Music highlights for the week of August 30, 2017
It’s fine to call Wasabi a power trio, as long as you know that this prodigious triumvirate draws energy from a funk-fusion core of African diaspora grooves. Performing as part of the Jazz Center’s Live and Local series, the Santa Cruz combo continues to evolve, propelled by the huge, pliable sound of Dan Robbins’ bass, the dynamic trap work of drummer Alex Work and the melodically charged guitar of Ron Work. Derek Smith will be adding metallic textures and polyrhythmic support on steel pan, vibes and percussion, making this too-rare Wasabi repast even tangier than usual. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 P.M. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 427-2227.
Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser is a renowned musician whose artistry and work as an unofficial fiddle ambassador have made him a household name among Celtic music aficionados. In addition to 16-plus recordings of his own, the Northern California-based Fraser has been a force for reigniting the Scottish tradition of playing dance music on the fiddle (wee fiddle) and cello (big fiddle). On Friday, Fraser hosts the Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School’s 34th annual concert featuring more than 170 “enthusiastic musicians in a lively celebration of music, song and dance.” Featured artists include André Brunet, Evan Price, Natalie Haas, Pazzo Mehling and many more. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. $20.50-$24.50. 426-6966.
Miami hip-hop crew ¡Mayday! seems to have one mission in mind: to create the best party on the planet. It helps that it’s a crew—as in, there are two rappers, a percussionist, a bassist and a keyboard player in the band. In other words, it’s a band, which is not the norm these days in hip-hop. The group captures the sound of Miami, with a bit of the hard-hitting Southern hip-hop sound mixed into the never-ending party energy. The group’s latest effort, Search Party, is probably the closest the group have ever gotten to introspective. (Spoiler alert: it’s still full of bangers.) AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
SNAKE OIL SALESMEN
Landing in that sweet spot where the stripped-down neo-old-timiness of Old Crow Medicine Show and the Devil Makes Three overlaps with the drive of the Black Keys and the country soul of Waylon Jennings, the Snake Oil Salesmen simply describe themselves as “Americana.” Formed in Southern California in 2012, the band comprises singer-songwriter, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Clay Coughlin; upright bass player Tristan Cole-Falek, whose skillset includes being a master luthier who built both his bass and Clay’s signature guitar; and Nick Colliflower on drums. If unfiltered American rock ’n’ roll is your thing, don’t sleep on these guys. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
In 1992, Anthony B, a small-town Jamaican hopeful, headed to Kingston to make it as a spiritual, conscious reggae artist. Only problem: old-school religious roots reggae was out of fashion in Kingston in the ’90s. He managed to impress crowds by incorporating some of the sounds and rapping styles of the popular dancehall style, but what he sang about remained pure and true to any Jah-loving spiritual devotee. He’s released a couple dozen records and thousands of singles, and reigns as one of the leading roots reggae revival artists. It’s not exactly roots reggae revival at this point—but it’s close. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $26/adv, $30/door. 479-1854.
KIM LENZ & THE JAGUARS
It’s high praise in the rockabilly world (and music world at large) to be compared to Elvis Presley. The creative force that helped transform popular music is remembered by some as the gluttonous Vegas-style singer, but fans of early rock ’n’ roll know that before Elvis was the King, he was a young musician slinging a style that blended soul, blues, country and pop into what would become rockabilly. Los Angeles-based musician Kim Lenz is in the company of standout artists such as Wanda Jackson and Amy Winehouse in being compared to a young Elvis—and she’s earned the comparison. A dance-floor-packing frontwoman who’s been rocking since 1998, Lenz is one of the real-deal contemporary artists keeping early rock alive. CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $10. 335-2800.
SF rapper Berner loves weed. Maybe that isn’t a revelatory comment to make about any professional musician. But in the case of Berner, when he’s not spitting verses, he’s busy being a marijuana mogul. He’s created his own strains, and even considers himself a “brand ambassador.” So, in a way, you could view his weed-soaked rhymes as part of the overall product he’s building in the “weed lifestyle” market. Or maybe, he just knows how to make perfect stoner music because it’s his livelihood to get people high. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $35. 429.4135.
JETHRO TULL’S MARTIN BARRE BAND
The Atlantic recently ran an article calling prog-rock the whitest music ever. (“Audacious, innovative—and awful.”) Awful is a bit extreme, but it certainly is over the top. Still, what’s wrong with that? While we’re on the subject, can you think of a band that exemplifies the outrageous ’70s prog-rock aesthetic more than Jethro Tull? They had a flute in the band, for god’s sake! They also had a guitarist—an amazing one named Martin Barre, who’s known as one of the best soloists ever. If you want to see him rip some solos, or play some crazy overly-complex chops, he’ll be at Moe’s on Sunday. AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 479-1854.
Hawaiian music was already a firmly established part of the rising recording industry in 1915 when the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco sparked a national craze for ukuleles. At the same time, jazz was entering the American vernacular, and Hawaiian swing evolved naturally on hotel bandstands and cruise ships serving the islands. The roots of Kahulanui, a top Hawaiian swing band, dates back to that fertile era, when lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Lolena Naipo’s grandfather helped lead the ’Iolani Palace’s Royal Hawaiian Band. Featuring a core rhythm section of Patrick Eskildsen on electric bass, lead guitar and vocals, Duke Tatom on ukulele and vocals, Tim Taylor on drums and percussion, five horns, and Hawaiian steel guitar Dwight Tokumoto, Kahulanui delivers a sound that flows from Hawaii’s sweet air and sumptuous light. AG
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20/adv, $22/door. 335-2526.
IN THE QUEUE
Musical prodigy out of East Tennessee. Wednesday at Don Quixote’s
Electrified world fusion. Friday at Don Quixote’s
Hall of Fame blues harmonica artist. Saturday at Moe’s Alley
Bay Area folk, rock and newgrass. Saturday at Crepe Place
Legendary roots reggae group. Sunday at Catalyst