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FALL GUIDE '11: Music preview

Let the music play: Ten great concerts coming to town this fall

Given the number of venues, musicians, and concerts taking place any given week, it would be impossible for us to give you a comprehensive look at all of the popular-music concerts coming our way this fall. Instead several of the City Newspaper music writers have selected their picks for 10 can't-miss shows. For a full list of upcoming concerts go to the Events section of rochestercitynewspaper.com and limit your search to music.

1. John Hiatt & the Combo

John Hiatt's 1987 "Bring The Family" is easily one of my favorite albums ever. I had always enjoyed his songwriting, full of Dylan fire and Memphis soul, with a hint of pre-Vatican II Nashville. But the lyrics and atmosphere, the bare-boned honesty in "Family" burned steady and hot. Hiatt is in the same class of songwriters -- Costello, Lowe, Prine, Alvin, to name a few -- whose songs do all the talking. There's no show, no biz. They aren't pretty, but their music is. Hiatt was inducted into Nashville's Songwriter Hall of Fame in 2008. He delivers more of his exquisitely poignant and wry observations with brilliant hooks amidst his dusty Americana on "Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns," his 20th solo record, which was released this year. Hiatt plays Thursday, September 22, 8 p.m. at WaterStreetMusic Hall, 204 N. Water St. $45-$70. 325-5600, waterstreetmusic.com. -- BY FRANK DE BLASE

2. Deke Dickerson

Deke Dickerson is one of the best traditional rock 'n' roll guitarists alive. Don't let that mellow persona fool you; the cat can pick something fierce. Initially with the wild and loose outfit The Untamed Youth, Dickerson went on to play in the hillbilly-centric Dave and Deke Combo before going a la carte. Hallmark Guitars has built a Deke Dickerson model guitar that he plays when he isn't showcasing his vast array of odd vintage artillery, including Scotty Moore's amp. This will be a lesson in rock 'n' roll guitar you can dance to. Big Red and the Sideburns open. Dickerson plays Monday, September 26, 8:30 p.m. at Abilene, 153 Liberty Pole Way. $10. 232-3230, abilenebarandlounge.com. -- BY FRANK DE BLASE

3. Diana Ross

One of the most successful female recording artists of all time, R&B icon Diana Ross really needs no icon. From acting as lead vocalist of the Supremes in the 1960's, to her solo music career in the 1970's and 80's, to her award-winning acting career, Ross has racked up a stunning 18 No. 1 records and not one, but two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ross continues to show that after all these years, Motown, and her contributions to its enduring sound, aren't going anywhere. A showstopper, by whichever count you choose. Ross performs Wednesday, September 28, 8 p.m. at the Auditorium Theatre, 885 E. Main St. $59.50-119.50. 222-5000, rbtl.org. -- BY WILLIE CLARK

4. Primus

If you are a bass player, or even if you aren't, you've probably have heard of Les Claypool, lead singer and bass player of the funk-rock outfit Primus. The band went on hiatus back in 2000, and after a couple of flirts with touring, it's officially back on the scene. Making the tour extra special, Primus' first new full-length album in more than a decade, "Green Naugahyde," just hit shelves earlier in September. For you younger TV aficionados out there, yes, these are the guys that contributed the original "SouthPark" theme song, but the band's full repertoire goes much, much deeper. Primus performs Saturday, October 8, 8:30 p.m. at the Main Street Armory, 900 E. Main St. $38.50-$45. 232-3221, rochestermainstreetarmory.com. -- BY WILLIE CLARK

5. Andrew Bird

Who needs a whole band when you can get it done with one man? Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird sure doesn't, and his ever-powerful blend of folk styles is sure to captivate local audiences. A classically trained violinist, Bird brings everything he needs for a performance with him and does it all himself: his soaring vocals, violin, guitar, glockenspiel, and even whistling gets thrown into the mix. Bird has played everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Lollapalooza, and now he brings his deep and rich sound right here to Rochester. Martin Dosh opens. Bird plays Wednesday, October 12, 8 p.m. at Harro East Ballroom, 155 N. Chestnut St. $32.50. 454-0230, dansmallspresents.com. -- BY WILLIE CLARK

6. STS9

Atlanta electric-rock outfit Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) is a perfect band for those who enjoy both the rock world and the electric-laden tunes off the dance floor. Mixing rock with synth beats and a mash-up of other genres, STS9 is on tour behind its impressive 10th album. STS9 has played everywhere from Austin City Limits to Bonnaroo, from Fuji Rock, to Coachella, helping to forefront the ever growing electronic-rock crossover genre. STS9 plays Saturday, October 15, 9 p.m. at WaterStreetMusic Hall, 204 N. Water St. $20-$25. 546-3887, waterstreetmusic.com. -- BY WILLIE CLARK

7. The Pixies

No magic dust needed here: the legendary Boston alt-rock group makes a stop in Rochester as part of its "Doolittle Tour," named after the band's breakout 1989 album. This time around, the band -- Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal, and David Lovering -- is bringing the tour to cities it has never played before. Fans can expect to see the album performed live in its entirety, including some B-sides from the recording sessions thrown into the mix. West Palm Beach rockers Surfer Blood open. The Pixies play Wednesday, November 2, 7 p.m. at Main Street Armory, 900 E. Main St. $42.50-$50. 232-3221, rochestermainstreetarmory.com. -- BY WILLIE CLARK

8. Taking Back Sunday

Once a frontrunner in the emo-punk scene, Taking Back Sunday is, well, back, and taking no prisoners. Two EPs and a full-length album have all been released in 2011 (the band even contributed a song to the "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" soundtrack, for better or for worse), and TBS is showing that it is just as relevant as ever in a genre that it helped to define. Add to the fact that the band doesn't often play clubs, and you've got a show you can't, and shouldn't, miss. The Maine and Bad Rabbits open. Taking Back Sunday plays Wednesday, November 2, 7:30 p.m. at WaterStreetMusic Hall, 204 N. Water St. $23-$25. 546-3887, waterstreetmusic.com. -- BY WILLIE CLARK

9. Smokey Robinson

Singer, songwriter, producer, and all-around musical legend Smokey Robinson last performed in Rochester as part of the 2009 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, where he packed the Eastman Theatre. This fall he returns to Kodak Hall to headline Lifetime Assistance's Inspiration Award Event. Robinson is a soul and r'n'b genius who contributed heavily to the Motown cannon with songs such as "Shop Around," "Tracks of My Tears," "I Second that Emotion," "Get Ready," and others. The 2009 Jazz Fest crowd raved about his performance. Make sure you don't miss him this time around. Smokey Robinson performs Sunday, November 6, 7 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs St. $55-$125. 454-2100, Lifetimeassistance.org. -- BY ERIC REZSNYAK

10. Jeremy Pelt

Fiery trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is just one of the top-notch jazz stars on tap in the Exodus To Jazz fall line-up. On November 19 Pelt -- who prompts comparisons to Miles Davis -- joins the trio of Johnny O'Neal, a pianist talented enough to have been drafted for the role of Art Tatum in the 2004 film, "Ray." That's just the beginning. Superb saxophonist Kenny Garrett plays September 24, acclaimed singer Rene Marie takes the stage November 30, smooth jazz keyboardist Lao Tizer joins violinist Karen Briggs October 22 and Special EFX leader ChieliMinucci plays December 3. Jeremy Pelt performs Saturday, November 19, 8 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 111 N. Chestnut St. (note that some 2011-2012 Exodus to Jazz concerts will be held at Hochstein School of Music; check the website for details). $20-$35. Exodustojazz.com. -- BY RON NETSKY