If it’s Columbus Day weekend, it must be time for HONK! That 13th annual festival will see more than 28 activist street bands bounce between Davis and Harvard squares this weekend for what’s always a crowd-spinning experience. New participants swing from Cambridge’s high-school Band Land Brass Band to the Twin Cities’ Unlawful Assembly and Brazil’s Unidos do Swing. Here’s a link to the sprawling schedule.
But plenty of major concerts also beg for attention. Cat Power singer/songwriter Chan Marshall (pictured) has been busy out of the limelight in recent years, having a child and changing record labels. But the gauzily melancholy soul singer’s on tour behind Wanderer, her first album in six years, hitting the Paradise Rock Club on Friday –perhaps more settled onstage than in her bare-nerve past, even if that only added to her hypnotic allure. She’s up against other great shows in the indie-rock/soul sphere in the horn-stoked St. Paul and the Broken Bones at House of Blues and the Decemberists at the Orpheum Theatre, injecting a bit of synth-pop into their folky sound as well as good taste in having local songstress Marissa Nadler open.
Jeffrey Foucault, an acclaimed area troubadour of finely etched songs, celebrates his new album Blood Brothers at City Winery on Friday with his impressive band of Morphine drummer Billy Conway, Booker T bassist Jeremy Mose Curtis, Lucinda Williams guitarist Bo Ramsey and Pretenders pedal steel player Eric Heywood. And don’t miss opener Laurie Sargent, whose haunting Smiley Face drops later this month. Finally, if nostalgic piano jazz is more your forte this Friday, Diana Krall swings into Medford to charm fans at the old-fashioned Chevalier Theatre.
The weekend’s biggest show remains Elton John at TD Garden on Saturday, his first of at least a few Boston stops on his farewell tour over the next three years, heavy with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road favorites (plus a few deep cuts) and featuring longtime bandmates guitarist Davey Johnstone, drummer Nigel Olssen and percussionist Ray Cooper. You can’t get the same in-the-flesh experience for Pink Floyd (Roger Waters is the closest you’ll get these days), but fans of that band can settle for the Australian Pink Floyd Show at the Orpheum that night. Saturday also finds Vapors of Morphine returning to the Middle East Upstairs to rekindle Morphine’s landmark 1993 album Cure for Pain in two shows, while Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes shows another side of himself at City Winery.
Speaking of undersung Brits (at least on this side of the pond), Ben Howard brings his cool, atmospheric sound to Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (ok, he’s not that undersung!) on Sunday, while post-hardcore rockers Thrice hit House of Blues and Swedish emo-pop chanteuse Lykke Li gets dark and dreamy at the Paradise. Monday’s holiday also brings Christina Aguilera‘s comeback tour to the Boch Center Wang Theatre opposite Liz Phair returning to play Royale with opener Speedy Ortiz.