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Critics' Picks, April 30-May 6

Concerts by ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Steve Gunn, White Mystery, plus a few trailblazers of the blues

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[ROCK] + THU., APRIL 30

Seventeen years after releasing its self-titled debut record, ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead still manages to prove it has some gas left in the tank. The band has endured near-seismic shifts over the years, after the major label powers-that-be chewed and spit them out. Following the critical and commercial crash that followed the too-good-to-be-true Source Tags and Codes, it was a tumultuous few years, with band members departing and scattershot genre ambitions. But Trail of Dead finally reined things in for the strong, punchier Lost Songs and 2014's IX. Catch the band tonight at Mr. Small's with Your Favorite Enemies and Boyfrndz. Shawn Cooke 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $15-17. 412-821-4447 or www.mrsmalls.com

Steve Gunn
  • Photo courtesy of Nathan Salsburg
  • Steve Gunn

[INDIE ROCK] + SAT., MAY 2

Steve Gunn's excellence as a guitarist doesn't come from brash solos or interludes — his gentle virtuosity ranks alongside other current indie guitar heroes, such as Mark McGuire and Ryley Walker. None of them aim to bowl you over, but rather seek to hold your attention with intricate fingerpicking and tricky time signatures. On Gunn's Way Out Weather, he smoothly drifts through folk, Americana and psych rock. It's hard not to hear the fingerprints of former bandmate Kurt Vile — who's made a huge breakthrough with the same brand of detached, lackadaisical vocals over similar sound palettes — but Gunn often takes his music to more adventurous places. He plays at Spirit tonight with Sagas. SC 8 p.m. 120 51st St., Lawrenceville. $10. www.druskyentertainment.com

[BLUES] + SAT., MAY 2

After 71 years as a professional musician, James Cotton is something of a living legend. A master of the harmonica — and part of the Blues Hall of Fame Tour's stop at Manchester Craftsmen's Guild — Cotton learned to play from Sonny Boy Williamson II, made his first recordings at Sun Studios, toured with Howlin' Wolf, and spent more than a decade playing with Muddy Waters. Since then, he's made nearly 30 solo records. Tonight he'll play two sold-out shows with Charlie Musselwhite (the supposed inspiration for Dan Aykroyd's character in Blues Brothers) and John Hammond. Margaret Welsh 6 and 8:30 p.m. 1815 Metropolitan St., North Side. 412-322-0800 or www.mcgjazz.org

White Mystery
  • Photo courtesy of Diane White
  • White Mystery

[GARAGE ROCK] + WED., MAY 6

The very first thing you might notice about Chicago's White Mystery is the hair. We've been tricked by imposter brother-sister garage rock bands before (with "white" in the name, no less), but judging by the shaggy red manes of guitarist Alex White and drummer Francis Scott Key White, there's little doubt as to whether these two are related. As for the music, the duo — who are in town tonight for an installment of Get Hip Records' Sound Series — play wild, Cramps-tinged lo-fi rock (which means they fit perfectly on a Get Hip bill). More trivia: They just released their own feature film, That Was Awesome. Nox Boys and Chase the Monkey open. MW 7 p.m. Get Hip Recordings, 1800 Preble Ave., North Side. $5. All ages. 412-231-4766 or www.gethip.com

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