The Two Gallants had me at James Joyce.

I was sold on the San Francisco duo from the moment I learned that they had taken their moniker from the pages of Joyce's wonderful collection of short stories, "The Dubliners." That the duo -- Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel -- also recorded and performed compelling indie-folk-rock was really just the icing on the cake.

I'm not sure, however, if the name fits.

The "Two Gallants" -- the short story, not the band -- is a harsh tale of con men, swindlers and dupes, at least from what I remember from reading it for a college course. Now that I think about it, it's time for me to reread "The Dubliners," which I'll do right after I recommend that music fans check out the Two Gallants (the band, not the short story) in concert Saturday at the Fillmore in San Francisco. It's an opportunity to catch up with one of the more talented acts on the local indie scene.

And there is certainly lots of catching up to do. After a productive start, releasing three albums in four years (2004-07), the group has been fairly quiet in recent years. However, it has finally returned with a fourth full-length affair, "The Bloom and the Blight," which follows 2007's self-titled effort. It's the Two Gallants' first release for ATO Records, which is the label cofounded by Dave Matthews.

Showtime is 9 p.m. Akron/Family opens the concert. Tickets are $22.50 at www.livenation.com.

THE STRAIT TRUTH: It's going to be a long drive -- but well worth it. It looks like it's my one shot at saying goodbye.


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That's why I'll make the trek to Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Thursday to catch George Strait's farewell tour, which for some bizarre reason isn't stopping in the Bay Area. It's a pilgrimage I feel compelled to make. I just have to see the "King of Country" one more time.

There have been, of course, many contenders/pretenders to the country throne over the decades. None of them can match Strait's credentials.

He has scored a staggering 59 No. 1 hits in his career -- more than any artist (country or otherwise) in history. Unlike many country chart-toppers, most of Strait's smashes have stood the test of time. He's also sold more than 68 million albums in the U.S. alone, which is a tad short of Michael Jackson's tally and just above the Rolling Stones' total. The only country artist to have sold more, at least in the U.S., is Garth Brooks.

I have many memories connected to Strait's mighty songbook. The tunes that resonate the loudest with me are the 1980s tear-jerkers, such as "A Fire I Can't Put Out," "You Look So Good in Love," "Let's Fall to Pieces Together," "The Chair" and "What's Going On in Your World" (all of which were No. 1 country hits).

Another big selling point of Strait's Cowboy Rides Away Tour is the opening act, Martina McBride, who is hands-down the best female country artist of the past 20-plus years. She's also my pick for the genre's best live act.

I'll be tweeting about the journey, during stops to fuel up at gas stations and at Jimboy's Tacos, as well as, of course, from the actual concert. So feel free to follow along on Twitter (my handle is @jimthecritic). Better yet, why don't you join me in Sacramento for the concert? Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $69.50-$89.50 at www.ticketmaster.com.

SEEING 'SOUND CITY': What do Nirvana's "Nevermind," Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Damn the Torpedoes" and "Rage Against the Machine" have in common? (Besides all being great albums, of course).

All five, and many others, were crafted at Los Angeles' truly legendary Sound City recording studios.

The studio is the subject of a new documentary film, "Sound City," which hits local theaters for a limited engagement this week. The film was directed by none other than Dave Grohl, who was a member of Nirvana when the band recorded its genre-defining "Nevermind" at Sound City in 1991.

Sound City has quite the colorful history, ranging from the famous to the infamous. Not only was it the birthplace of such true rock 'n' roll classics as "Rumours" and "After the Gold Rush," but it also once served as the site for some recording sessions by cult leader Charles Manson.

"Sound City" screens at 7 p.m. Thursday at Berkeley's Shattuck Cinemas (www.landmarktheatres.com) and Thursday through Monday at San Francisco's Roxie Theater (www.roxie.com).

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.