Sun., March 31, Heartless Bastards
Harlow's Restaurant & Nightclub, 8 p.m., $15
Let's count the reasons Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards deserves a spot on everyone's list of cool musicians: 1. She named her band Heartless Bastards because she thought it was funny. 2. Her voice is like the moody offspring of Lucinda Williams and Nina Simone. That's only two reasons, but they're more than enough. Wennerstrom, the frontwoman of the band originally from Ohio and now based in Austin, Texas, commands the bluesy, grungy and folksy group with a mournful swagger. Seldom these days do you hear vocals used as an instrument—wielded with precision and for a purpose—rather than simply a tool for carrying a melody; Wennerstrom never lets you forget. 2708 J Street, www.theheartlessbastards.com.