Brent Knopf, a founding member of Portland trio Menomena, split from the group in 2011. Justin Harris and Danny Seim have forged ahead as a duo, and in 2012, they released their fifth LP, Moms. It's nothing drastically different from Menomena's previous albums — lots of looping, jagged transitions, kaleidoscopic instrumentation (flutes, saxophones, hand claps, fuzzy guitars) and surrealist lyrics. Menomena's good-natured explorations have always reminded me a little of (gasp) Phish, though I hear traces of TV on the Radio in the band's sound, too.
Thursday, February 28, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
An Acoustic Evening with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin
In addition to being '90s-famous folk-country artists, Mary Chapin Carpenter (five Grammys, 12 million records sold) and Shawn Colvin ("Sunny Came Home") are longtime friends. On their current tour together, they're performing as a duo. Expect highlights from their respective catalogs, with some covers — they share a fondness for Simon and Garfunkel and Tom Waits songs — mixed in.
Sunday, March 3, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway, 816-994-7222)
Last week, when we congratulated the Riot Room on its fifth year in business, we neglected to mention that the Westport venue has been on a real tear lately in terms of bringing in hip-hop talent. Kool Keith and Cam'Ron have visited in the last couple of months, and this week, Rakim stops by. Rakim never hit it big commercially, but his 1980s duo, Eric B. and Rakim, influenced a generation of conscious rappers. He's one of only a handful of MCs who can legitimately lay claim to the title of Greatest Rapper of All Time.
Wednesday, March 6, at Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Eric Johnson is a quieter type of guitar virtuoso than the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, both of whom he teamed up with for 1996's famous-among-guitarheads G3 Tour. Johnson is a notorious perfectionist and has a more songwriterly mind. Roots, folk, pop and jazz filter into his sound (in addition to the usual rock and blues), and he practices more solo restraint than most Guitar World idols. Of course, he still likes to shred — his most famous song, "Cliffs of Dover," is the final challenge on Guitar Hero III.
Tuesday, March 5, at Knuckleheads Saloon (2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)