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Soundcheck: Weekend edition

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There’s just way too much stuff going down Saturday in the downtown area. So here’s how to manage it: Start the day off at Pride, wander down to Talbot Street Art Fair, ponder over where that other “t” went and why there are so damn many tents, then escape from the clutter to the Independent Music + Art Festival, a laid-back, free showcase for (mostly) local music of all stripes, presented on a couple stages in the courtyard of the Harrison Center (11 a.m., free, all-ages). In between bands, you’ll certainly want to run into the Harrison to look over the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, which is the subject of this week’s cover story. But stick around for as much music as you can handle. The lineup? Company of Thieves (a ringer from Chicago, a solid piano-pop band), The New Empires (another ringer, a Chattanooga-based chamber pop band) and then a whole mess of locals — indie rockers Jascha, piano-pop Francophiles Wolfy, jazz titan Rob Dixon and his Triology, newcomers Red Birds, master of absurdities Lord of the Yum Yum, hip-hop pedagogue T. J. Reynolds, chamber-poppers Slothpop, soulful folkie Liz Janes, punk trio It’s All Happening and the fresh-faced Hotfox.

Kaci Battaglia headlines the free entertainment at this year’s Indy Pride, which will land in the American Legion Mall (from 11 a.m., free, all-ages) after a march down Mass. Ave. Rather the precocious teen, Battaglia had a major label deal at age 13 from which she went on to tour with major acts of yesteryear — your Backstreet Boys, your (Lil) Bow Wows, your Jessica Simpsons. She celebrated her coming of drinking age with a recent single, “Body Shots,” that chronicles a night at and on the bar, negotiating one body shot after another (“Drink it up, lick it up, suck down”) with Ludacris looking on approvingly. The rest of the lineup is eclectic in the best of ways, including community bands and choruses (Pride of Indy Jazz Ensemble, Indianapolis Men’s Chorus, True Love Apostolic Church Choir), DJs (Knayte, E-Kay, Jackola), rock bands (Neon Love Life, Dangerous Liasion, Obsession) and the Cultural Vision Award-winning Indy Pride Bag Ladies, giving their take on the unavoidable “It’s Raining Men.”

Thursday

Alison Krauss & Union Station, Jerry Douglas at The Lawn at White River State Park
A bluegrass wunderkind who recorded her first album at age 14, fiddler and singer-songwriter Alison Krauss has led the adult contemporary-friendly nu-grass band Union Station since the mid-'80s, with time along the way for one-off projects such as her 2007 collaboration with Robert Plant, Raising Sand. 7:30 p.m., $29.50-$69.50 (plus fees), all-ages.

Rachael Sage, Julian Velard at Irving Theatre
Curious how the phrase "on-stage banter" appears prominently in the bios for both Rachael Sage and Julian Velard, a couple NYC-centric singer-songwriters who are attentive to the needs of the live show, right down sequined dresses and slightly off-kilter bow-ties. Velard even inhabits a chatty persona on stage, Mr. Saturday Night, which is naturally the title to his latest record. Both land in the piano-pop tradition — Velard compared to Tom Waits and Harry Nilsson by Time Out London, Sage likened to Fanny Brice by The New York Times. 8 p.m., $10, all-ages.

Infected Mushroom at The Vogue
Take your pick from one of two cross-cultural dance experiences this Thursday night. The first features Infected Mushroom, an Israeli-born electronic duo whose core sound is rooted in Goa-style trance. Of course, just because they started with Goa trance — a sub-genre born in the Indian state of Goa, then brought back to Israel by tourists and soldiers on leave — doesn’t mean that’s all there is to the group. Recent albums have dabbled in breakbeat, rock and industrial, though all with a light touch that won’t spoil the lysergic (or psilocybic) vibe. 9 p.m., $20 advance (eventbrite.com), $25 door, 21+.

Friday

The Black Keys, Booker T. Jones, Nicole Atkins at The Lawn at White River State Park
The guys in Akron-born, blues-steeped, guitar-and-drums duo The Black Keys share a few things in common with The White Stripes — a Midwestern background and the same instrumentation, for sure, but also a rise to prominence that couldn't have been easily predicted, given the rough edge of both groups. Their 2010 release Brothers won a Grammy Best Alternative Music Album, whatever that means anymore. With legendary Stax organist Booker T. Jones and the sultry, powerful soul singer Nicole Atkins. 8 p.m., $35 (plus fees), all-ages.

Iron & Wine, The Head & the Heart at The Vogue
It’s ironic to think that one of the largest bands going on the road this spring will be Iron & Wine. It’s a group that began a decade ago with only one member: Sam Beam, whose first albums were stripped-back, nearly-solo acoustic affairs. Beam is still the songwriter and voice of Iron & Wine, but he has a lot of company on stage these days, nearly a dozen musicians in all with a horn section and backing vocalists added to a six-piece band. For more, check out Alan Sculley's profile of Beam. 9 p.m., sold out, 21+.

Cumbia! with Los de Esta Noche, DJ Kyle Long at Urban Element
And your second choice for the night will feature the music of Columbia, specifically the influential dance style known as cumbia. As with all Cultural Cannibals events, DJ Kyle Long will man the tables, playing from his apparently fathomless vinyl collection. But this time around, a live band is also on the bill: Los de Esta Noche, a San Antonio rock band that draws from the gamut of Central and Latin American styles, including norteño and mariachi. 10 p.m., $5, 21+.

Weekend

Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival at Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park and Campground
Not so interested in this year's VWMC country mega-ticket (which for the record, includes performances by Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts)? Want the good stuff? Well, it’s right down there in Bean Blossom, where more than 50 bluegrass bands, including the genre’s biggest names, gather together for about a week each summer, playing the mainstage before heading to the parking lot to pick into the night. Featuring Dr. Ralph Stanley, Larry Sparks and J.D. Crowe. June 11-18, prices vary, all-ages.
www.beanblossom.us

Eagle Creek Folk Music Festival at Eagle Creek Park
A low-key affair held adjacent to the reservoir, the Eagle Creek Folk fest holds the greatest appeal to musicians; the program begins and ends on both days with play-along sessions, set lists for which are available ahead of time on the website of the Central Indiana Folk Music and Mountain Dulcimer Society, indianafolkmusic.org. But there’s plenty for non-musicians, including sets by Greg Ziesemer and Kriss Luckett, Greg O’Haver, Cricket Creek, Geoff Davis and Tom Harleman. Free workshops will demonstrate the wonders of hammered and mountain dulcimers, autoharps, mandolins, bass fiddles, spoons, washboards and other standbys in the folk instrumentarium. June 11-12, noon to 7 p.m., free (with park admission), all-ages.

Sunday

The Pride Tea Dance at Metro Nightclub and Restaurant
Pride winds down with a local all-star showcase at The Metro featuring DJs Deanne, Slater Hogan, Jackola, Action Jackson, Steady B, Chachi vs. Fate and Sassafras. 2 p.m., free, 21+.

Horse Feathers at Radio Radio
After a long depressing winter comes the thaw. Horse Feathers’s 2008 record House with No Name is that winter album, a collection of chilly, almost brittle songs imbued with a lovely melancholy, structured by tightly-crafted string arrangements. And 2010’s Thistled Spring is, as it sounds, a document of the cracking of ice and emergence of budding leaves. The music is still muted and troubled ¬— lead singer Justin Ringle keeping his sweet, calm voice down — but there are hints of brightness, of some of that beneficent nature that another Oregon band, Fleet Foxes, so loves to praise. 8 p.m., $10, 21+.

Tuesday

Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs, Brandi Carlile, The Secret Sisters at The Lawn at White River State Park
Flanneled crooner Ray LaMontagne has commercially outpaced most of his contemporaries (Ryan Adams, Iron and Wine) who used to be lumped under alt-country. And he's done so by keeping it loose and soulful, turning in radio-ready ballads in the key of Van Morrison as well as country and rock workouts on the deeper cuts. His latest album, 2010's God Willing and the Creek Don't Rise, finally lists his backing band on the cover. 7 p.m., $29.50-$45 (plus applicable fees), all-ages.

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