The Growlers

Santa Cruz Music Picks Feb 15—21

Live music in Santa Cruz County for the week of February 15, 2017





What do you call it? Newgrass? Jamgrass? How about alt-bluegrass? However you want to describe it, this is some seriously high-energy roots dance music. The five-piece Dusty Green Bones Band, which formed in the Bay Area a few years back, has made it a mission to get folks all over the West Coast stomping their feet wherever the band plays. The bluegrass energy and string interplay is there, but the group incorporates electric instruments and drums, so it’s got everything you love about traditional bluegrass—and more. Opening the show is Eugene, Oregon’s Blue Lotus, a heavier, bluesier band that will give Dusty Green Bones Band a run for their money in terms of infectious danceability. AARON CARNES

INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $7/adv, $10/door. 479-1854.





One of the choice acts of the 1970s roots reggae scene, the Gladiators worked with legendary Jamaican producer Coxsone Dodd in the late-70s. When the group teamed up with Studio One it had its biggest hits with “Bongo Red,” “Jah Jah Go Before Us,” “Mr. Baldwin” and “Roots Natty.” The Studio One stint launched them into the international spotlight and attracted the attention of major labels, critics and fans alike. On Thursday, the band returns to town, fronted by vocalist Droop Lion, nephew of founding member David Webber. CAT JOHNSON

INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.


THURSDAY & FRIDAY 2/16 & 2/17



The whole Southern California garage rock scene gets a bad rap as a bunch of bands that all sound the same. It’s just not true. A great example its diversity is the Growlers, a band that has a dark, moody pop sound. The members call it “beach goth,” which might be a bit of hyperbole. But they do manage to cram elements that are dark, hooky, depressive, and dance-party fun into each song. This unique sound has helped the band build an impressive fan base. They are playing the Catalyst twice just to please all of their rabid fans. AC

INFO: 8 p.m. (Thu), 9 p.m. (Fri) Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25. 429-4135.





A ripping banjo player who received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass award in 2015, Danny Barnes is no slouch when it comes to traditional music. But Barnes is not your run-of-the-mill bluegrass player. The road-tested artist, who plays 150 dates per year, sidesteps traditional confines to create what he calls “barnyard electronics,” a unique sound made from combining bluegrass, noise, rock and electronic music via a custom computer program. Bridging experimental techniques with a mastery of bluegrass and folk techniques, Barnes is one of the most groundbreaking roots artists around. CJ

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.



A rough-around-the-edges outfit that is impossible to pin down, El Radio Fantastique throws pop, international, psychedelia, rock and New Orleans funk into a musical stew that is unpredictable, engaging, odd, and completely danceable. Hailing from Point Reyes Station, El Radio Fantastique, led by charismatic frontman Giovanni Di Morente, who also plays flute, guitar, sax, theremin and percussion, is one of those see-it-to-believe-it acts. As one review put it, “If Anton LaVey, Frank Sinatra and David Bowie dropped acid in New Orleans and had an orgy with the Beatles, their unholy offspring would be El Radio Fantastique.” CJ

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.





Jazz and country music are too often cast as antithetical cultural currents, with the former representing the bustling urban experience and the latter standing in for white rural and suburbanites. But great musicians can find inspiration anywhere, and the insistently creative guitarist John Scofield harkens back to his early love of Nashville on his recent album Country For Old Men. Simultaneously paying loving homage and reinventing classic songs by master tunesmiths like Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, and George Jones, Scofield makes each piece feel like it was conceived as a vehicle for jazz expression. For this West Coast tour, he’s joined by longtime collaborators Larry Goldings (piano) and Bill Stewart (drums), who both perform on the album, and ace bassist Vicente Archer (taking over legendary Steve Swallow). ANDREW GILBERT

INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 427-2227.



GAMMA was an underrated early metal band. What’s kept the music potent is the mix of guitarist Ronnie Montrose’s heavy blues licks and singer Davey Pattison’s piercing vocals. The band’s original run was from’ 78 to ’83, but started back up in 2000. When Montrose passed away in 2013, the remaining members put on a powerful tribute show for him in San Francisco. It was such a success that the group has managed to continue on, even without Montrose slinging the axe. Anyone that likes ’70s metal should check this out. Pattison still leads this band with ferocity. AC

INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20/adv, $23/door. 335-2800.





When asked what she’d tell people to get them to come out to her show at the Crepe Place, singer Natalie Mering simply replied, “I have a really good voice.” I think she said it half-jokingly, but it’s true regardless. Her voice is beautiful—haunting, elegant, dramatic, and a perfect match for the power-pop psych-folk she performs with her L.A.-based band, Weyes Blood. The lyrical content of Weyes Blood’s most recent album, Front Row Seat to Earth, reflects on current events, effects of technology on society and culture, and our changing environment. Joni Mitchell and Enya are clear influences. Sharing the bill are Fatal Jamz (L.A.) and Plush (San Francisco). KATIE SMALL

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-6994.





Indie rock duo the Palms is from L.A.—if the band’s name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, its sound and aesthetic should be. Think leather jackets, tight jeans and perfect hair. The Palms’ sound matches that clean but cool L.A. hipster vibe: minimal melodies blended with elements of pop, blues, hip-hop, psych rock, and even a hint of reggae; nasally vocals feature prominently. Formed in 2015, the duo has gained an impressive online following in a short amount of time, all without a label, publicist, or budget to speak of. For fans of Cage the Elephant, Portugal. The Man, and the Kooks. KS

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-4135.



Post-rock, electronica and “noir jazz.” Wednesday at Don Quixote’s


Multi-media tribute to blueswomen. Thursday at Kuumbwa


Local singer-songwriter favorite. Thursday at Crepe Place


Country-funk out of San Francisco. Thursday at Moe’s Alley

One Night of Queen

Gary Mullens and the Works celebrate the legendary rock band. Tuesday at Rio Theatre

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