Patrick Watson, Bronze Radio Return, The Smashing Pumpkins and Lamb of God highlight this week's Fab Ten.

Joe Crookston entered Kent State University to study classical guitar. He confessed he had no working understanding of contemporary folk music.Invited by a friend to attend the Kent State Folk Festival, his response was "What's a folk festival?" Within two years, he had dropped out of school and moved East, where his first job was coordinating and booking a folk festival for Appel Farm Arts and Music Center in New Jersey.

It has worked out for the folk music world, as Crookston, in addition to being a fine player, turned out to be a storyteller of the first order, as well.

He'll be joined by Columbus-based singer-songwriter Rj Cowdery in a Six String Concerts-sponsored gig Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Columbus Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $23 at the door, $15 for students and $5 for children. Visit

Consider Mary Halvorson a jazz guitarist with massive compositional chops or a writer who happens to have a radical approach to guitar playing – it matters little.

Sonically surprising and structurally impressionistic, Halvorson bucks comparison.

She'll bring her quintet to the Wexner Center for the Arts Saturday, Dec. 1, for a cabaret-style show in the Performance Space. Tickets are $18. Visit

No, Lamb of God is not a show we missed in last week's Holiday Season preview edition of The Beat.

LoG singer Randy Blythe, you may have heard, awaits word on whether he will be ordered to return to the Czech Republic, where he was arrested this summer in connection with the death of an audience member who was thrown from the stage during a concert.

Meantime, the band is playing as much Stateside as it can, including a stop Sunday, Dec. 2, at Lifestyle Communities Pavilion. Tickets are $35/$38. Visit

Some things are hard to shake, and an image is one of them – especially when that image is self-cultivated over time.

Of course, silky-smooth singer R. Kelly doesn't seem interested in shaking his image at all. And although throat surgery slowed him down last year, he's still got a new record (Write Me Back) and tour (The Single Ladies Tour).

With opener Tamia, R. Kelly plays Veterans Memorial Auditorium Sunday, Dec. 2. Tickets are $49.50-$59.50. Visit

If it's possible to produce music both vast and minimalist at once, then that's Other Lives.

The Stillwater, Okla.-based quintet is touring in support of its second album, Tamer Animals. The tour stops at The Basement, with opener Indians, Tuesday, Dec. 4. Tickets are $12/$14. Visit

Darlings of the alt-rock scene two decades past, The Smashing Pumpkins maintain a certain deity-like status among fans who've grown up but haven't cast aside the innocent seriousness of their youth.

Indeed, mastermind Billy Corgan is writing the ongoing soundtrack for this generational biography, proving you don't have to give up the rock and roll just to try and mean something.

The Pumpkins are on the road in support of Oceania, and play the Newport Music Hall Tuesday, Dec. 4. Tickets are $42/$45. Visit

Primitive garage-punk oil-sweat-and-beer-soaked rocker Mark Sultan is a one-man band who can't be contained.

Sultan's shows are intense as any high-amped rock show, but are heightened rather than diminished by his street busker delivery.

In case we've just muddied the water for you, Sultan will be at Ace of Cups on Tuesday, Dec. 4, to clear things up. Visit

The Beat is trying to figure out whether it simplifies or complicates things that delicate indie songwriter Patrick Watson named his band Patrick Watson.

Watson's music is ultramodern in that its sensibilities borrow from forms old and new, and wields them all with a winsome beauty and a pensive melancholy.

Touring in support of 2012's Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the Montreal-based artist and band play the Wexner Center for the Arts Tuesday, Dec. 4. Tickets are $14. Visit

High on Fire emerged from the stoner rock scene inasmuchas frontman Matt Pike's previous outfit, Sleep, was noted for ponderous tuned-down sludgery. But his current power trio is considerably more aggressive, without abandoning its propulsive and monolithic qualities.

High on Fire plays Ace of Cups Wednesday, Dec. 5. Goatwhore and Columbus' own Lo Pan open. Tickets are $14/$16. Visit

You could use Bronze Radio Return's Shake Shake Shake if you were creating some sort of outer space thing or time capsule that was intended to represent 2012 to a culture that wouldn't have experienced it firsthand.

With abandon well below the reckless level and joy dutifully subdued, the Hartford-Conn.-based sextet writes tuneful melodies and delivers them with aplomb.

Hear for yourself at the Rumba Cafe Wednesday, Dec. 5. The Wheeler Brothers open. Tickets are $14. Visit