This is a good time to try something new.
No, the Herald has not crossed over into the fortune-cookie business. Just call it good advice for concertgoers because the Abbey Theatre has got a great lineup of nationally touring acts this weekend whose names may not be of the household variety – with one notable exception.
It will start tonight with The Chicharones, a Portland, Ore.-based duo returning to the national spotlight after a three-year hiatus. Josh Martinez and Sleep (that's his name – Sleep) haven't released an album together since 2006's “When Pigs Fly,” but they're reunited and back on tour. Not familiar with their work – they typically toil in the “underground” of hip-hop and indie rock – I gave it a listen and instantly was hooked.
Both men are obviously intelligent, funny and great lyricists/rappers. The music is something between Mojo Nixon with higher production values and a more melodic version of the Beastie Boys. For further confusion, check out their annotated influences: Latryx, Ahmad, Beach Boys, Kid n Play, Juggaknots, Nas, Simon and Garfunkel, Oldominion, Canada, booze, weed and enlightenment. Just check it out – you won't be sorry. As for the Mexican fried pork-rind snacks that are the band's namesake, proceed at your own risk
The star of Saturday's show, Leo Rondeau, is another relatively unknown up-and-comer who should be bracing for his big breakthrough. Already a fixture on the Austin scene, Rondeau is one of those country singers who reminds us what real, good country music sounds like.
That means pedal-steel guitars, honky-tonk beats and mournful ballads with great lines: “It's a lonely place that I've come across, all the men at the bar in various of stages of hair loss. Some covered it up with a cap, some grew it long in the back” is the opening to “Down at the End of the Bar,” the title track of his latest CD. That's country music, and it gets better from there.
Rondeau's also got the voice of a country-music star. He sings about a half-octave higher than Randy Travis, but he has that same seemingly incongruous soothing twang that just works for a select few singers who can pull it off. Rondeau's one of them, and I'm guessing there won't be many more opportunities to catch him for only seven bucks.
Sunday's headliners buck the mini-trend of anonymity at the Abbey. Barely two weeks removed from its sold-out benefit concert July 23, See-I is back for an encore show with local guests SEVEN. The musical backbone of Thievery Corporation put on a great show last month but left scores on the outside looking in. Manager Andy Cerutti said a favorable travel schedule allowed See-I to swing back through to give some of the fans a second chance, and at half the price to boot.
“Durango was a wonderful town to play in, the musicians felt the love and appreciation deeply and are super excited to return,” Cerutti said.