DARKER BLUES: When Kenny Wayne Shepherd released his debut album, Ledbetter Heights, back in ’95, my friends celebrated the 17-year-old’s talent but questioned his soul. “He’s too young,” one said. “You gotta suffer to play the blues; you gotta have experiences.” Today, Shepherd is 34, and there’s no denying that the brilliant guitarist plays the blues like a boss. He’s enjoyed a lifetime of seasoning, playing with everyone from B.B. King to Muddy Waters. He’s dug up and examined his musical roots time and again, most notably in the 2007 documentary 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads. And he married Mel Gibson’s oldest daughter. Name a kind of existential suffering that’s more potent than calling Mel Gibson “Dad.” Shepherd plays the Orleans on March 17-18 ($33-$61).
IRISH, SPRUNG: I never think I’m interested in seeing Young Dubliners until I’m up against the stage watching them and enjoying every note. I like their Celtic rock/jam band sound, but it’s one thing to listen to them on record and quite another to be in the room with them. Young Dubs’ gracious and energetic stage manner takes over where the music leaves off. Even if Celtic music isn’t your thing, they have a way of making it your thing. See them at Body English on March 16 ($27).
NOW ON SALE: Garbage comes to the Pearl on April 14 ($34). This may read as a mundane fact, but it’s kind of a miracle; Garbage hasn’t released an album since 2005, and what band members called at the time “an extended hiatus” looked much like a breakup as Butch Vig returned to producing other artists and Shirley Manson turned to solo recording and acting. But now they’ve returned, which gives the lie to “I’m Only Happy When it Rains.” I’m always happy to see old friends again, no matter the weather.