As a youngster in Palolo Valley on Oahu, Hawaii, John Cruz grew up surrounded by music. His grandma sang in church, his mom had Motown records on regular rotation, his dad got him onstage early, and his extended family of aunties, uncles, cousins, siblings and neighbors all brought music into the young Cruz’s life. This immersion technique seemed to work—Cruz is now one of the most beloved and celebrated contemporary Hawaiian musicians. With a warm, sweet voice, soulful and passionate delivery and melodies that bring aloha to any moment, the award-winning Cruz is well-respected by fellow musicians, fans and Hawaiian locals, alike. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
You can hear the timber of the acoustic strings rattle as though they were being gently strummed into your ear. The hearty, folksy sound of the Michigan Rattlers 2016 debut EP is the perfect backdrop for the honest stories of personal struggle contained within. Guitarist Graham Young describes it as “People trying to overcome life’s obstacles.” The music constantly maintains a hopeful heartland sound, mixing rock, folk, and country in a way that screams “Rural America” in all the best ways possible. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
There aren’t many 90-year-old singer-songwriters still touring, but Barbara Dane is no ordinary singer-songwriter. Born in Detroit in 1927, Dane has spent a lifetime singing and speaking out for social justice. Mentored by Pete Seeger, Dane sang at demonstrations around the country in the 1960s and ’70s, from small towns and the Freedom Schools of rural Mississippi to gatherings in Washington, D.C. and military bases in Europe and Japan. In l966, Dane became the first American performing artist to tour post-revolutionary Cuba. Blending folk and blues with what’s described as an indomitable and outspoken spirit, Dane continues to work for peace, social justice and civil rights. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a living legend of American folk music. CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 427-2227.
Since 1992, Evidence, DJ Baabu and Rakaa—also known as Dilated Peoples—have rocked the underground hip-hop scene with their catchy beats and multifaceted lyrics. In 2014, they released their sixth album, Directors of Photography, which debuted on Rhymesayers Entertainment—a label that seems an appropriate fit for the conscious rappers. This Friday they make their Moe’s Alley debut with DJ Zeph, an artist who keeps old school hip-hop alive with James Brown-like sampled beats. This is one night hip-hop heads can’t miss—but make sure to be there early, chances are this line-up will sell out quickly. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $26/adv, $30/door. 479-1854.
VIEUX FARKA TOURÉ
Ali Farka Touré is known as the guy that introduced “desert blues” to the world in the late ’80s. It’s a cool-sounding phrase, but what does it mean? Listeners will hear elements of traditional American smoky blues, mixed with the West African music where Touré comes from. But honestly, it’s more seamless than that. His son Vieux Farka Touré has carried on his father’s legacy. Initially, he did so in secrecy. (His dad wanted him to be a soldier.) Vieux started releasing albums a decade ago. Since then, he’s worked with several esteemed musicians like Derek Trucks, Dave Matthews, and John Scofield. AC
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $28.50/gen, $40/gold. 427-2227.
PSYCHEDELIC JAM DANCE PARTY
SLINGSHOT ON MARS
Leading Santa Cruz exporter of guitar craziness Henry Kaiser is very concerned that in all of the spaciness surrounding Grateful Dead tribute bands, people have forgotten that Garcia and company originally started out as a dance band. Now, this doesn’t mean that Kaiser has something against spaciness—far from it. So at this one-time-only event, Kaiser and friends will let Dead fans have it both ways—revisiting early songs from the band with both the trippy and dance-y dials turned to 11. He’s wisely enlisted the help of longtime collaborator Bob Bralove, perhaps best known for producing the Grateful Dead album Infrared Roses, as well as Matt Hartle, Ezra Lipp and Roger Sideman. If you still have any doubt about Kaiser and Bralove’s freak credentials, check out their mind-bending new CD, Positively Space Music. STEVE PALOPOLI
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $12/adv, $25/door. 335-2800.
ZAKIR HUSSAIN & RAHUL SHARMA
Two of the world’s premier classical Indian musicians, Zakir Hussain (on the tabla) and Rahul Sharma (on the santoor) have been teaming up since their 2010 album, Rhythm of Love, fusing traditional Indian styles with a contemporary approach. Which makes sense, since both are sons of traditional players and have collaborated with such musicians like Kenny G, Mickey Hart, Van Morrison and others. This will be the duo’s only Northern California performance, marking a very unique and special night of raga and roll. MW
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $35/gen, $55/gold. 427-2227.
BILL CHARLAP TRIO
Bill Charlap is a pianist who combines restless curiosity with rhythmic poise and harmonic daring-do. While firmly in jazz’s mainstream he brings a venturesome sensibility to his investigations of standards and obscure pop tunes, combining polished lyricism with irresistible swing. His trio with San Francisco-reared bassist Peter Washington and drum maestro Kenny Washington (no relation), is one of jazz’s most dependably smart and entertaining ensembles. Founded in 1997 after Charlap spent years touring and recording with legendary saxophonists Gerry Mulligan and Phil Woods, the group has recorded a series of excellent albums for Blue Note. But there’s nothing like experiencing the trio’s sublime control of dynamics in person as it moves from a whisper to a roar in the space of a bar. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 427-2227.
Right now, the Zappa family is in turmoil. If you haven’t read the articles detailing the ongoing drama between the siblings, let’s just say that it’s a touchy subject who gets to carry on Frank’s legacy, and how. Dweezil feels he’s the man to best pay tribute to his dad’s mind-boggling, genre-crossing, nearly-impossible-to-play catalog. The thing is: he’s got a point. He plays his dad’s tunes with the skill and grace few others have ever been able to. On this tour, Dweezil celebrates 50 years of Frank’s music. This will satisfy all diehard Zappa fans, and just anyone that loves bizarro, crazy sort-of-rock ’n’ roll music. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $30-$70. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
ALAN REID & ROB VAN SANTE
Scottish music house concert. Wednesday. Information: celticsociety.org
Seattle-based singer-songwriter. Thursday at Catalyst
Bay Area hip-hop legend. Friday at Catalyst
Long-running blues favorite. Saturday at Rio Theatre
YOUTH ROCK CONCERT
Toast, Slime, the Twerps, 3-Hole Punch and Not My Fault. Sunday at Pono Grill