Let's face it -- winter's been rough.
But here's the good news: March is not just about basketball and cleaning.
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It's also that special time of year when fans of live music start seeing their favorite performers hit the road, and this year is no exception.
Superstars Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and George Strait are among the biggest names in music coming to the suburbs in the next few weeks.
And if that doesn't do it for you, there are plenty of tribute concerts and even edgy rock music to shake off cabin fever and get into the swing of spring.
We combed through dozens of calendar listings for some of the best shows hitting the region.
All over the map
This is probably the only sentence referencing both Miley Cyrus and Gordon Lightfoot that you will ever read. But that's the beauty of the suburban scene -- it's not a scene at all.
Rick Springfield, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie -- He once wished he had "Jessie's Girl," and now Rick Springfield is ready to let you in on the back story. The actor-turned-musician plays a solo set with storytelling. Tickets cost $65-$95. northshorecenter.org.
Miley Cyrus, 7 p.m. Friday, March 7, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont -- She used to be such a nice girl. Now the former Disney star is bringing her twerktastic "Bangerz" tour, with openers Icona Pop, to the suburbs. $49.50 to $89.50. allstatearena.com.
Imagine Dragons, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont -- With openers Nico Vega and Naked and Famous, this Las Vegas alternative-rock outfit behind the hit "Radioactive" was called "the year's biggest breakout band" by MTV. Tickets cost $29.50-$49.50. allstatearena.com.
Demi Lovato, 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 14, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont -- Another child-star-turned-recording-artist hits the Allstate. Tickets cost $25-$69.50. allstatearena.com.
Gordon Lightfoot, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles -- This Canadian folk superstar and platinum-selling artist has an extensive catalog but is perhaps best known for the hits "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," "If You Could Read My Mind" and "Rainy Day People." Tickets run $49-$99. oshows.com.
Marc Cohn, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Elgin Community College's Blizzard Theatre in Elgin -- Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, best known for the song "Walking in Memphis," performs his own material, as well as music that inspired him as an artist. Tickets cost $36. elgin.edu/vpacevents.aspx.
Jimmie Vaughan, 8 p.m. Friday, March 21, at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles -- Sure, he's the brother of Texas blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, but you probably know this guitarist/singer-songwriter better for his work with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and hits such as "Tuff Enuff" and "Wrap It Up." Tickets are $39-$69. oshows.com.
Heavier sound, lighter price
Fans of music with a harder edge can find everything from experimental heavy metal to horror-themed punk rock at these smaller suburban hangouts.
Between the Buried and Me, 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, at Durty Nellie's in Palatine -- This experimental metal band is making a stop in the Northwest suburbs as part of its headlining tour with openers Deafheaven, whose fusion of black metal and post-rock is spreading fast in the underground. Tickets cost $20-$22. durtynellies.com.
Gin Blossoms, 8 p.m. Friday, March 7, at H.O.M.E. Bar in Arlington Heights -- The band behind the early 1990s hits "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You" re-formed in 2002 and has since released two records of new material. With openers Righteous Hillbillies. Tickets are $20. homebarchicago.com.
Calabrese, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 20, at BrauerHouse in Lombard -- Led by a trio of brothers from Antioch, this punk-rock band delivers catchy melodies rooted in horror-themed lyrics and has earned comparisons to the Ramones, the Misfits and the Damned. The show includes openers Dead Town Revival, Horror is Dead and the Audio Dead. Tickets cost $8-$10. brauerhouse.com.
Buckcherry, 10 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Austin's Fuel Room in Libertyville -- This raucous, classic rock-inspired band (whose name is a spoonerism for Chuck Berry) released its sixth album, "Confessions," last year. Tickets start at $25. austinsaloon.com.
From Libertyville and Skokie to Rosemont and Arlington Heights, there'll be country-tinged music in just about every flavor (yes, even country rap).
Uncle Kracker, 10 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Austin's Fuel Room in Libertyville -- The former DJ for Kid Rock is perhaps best known for the early 2000s rap/rock hits "Follow Me" and "Drift Away," but he's leaned toward a country rock sound in more recent years. Tickets run $18-$85. austinsaloon.com.
George Strait, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Allstate Arena in Rosemont -- They don't call this Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and music producer the "king of country" for nothing. Tickets run $74.50-$95.50. allstatearena.com.
Bubba Sparxxx, 9 p.m. Friday, March 21, at H.O.M.E. Bar in Arlington Heights -- Is it country or is it rap? Might as well dig out the cowboy boots if you have to ask (see hits "Deliverance" and "Ugly"). Tickets are $5. homebarchicago.com.
Clint Black, 8 p.m. Friday, March 28, at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie -- One of country music's biggest names -- perhaps best known for his triple-platinum albums "Killin' Time" and "Put Yourself in My Shoes" -- goes acoustic this time around. Tickets cost $58-$75. northshorecenter.org.
Remember when tribute concerts came in two varieties, Elvis or the Beatles? Those days are so gone.
The Straits, 8 p.m. Friday, March 7, at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles -- Led by former Dire Straits members Alan Clark and Chris White, this band re-creates the English supergroup experience, performing hits such as "Sultans of Swing," "Walk of Life" and "Money for Nothing." Tickets cost $39-$69. oshows.com.
Blackened/Judas Beast, 10 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Durty Nellie's in Palatine -- Raise those devil horns for a metal medley. These Chicago-based bands team up for a tribute trifecta, performing material by Metallica, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Tickets are $7. durtynellies.com.
The Orchestra, 7 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles -- Former members of Electric Light Orchestra (sans founding frontman Jeff Lynne) reunite to perform the symphonic rock band's biggest hits, such as "Evil Woman," "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Telephone Line." Tickets run $39-$79. oshows.com.
One Night of Queen, 8 p.m. Friday, March 21, at the Rosemont Theatre in Rosemont -- Gary Mullen and the Works are ready to rock the 'burbs (be sure to save space for Wayne and Garth). Active since 2002, this veteran tribute band tours internationally, re-creating the look, sound and feel of Queen. Tickets cost $25-$78.20. rosemonttheatre.com.
ABBA Mania, 8 p.m. Friday, March 21, at North Central College's Pfeiffer Hall in Naperville -- Need a reason to dance? This touring ABBA tribute plays all the hits by the Swedish chart-toppers, from "Mamma Mia" and "Dancing Queen" to "Voulez Vous" and "Super Trouper." Tickets are $25-$45. finearts.northcentralcollege.edu.
For fans of contemporary Christian music, there are two big shows coming to Hoffman Estates.
Casting Crowns, 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates -- This popular Christian rock band grew out of a youth group at a Baptist church in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the late 1990s. Since then, they've picked up both Grammy and Dove awards. Tickets run $32-$62. searscentre.com.
Newsboys/Lecrae, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates -- Award-winning acts the Newsboys and Lecrae headline Winter Jam 2014, with a mammoth lineup that also includes Tenth Avenue North, Thousand Foot Krutch, Plumb, NewSong and Colton Dixon. Cover charge $10. searscentre.com.