Let me start by wishing you all a five-star long weekend as we cruise into June under at least partially sunny skies.

I find myself almost at a loss for words which, not to shock you, doesn’t happen that often. My state of tongue-tied bliss can be attributed to what’s happening over the next two nights.

In addition to a performance at Slainte tonight by the provocative Dudley Saunders, there are not one, not two, but three out-of-this-world shows happening Friday.

Two of them are in celebration of new records from Honey Clouds and Spouse. I am beside myself, with smelling salts, in a state of musical rapture. I am high-fiving myself for living in a mecca of hugely talented local musicians who cover more genres than you can shake your marshmallow roasting stick at. I am sighing with appreciation that the ones who don’t live here make damn sure they come and play in Portland and its surrounding towns.

So take your pick of shows and when the music’s over, go buy your hot dogs and rolls, lighter fluid and favorite beverage and have yourselves a dandy Memorial Day.

Kentucky-born and Los Angeles-based musician Dudley Saunders was a performance artist in New York City’s East Village in the latter part of the 1980s when it became evident to those around him that his songs needed to be recorded. Fast forward to 2009 and his third record, “The Emergency Lane.” I’ve been listening to it for about a month and continue to be held spellbound by its 13 songs that turn a whole mess of things inside out.

Saunders does this with a vibrato voice surrounded by his acoustic guitars, and the electric guitars, harmonium, mandolin, accordion, dobro, cello, viola, violin, bass and drums of the “Emergency Lane” players.

Where he really beats conventional wisdom with a stick is lyrically. The song “Love Song for Jeffrey Dahmer” is vexatious in that it’s an account, of sorts, from Dahmer’s vantage point, and by definition it is appalling. But here’s the catch: Saunders voice floats across the slow and dreamy tune, and with a refrain of “Oh baby, baby, you are my sweet baby,” the song is quite nice. And yet I feel weird about liking a song about Jeffrey Dahmer. Hear what I mean at www.myspace.com/dudleysaunders.

Not every song presents such dilemmas. “Take Me Back Home Again,” is a buoyant tale of a road weary soul seeking refuge. “Offer a beer to me and make it clear to me, we’re the only ones in this room,” he sings. Above all, Saunders is an unflinching storyteller and he goes to some pretty dark places in his songs, yet I find them accessible and enjoyable because of his voice and instrumentation.

Dudley Saunders. 10 p.m. tonight. Slainte, 24 Preble St., Portland. Ages 21 and older.

As far as I’m concerned, Portlander Ron Harrity has the Midas touch. His label, Peapod Recordings, is one I liken to the British 4AD. Usually, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or an album by its label, but there’s the rare exception. Historically, I knew I’d either love or have keen appreciation for anything 4AD released. The same can be said for Peapod Recordings.

With artists like South China, Dead End Armory, Hearts by Darts and several others, I pray at the Peapod altar and think Ron Harrity is pretty much all that and about 687 bags of chips. The latest Peapod release is Harrity’s very own band (he’s the guitarist), Honey Clouds. Harrity and his group, Sean Wilkinson, Mandy Wheeler and Trey Hughes, all love and are influenced by ’60s psychedelic and ’90s indie rock.

The band’s latest work is called “Cover the Forest” and I am going to wax poetic about it via my new, biweekly local album reviews in GO, which roll out in June. As I write this, the full length Honey Clouds CD is still en route to my hot little hands, but Harrity did e-mail me some MP3s, and if “Fever Rabbit,” “Still as You” and “Crumble on the Shore” are any indication, I’m already headed for trouble with keeping to the word count for the upcoming album review. Oh happy day.

Celebrate the release of “Cover the Forest” on Friday night along with two other terrific bands – Foam Castles (www.myspace.com/foamcastles) of the Peapod fold and Dover, N.H.’s Tan Vampires (www.myspace.com/tanvampires).

Honey Clouds CD Release Show with Tan Vampires & Foam Castles. 9 p.m. Friday. Space Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland. Ages 18 and older. $6 tickets available at Bull Moose locations and www.space538.org.

Along with Honey Clouds, I’ll be giving the new Spouse CD, “Confidence,” its proper due next month. But I can’t possibly keep my glee in check until then, especially since Spouse’s CD release show is also on Friday night. Dare I say it’s the group’s best album yet?

I thought nothing could top “Are You Gonna Kiss or Wave Goodbye?” but “Confidence” is giving it a run for its money. “No Sudden Moves,” starts the album out on a rousing, ready for business note. “We wish to stand in the back; we wish to keep to ourselves. So go ahead and relax, we promise no sudden moves.” Nine tracks later, “Confidence” closes out with the 7-minute-plus “Success.” Jose Ayerye’s voice packs an especially ardent punch and the song’s musical orchestration is freakin’ awesome.

Hear Spouse in all its new album glory at Empire Dine & Dance and you’ll also get to hear Dave Martin (from O Positive), the Townies and Doug Cowan (from Bullyclub and Welterweight).

Spouse CD Release Show with Dave Martin, the Townies and Doug Cowan. 9 p.m. Friday. Empire Dine & Dance, 575 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. $5.

Audrey Ryan
plays the guitar, accordion, keyboard, violin, banjo, drums, percussion and whatever else she can get her hands on. Her address is almost as diverse as she skips from Maine to Massachusetts to New York. Her musical career traces back to college days, when she played fiddle in jazz and bluegrass groups before focusing on her solo work with guitar and piano. Since then she’s released two EPs and three full-length records. Her latest one is called “I know, I know.” It was made on a four-track in what Ryan describes as “one-man-band” fashion, in that she plays all the instruments. The result is 10 scintillating songs enriched by Ryan’s radiant voice, the aforementioned multiplicity of sounds, and lyrics that are equal parts quirky and smart. “And then there is you living in your shoe. Falling on a dime and running out of time,” sings Ryan in “Ducks in a Row.”

Sonya Cotton is a San Francisco artist. Ryan told me in an e-mail that Cotton’s music is really beautiful and she wasn’t kidding. My eyes welled up in that “I love music so much” kind of way after hearing about 23 seconds of  “Open Owl Face” and then “The Light around Your Legs” at www.myspace.com/sonyacotton. Between MySpace and www.sonyacotton.com, her songs put me over the moon and far out into the orbit of Cotton’s music.

Sonya Cotton, Audrey Ryan and Courtney Naliboff. 8 p.m. Friday. Hogfarm Studios Annex, 140 Main St. Ste, 107 Back Alley, Biddeford. All ages. $8 at the door.

Aimsel Ponti is a Portland freelance writer. Contact her at:

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