THURSDAY

Tom Russell at the Cactus Café.Folk singer-songwriter Tom Russell has forged an unusual life: a University of California Santa Barbara criminology graduate, he taught school in Nigeria during the Biafran war, played music in a Puerto Rican circus and worked as a taxi driver in Queens, New York. It's a varied life you can hear in his similarly varied blend of Americana and Tejano — and on his latest album, 'Blood and Candle Smoke,' his Calexico-featuring 24th studio full-length. 8:30 p.m. 2247 Guadalupe St. www.utexas.edu/txunion/ae/cactus. — Patrick Caldwell

Also recommended:Thao with the Get Down Stay Down at the Mohawk; Darling New Neighbors at the Austin Moose Lodge No. 1735, Prayer for Animals at the Hole in the Wall, Grupo Fantasma at Austin Music Hall.

FRIDAY

Monsters of Folk at Stubb's.This combo of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), raspy-voiced indie rocker M. Ward and producer/musician Mike Mogis released a self-titled debut in October, a low-key affair pulling from the diverse backgrounds of each member. Expect a marathon performance that includes material from the album as well as songs from past solo efforts. $36. 801 Red River St. stubbsaustin.com —Peter Mongillo

Also recommended: Mastodon, High on Fire, Dethklok, Converge at the Austin Music Hall; Elvis Perkins in Dearland, AA Bondy at the Parish; and Bishop Allen, Darwin Deez at the Mohawk.

SATURDAY

This Moment in Black History at Red 7.This frenetic punk band from Cleveland mixes explosive blues punk and garage rock. It's tight and loose in ways that only rock can be — precise, yet flailing with rhythmic guitar chug that slams against chased-by-wolves howl. With locals Fingaar Bangaar, the Gospel Truth and more. 10 p.m. $10. 611 E. Seventh St. 476-8100. www.myspace.com/redsevenaustin — Joe Gross

Also recommended:MercyMe at Austin Music Hall; Son Volt at Antones; Pong at the Continental Club; Ensiferum at Emo's; My Education at the Parish; Bruce Robison at Broken Spoke.

SUNDAY

The Swell Season at the Paramount Theatre.Folk duo Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová's work in 2007 sleeper hit musical drama 'Once' — including the lilting, intimate 'Falling Slowly' — won the pair an Oscar and the hearts of lovelorn dreamers everywhere. They've fallen into and out of love, a development that colors sophomore album 'Strict Joy,' and should make for an interesting on-stage dynamic. Will Hansard's notoriously charming stage banter survive the breakup intact? All signs point to yes. 7:30 p.m. $40-$45. 713 Congress Ave. 472-5470. www.austintheatre.org — P.C.

Also recommended:Peter, Bjorn and John at Emo's; Awesome New Republic at the Mohawk; Japanther at Red 7.

MONDAY

Rufus Wainwright at the Paramount Theater.Opera-loving indie crooner returns this year with 'Milwaukee At Last!!!,' recorded live in 2007 at the city's Pabst Theatre. The first night of a two-night stand at the Paramount, fans can expect a mix of Wainright's signature songs and vocal work and some new material as well. $25. Paramount Theatre. 713 Congress Ave. www.austintheatre.org — P.M.

Also recommended: Dale Watson and his Lone Stars at the Continental Club; and Mike and the Moonpies, Honky Kong, Original Mexican Bob at the Hole in the Wall.

TUESDAY

Blues Control at the Mohawk.Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho, a.k.a. Blues Control, specialize in gauzy-yet-kinetic sound fields that usually jell into something approaching songform, like hearing a garage band streaming from a moving car. The synthesizer beds often sound airy but trapped, like breathing in a mine. Drum loops dance in and out, melodies arrive and decay, guitars dressed in keyboard drag and circle the block, stumbling the whole time. With the Young and more. 10 p.m. $7, $9 for minors. 912 Red River St. www.mohawkaustin.com. — J.G.

Also recommended: Rufus Wainwright at the Paramount Theater; Say Anything at Emo's; Alejandro Escovedo at the Continental Club.

WEDNESDAY

The Mountain Goats at Antone's. For their most recent album, 'The Life of the World to Come,' the Mountain Goats — a.k.a. casually brilliant and oddly addictive songwriter John Danielle and whomever is with him at the time — riffed on Bible verses, morphing the stories in, for example, 'Hebrews 11:40' and 'Genesis 3:23' into typically incisive songwriting. With Final Fantasy. 8 p.m. $16. 213 W. Fifth St. 320-8424. www.antones.net. — J.G.

Also recommended: The Get Up Kids at Emo's; Imogen Heap at La Zona Rosa; Switchfoot at the Parish; Max Tundra at the Mohawk; One Hundred Flowers at the Independent.

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