HEAVEN FOR REAL
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a new band like Heaven For Real can so effectively marry unusual music with pop vocal hooks. Alternative rock bands have been doing it as long as there’s been rock. But … wow. These guys take some mellow rock beats, avant-garde noodling guitar licks and low-key catchy vocals melodies, and create something totally fresh. The Nova Scotia quartet will be releasing their debut LP on July 15, and it’s an oddball-pop gem. It brings to mind bands like Wire, but rather than beating you over the head with their odd approach to songwriting, they ease you into it with a spoonful of sugar. AARON CARNES
INFO: 6:30 p.m. SubRosa, 703 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 426-5242.
Part of the vibrant Austin, Texas music scene, Slaid Cleaves is deeply rooted in the folk-music tradition. In his early years, he drew heavily from Hank Williams material, which he used as a jumping-off point for his own melodic and lyrical style. Cleaves is now known around the world as a master craftsman of songs as he works raw ideas and material into shape with an economy of words and an insightful heart. He then sets them free again to connect with listeners how they may. His latest album, Still Fighting the War, is an emotional, pointed exploration of veterans coming home, having challenges, and not getting the help they need. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
Born in Bulgaria and raised in Venezuela, Hristo Vitchev has earned international attention while becoming a vital creative catalyst on the Bay Area jazz scene, particularly through his collaborations with other notable guitarists. His stellar quartet with powerhouse bassist Dan Robbins and veteran drummer Mike Shannon builds on his longtime partnership with Brazilian-born, Portland-based pianist Jasnam Daya Singh (formerly known as Weber Iago and Weber Drummond). It’s easy to get lost in the music’s shimmering timbres, but there’s tremendous harmonic depth and melodic invention along with the rippling sheen. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $18/adv, $23/door. 427-2227.
Gritty, raw and chock full of the blues, the Coffis Brothers and the Mountain Men are about as Santa Cruz as a band can get. Jamie and Kellen Coffis were born and raised in the local hills, blending a sound that combines their hometown with the polished styles of Tom Petty, Steve Earle and Neil Young. Their 2014 album Wrong Side of the Road is packed with stories of rambling through the American countryside, heartbreak, and personal redemption by staying true to their goals. They will be joined by another local favorite, McCoy Tyler, who will be debuting new music with a new band. MAT WEIR
INFO: 8pm. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9adv/$12door. 479-1854.
Originally from Kent, England, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Jon Cleary went to New Orleans after graduating from art school, and embedded himself in the city’s historic and lively musical environment. Now a celebrated blues, funk and New Orleans-style pianist who has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, B.B. King and many more, Cleary has established himself as a mainstay of the Crescent City scene and beyond, even taking home a Grammy this year for Best Regional Roots Music Album with his 2015 album Go Go Juice. CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
KUNG FU VAMPIRE
Since 1999, this San Jose rapper has combined hip-hop with over-the-top lyrics about monsters and gore, forging a style that has earned him a dedicated audience. Fans of Insane Clown Posse, Twiztid and Tech N9ne are probably already picking out their face paint in anticipation of this Saturday’s all-new show, with Kung Fu dropping his latest album, Look Alive, that night. MW
INFO: 8pm. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12adv/$15door. 429-4135.
THE HARMED BROTHERS
Does the Northwest have its own flavor of American roots music? There is a lot of it up there, like Portland’s Harmed Brothers, a two-piece with guitarists Ray Vietti and banjo player Alex Salcido. Perhaps the reason Northwest towns like Portland have so many indie-folk bands is that they’re the kind of places that attract brokenhearted drifters and wide-eyed dreamers—what better style of music is there for restless souls than folk and bluegrass? The Harmed Brothers are pros, or at least such true-spirited wandering souls that their music spills over with passion and heavy-hearted emotions. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Hailing from Folly Beach, South Carolina, Dangermuffin is not your typical Appalachian/roots/rock/groove band. Much of their music is about spirituality and truth seeking; meditation and yoga are regular events, and the band members—Dan Lotti, Mike Sivilli, Steven Sandifer—are all vegans. Perhaps most interestingly, the musical frequency the band records its albums in is chosen for its “nurturing potential.” Most artists today record in 440 Hz, but Dangermuffin records in 432 and 444 Hz, ancient frequencies, the latter of which was preferred by Vivaldi and violin maker Stradivarius. On Sunday, the visionary band hits Felton. CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $10. 335-2800.
WHEELER WALKER JR.
Rolling Stone deemed Wheeler Walker Jr.’s new album Redneck Shit “country’s filthiest album.” This isn’t embellishment. The album is really gross. His song “Sit On My Face” isn’t just a sex song, it’s an “I’m so horny I’ll put up with an unhygienic woman” gross-out tune. He even uploaded a video to YouTube detailing the very specific sex act he wants to do to Adele. Musically, he plays pretty straightforward outlaw country. He’s the perfect artist for anyone that likes 2 Live Crew for their lyrics, but prefers Waylon Jennings’ sound. AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
Hip-hop staple out of Boston. Wednesday at Catalyst
STAR LA’MOAN & THE KITCHENETTES
Blues, gypsy jazz and swamp rock. Wednesday at Don Quixote’s
SIERRA LEONE’S REFUGEE ALL-STARS
African and world beat from a band of former refugees. Thursday at Moe’s Alley
KUNG FU VAMPIRE
San Jose-based rap artist and group. Saturday at Catalyst
Santa Cruz-based singer-songwriter. Saturday at Crepe Place