The dead of winter is usually a slow time in the Boston clubs, even when the winter itself is extremely mild, like this year. But this month there are a few good local acts playing residencies-- playing the same club at the same time each week, for free-- that are well worth checking out.
Toad always has quality bands and never has a cover charge, and this month, the White Owls with Dennis Brennan are playing there every Monday. The White Owls play real blues songs, mostly from the 40's and 50's, and Brennan is always a lock for a quality show.
Also on Mondays this month, Atwoods has a bluegrass night featuring Sean Staples and Eric Royer. Staples and Royer are one half of the Resophonics, so they know their bluegrass and also how to put a new spin on the old tunes and keep them relevant and interesting.
On Tuesdays, The Blue Ribbons have a residency at Toad. Check out samples of their Tom Waits/Firewater-influenced sound on Allmusic.com, and you'll be surprised that you can catch them for free every Tuesday at a small club in Porter Square.
On Sunday afternoons, catch the Roy Sludge Trio in their residency at the new club Radio in Union Square, Somerville. As Sludge's Facebook page puts it, he plays "primarily country/rockabilly songs about drinking and truck driving." The band's album, "Too drunk to Truck" was described by Twangville.com as "Old school in all the best ways, it might as well be a collection of lost classics from the Sun Studios archive." Frequently featuring guitar hotshot Duke Levine, the Sludge Trio hits the stage early, at 4:00 PM. No cover for these shows either.