No doubt tramps gathering together would prefer the fire-dappled wood-plank stomp of David Grier. The masterful flat-picking protege of the great Clarence White, and three-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's "Lead Guitar Player of the Year" award, has gained the adoration of virtuosos like Bela Fleck, Ricky Skaggs, and Dirk Powell, and contributed to numerous albums. The casual ease with which Grier blends acoustic idioms -- blues, bluegrass, Appalachian folk, jazz, waltz -- will have you kicking up your heels as if you were the drunk at a family reunion. Grier performs at the Last Day Saloon on Wednesday, June 30, with Crane Canyon opening at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 387-6343.
The Fourth of July is our most candidly white-trash holiday: You drink beer, wear stars and stripes, eat hot dogs, and blow shit up. For those without family living in Concord, the second annual all-ages Red Neck White Trash Blue Ball should satisfy. You can expect any combination of the following: cheap stationery-store Uncle Sams, pig knuckles, old tires, Spam, wet T-shirt contests, hay bales, and perhaps a mass wedding presided over by a Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator. Gangbang & Liquor, the Jacksaints, Sister Kissers, Throttlefinger, New Lows, the Clinics, and the Blackouts supply the appropriate anthems at the Cocodrie on Sunday, July 4, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 986-6678.
Early this year, Manchester's Muslimgauze -- a Middle Eastern percussion and noise artist otherwise known as Bryn Jones -- passed away during a creative zenith in his musicmaking career. The very last songs he touched became delicate, lush remixes of the States' finest dub group, Systemwide. The resulting Systemwide Meets Muslimgauze at the City of the Dead finds the Portland-based group's rich, deeply hued dance diaspora accented with soulful bedroom sighs, belly-dancer chimes, and ululating drums. Systemwide breathes life into Jones' final work along with their own mixes at the Elbo Room on Sunday, July 4, with BSI labelmate Sound Secretion and "Dub Mission" DJs opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 552-7788.
Last week, in a sociopolitical statement for and against elitism, the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum -- artists formerly known as Pin and Improver from Idiot Flesh, Carla Kihlstedt from Charming Hostess, Moe! Staiano from Moe!kestra, and Dave Shamrock from Slombis -- debuted their show for a single, solitary slug. On the following night slug friends and sluglike journalists were permitted a peek. Here's what you might expect: nightgowns, downy blankets, goggle-wearing clowns, sadistic bunnies, gorilla-faced baby dolls, flute, violin, lightning, nannies, under-the-bed goblins, mad hatters, and sandmen. The voice of Kihlstedt soars like a fractured angel; Pin gnashes and snarls, rumbles and howls, until he becomes a vociferous Munch painting. The Museum appears at the Starry Plough in Berkeley on Friday, July 2, with E Is for Elephant opening at 9:45 p.m. Admission is $6; call (510) 841-2082. Also Bottom of the Hill on Monday, July 5, with Species Being and Troia opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 621-4455.
I may have been one of three alternative newspaper writers in the country who didn't understand the fervor created by Scotland's Belle & Sebastian, so imagine my relief when Looper -- bassist Stuart David's side project -- arrived and everyone said it was no B&S. Sweet -- there's no other word to describe it. Looper was conceived as a creative substitute for offspring between David and his artist wife, Karn, but their first full-length album, Up a Tree, could just as easily serve as a pre-baby book for their future bairns. Up a Tree links bouncy keyboards, typewriters, bells, syncopated samples, and pillowy guitar hooks with David's gentle northern cadence. Most of the album tells the tale of our two champion sweethearts: how they met after writing each other letters and first held hands seven years later, how they still dream of each other, and how some days catch light like diamonds. It might sound schmaltzy on paper, but coming from David, the genuine sincerity is quite irresistible. Looper performs at the Great American Music Hall on Tuesday, July 6, with IQU (otherwise known as ICU) opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10.50; call 885-0750.
-- Silke Tudor