Barrence Whitfield’s down to earth and in outer space. The earthiness comes from his love for classic R&B/garage styles and space is the place for astral jazz traveler Sun Ra, who inspired Soul Flowers of Titan, Whitfield’s new album with the Savages, featuring whiplash guitarist Peter Greenberg. The locally based singer also flies from low grit to the outer limits of the sonic register with his legendary screeches, sure to be on display when Whitfield and the Savages (pictured) roar at the Middle East Upstairs with Mr. Airplane Man on Friday.
But that’s one option of a ridiculously crowded weekend slate. Friday also brings Irish troubadour Glen Hansard (best known for his band the Frames and star turn in the film “Once”) to House of Blues, while Canadian indie-rockers Born Ruffians hit the Sinclair. Mike Doughty performs his former band Soul Coughing’s entire 1996 album Irresistible Bliss (led by “Super Bon Bon”) in addition to his solo fare at City Winery, while the crack local soul-rock outfit OldJack plays City Winery’s cozy Haymarket Lounge on Friday.
The jazz rooms are busy as well, with saxophonist Jane Burnett leading her all-female Cuban outfit Marqueque at Scullers Jazz Club and bluesman Joe Louis Walker ripping up the Regattabar on Friday. Then Guatemalan sensation Gaby Moreno (who slayed on the recent “Celebrating David Bowie” tour) sings her songs at the Regattabar on Saturday. Cuban pianist Omar Sosa also shines in a cross-cultural trio with Senegalese kora ace Seckou Keita and percussionist Gustavo Ovalles in a World Music/CRASHarts concert at the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday.
At Berklee’s modern new performance space at 160 Massachusetts Ave., the Celebrity Series’ genre-busting Stave Sessions keeps rolling on Friday with My Brightest Diamond (the brainchild of singer Sharon Nova) and flutist Claire Chase and on Saturday with expansive local art-rockers Bent Knee with the Boston Conservatory at Berklee Percussion Ensemble. Other Saturday happenings include 16-year-old electropop upstart Billie Eilish at the Paradise Rock Club, cinematic synth-rock outfit Son Lux at the Sinclair, and a cool pairing of revived local rockers Hybrasil with the brash troubadour Hammel on Trial at Atwood’s Tavern.
Sunday’s also cooking with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and his Easy Eye Sound Revue with Robert Finley and Shannon Shaw at House of Blues, the shredding Canadian art collective Yamantaka//Sonic Titan at the Middle East Upstairs, and the stunning beyond-roots New Zealand singer/songwriter Marlon Williams at Great Scott. Finally, the great, eccentric Rickie Lee Jones holds court at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury on Sunday before hitting City Winery on Tuesday.