Traveling is at the heart of traditional music -- think of the iconic bluesman walking from town to town, selling his guitar sorrow and spreading joy at the juke joint. The sound changed from one region to the next, and the musicians assimilated new licks into their repertoire, creating a composite style that became their signature. Today music is beamed across oceans, and stylistic combinations are limitless.
Eire Japan is an amazing example of cultural fusion. The trio of Paddy Keenan, Frankie Gavin and Junji Shirota combine elements of traditional Irish and Japanese music with American bluegrass to create a sound too original to be called innovative. Keenan is a master of the uilleann (or "elbow") pipes, a relative of the bagpipes; Gavin plays the tin whistle and fiddle; Junji plays the banjo and guitar. This distinctive Irish draught is filtered through the blues 78s Keenan and Gavin mimicked as boys in Ireland and the bluegrass sound Junji practiced on the other side of the globe. It's an Irish band, to be sure -- but it's one well traveled.
Eire Japan plays at 8 p.m. at the Focal Point (2720 Sutton Boulevard); tickets are $15 to $17 and are available at Music Folk (8015 Big Bend Boulevard). Call 314-781-4200 or visit www.thefocalpoint.org for details. -- Mark Dischinger
The Don Requests Your Presence
"How the....!?" "Whuuutt!?" Such exclamations are commonplace when witnessing mathematical magicians Don Caballero perform their gonzo time-shifting songs. Tonight they play at the Rocket Bar (2001 Locust Street, 314-588-5055), and you are well advised to get off the couch and go. But make sure you get off said couch early, because Toronto's the Constantines are playing too. Their booty-shakin' grooves, driving guitars and poetic lyrics make for a soulful punk rock that sounds like an improbable collaboration between Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer and Ian MacKaye. Rounding out the bill are early birds Dakota/Dakota. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., and $10 gets anyone eighteen years or older inside. Visit www.rocketbar.net for more info. -- Guy Gray
Music and Passion
They're always in fashion
It takes a special sort of person to compose an entire musical around one single song; that person -- that genius, if you will -- is none other than Barry "I Write the Songs" Manilow (okay, he had help from Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman). His hit single "Copacabana" became a hit musical, thanks to the intervention of Dick Clark and a couple of British theater producers. Set in a 1940s nightclub, Copacabana is cut from the besequined cloth of the classic Broadway musicals and involves a passionate woman (Lola Lamar, a showgirl), a dream-big bartender (Tony Starr) and a villain, Rico (nefarious enough to get just the one name, much like Cher or Yanni), in a deadly triangle of love, lust and songs, songs, songs. Windwood Theatricals presents the touring version of Manilow's glittery fable at the Florissant Civic Center Theater (Parker and Waterford roads, 314-921-5678). Tickets are $20 to $22, and the show starts at 7 p.m. -- Paul Friswold
Farther Than Tholozan
Protean-force-disguised-as-mortals Grand Ulena already played their St. Louis show this year; sucks for us, but who are we to question the Grand one's methods? If you're a daring culture lover who's not afraid to ford the river, you have another chance to see the band, at 9 p.m. at the Red Spoon (10 East Broadway, Alton, Illinois; 618-462-6232). Yeah, we haven't heard of the place either, but if you love the Grand Ulena, you'll travel to unknown places for a second helping. Tickets are $5. -- Paul Friswold