Live music highlights for the week of August 2, 2017
Although his debut EP, Rebel Music, hit the scene in 2011, Kabaka Pyramid has deep roots in music, freestyling and writing new lyrics to popular songs for his mother and friends. While “Kabaka” is Ugandan for “king,” the reggae artist grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, moving on from already popular beats to stylizing his music in the roots of Peter Tosh and Sizzla. Since his last EP, 2013’s Lead The Way, Kabaka Pyramid has focused on his collaborations with producers like Damian Marley and dropped a slew of singles this year, including “Friends Like These” and “Can’t Breathe.” Moe’s Alley delivers another praise-worthy night of reggae as Kabaka Pyramid will be joined with the Bebble Rockers, One-A-Chord and DJ Spleece. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.
By the time of his Catalyst show, Kap G will have freshly turned 23, and already lived a life fuller than most. Even before the release of his 2012 debut single, “Tatted Like Amigos,” Kap G had recorded with rap kings like Chief Keef, Wiz Khalifa, and T.I. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Kap G has continued to fine-tune his skills and has carved out a place of his own in the hip-hop world. In April, he dropped his highly anticipated debut album, SupaJefe, featuring artists like Pharell Williams and Dae Dae. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-4135.
When San Jose reggae band the Holdup comes through Santa Cruz, they play the Catalyst’s big room—and they pack it. Relying on word of mouth and internet marketing, the band has quietly become a huge name in the regional reggae scene. Formed in 2006, the group has released several albums, a bunch of singles, and tapped directly into a loyal audience. The Holdup nails the reggae groove, but doesn’t opt for any retro sounds. There’s a neo-R&B and hip-hop vibe in the music that should appeal to fans of modern-day pop radio, perhaps more than deadlock-donning rasta lovers. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $17/adv, $20/door. 429-4135.
L.A.’s Beachwood Sparks wasn’t the first band to bend the line between country and indie-rock, but it sure feels like their self-titled debut back in 2000 was a significant step. Released on Sub Pop, the music seemed uncomfortable in either category. The closest comparison was a cross between Neil Young’s ’70s roots records and the psych-pop sounds of early Of Montreal. Like the laid-back grooves of the eclectic music they make, Beachwood Sparks has had an easygoing career. They’ve released three albums, with 11 years between number two and three. And there’s no real talk of a fourth. Hey, who needs to sweat about new records when there’s already three solid ones? AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
WHEN DOVES CRY
Will music fans ever get over the loss of Prince? The game-changing artist, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion icon and all-around amazing human made an impact on pop culture like few others have done. His loss left a huge hole in the pop-music world, but the music he left us lives on in a big way. On Saturday, When Doves Cry, an eight-piece Prince tribute band featuring Santa Cruz’s own Lisa Taylor, pays tribute to Prince and gives fans a way to celebrate, pay their respects and get down to the irresistible Prince sound. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $10. 335-2800.
The name Surf Curse sounds like something a Scooby Doo villain would cast on Shaggy, forcing him to live out his days wobbling on a surfboard out in the sea while ghost sharks nip at his bony knees. But in reality, Surf Curse is a two-piece garage-pop band from Reno, Nevada (Hey, there’s no surfing in Reno!) that somehow weaves supremely minimalistic drum beats and jangly guitar parts into pop gold. Seriously, this is the band equivalent of a busted two-string guitar that some masterful musician friend of yours uses to magically strum a top-40-worthy hit with to everyone’s shock and amazement. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-6994.
A longtime favorite of GT readers, party band Extra Large has taken home Best Local Band honors more than 14 times. The six-piece blends Latin, reggae, California rock and funk into a joyful, swirling musical concoction that fills dancefloors and packs festival lawns. Led by frontman Russ Leal, who has performed more than 35 original songs with the band over the last two decades. Extra Large brings the Santa Cruz positive vibe to audiences around the county and beyond. On Sunday, the band introduces its fourth CD, Just Smile, with a release party that includes an acoustic set as well as the rocking sound fans love. Ticket price includes a copy of the CD. CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 427-2227.
When it comes to choosing influences, it’s hard to beat Louis Armstrong and Anita O’Day. For British Columbia-raised trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg, these two jazz masters provide a sturdy foundation for her potent and populist approach to mainstream jazz. An accomplished entertainer with a deep love for pre-bop jazz styles, she won a Juno, Canada’s equivalent of a Grammy Award, for her 2016 album, Bria, and recently released an impressive follow-up, With a Twist (both on Sony Masterworks). ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 427-2227.
Mbalax is a popular style of music in Senegal and the Gambia that fuses Western jazz, soul, Latin, rock and traditional drumming and dance music. Senegalese singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour, who Rolling Stone called “perhaps the most famous singer alive,” is a widely recognized artist who brought Mbalax into the international spotlight. N’Dour worked with Peter Gabriel on So, and Paul Simon on Graceland, and is a longtime human rights advocate. On Tuesday, the Grammy-winning artist brings his show to the Rio Theatre. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $40/gen, $65/gold. 423-8209.
IN THE QUEUE
Renowned folk-tinged rock outfit. Wednesday at Rio Theatre
Indie-soul-pop out of Oakland. Friday at Crepe Place
AMADOU & MARIAM
Outstanding Malian music duo. Saturday at Catalyst
LYDIA PENSE & COLD BLOOD
Horn-driven funk and R&B. Saturday at Moe’s Alley