Live music highlights for the week of January 31, 2018.
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO
Little was known about Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the U.S. prior to 1984, when Paul Simon tapped the South African a cappella group to record with him on his Graceland album, merging his unique storytelling style with world-beat influences. The group was already famous in South Africa, having formed in the ’60s. Their stirring call-and-response vocal style is known as isicathamiya, and was developed by coal miners in South Africa. Since Graceland brought attention to this group, everyone from Stevie Wonder to Sarah McLachlan has asked to work with them. In 1993, Nelson Mandela even proclaimed them as “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors to the World.” AARON CARNES
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $35/gen, $55/gold. 423-8209.
OF MICE AND MEN
Since 2009, Orange County’s Of Mice and Men has been on the forefront of the metalcore scene, continuing to mold and change ahead of current trends. Their latest endeavor, Defy, shows the band at full power, changing the music they originally capitalized on while driving it forward to new heights and still remaining solid in the rock scene, covering tracks such as Pink Floyd’s “Money.” MW
INFO: 6:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $19.50/adv, $23/door. 429-4135.
ETHNIC HERITAGE ENSEMBLE
The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble’s bandleader Sir Kahil El Zabar, who has toured with Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Nina Simone and others, rejoins with Corey Wilkes and Alex Harding for a night of improvised soul straight from the heart. MW
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $25/adv, $30/door. 479-9777.
It’s no surprise that Evie Ladin grew up to be a singer-songwriter, banjo player and dancer. Ladin’s parents were a folk dance teacher and an old-time folk music enthusiast. As the story goes, her New Jersey childhood home was a hostel for musicians and dancers traveling through the East Coast area during the folk revival of the early 1970s. Ladin picked up her skills from what she described as “constant contact with traditional artists.” As an adult, she has performed solo and with numerous groups, including San Francisco favorite the Stairwell Sisters. On Friday, Ladin and her band, comprising multi-instrumentalists Keith Terry and Erik Pearson, hit the Ugly Mug. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Ugly Mug, 4640 Soquel Drive, Soquel, $20. 477-1341.
ROYAL JELLY JIVE
Harnessing the spirit of a throwback soul band and the energy of a contemporary, woke Bay Area band, Royal Jelly Jive brings the swing, the funk, the groove and the jive to Moe’s this Friday night. In “Stand Up,” one of the band’s signature tunes, frontwoman Lauren Bjelde urges listeners to stand up for what they believe in and to not “lose sight of the love.” Backing up the magnetic Bjelde is an ace band featuring horns, accordion, keys and upright bass. The result is tight, old-school soul steeped in fresh perspectives. Also on the bill: Midtown Social, a California soul, funk, and rock nine-piece. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.
The list of “Band Interests” on local old-timey bluegrass/country ensemble Naked Bootleggers’s Facebook page is exactly what you’d imagine: “Writing music while drinking whiskey,” “choppin’ wood,” “driving trucks,” “making sweet love.” The list goes on. If anything, this speaks to the group’s attachment to not only old school mountain music, but to the simple lifestyle the music celebrates. And why not—they’re from the Santa Cruz mountains, after all. But while these songs will make you think of the American acoustic music of yesteryear, they have a little bit of a modern spin in the way they filter this through a Santa Cruz lens. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
HOOT AND HOLLER
Hoot and Holler is a roots duo out of Boston that draws inspiration from Roscoe Holcomb, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Townes Van Zandt and the like. Comprising guitarist Mark Kilianski and fiddler Amy Alvey—both singer-songwriters in their own right—the outfit performs traditional American music, including bluegrass and country. Graduates of the Berklee College of Music, Kilianski and Alvey are skillful songsmiths and respectful interpreters of roots songs and styles. Also on the bill: Santa Cruz old-time duo Scythe and Spade. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Lille Aeske, 13160 Hwy. 9, Boulder Creek. $10-$20. 703-4183.
Ranging freely through a century of songs, Paula West is a jazz singer who can transform just about any tune into an incisive investigation of love, loneliness, lust, loss and the rest of the human condition. With her pleasingly dry velvet contralto, she’s honed an uncommonly catholic repertoire that encompasses David Bowie and Irving Berlin, Bob Dylan and Cole Porter, Oscar Brown Jr., Bobbie Gentry, John Lennon and Rodgers and Hart. Her band features some of the Bay Area’s top accompanists, with drummer Greg Wyser-Pratte, veteran bass master John Wiitala, and pianist Adam Shulman, a UC Santa Cruz grad who’s also worked extensively with bass/composer Marcus Shelby. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $28/adv, $33/door. 427-2227.
J.I.D. AND EARTHGANG
Atlanta has been a critical source for hip-hop since the mid-’90s, when Outkast and the Goodie Mob hit an international audience. Rapper J.I.D. and duo EarthGang are two new Atlanta acts you should keep your eyes on. J.I.D. met the members of EarthGang back in 2012, and clicked right away; they’ve contributed to each other’s projects ever since. J.I.D. and EarthGang both carry on the tradition of the classic “dirty South” hip-hop style, with elements of the newer trap sound. But they also bring a little New York-style boom-bap, and weird offbeat flows to the mix. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
STEVE SMITH & VITAL INFORMATION
Longrunning jazz outfit led by drummer Steve Smith. Thursday at Kuumbwa
PURE ROOTS & EARL ZERO
Santa Cruz reggae favorites. Friday at Catalyst
Local northern soul outfit. Friday at Crepe Place
FLOR DE CAÑA
Santa Cruz-based Latin music septet. Saturday at Moe’s Alley
Renowned guitarist. Sunday at Rio Theatre