“Formed in a Santa Cruz garage” is the origin story for many a band that takes the Catalyst stage. In the case of Sleepy Sun, who began its career in this familiar way in 2005 with five UCSC students, it’s taken them all over the world. The group is set to release its fifth album this June. The sound started off in familiar garage rock territory, but as the years progress, the members have developed a sound that’s more spiritual, esoteric, and swirling into the farther reaches of twisted anti-pop psych rock. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 429-4135.
JOEY DeFRANCESCO & THE PEOPLE
Even since Miles Davis recruited the teenager organist to tour with his band in the late 1980s, Philadelphia-raised Joey DeFrancesco has been universally hailed as the most prodigious B-3 master of his generation, a virtuoso who almost singlehandedly revived interest in his instrument. His latest release, Project Freedom, focuses on the liberatory power of jazz, with imaginative covers of era-defining songs such as John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” He’s joined by stellar drummer Jason Brown, Australian-born saxophonist Troy Roberts (who’s made a powerful impression on recent Jeff “Tain” Watts recordings) and guitarist Dan Wilson, a member of Christian McBride’s new trio, Tip City. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 427-2227.
SANTA CRUZ’S DEAD
The Grateful Dead had its roots in acoustic music, but it could trip electric with the best of them. In the 1980s, the band played a series of unforgettable acoustic/electric shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and the Warfield in San Francisco. On Friday, local outfit Santa Cruz’s Dead—Matt Hartle, Jerry Brown, Arindam Krishna das, Roger Sideman and Mark Corsolini—pays homage to Dead and that era of the band’s double-duty explorations of acoustic and electric music. CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
Identical twins Jared and Jonathan Mattson, who formed the guitar-drums based jazz-indie duo Mattson 2, are in a weird predicament. The music is a bit too weird for traditional jazz audiences, and too jazz for weird audiences. So they’ve carved out their own audience. The duo has also taken to collaborating with creative individuals like Cornelius and Ray Barbee. Their latest is a collaborative album with Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, a surreal psych jazz-folk-rock record. Catch the duo—just as a duo—as they get down to their oddball jazz tunes on Friday. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 429-6994.
McCoy Tyler is a curious beast. The Northern Californian is a self-taught lyricist and guitar player who’s known for combining mixed-matched genres such as heavy metal, bluegrass, folk and everything inbetween. After years of playing with his band, the McCoy Tyler Trio, the prolific musician decided to switch things up for his latest EP, 26, and recorded it with Santa Cruz’s own Coffis Brothers as his backing band. This Saturday, he will be joined by the Ben Lomond folkers in honor of the EP’s upcoming, June 1 release, along with Bay Area trio Scary Little Friends. MAT WEIR
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $8/adv, $10/door. 335-2800.
On his new album, Close Ties, Americana singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell looks back on his musical career, including his early success with the Grammy-winning album Diamonds & Dirt. As Crowell explained to Rolling Stone, “I was a good guy; I was trying to make good art. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t an insecure little shit.” Crowell, who is now 66, experiences life differently now, and it shows in his lyrics. Close Ties is full of insights into life well-lived, and the heartache of losing friends and contemporaries, including in the tune, “Life without Susanna,” a tribute to Susanna Clark, wife of the late, great singer-songwriter Guy Clark. On Saturday, Crowell hits the Rio Theatre. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 423-8209.
ALBOROSIE & YELLOWMAN
What do you get when you combine one of Jamaica’s famous dancehall originators with one of the island’s biggest current artists? Find out this Sunday at the Catalyst, as two reggae titans share the stage for one irie night. In the 1980s, Yellowman ushered in the new era of dancehall reggae with his rap-like delivery, recording genre classics like “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” and “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng,” both of which have been sampled numerous times throughout hip-hop history. Alborosie might have only hit the scene in 2008 with his debut album, Soul Pirate, but he quickly solidified his place in reggae with his revival of dancehall music for the modern era. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $30. 429-4135.
Peter Harper was born into a musical family—his grandparents opened the world-renowned Claremont Folk Music Center in Claremont, California; his mom is a multi-instrumentalist; and his brother is folk-rocker Ben Harper—but Harper avoided pursuing music seriously until a few years ago, and became a celebrated bronze sculptor instead. When he did take up music, he emerged as a thoughtful lyricist and talented guitarist in his own right. Harper’s performance at Moe’s Alley on Sunday is a release party for his new album, Break the Cycle. CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.
Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins are two names that might not register on anyone’s radar who wasn’t a hardcore goth back in the day, but they were a part of the legendary Bauhaus and Love and Rockets. Lesser known was their early ’80s Bauhaus side project Tones on Tail. Poptone is the duo’s new project. They will be playing songs from all three projects at this show, but will be focusing a little extra on obscure Tones on Tail tunes. AC
INFO: 7 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., $30. 423-8209.
IN THE QUEUE
Legendary rock guitarist. Wednesday at Catalyst
Indie-rock out of Brooklyn. Wednesday at Crepe Place
BROKEN ENGLISH & FLOR DE CAÑA
Latin dance party. Friday at Moe’s Alley
Los Angeles-based hip-hop. Saturday at Catalyst
DOOBIE DECIMAL SYSTEM
All-star band led by Melvin Seals. Saturday at Moe’s Alley