A skilled songwriter and vocalist with a talent for sharing rich visuals through her lyrics, Kendra McKinley is a rising star of the Bay Area music scene. She pulls from a range of influences, from jazz vocals, chamber music and bossa nova to indie-rock and mainstream pop. Balancing catchy melodies with a unique delivery, McKinley—who graduated from UCSC—weaves her voice in and around her songs rather than simply bobbing along the top of them. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Local to the Bay Area, ALO (short for Animal Liberation Orchestra) was initially founded after a failed middle school talent show. The lineup features bass, guitar, keys, accordion, ukulele, drums and vocals, for a smooth and laid-back blend of poppy indie rock. The band’s new Love Songs EP dropped Jan. 27, just in time for its annual “Tour d’Amour”—this year marks the 11th iteration. It kicks off at Moe’s, with a double set by ALO and no opener. From there, the band continues on through the West Coast, supported by the Brothers Comatose, Rabbit Wilde, Moon Hooch and Twiddle. KATIE SMALL
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
While recording under the band name Smog, Bill Callahan developed a reputation for writing somewhat trance-inducing, slow, simple tunes that wrap listeners and all their woes up in a warm blanket of commiseration. Now playing under his own name, the baritone-voiced Callahan—whose music bridges Americana, indie-rock, dark humor and hallucinatory poetry—furthers his unique style of free-form songwriting and storytelling. One of the underexposed gems of the rock landscape, Callahan is one of those artists who require repeat listens in a quiet room to appreciate fully. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $22/adv, $25/door. 335-2800.
In 2005, Acoustic Guitar magazine ran a cover story on David Lindley. The writer referred to him as a “maxi-instrumentalist,” as opposed to the “multi-instrumentalist” term normally applied to diverse, eclectic players like Lindley. The distinction is important. Lindley employs the use of just about every string instrument on the planet. He makes good use of all of these oddball instruments with a range of styles which include folk, blues, rock, and world music. If there’s any doubt of his talent, folks only need check out his session work with such vastly different artists as Curtis Mayfield, Dolly Parton and Warren Zevon. AARON CARNES
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St. #2, Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 427-2227.
The Grammy-nominated Sister Carol is a giant of reggae—a pioneering woman, a talented singer and DJ, a humanitarian and more. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Carol got an early introduction to the genre, accompanying her father, a Radio Jamaica Rediffusion DJ, to the studio of legendary producer, Clement Coxsone Dodd. Her own hit songs include “Call Me Sister Carol” and “Cinderella.” When she was a teen, Carol moved from Kingston to Brooklyn, where she continued her rise as a reggae ambassador. On Saturday, she makes her first trip to Santa Cruz in five years. Sharing the bill with Sister Carol is vocalist and DJ Ranking Joe. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $17/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.
Berkeley rapper Marty Grimes got a lot of attention last year as opener for G-Eazy on his U.S. tour. The two grew up together, so of course Eazy was excited to share some of his success with Grimes. More recently, Grimes has been making an effort to step out of Eazy’s shadows with a string of excellent singles. He has a knack for low-key bangers with trippy futuristic vibes about them. Grimes is so determined to make a name for himself, he’s been taking the stage as headliner as of last year. His style balances a grimy Bay Area sound with sick pop-friendly production. There’s no telling how big he can get. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
Long Island duo Lemon Twigs takes what is a tad bit over-the-top about the likes of Queen, Supertramp, Wings, and Billy Joel and spins it into pop gold. The group is the brainchild of teen brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, who hail from Hicksville, New York. Their crazy retro hairdos and outfits might seem a bit contrived, but all you need to do is give their record a listen to know their music is as heartfelt as it is outrageous. AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
BRANFORD MARSALIS & KURT ELLING
What happens when one of jazz’s most commanding male vocalists joins forces with one of the most formidable quartets? Judging from Kurt Elling’s recent album with Branford Marsalis, Upward Spiral, the collaboration takes them both into gorgeous new musical realms. Whether interpreting standards like “Blue Gardenia,” Oscar Brown Jr.’s “Long As You’re Living” or Fred Hersch’s “West Virginia Rose,” they make taut, dramatic and emotionally expansive music. Featuring pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis, two masters who have recorded extensively as leaders, and the brilliant 25-year-old drummer Justin Faulkner, the rhythm section plays as tough and tender as any on the scene. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $60/adv, $65/door. 427-2227.
IN THE QUEUE
GREAT AMERICAN TAXI
Americana jam band out of Colorado. Thursday at Moe’s Alley
Grammy-nominated Hawaiian singer-songwriter. Friday at Don Quixote’s
Genre-defying singer-songwriter. Sunday at Don Quixote’s
Heavy metal out of Finland. Monday at Catalyst
California reggae. Tuesday and Wednesday at Catalyst