IT’S ALMOST SPRINGTIME in Ithaca, though the climate hasn’t yet been convinced. Once it really warms up, the beer garden at The Westy is likely to be the hottest spot in town. But until then, Tim Meder the bar’s owner and all-around great guy, has been programming some quality music with increasing regularity. Two great shows are on tap this weekend, as is Ithaca Beer Company’s hoppy Cascazilla. Mike Stark and Zaun Marshburn play in several groups around town, but when they get together as mszm it’s truly a treat (6:30 p.m., Friday). And as mentioned last week, it’s been a full year since the Americana quartet Common Railers have played live. Join them Saturday at 9:00 p.m. (516 West State / Martin Luther King, Jr. Street)
Keeping on the theme of rare appearances, Plastic Nebraska spent a little time on hiatus, but came back with a vengeance late last year. Spooky, swampy and sexy, the band performed Halloween with anthropomorphic papier-mâché masks. (10:00 p.m. Saturday, at The Chapter House).
Improvisational guitarist Eugene Chadbourne is an underground music hero, former frontman for Shockabilly, and his shows are an anarchic freewheeling good time, no matter with whom he’s playing. Last time he stopped by Ithaca, he brought Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black; this year, Tatsuya Nakatani, from Osaka, inventor of many of his own percussion instruments. He plays bowed gongs and cymbals, singing bowls, bells and various metal objects to create an intense, organic music that defies genre. Music that’s based in free jazz and experimental rock–yet manages to respect the folk percussion traditions of Japan and pay homage to Johnny Cash’s train songs. (8:00 p.m., Monday, at Delilah’s on Cayuga).