Music week briefs

Not Weeping

The Willowz play impassioned blues punk straight outta the garage, make twangy folk fit for the country and then take listeners back to the Summer of Love with spells of psychedelia — making it all work like a less sumptuous, more trippy, re-imagining of Led Zeppelin III. The band first hit the national scene when a couple of its surly rock numbers appeared on the soundtrack to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The Anaheim, Calif., trio-turned-foursome are led by singer/songwriter Richie James Follin and come to town in support of their newly released fourth album, Chautauqua. The Sugar Oaks are an Orlando-based quintet that had me grinning with their cozy, backwoods soul music when they played New World Brewery in March. Clearwater's GreyMarket plays laptop-aided rock that's both innovative and engaging.

The Willowz w/The Sugar Oaks/GreyMarket, 9 p.m. Mon., May 14, New World Brewery, Ybor City. $7. —Wade Tatangelo

Not So Bright

Bright Eyes mastermind Conor Oberst was "visibly intoxicated ... stumbling around the stage and haphazardly tossing his guitars and himself into the audience" during a recent gig in Milwaukee, according to a report by Pitchfork. A YouTube.com clip (search words: Bright Eyes Milwaukee) reveals the wobbly little fellow being aided back on stage by one of his handlers — only to fall into the audience again on his way to the wings. Finally, the lackey bear-hugs Oberst and carries him away. The clip also shows that Oberst has a full-band and string section with him to help re-create the lush, organic arrangements that enrich his new album Cassadega — a bit more appealing proposition than seeing the wordsmith deliver his dense ditties with nothing to sweeten the presentation but an acoustic guitar. Of course, the idea of witnessing the poet laureate of the hipster set flail around like a drunken buffoon doesn't sound like a dull evening, either.

Bright Eyes w/Oakley Hall/McCarthy Trenching, 6:30 p.m. Wed., May 16, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, $32.50.—WT

Steely Resolve

Steely Dan played the FordAmp last year — and killed. We crowned the gig Best Show at a Large Venue in September's Best of the Bay issue. Why? The Dan dispensed with their lackluster post-2K material and stuck to songs from their glorious '70s heyday. They played the hits and a few surprises, too. Singer Donald Fagen, he of the fine whine, seemed more outgoing and comfortable onstage that at any time I've seen the group (dating back to the mid '90s). The large ensemble that backed Fagen and partner Walter Becker consisted of straight ace players. So. Now The Dan bring their show into the rarified, acoustically impeccably confines of a performing arts hall. Sound will be better; sightlines will be better; it'll be hard for the show to be better, but it just might end up that way.

Steely Dan, Mon., April 14 and Tues., April 15, 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, $69.75, $79.75, $125 (very limited seats available for each show), rutheckerdhall.com —Eric Snider

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