Live music highlights for the week of September 26, 2018
SHAKY HAND STRING BAND
Is there a difference between mountain-grass and standard old-timey bluegrass? This is the debate you will be having if you check out Colorado’s beloved finger-pickin quartet the Shaky Hand String Band. Instrumentally, these guys pluck with the finesse of the suit-wearing, cowboy-hat sporting traditionalists. But it’s just a wee bit more laid back. After all, these guys do call the Rocky Mountains home, and have a certain lifestyle that comes through in the song. Their bio describes it as “dogs, food, love, drinking, and all life’s questions.” Hey, that sounds an awful lot like Santa Cruz-grass! AARON CARNES
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret & Steakhouse, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
AL DI MEOLA
At the age of 19, Al Di Meola was hired to play with jazz giants Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. What better way to start off an amazing four-decade-long career? Now recognized as one of the world’s top jazz guitarists, Di Meola has recorded dozens of albums, collaborating with a who’s who of musicians from all over the world. On Sept. 26, he’ll be joined by Jordan Rudess—voted “Best Keyboardist of All Time” by Music Radar magazine—for a night of two stars burning bright. MAT WEIR
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $39/gen, $52/gold. 423-8209.
JOHN DOE FOLK TRIO
Musicians who survive their youth often wind up in a whole other genre. For John Doe, that has been a step away from incendiary punk and a return to the rural sounds of his youth: country, folk, and the wisdom of a dusty road. Since the last X record in 1993, Doe has released 11 solo albums (more than X’s whole discography), all of which show the continued relevance of his poetic songwriting. With his folk trio, Doe reorients the scrappiness of punk in the desert landscapes of his growing modern canon. MIKE HUGUENOR
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Drive, Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
THE SMOKING FLOWERS
The Smoking Flowers’ 2018 album Let’s Die Together plays like a Southern gothic, country-rock version of a famous Hunter S. Thompson quote. You know, the one about how we should arrive at the end of our lives used up, worn out, and thinking, “Wow! What a ride!” Two decades of marriage will do that to a couple. They certainly know how to express the grit and beauty of two lives lived in unison. The band’s musicality melds the best of roots music, blues and punk, creating a sound full of raucous energy, scratchy-voiced harmonies, and sweet duets, like Bonnie and Clyde celebrating the heist of the century. AMY BEE
INFO: 9 p.m., Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
San Francisco’s Geographer makes easy-going synth-pop. Frontman Mike Deni does it with semi-personal, and occasionally lovesick lyrics, but keeps a certain distance with his sultry voice and playboy charm. The music reigns in epic synth overtones with sincere piano riffs and the occasional snapping of fingers for percussion. It keeps the whole endeavor genuine without being too vulnerable or sentimental. Fans are sure to get lost in the slow-moving rhythms as they nod their way across the dance floor, feeling sensual and connected as the vape smoke surrounds them. AB
INFO: 9 p.m., Catalyst, Catalyst. 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 423-1338.
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE
Since its debut in 2010, the Human Experience has built a discography of unique electronic music that defies boundaries. From collaborating with folk musicians like Rising Appalachia to switching his live performances between a DJ set and a live band, David Block is constantly leaving his audience guessing. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 479-1854.
In their most recent music video, Fayuca are luchador-masked rebels, leading a warehouse of protesters against an oppressive regime. The video for “Por Que Seguir” is a timely statement, coming shortly before the Trump administration moved millions of dollars from FEMA into the coffers of border-trawling ICE. And for a group of Latinx musicians from Phoenix (home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio), it isn’t just art—it’s their lives. Fayuca’s blend of dub, reggae, punk, and Latin rock comes off sounding like a natural outgrowth of their home, culture, passions, and beliefs. Si se puede. MH
INFO: 9 p.m. The Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
Restlessly creative alto saxophonist Logan Richardson had already established himself as a powerful voice on the New York jazz scene with his 2016 major label debut Shift, a startlingly confident session featuring guitar legend Pat Metheny as a sideman. A native of Kansas City, where he absorbed jazz and blues history firsthand from legends such as Jay McShann and Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Richardson has been based in Paris for several years. He kicks off a West Coast tour celebrating the release of his sci-fi inspired new album Blues People in Santa Cruz with a killer young quartet from Kansas City including guitarist Igor Osypov and drummer Ryan J. Lee (who both play on the album) and electric bassist Dominique Sanders. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $: $26.25/adv, $31.50/door. 427-2227.
If you want a taste of the modern Celtic-influenced music currently coming out of Scotland, mark your calendars for Heron Valley’s upcoming show at Michael’s on Main. The five-piece has an exciting, emotive sound that is just a couple hairs away from what a lot of indie-folk bands here in the states are strumming. Just add some bagpipes and a whistle, and let your imagination fill in the blanks. AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 S. Main St., Soquel. $17/adv, $20/door. 479-9777.