Live music highlights for the week of March 14, 2018.
The Black Family has been one of the most important modern Celtic music ensembles since the ’70s. The group of siblings has brought Irish music from Dublin to the world. Two of those siblings, Michael and Shay Black, moved to California in the early ’90s, and currently tour as the Black Brothers. Along with some very talented string musicians, they play a wide range of traditional Irish music: old sappy ballads, upbeat classic Celtic dance songs, and a few more modern tunes as well. Don’t miss this special pre-St. Patrick’s Day event. AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michaels at Main, 2591 S Main St., Soquel. $17/adv, $20/door. 479-9777.
BILLY COBHAM’S CROSSWINDS PROJECT
The last time Billy Cobham came through town he was focusing on music from his seminal 1973 debut album as a bandleader, Spectrum. Already revered as jazz/rock’s rhythmic catalyst for his work with Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra, he wanted to stretch his wings as a composer and arranger, a process that continued with 1974’s Crosswinds, a strikingly beautiful session that goes in unexpected directions. He’s reinventing those pieces on this tour with a killer band built around adjunct Flecktone, tenor saxophonist and bassoon virtuoso Paul Hanson, keyboardist Scott Tibbs, bassist Tim Landers and Garaj Mahal guitarist Fareed Haque. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $35/adv, $40/door. 427-2227.
A self-described “student and fan” of New Orleans R&B, singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist Jon Cleary does his part to keep the city’s rich musical traditions and songs alive. His live, solo performances are tributes to some of the master pianists who defined the city’s sound, including Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, James Booker, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. With his recordings, however, the Grammy-winning Cleary makes a point of furthering the contemporary New Orleans sound, mixing funk, Afro-Cuban, soul, ska, gospel and more styles he’s picked up in 35-plus years in the city. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
St. Patrick’s Day and Molly’s Revenge go together like corned beef and hash—or so this longtime vegetarian hears. A Central California Celtic band comprising David Brewer on highland bagpipes, border pipes, whistles and bodhran; John Weed on fiddle; and Stuart Mason on guitar and mandola, Molly’s Revenge is a fixture on the regional, international music circuit and has played renowned festivals in Scotland, Australia and China, as well. The band’s St. Patrick’s Day performance marks its 18th anniversary. Hot off the heels of shows up and down the West Coast this month, Molly’s Revenge saved the holiday celebration for Santa Cruz. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
Christine Lavin’s new record, Spaghettification, is her first in almost a decade. Longtime fans of the famously razor-sharp-witted singer-songwriter may wonder what she’s been up to—oh, just little things like being the queen of the New York folk scene. Her humor and insight are as on-point as ever, her worldview perhaps best summed up by two of her earlier album titles: Getting in Touch with My Inner Bitch and I Don’t Make This Stuff Up, I Just Make It Rhyme. SP
INFO: 2 p.m. Michaels at Main, 2591 S Main St., Soquel. $20. 479-9777.
In the latest installment of “Road to Cali Roots” series, the reggae festival and Catalyst have teamed up to bring the smooth sounds of Spawnbreezie to Santa Cruz. His self proclaimed “island hip-hop” combines island jams with reggae and hip-hop for a unique style that transcends genres and age groups. Spawnbreezie is for fans of good times, sweet melodies and positive messages. He will be joined by the Bay Area’s island-pop duo CRSB for a night of roots rocking wrapped in one love. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $16/adv, $20/door. 429-4135.
You hear the cliché that such and such musician takes retro elements and makes them futuristic. But in the case of East Bay’s Seshen, there’s really no better way to explain what’s so amazing about the band. Singer Lalin St. Juste brings melodies that bring to mind the eerie, but classy side of Ella Fitzgerald. But it’s like it’s been processed through the darkest, most experimental elements of Radiohead. It’s something that should absolutely not make sense, but fits together splendidly. The band’s sophomore record, 2016’s Flames and Figures, is a stunning collection of music that at times will leave you mouth-agape-shocked, and other times shaking your money maker. Usually somewhere in between. AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-6994.
LAVAY SMITH & HER RED HOT SKILLET LICKERS
Drawing comparisons to jazz and blues icons like Bessie Smith, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, Lavay Smith transports listeners to another time when the big bands and swing of the 1940s made way to the jazz and pop vocal crooners that defined the 1950s. The California-born Smith and her mighty band, the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, have garnered praise for their tight, horn-driven orchestration, timeless sound, classic repertoire, and arrangements centered on Smith’s lush vocals. The band’s current project, the Great American Road Trip: Red, White & Blues, is described as a “swinging trip through the landscape of American music.” CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $28/adv, $33/door. 427-2227.
Ask a music nerd to name three Irish punk bands and the answer will be the Dropkick Murphys, the Pogues and Flogging Molly. Celebrating almost two decades of swaggering ballads, the latter has made their way out of the punk halls and into major concert venues, as exemplified in their 2010 release Live at the Greek Theatre. The salty dogs of Celtic punk return to Santa Cruz with “the guy with the glasses from Drag the River,” Jon Snodgrass, and the “dirty old one man band,” Scott H. Biram. MW
INFO: 8 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $35/adv, $40/door, $100/VIP. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
American folk and blues singer-songwriter. Wednesday at Kuumbwa
DJ WILLIAMS’ SHOTS FIRED
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe guitarist and his all-star band. Thursday at Moe’s Alley
Metal out of Sacramento. Thursday at Catalyst
Jamaican reggae artist with uplifting vocals and dancehall wordplay chops. Saturday at Moe’s Alley
Renowned, New York-based singer-songwriter. Sunday at Michael’s on Main
JOHN BROTHERS PIANO COMPANY
Jazz, swing, saloon piano and more. Sunday at Flynn’s Cabaret