Our picks for the best live music in Santa Cruz County for the week of January 24-30, 2018.
After its peak in the early-to-mid 2000s, “metalcore” has become something of a dirty word. That is, unless you’re talking about Converge. Since 1990, this Massachusetts band has torn down convention and experimented with the strange to create a fierce sound all their own. It’s an intricate blend of heavy metal and hardcore punk played in the controlled chaos of jazz theory, and brings together music aficionados from all walks of life. MAT WEIR
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $20. 429-4135.
NEW ORLEANS SUSPECTS
New Orleans is a hotbed of musical styles, including funk, jazz, R&B, soul, brass band and zydeco—and the New Orleans Suspects have a handle on all of them. An all-star outfit comprising “Mean” Willie Green of the Neville Brothers on drums, Jeff Watkins from the James Brown Band on saxophone, Jake Eckert of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on guitar and vocals, CR Gruver of Polytoxic on keyboards and vocals, and Eric Vogel of the Nigel Hall Band on bass guitar, the Suspects play high-energy songs full of life, Crescent City soul and irresistible grooves. CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.
TOMMY GUERRERO MEETS MATTSON 2
In 2003, former pro skater Tommy Guerrero had an unexpected hit with his third solo album Soul Food Taqueria. It’s a sample-based, chilled out collection of easy guitar melodies and laid-back beats. Guerrero spent the next 15 years creating equally experimental music veering into distinct territories like Latin, jazz, and alt-rock, while generally staying in the downtempo vibe. He’s teaming up with L.A. Jazz duo Mattson 2 to create some new, entirely interesting music. Considering that the duo worked with Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick last year to deliver a phenomenal record, hopes are high that this collab with Guerrero will blow a few minds. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 S. Main St., Soquel. $25. 479-9777.
California soul band Orgone has a sound that pulls from ’60s and ’70s funk and groove styles, but the group adds a 21st century flair by infusing hip-hop and electronic elements. Hailing from Los Angeles, the eight-piece formed in the late-’90s and performed as a backing band for hip-hop groups. It made a splash on the pop music scene with a cover of “Funky Nassau” by the Beginning and the End. These days, the band takes center stage with an infectious blend of deep funk, Latin jazz, Afro-beat and blues originals, as well as a healthy dose of classic soul covers. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
Remember the Monkees, that ’60s band that was made for TV, that didn’t write their own songs, and didn’t even play their own instruments? That was the how the Monkees started, anyway. Eventually, the band took over songwriting duties, and showed that they weren’t just four pretty faces. Michael Nesmith was an extremely talented member of the group, having penned the hit “Mary, Mary,” among others. Post-Monkees, he wrote some more hit singles, like the top 40 “Joanne” for country-rockers First National Band. Nesmith coming through town is a rare treat that shouldn’t be missed. AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $48.92/gen, $69.52/gold. 423-8209.
For three years, Joyner Lucas has been solidifying his name in the hip-hop world. With the “Ross Capicchioni” track off his 2015 mixtape, Along Came Joyner, he bewildered critics and fans alike. How many other artists can say their track made legendary lyricist Busta Rhymes exclaim that he was so amazed, “I can’t even put it into words”? Lucas released his fourth mixtape, 508-507-2209, last June, hitting number seven on the Billboard Heatseeker Albums chart, with three new singles going viral. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $20-$75. 429-4135.
Music is a healing force. This is the credo of experimental New York group Sunwatchers. And considering how unhinged and dissonant the music is, you have to wonder a little about what they are healing if the antidote is songs by a wailing-saxophone-led avant-rock band. If you take the time to read the group’s long biography, it’s clear they’ve thought long and hard about this. Seeing themselves less as overt political commentators, they see the surreal, hard-edged instrumental music they play as an alternative form of communication, one that doesn’t rely on the trickery of words. Tapping into that magic is indeed a healing force. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
KATIE THIROUX TRIO
A Los Angeles native with deep ties to the Monterey Bay area, Katie Thiroux is a triple threat, a rapidly rising bassist, composer and vocalist who’s earned distinction in all three pursuits. Her second album, 2017’s Off Beat, made several Top 10 lists, and she’s been growing by leaps and bounds as an accompanist with the likes of reed virtuoso Ken Peplowski and pianists Helen Sung, Tamir Hendelman and Eric Reed. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $27/door. 427-2227.
Dubbed the “ultimate Scots troubadour,” Jim Malcolm travels the world performing traditional and reworked Scottish ballads and folk songs, as well as his own original music. A master of his craft, Malcolm is a renowned vocalist, and an impressive fingerpicking guitarist and harmonica player. Considered one of the finest singers in Scotland, he has 10 albums under his belt and is a presence on the international Celtic scene. On Tuesday, Malcolm performs at a house concert in Soquel. The concert is presented by the Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. House concert, Soquel. $20. Information: celticsociety.org. 464- 9778.