As usual, and as tends to be the case at our more established art fairs (your Penrods, your IMAFs), the Broad Ripple Art Fair can be just as much about music, which is, after all, also art. Three adult stages (and one for the kids) feature an eclectic mix of artists, including rock (Red Light Driver, Borrow Tomorrow), Latin (Stacie Sandoval’s Trio ConPaz), Irish (Emily Ann Thompson), fusion (Splinter Group) and folk (Doug Henthorn, Luke Austin Daughtery). Check the Art Fair site or pick up a program for complete times and info. May 21, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; May 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Advance $10 members, $12 adult, $2 ages 3-12. Gate: $15 adult, $2 ages 3-12.
Madison, a vibrant little town tucked beside the Ohio River, happens to host one of Indiana’s best music festivals, the Ohio River Valley Folk Festival, which runs Friday through Sunday. This year’s performers include Tupelo born roots dude Paul Thorn, bluegrass trio The Greencards, the hugely eclectic David Bromberg and his Quartet, Bloomington singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer and Uncle Earl, an all-female, Americana string band. May 20-22, $25 wristbands.
Primus at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
It's been over a decade since Primus released a studio record, ever since the band's prime mover, bassist Les Claypool, decided a solo setting was more appropriate for his decidedly unique talents. Primus has reunited off-and-on in the recent past, but this year marks the first tour with original drummer Jay Lane since he left the band in 2001. A new full-length is due this year, following on a last year’s sneak-peak rehearsal EP. 8 p.m., $22-$45 (plus fees), all-ages.
Michelle Malone, Carrie Pietz at the Irving Theatre
A Muscle Shoals native, Michelle Malone plays solid blues-rock with gritty vocals and convincing guitar work. We’ll leave it to Paste magazine to supply one glowing description: "Michelle Malone may have the best voice you've never heard." With Detroit-born singer-songwriter Carrie Pietz, without her wonderfully-named backing band Her Sunny Disposition. 8 p.m., $10, all-ages. 8 p.m., $10, all-ages.
Super Sax: David Sanborn, Candy Dulfer at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts
Alto saxophonist David Sanborn, of "Night Music" and multi-Grammy fame, is joined by up-and-coming, Dutch-born saxophonist Candy Dulfer, who did plenty of time in the pop music world with folks like Prince and Van Morrison. She's the one evidently having super sex with her super sax in the promo photo. And if you think that’s a terrible pun, it’s no worse than the title of one of Dulfer’s records, Saxuality. Just saying. 8 p.m., $30-$70 (plus fees), all-ages.
Shelby County Sinners, Innocent Boys, Danny Thompson, th’Empires at Radio Radio
Radio Radio becomes the honky-tonk it was always meant to be, save for that fancy bar lifted from Planet Hollywood. The drummer-less American band Shelby County Sinners isn’t actually from Shelby County, though it is fronted by a Shelby — Shelby Kelley, formerly of Creepin’ Charley and the Boneyard Orchestra, occasional contributor to these very pages as an illustrator. Innocent Boys are working in a sort of barrelhouse, country pop territory, with keyboards in the arena of Jerry Lee Lewis. Danny Thompson remains the city’s pre-eminent rockabilly guitarist, and th’Empires play garage rockabilly with a weirdly truncated name. 8 p.m., $5, 21+.
Roy Zimmerman at Center for Inquiry
Presumably, God won’t need any help finding the sinners come the time of the Rapture, which a tiny, over-publicized group of Christians believes will take place May 21. But really, if you happen to show up to the Center for Inquiry’s “rapture party,” headlined by the satirist Roy Zimmerman, you’re just making it so much easier for Cpt. Vengeance to lay his wrath upon you. Zimmerman isn’t solely concerned with debunking religious BS: he also tackles the Tea Party, birthers, Limbaugh, Beck and Proposition 8 opponents, with a panache that’s earned him an inevitable, favorable comparison to Tom Lehrer (Los Angeles Times), and a nice blurb from Lehrer himself: "I congratulate Roy Zimmerman on reintroducing literacy to comedy songs.” 6 p.m., $15, all-ages.
Cosy Sheridan with TR Ritchie at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis
The title of Cosy Sheridan’s one-woman stage show — “The Pomegranate Seed: An Exploration of Appetite, Body-Image and Myth in Modern Culture” — happens to sum up some of the major concerns in her songwriting, which couches modern concerns (body piercing, women’s restroom etiquette, Barbie’s impact on body image) in the context of ancient Greek and Roman myth. This year’s final Indy Folk Series show (indyfolkseries.org). 7 p.m., $10 (12 and under free), all-ages.
Robin Trower at the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St.
The Procol Harum guitarist, also known for his solo work and collaborations with Brian Ferry, has been a mainstay on the American touring circuit since well before my birth. Here’s Hoppe on his 2009 appearance at the Egyptian Room: “The evening's best moments came when Trower allowed himself the room to create lush beds of psychedelia. While he can blaze away with the best of them, his particular gift is for vintage atmospherics. His signature tune, ‘Bridge of Sighs,’ with its magisterial languor punctuated with splattering solo passages, epitomized Trower's approach.” 8 p.m., $25, all-ages.
The Embraceables, Pop Lolita, Everything, Now! at White Rabbit Cabaret
A night of unalloyed pop, headlined by Muncie-born, Chicago-based glam-pop outfit The Embraceables, whose lead singer and keyboardist, Maggie Kubley, delivers piano-based ballads of panties left in sinks with convincing sass. Pop Lolita, the mod-ish power-pop band that had its first run from 2000-2003, recently reunited for a string of what can no longer be called reunion shows (because there have been so many), and plan to record an album in the near future that might end up being their second full-length. And Everything, Now! continues to churn out ‘60s-styled, garage-pop nuggets, with a sixth release on the way and a new 4-song EP now available. 8 p.m., $6, 21+.
Kwanzaa Popps & IRB Sound, Blackberry Jam at The Ugly Monkey
Reggae meets funk. Kwanzaa Popps, one of Indy’s first reggae toasters, now back in town after an extended stint on the East coast beginning in the mid ‘90s, leads his IRB Sound. Napier was impressed by a 2010 concert by the Popps and his cohorts: “Their original songs are tough, funky and at times bordered on raw, two-tone ska-like energy. Popps' velvet smooth vocals afforded an extra spiritual energy that all good reggae singers bring to the plate.” With bass-heavy, aggressive funk by Blackberry Jam. 9 p.m., $5, 21+.
Jason Wilber, Tim Grimm and Jan Lucas-Grimm at Central Library
Three Bloomington musicians kick off the Central Library’s Hometown Roots Concert Series, a summer-long free music series that includes jazz, choral and percussion installments. Tim Grimm’s latest, the tribute album Thank You Tom Paxton, makes a convincing case for Paxton as a singer-songwriter of great sensitivity and insight, collecting both the familiar (“Rumblin’ in the Land,” a close cousin to “Blowin’ in the Wind” in approach and content) and more recent, less widely-distributed and played work. His wife, Jan Lucas-Grimm, joins on vocals. Jason Wilber, a sympathetic radio interviewer (insearchofasong.com) and guitarist for John Prine when not pursuing his often witty solo work, happens to play electric on several tracks on Grimm’s new album. 2 p.m., free, all-ages.
Henry Wolfe at White Rabbit Cabaret
Henry Wolfe’s bio spins a familiar enough story of an ambitious songwriter packing all his possessions into a old station wagon and heading to the west coast, armed only with a couple records, Paul McCartney’s Ram and Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Sings Newman, given him by a friend. It also downplays one salient point that compromises that gonna-be-a-star narrative — namely, that Wolfe is one of Meryl Streep’s sons. That tension between apocryphal PR yarn and well-heeled reality is problematic, but the proof is in the music, which is legitimately easy-going, rambling and laid-back in the style of Nilsson, with Wolfe’s pleasantly over-reaching voice reminding one of Newman. 8 p.m., $7, 21+.