“How You Like Me Now?” is easily the Heavy’s most recognizable tune. Released in 2009 while the group was getting a lot of hype, it’s a fun dance track that mixes old R&B, garage-rock and the simple yet effective sing-along-chorus—and very dark, very creepy lyrics (though few bothered to listen to them). Now the U.K. four-piece is back with a new record, Hurt & Merciless, with a new set of songs that are just as danceable and dark. AARON CARNES
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $18/adv, $20/door. 429-4135.
This British producer hit the U.K. dubstep scene in 2009, but abandoned his laptop the following year to embark on an entirely new endeavor. Armed with his Studer A80 master tape recorder, he spent the next five years engineering what would become his debut studio album, Elaenia. The seven-track recording is a masterful work of dance music woven with streams of classical, jazz, funk, and experimental instruments and sounds that won him critical acclaim. Oh, and did I mention that during the five-year recording process he also earned his doctorate in neuroscience? Maybe that’s why he can create infectious music that takes over the brain. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 429-4135.
DAVID NELSON + ERIC THOMPSON
For fans of American roots music, a performance by either David Nelson or Eric Thompson would more than suffice. Both musicians have excelled in the acoustic scene over the past several decades, though with less mainstream attention than some of their peers. Between them they’ve played with Bay Area roots legends like Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Peter Rowan and others. You put the two together, and they perform some incredibly vibrant acoustic duets. Their sound will be familiar to folks that have never heard them before, because they’ve influenced many musicians in the past several decades that came after them. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
Once described as San Francisco’s ambassadors of gypsy rock, Diego’s Umbrella blends Eastern European and traditional Roma music with rock, flamenco, ska, and a touch of polka. The resulting sound is not as crazy as it may sound—but it is as high-energy and wild as you might imagine, a musical tapestry that reflects our global culture of borderless musical styles. On Friday, the band hits Moe’s Alley, in what promises to be a sweaty, lively affair with non-stop dancing and celebration. Also on the bill: Georgia-based multi-instrumentalist Zach Deputy. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.
Local singer-songwriter Keith Greeninger has made quite the name for himself in the folk/Americana scene. Born in the Santa Clara Valley, he moved to Santa Cruz during his high-school years, leaving for Colorado soon after graduation. But Santa Cruz was in his blood, and he eventually returned. His thoughtful and catchy music reflects our local landscape with its soulful storytelling. He will be joined by his friend, David Jacobs-Strain, an Oregonian with a mean slide guitar and the heart of a bluesman. MW
INFO: 8 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz.$25/gen, $40/gold. 427-2227.
One of the standout young roots bands in Portland, the Harmed Brothers get right to the heart of things with acoustic-based music that is raw, honest and without pretension. Led by guitarist/vocalist Ray Vietti and banjo player/vocalist Alex Salcido, the band draws comparisons to early alt-country acts, including the pioneering band Uncle Tupelo—not bad for a couple of young artists with great musical chemistry and a penchant for making heartfelt roots music. As Vietti said last year, “We’re pretty good at making each other a little bit better.” CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Born into a musical family and growing up in his family’s shop, the Folk Music Center and Museum in Claremont, California, one would think Peter Harper would have gravitated to a career in music—his brother Ben certainly did. But Peter did his best to avoid music and took a different route, studying fine art and becoming a bronze sculptor. In the last few years, however, Peter has come around to embrace his musical DNA and is pursuing the singer-songwriter life, making music that is honest, warm, and stripped down. When asked about his change of heart around playing music, Peter has said it just didn’t feel right not to share his songs. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $7/adv, $10/door. 479-1854.
AVISHAI COHEN QUARTET
During his long run in the SFJAZZ Collective (2009-2015), Israeli-born trumpeter Avishai Cohen brought a bracing combination of poise, drama and technical bravado to the ensemble. Released in February, his new album Into the Silence revealed a different facet of his musical persona, with its brooding Romanticism, elegiac mood, and compressed lyricism. For his West Coast tour, he’s performing with a quartet propelled by Silence drummer Nasheet Waits, a superlative accompanist who spent years in pianist Jason Moran’s Bandwagon. Young Israeli bassist Tal Mashiach, who also performs with Cohen’s older sister, reed expert Anat Cohen, and pianist Jason Lindner, a member of Donny McCaslin’s electro-acoustic quartet recruited by David Bowie for Blackstar, round out the estimable band. This concert is half price for students. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 427-2227.
CAKES DA KILLA
There was a time when it was unheard of for a male rapper to be openly gay. Then, as society loosened up, artists emerged and plenty of articles were written on it, mostly taking a very serious tone. Cakes Da Killa emerged about five years ago, and then three years ago released his breakthrough mixtape, The Eulogy. As serious as the discussion about gender and orientation became around hip-hop, Cakes has delivered some of the most fun, raunchy, and hilarious music from any rapper in the past decade. His pronouncement of how much he loves having sex with men, in his rapid-fire Brooklyn flow, will bring to mind Nicki Minaj (but better). AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
Fun-loving reggae outfit from O’ahu, Hawaii. Wednesday at Moe’s Alley
ENSEMBLE MIK NAWOOJ
Genre-bending Bay Area band blending classical, jazz, and hip-hop. Thursday at Crepe Place
Local funk-rock power trio. Thursday at Kuumbwa
PRIDE & JOY
Beloved Bay Area band pays tribute to the Motown era. Friday at Don Quixote’s
Singer-songwriter and American Idol finalist. Sunday at Kuumbwa