Hearing about someone else’s troubles often makes us forget our own—or at least makes us realize that we’re not alone. The blues is built on this premise, and some of the best classic country music is a deep dive into an emotional gut punch the songwriter experienced. Texas native Sunny Sweeney takes this long-standing country tradition and runs with it. In her songs, she goes straight into the heart of heartache, cheating, divorce, despair and surviving it all. Her new album, Trophy, sees the artist going from the depths of despair to a new beginning. CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.
In true Athens, Georgia fashion, Futurebirds mix southern roots music with weirdo psychedelic influences. Unlike some of the more famous Athens bands (R.E.M., B-52’s, Of Montreal), however, there’s a lot more country-rock than experimental wizardry. The group is liberal with its traditional roots influences, much in the way Neil Young has stayed true to the classic American sound, while simultaneously rewriting it. Like Young, the songs are internal, contemplative, and flushed out with a quiet emotional stirring that ripples with each successive listen. AARON CARNES
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
In 2014, singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson released Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, an album that confused country music fans and thrilled critics with its nontraditional subject matter—like tales of tripping on hallucinogens, which is definitely not your typical country music fodder. Singer-songwriter Dougie Poole carries on the tradition of breaking the mold of country music from the inside. He looks at human emotion and country sentiment through a high-tech lens, and explores beloved American traditions while also bringing to light the darker side of the country’s history. His latest offering, Wideass Highway, furthers Poole’s reimagining of country music, including a track Simpson might approve of titled “Tripping with the One You Love.” CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
THE BAD LIGHT
Friday nights were made for letting your hair down, and this Friday there will be plenty of that at Blue Lagoon. Local stoner-blues metal trio the Bad Light will rip it up with smoothed-out guitar riffs, heavy beats—including the biggest kick bass drum in Santa Cruz—and the sweet blend of male and female vocals swirling around all the swampy, fuzzed-out licks. They will be sharing the stage with local, indie-synth-pop-indie-garage act Drevmers, along with Los Angeles “hip-hop and alt-rock” musicians Coolezy, and Spoken Nerd—a “satirical indie hip hop” act from Nashville. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.
A relentlessly swinging quartet that brings together revered veterans and a rising young horn player, this ensemble is co-led by drummer Mike Clark, who earned enduring props from funk/jazz aficionados for his seminal work in the mid-1970s with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, and Berkeley-reared pianist Michael Wolff, a capaciously inventive player who cut his teeth with Cannonball Adderley. Buster Williams, a major force since the mid-1960s, is the rare bassist whose solos end too soon, and saxophonist Hailey Niswanger is the coltish upcomer thriving in this august company. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 427-2227.
“I feel like Leonard Cohen,” Kool A.D. once rapped. “And I don’t even know if I can name a Leonard Cohen track/Is Leonard Cohen wack?” This is probably one of the least strange references Kool A.D. has ever spit on a track. During his time as part of Brooklyn rap crew Das Racist, he helped redefine how far out stream-of-consciousness “weed rap” could go. Since going solo, he’s released an album every month or two. Needless to say, his discography is mind-bogglingly massive, but strangely enough, it’s consistent. He remains one of the best lyricists working in hip-hop today. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $8/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.
Since 2005, Cash’d Out has covered Cash tunes so spectacularly they once had the honor of being the only tribute band endorsed by the official Johnny Cash website. What else can you expect from a band that’s won the “Best Tribute/Cover Band” six times from the San Diego Music Awards? So put on your cleanest dirty shirt, don’t take your guns to town, and be ready to walk the line with a band that will make fans happier than watching the Orange Blossom Express rollin’ down the tracks. MW
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 429-4135.
In 1974, Maria Muldaur had a breakout hit with the song “Midnight at the Oasis.” It launched her into the public eye, garnered several Grammy nods and sealed her standing as a talented pop vocalist. But Muldaur didn’t stop at pop music. For the last 40-plus years she’s traversed folk music, bluegrass, blues, jazz, gospel, R&B and more in an exploration of the history of American music. On Sunday, Muldaur and special guest pianist John R. Burr head to Felton for “Jazzabelle,” which is being touted as an “intimate evening of naughty bawdy blues and vintage classic jazz.” CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
Remember when Paul McCartney sang a song to John Lennon’s son and it became a No. 1 hit single? (That’s “Hey Jude,” if you’ve been living under a rock.) We’ve heard plenty from Lennon’s musically minded kids over the years, but what about McCartney’s own flesh and blood? James McCartney, the only son of Paul and Linda McCartney, has been contributing to his parents’ albums since the ’90s, but started recording his own records less than a decade ago. His music is a bit harder-edged than his dad’s, and he sings at a higher register. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.
IN THE QUEUE
LIBERATION MOVEMENT AND DOGON LIGHTS
“Genre-bending, multi-cultural shamanic music.” Thursday at Moe’s Alley
Bay Area fusion of swing, surf and funk. Friday at Crepe Place
Santa Cruz-based folk and roots outfit. Saturday at Don Quixote’s
Indie-rock out of Victoria, British Columbia. Sunday at Catalyst
DEVIN THE DUDE
Dallas-based hip-hop artist. Tuesday at Catalyst