Live music highlights for the week of September 19, 2018.
Singer-songwriter Miro Gota likes to tell stories, like the guitar-slingers of yesteryear used to do. But her music is fun, light-hearted and will hook your heart before you realize you’ve been tapping your toe all along. “Crazy Cat Lady” is a touching song about finding a stray cat and adopting him. “New Plaid Shirt” is a self-empowering sing-along about finally getting over an ex-lover. Originally from Northern California, the young musician has since relocated to Nashville and has developed a touch of heartbroken twang to balance her penchant for bubblegum. AARON CARNES
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michael’s On Main, 2591 S. Main, Soquel. $12/adv, $15/door. 479-9777.
DEAN WEEN GROUP
For almost 30 years, Ween waged an absolute war on the border between music and comedy. They would take every idea seriously, even if that idea was rambling about “the blood from the panther” over elevator music. Since breaking up in 2012, the burden of that mad dream has now fallen to frontman Dean Ween, who released Rock2 this March, his second full-length with the Dean Ween Group. Rock2 is as virtuosic and inane as you’d expect from Deaner, proving that the borderlands between music and comedy aren’t safe just yet. MIKE HUGUENOR
INFO: 8 p.m. The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 423-1338.
Emily Cavanagh has a sweet, slightly old-timey voice accented with a delicate Irish lilt. It’s the perfect vehicle to deliver her soft-pop folk songs. Cavanagh uses thoughtful storytelling to craft twinkling, effervescent tunes that speak on finding joy and seeking optimism in dire circumstances without diminishing the trauma people are going through. Born in Chicago to an Irish-American family, Cavanagh spent time in Dublin to hone her songwriting skills. Now she collaborates with renowned musicians far and wide, and spins her own tales into high-spirited melodies. AMY BEE
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Central Coast ensemble Café Musique plays dance music for bibulous United Nations shindigs, the kind of parties where secrets are spilled, careers are ruined and diplomats let their hair down. The quintet combines an array of traditions, including tango, swing, blues and folk. They meld the disparate forms with instrumental bravado and emotional commitment. Featuring the fiery violinist and vocalist Brynn Albanese, string expert Eric Williams on guitar, ukulele, bouzouki and vocals, Duane Inglish on accordion, Craig Nuttycombe on guitar and vocals, and Fred Murray on bass and vocals. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320 Cedar St. #2, Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $32/door. 427-2227.
You gotta watch Amo Amo’s performance on “Jam in the Van,” just to see these guys. Most of the band members are sporting wacky heart-shaped sunglasses and the kind of thrift store hats you’d wear on a Hawaiian vacation. What I’m saying is these guys are really, really laid back, and musically, they deliver the easy-breezy goods. It’s a healthy blend of Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac, alongside some dreamy, harmony-rich ’60s psych-pop. And even within the down-tempo, don’t-move-too-much rock, the two singers unveil some seriously soulful vocals. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-6994.
THE HEART AND THE HEAD
Indie folk band the Heart and the Head have matured since their mega-successful folk-rock debut album for Sub Pop in 2011. They’ve maintained the acoustic intimacy and luscious, three-part harmony and bolstered it with almost—but not quite—country-rock guitar bravado. The six-member troupe easily maneuvers from radio-ready arena rock to tender, heart-in-throat maudlin folk-pop, and back to a feel-good Americana. Traversing both big successes and personal setbacks have led the Heart and the Head to a sound full of heartache, but tempered with cautious optimism. AB
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $42. 423-8209.
Listening to DJ Flamingosis is like blasting a funky 1970s Hollywood soundtrack into your ears; the light-as-air beats flow through the music on a river of euphoric melodies. All this ’70s dance music love earned him a shocking 15 million combined plays on Soundcloud for his first two albums. But don’t think he’s a one-hit—or twice-lucky—artist, as his latest album, Flight Fantastic, already has half a million listens—and it’s barely a month old. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $18/adv, $20/door. 423-1338.
SELWYN BIRCHWOOD BAND
Selwyn Birchwood has been playing the blues since he was 13, and was so good that by the age of 19, veteran bluesman Sonny Rhodes took him on tour. In 2010, Birchwood formed his current band and has since gone on to win a number of blues awards including the Albert King Guitarist of the Year Award in 2013 and the Blues Music Awards’ Best New Artist Album, for 2015’s Don’t Call No Ambulance. MW
INFO: 4 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.
One of the founding voices in Ethiopian pop music, Hailu Mergia is a living legend. Going back to the ’70s with the Walias Band, Mergia’s organ and accordion playing have been a cultural sieve, transposing American jazz, soul, and funk into the harmonic register of Ethiopia. In the ’80s, he released his first solo record, Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument, a striking work of organ, accordion, Moog, and drum machine. This year’s Lala Belu finds the master once again playing with a full band, and includes some of his most assured compositions yet. MH
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Drive, Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.