louisiana swamp-blues, singer/pianist Marcia Ball offers up a foot-stomping, rollicking mix to usher out the year. Backed by a four-piece band onstage, Ball is coming off a topflight year - a Grammy nomination (Best Blues Album) for her latest CD,
and dual honors in Living Blues Readers' Poll for Female Blues Artist of the Year and Most Outstanding Musician (Piano). Nearly 40 years after the release of her first album, Ball, 62, is at the top of her game on
her 15th solo effort and first to feature her own songwriting on every track. An exuberant yet thoughtful collection inspired by Ball's many years on the road - along with those sometimes-subtle insights gained from everyday living - its 12 emotionally jam-packed tracks range from tales of hard luck/hard loving to the enduring joys of hearth and home.
- Nicole Pensiero