Quitapenas is an infectious afro-cuban dance band from the Inland Empire, thus adding further proof to my theory that all of the best music coming out of Southern California right now is from the Latino-American communities. Afro-cuban is an exciting genre that, as the title suggests, mixes Latin and African rhythms. But if you hear the term “afro-Cuban” and immediately feel like you’re reading a boring textbook, you are precisely the person that needs to shell out the modest door price and feel the band’s vibes in person. This is make-you-forget-all-your-cares music. The guys have such an interesting tropical-meets-lounge-meets-funk take on the music. AARON CARNES
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $7/adv, $10/door. 479-1854.
Remember “Far From Any Road,” the haunting song from season one of True Detective? That was the Handsome Family. A husband-and-wife Americana duo comprising Brett and Rennie Sparks, the Handsome Family does not sing about the good old days in the country or romanticize life on the land—they create dark, textured stories from the underside of the American West. At times shadowy and beautiful, and at other times terrifying, the music has an unsettling depth that makes the duo one of the most remarkable American roots acts around. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
Keron Salmon’s eclectic mix of hip-hop and reggae garnered internet fame in the early days of Myspace Music. The Kingston native drew inspiration from African roots for his stage name—Kabaka is Ugandan for king, and the long-lasting survival of the Pyramids of ancient Africa represent his “desire for longevity in music and his deep connection to Kemetic roots.” Kabaka Pyramid has made it his goal to leave spiritual messages for generations to come. Opening the set are Raging Fyah, a five-piece regarded as one of Jamaica’s most promising young acts for their nuanced harmonies and expressive roots rock reggae. KATIE SMALL
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 429-4135.
In 1970, Dave Mason released the album Alone Together, with the hit song “Only You Know and I Know.” The solo debut from the Traffic guitarist, who would later be inducted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the album is packed with star power, including Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell and Rita Coolidge, and has since become a staple of classic rock music collections. Mason is currently revisiting the masterpiece on his Alone Together Again Tour, along with his band, comprising Johnne Sambataro, Alvino Bennett, Tony Patler, and Bekka Bramlett—daughter of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, who toured with Mason in the 1970s and had a No. 2 hit on their own with Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know.” On Thursday, Mason and company hit the Rio. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $55/gen, $125/gold. 423-8209.
Former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell may be getting “the future of country music” write-ups in the press, but Patterson Hood—co-founder, and member of Drive-By Truckers—is a country-rock-Americana artist you don’t want to miss. He has a handful of solo albums, which aren’t far from the worn-torn roots sound that’s made Drive-By Truckers a favorite for folks seeking intelligent and vulnerable country-inspired music. Hood’s solo material taps into the bleakness, loneliness and regret of the music in a much more haunting way than when he’s surrounded by his longtime bandmates. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $22. 335-2800.
Two years ago, local folk ensemble Mylo Jenkins wrote the tearful ballad “California Funeral Song.” (“You died so sad and slow”). It may have been written a couple of years back, but hearing it, you can’t help but immediately be transported to the general despair of 2016’s election results. California may have overwhelmingly rejected Trump, but we are tied to the rest of the country in this epic intellectual and moral funeral. “California Funeral Song” is a sad, cathartic acoustic tune—the likes of which Mylo Jenkins delivers on the daily. It’ll hopefully heal your wounds enough to get you out of the house and back in action, to fight what’s most definitely wrong with our country over the coming years. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
Austin-natives Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins met during a mutual backup band stint for a Danish artist’s U.S. tour. With Wilson on violin and Beggins on ukulele, the pair share lead vocal and songwriting responsibilities, and are backed by a formidable five-piece band. Wild Child’s sound is difficult to pin down, landing somewhere between pop and indie rock, with distinct Romanian folk influences. The bright and cheery instrumentation contrasts with more serious lyrical material. As Wilson puts it, “The instruments may belong in a granola commercial, but what we’re saying is often dark and angry and bitter.” The group recorded their third album earlier this year in Dr. Dog’s “Mt. Slippery” studio in Pennsylvania. KS
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $14/adv, $17/door. 429-4135.
JIM KWESKIN & GEOFF MULDAUR
Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur led their own musical revolution in the 1960s with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, which reinvented early 20th century roots music for a new generation. They weren’t playing country music, they were playing boondocks music—the songs from way out in the sticks. And they inspired a whole lot of bands, including the Grateful Dead. The Jug Band also happens to be where Geoff Muldaur met Maria Muldaur (then known as Maria D’Amato) when she joined the band in 1963. Hmm, wonder if that went anywhere? In any case, Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur joined up again in 2006 for more Jug Band albums, recreating the chemistry that is partly responsible for the Americana movement as we know it. STEVE PALOPOLI
INFO: Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $32/gold circle. 479-9421.
ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT
The Robert Glasper Experiment gained fame and crossover success with 2012’s Black Radio, which won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album and 2013’s Black Radio II, Blue Note releases that found the ensemble keeping company with a succession of soul stars such as Lalah Hathaway, Erykah Badu, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Ledisi. After serving as music director on Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, Glasper decided the time was ripe to unleash the Experiment. Featuring Casey Benjamin on alto and soprano saxophone and vocoder, bassist Burniss Travis II, guitarist Mike Severson, and drummer Mark Colenburg (who’s propelled recent albums by Amos Lee, Maxwell, and A Tribe Called Quest), the band delivers a sleek mélange of grooves inflected by hip-hop, funk and Herbie Hancock-inspired 1970s jazz fusion. They even supply their own vocals on several pieces, to mostly good effect. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $35/adv, $40/door. 427-2227.
Guitarist Gary Hoey’s music spans the spectrum, from surf and prog to rock and the blues. A long-running favorite of fellow guitarists and fans alike, Hoey has been holding down instrumental rock guitar duties for more than 20 years and 20 albums—including several holiday albums that see the Boston-born rocker producing driving, shredding versions of classics tunes such as “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” A family-friendly entertainer who always makes time for his fans, Hoey has a reputation for rocking hard and celebrating the season in style. On Tuesday he brings his Ho Ho Hoey Rockin’ Holiday Tour to Moe’s. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 479-1854.
IN THE QUEUE
Acoustic guitar master and his trio play sounds of the season. Wednesday at Don Quixote’s
JIM KWESKIN & GEOFF MULDAUR
Genre-bending folk pioneer brings his duo to town. Saturday at Kuumbwa
Local favorite plays a farewell Santa Cruz show. Sunday at Kuumbwa
Legendary hip-hop group out of Cleveland. Sunday at Catalyst
Blues rock elder statesman. Sunday at Moe’s Alley