Marcia Ball at Alley KatzCan't you just see Marcia Ball, blues pianist and songwriter, dragging her piano from smoky pool hall to smoky pool hall? There to hammer away at the keys like the pistons of a boogie-woogie engine. Ball's bayou-drenched blues sound makes every big place smaller. There's barely enough room for other people when her voice fills the space. With her newest album, "Live! Down the Road," Ball's fondness for touring and love of the sounds of the Gulf Coast are contained on a disk. And you can just hear the sound of that piano rolling down the street. She plays Friday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m. $20-$23. 643-2816.
Brice Woodall and the Positrons at Café Diem
Brice is mostly a Richmonder: Though he lives in Chicago, he spent seven years here before getting the Midwestern Itch. Besides, his band still lives here. So it's here that he returns for a CD release party for the band's newest album, "Feathery Trigger." Which means Richmond gets to claim all the excellent things about their sound: the floating, moody vocals, the layers of electronic beats over Woodall's distinct acoustic guitar work, the lightness of a Wilco tune and the density of a Radiohead one. A pop sound heard through an opium nap. Any frostbite or funny accents Woodall has come from Chicago, though. He and his band play Saturday, Jan. 20, at 9 p.m. with opener At the Stars. Free. 353-2500.
Out of Town Pick: Gomez at Starr Hill
British bands seem to have a knack for blending every kind of sound and getting it to work. Something changed the day a sitar crept into a Beatles recording, and it's been different ever since. Gomez inherits the legacy of blurred distinctions with its rotating singer duties and crafty use of electronics. Sure, it can harmonize on some snappy pop piece, then dig deep into Delta blues territory and come back up with an acoustic ballad or fuzzy bit of heavy guitar. Gomez is one multifaceted diamond, shifting and sliding styles around so confidently that any show might seem schizoid if it weren't so skillfully, purposefully done. And if it weren't so good. It's performing opening-band duties for O.A.R., but breaking off to play as headliners at Starr Hill Tuesday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. It's reason to drive to Charlottesville on a Tuesday. Justin Jones opens. $15-$17. Call (434) 977-0017 or visit www.starrhill.com.