Rubber City Blues Festival
This weekend's eighth-annual Rubber City Blues Festival features a headliner who knows a thing or two about the blues. Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem to blues guitarist Johnny Copeland. By the time she was 16, she was singing with her dad. By the time she was 20, she had released her debut album, Turn the Heat Up!, which was an immediate hit with old-school blues fans. Since then, she's racked up tons of W.C. Handy Awards — blues music's equivalent of the Grammys, but cooler. The 31-year-old singer packs a big voice and is a favorite at blues fests around the country. Once she opens her mouth, you'll know why. Also on the bill is Debbie Davies, another badass blueswoman. Davies made her bones playing with blues legend Albert Collins. These days, she leads her own smokin' band. — Michael Gallucci
8:30 p.m. Friday, February 18. Tangier. Tickets: $30; call 330-376-7171 or go to thetangier.com.
Above all else, Martin Sexton is a man who loves what he does. Whenever he has a guitar in his hands (which seems to be most of the time), he rarely looks less than positively thrilled to be performing. He's a lot like the old-fashioned folk troubadours of the '60s, singing songs both personal and political with conviction. The 44-year-old singer-songwriter began his career in Boston almost two decades ago, selling cassette copies of his home-recorded first album, In the Journey, in the coffeehouses and on the streetcorners he used to play. His soulful, chameleonic voice effortlessly moves from tender falsetto to grizzled growl to even sounding like a soaring guitar solo at times. His latest album, Sugarcoating, came out about a year ago. But the best place to hear Sexton is onstage, where his mix of rock, country, R&B, and blues comes through loud and clear. — Bill Delaney
With Joanna Mosca. 8:30 p.m. Friday, February 18. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $22, $20 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or go to beachlandballroom.com.
Shaker Heights native Joshua Radin's songs recall '70s singer-songwriters like Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, and James Taylor. But like any modern-day folk singer worth his acoustic guitar, Radin (who now lives in New York City) has made a name for himself by placing songs on countless TV shows over the past five years, including Bones, Gossip Girl, and Grey's Anatomy. He's also a favorite among more sensitive American Idol hopefuls. Before he launched his music career, Radin was a teacher in Cleveland. So it's no big surprise that his new tour is tied to a program called Little Kids Rock that helps impoverished school systems continue musical education. He's even visited some classrooms on his tour stops and invited kids to join him onstage. Expect to hear plenty of songs from Radin's latest album, The Rock and the Tide, when he plays House of Blues this week. — Terry Jozwiak
With Cary Brothers and Laura Jansen. 8 p.m. Monday, February 21. House of Blues. Tickets: $17-$22; call 216-523-2583 or go to houseofblues.com.
The roots of Rasputina were planted when Melora Creager formed the Traveling Ladies' Cello Society in Brooklyn, New York. After some musical chairs, they became Rasputina, playing a sort of gothic cello rock. They landed a major-label deal and released their first album, Thanks for the Ether, in 1996. And from the start, they sounded like nobody else. Songs like "My Little Shirtwaist Fire" and "Transylvanian Concubine" were as weirdly Victorian as their titles. Collaborations with members of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails helped cement their image as goth folk rockers. Rasputina's seventh album, Sister Kinderhook, came out last year, and true to the band's way-old-school spirit, its themes cover everything from Colonial Federalism to 19th-century riots. The lineup and instrumentation may have changed over the years (there's banjo all over the new album), but Creager's classically trained cello and voice remain the constant draws. — Chrissy Niehaus
With Voltaire. 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 22. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $17, $15 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or go to beachlandballroom.com.
As frontman for Say Anything, Max Bemis has always been way more ambitious than most of his pop-punk peers. He's also more complex. The band's 2007 album, In Defense of the Genre, is a sprawling, two-CD concept record about an artist at the breaking point, filled with guest performances by pals like Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba, My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way, and Paramore's Hayley Williams. It's also Bemis' most autobiographical work, an open-wounds look at the bipolar disorder that landed him in a mental institution (the entire ordeal is covered on the album). Say Anything are still around — they toured last year and are now working on a new album, their first since 2009's self-titled release. But Bemis is hitting the road for a solo tour, playing acoustic songs he recorded as Max Bemis and the Painful Splits. Be sure to check out the merch table before and after the show, since it's the only place you can buy this solo material. — Gallucci
With River City Extension. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 17. Grog Shop. Tickets: $15, $12 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.