Captain Obvious here: Jason Newsted is a metal icon. He replaced original Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, and played on some of the groupâ€™s biggest records. That being said, donâ€™t expect any metal riffs from Newstedâ€™s newest project, the Chophouse Band. This is strictly an acoustic ensemble. Newsted generally stays out of the spotlight whenever possible, one of the few artifacts from the band online is a fan-shot video in which they perform Woody Guthrieâ€™s â€œThis Land Is Your Land.â€ Newsted and group are sitting down, singing their hearts out, getting the whole audience to sing along. Itâ€™s a great performance. AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moeâ€™s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
THANA ALEXA PROJECT
Thana Alexa performed at Kuumbwa last November as part of drummer Antonio Sanchezâ€™s Migration, an ensemble built around her extraordinary ability to wield her voice like a horn player. Sheâ€™s honed a similar concept in her Project, though sheâ€™s also an incisive interpreter of lyrics (she displays both skills on her impressive debut album Ode to Heroes). Raised in Croatia during her teenage years, sheâ€™s a rising force in New York City, where sheâ€™s collaborated with heavyweight improvisers like Donny McCaslin and Wallace Roney. Her band features an international cast of young Gotham talent, including Austrian drummer Peter Kronreif, pianist Eden Ladin and bassist Noam Wiesenberg, who both hail from Israel, and local-cat-made-good Ben Flocks, the resourceful saxophonist who grew up in the Santa Cruz area. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 427-2227.
Local musician Henry Chadwick has been the subject of a lot press lately, including Rolling Stone, Time magazine, and a recent cover story from this very publication. Itâ€™s not hard to see why. His five song EP, Guest At Home, rocks pretty damn hard, and is insanely catchy. Thereâ€™s a hint of â€™60s psych-garage in the instrumentation, but the hooks are doused in Beatles. Really itâ€™s just timeless rock â€™nâ€™ roll music. I canâ€™t wait to see what heâ€™s got up his sleeve next. Heâ€™ll be backed by his group Battlesnake. Openers Jackie Zealous just released the record Psychic Data. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
FRIDAY 9/9 & SATURDAY 9/10
In the sacred oral history of the Lakota Sioux, a holy woman once saved the tribe from starvation by leading them to a massive herd of buffalo, before transforming into a white buffalo calf. For many native tribes, the white buffalo represents the power of faith, a symbol of abundance and manifestation. Singer Jake Smith literally chose his stage name out of a hat, so itâ€™s unlikely to hold the same significance for him. Despite this, his folksy country blues music couldnâ€™t be more representative of the mixed cultural heritage of the American West. He looks the part, too, with his tousled beard, long gray hair and grisly face; his imposing figure bears a striking resemblance to actor Jeff Bridges. The White Buffalo has contributed heavily to the soundtrack for FX television show Sons of Anarchy, and will grace Santa Cruz with his roughhewn baritone and driving rock for two weekend nights. KATIE SMALL
INFO: 9 p.m. Moeâ€™s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $19/adv, $24/door on Friday, $22/adv, $27/door on Saturday. 479-1854.
ZULU SPEAR & SPECIAL FUN
Pioneering world beat band Zulu Spear was a staple of the 1980s West Coast dance scene. Hailing from the Bay Area by way of South Africa, the band blends Afrobeat and African roots music, rhythms, instruments and harmonies with electric instruments and a contemporary vibe. On Saturday, the newly reformed band partners with Santa Cruz legend Special Fun, a lively world beat dance band that frequently shared stages with Zulu Spear back in the day and made a lasting impression on the local world beat scene. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixoteâ€™s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
In Mika Miko, the Clavin sisters produced some of the absolute weirdest, goofiest punk music ever committed to wax. In the band that followed, Bleached, they did a complete 180. The first record was a sunny pop album with no hint of punk. Their follow upâ€”the much better Welcome the Wormsâ€”was a return to their punk roots. Sort of. Itâ€™s loud, skuzzy, scary, and catchy. But the songs donâ€™t have the juvenile goofiness of their prior group, and thatâ€™s a good thing. Bleached has become a solid rock band with one foot in punk and one in beach-pop. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
When was the last time you heard sea chanteys performed live? Maybe â€¦ never? Well, hereâ€™s your chance. Local contemporary Celtic and folk outfit Charmas brings this rarely performed music to Felton for an evening of sing-alongs, merrymaking, storytelling and perhaps a tear or two. The evening promises to be filled with beautiful music and gripping sea songs that serve as the oral histories of Celtic and enslaved African sailors. CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Don Quixoteâ€™s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $12/adv, $14/door. 335-2800.
Apparently punk is alive and well in England. Legendary hardcore U.K. band Subhumans formed in Wiltshire in 1980 and have been faithfully producing â€œanarcho-punkâ€ ever since. The original lineup parted ways in â€™85, but reunited in the late â€™90s for a European tour that spawned a rebirth of angsty genius. After the original split, lead singer Dick Lucas went on to form ska bands Citizen Fish and Culture Shock, and masterfully cultivated a dedicated fanbase between all three acts. These days Subhumansâ€™ politically driven lyrics and gritty punk rock have taken on new significance for their diehard followers. KS
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 429-4135.
MILK CARTON KIDS
If your idea of folk music is Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel sharing the stage, harmonizing beautifully, and plucking along quietly, then the Milk Carton Kids is just the kind of folk youâ€™re looking for. The young duo plays acoustic guitars, and seem like they could have been plucked right out of a coffee shop in Greenwich Village on a lonely, stormy Tuesday night in the early â€™60s. Their harmonies are haunting and gorgeous, and the music is dramatic in the most perfect way possible. The world is taking notice of this talented duo. AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 423-8209.
MORELAND & ARBUCKLE
Drawing from the blues, folk, country and punk, Moreland & Arbuckle is one of the standout (if somewhat underappreciated) U.S. blues-rock acts. With a gritty sound, a strong Midwestern work ethicâ€”the band hails from Kansasâ€”and a pedal-to-the-metal approach to performing, the band has grown from regional garage blues outfit to a nationally-known act that caught the attention of celebrated swamp blues record label Alligator Records. Also on the bill: Jackson, Mississippi-based singer-songwriter Jarekus Singleton, one of the emerging stars of the contemporary blues scene. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Moeâ€™s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.
IN THE QUEUE
Legendary British rockers. Wednesday at Catalyst
All-star band led by Melvin Seals. Thursday at Don Quixoteâ€™s
Standout Mexican pop group. Thursday at Catalyst
CAROLYN SILLS COMBO
Fast-rising, local Western swing favorites. Saturday at Kuumbwa
Award-winning banjo duo. Sunday at Crepe Place