Slaid Cleaves at Ashland Coffee and TeaAustin singer-songwriter Cleaves, known in the alt-country sphere for his exception musical tales of defeat and spiritual entropy, has done the noble thing made an album of covers called "Unsung." Other songwriters, like David Olney and Karen Poston, get the nod of recognition, but Cleaves claims the songs, embracing them with that voice of his soft-spoken and contemplative, just this side of Twangtown. He plays Ashland Friday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. $15. 798-1702.
The Fourth Annual Blues Bash
The River City Blues Society honors the late local drummer and blues staple Bobby Olive with a day of music at the Comfort Inn Sunday, Sept. 24, 2-7 p.m. Tom Principato wields his Telecaster along with Johnny Houston & The Legends, the Dixie Power Trio, and the Blues Society's Blues Challenge winners Mike Westcott & Blues on Board and Rylo. It satisfies the recommended daily allowance of blues. Take with barbecue. $12-$15. 304-7077.
River City Rocks at Brown's Island
Here's a festival that maximizes its use of time. You have your cause: a fundraiser for the people of Darfur. You have your bands (a Buddha-heavy assortment), including Blessid Union of Souls, Sister Hazel, Buddhahead, Smokin' Buddha, Rude Buddha and Stone Lucy. Then you have your comedians, like Duncan Jay, Kori Blossom and others, who do their thing while the bands set up and break down, avoiding that uncomfortable moment when you have to explain to your girlfriend why you were looking up someone's dress while they were on the rock-climbing wall over on the other side of the island. Oh, festivals. River City Rocks kicks off Saturday, Sept. 23, at noon. $20-$25. (646) 326-6054 or visit www.rivercityrocks.com.
Magnolia Electric Co., Catfish Haven, Homemade Knives at Gallery5
Gallery5's tuned to the songwriting channel for a show Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m., what with the prolific emotion of Magnolia Electric Co. and the upbeat growling and nigh-pop moments of Catfish Haven. Tuning into the local station, we have Homemade Knives, chock-full of melody and ever-so-slightly haunted. $10. 644-0005. S