The Art of Cool Festival and the World of Bluegrass are descending upon the Triangle this weekend. But there are some other big shows to catch, too.
1. Carrie Underwood
The details: Sept. 30, 7 p.m. PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh. Tickets start at $42. 919-467-7825 or pncarena.com.
One of the most successful “American Idol” alums comes to PNC Arena while touring behind her latest album, “Cry Pretty,” her most ambitious project to date. After selling 70 million albums and selling out arenas, the country superstar pushes the envelope with her most colorful album.
“I have no idea why, but I wanted everything to be cinematic and dramatic (on ‘Cry Pretty’),” Underwood explained to The Guardian. “This album, things were a little more on the emotional side.”
Maddie & Tae and Runaway June will open.
2. Mavis Staples
The details: Oct. 3, 8 p.m. Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham. Tickets start at $39.71. 919-560-3030, carolinatheatre.org
Don’t take the stirring iconoclast for granted. Staples is 80, and she sounds remarkable. Staples, who easily straddles the world of gospel and secular, is touring behind her latest album, “We Get By,” which dropped in May.
Staples stays in shape by boxing. Her old pal Bob Dylan also boxes. Staples told Rolling Stone who would win a match between the two.
“I’d knock him out with one swing. He’s so little. It would hurt me to hit Bobby like that, but, oh, yeah, I’d take him out.”
3. The Head and the Heart
The details: Oct. 1, 8 p.m. Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh. Tickets start at $30. 919-996-8800, redhatamphitheater.com
The Seattle band is back after some personnel changes. But the group is better than ever with its latest album, “Living Mirage,” which features the act’s most accessible songs. Vocalist-guitarist Jonathan Russell said it helped to step outside the band’s comfort zone. “I got to work with people who write pop songs for pop singers,” Russell tells Rolling Stone. “And I finally got it. It was a hit-refresh button every day.”
4. Gary Allan
The details: Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh 7:30 p.m., Tickets start at $41.15. 919-996-8700, dukeenergycenterraleigh.com
The country star is reportedly close to releasing a new album and told the News Herald last year it will be “worth the wait.”
“I’ve cut, like, 25 songs now,” he said. “It’s made me sick because of how long it’s taken.”
Allan has had 14 songs land in the country Top 10 and five-chart toppers. Expect a bunch of the big hits, such as “Tough Little Boys” and “Watching Airplanes.”
5. The Righteous Brothers
The details: Sept. 29, 8 p.m., Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham. Tickets start at $49.50, 919-560-3030, carolinatheatre.org
The act weren’t brothers but they could churn out the blue-eyed soul. Surviving member Bill Medley will belt out the old hits with his pal Bucky Heard. “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” “Rock and Roll Heaven,” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” are locks to be delivered.