Our picks for the best live music in Santa Cruz County November 1-7, 2017.
Malian guitarist Habib Koité never formally learned how to sing or play guitar as a child. As he tells it, he just watched his parents play and sing, and it “washed off” on him. Eventually, he studied music at the National Institute of Arts in Bamako, Mali, where he graduated at the top of his class. Koité has since grown into one of Africa’s most popular and recognized musicians, and a presence on the international music stage. His style blends the popular danssa rhythm from his native city of Keyes with Malian traditions and the global influences of his travels and collaborations. “Usually, Malian musicians play only their own ethnic music,” he has said, “but me, I go everywhere. My job is to take all these traditions and to make something with them, to use them in my music.” CJ
INFO: 7 & 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 427-2227.
“Chain smoking your love/Can’t be good for my sanity/Can’t be good for my lungs.” If that’s not a brilliant metaphor for what it feels like to be in an unhealthy relationship, I don’t know what is. It also touches on the insightful but simple lyrical style that British singer Jacob Banks spins into his song with a diverse blend of roots rock, soul, pop and just a hint of hip-hop. The songs are dark, moody, and downright dramatic at times, but Banks’ guttural and passionate voice holds them together like a rolling paper holds in tobacco. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 429-4135.
In 1956, a nine-year-old Rick Derringer received his first guitar. By 17, Derringer had recorded “Hang On Sloopy” with the McCoys, knocking the Beatles’ “Yesterday” out of the No. 1 spot on the charts. Derringer would then join Johnny Winter to form Johnny Winter And, recording on and/or producing all of Johnny and Edgar Winter’s platinum and gold records. Did we mention he also recorded the classic jammer, “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo,” co-wrote Hulk Hogan’s “Real American” theme song, used to hang out with Andy Warhol and produced “Weird” Al Yankovic’s first album? Now that’s rock ’n’ roll! MAT WEIR
INFO: 8 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 479-1854.
Reggie Watts wowed the world with his incredible one-man-band looping powers years ago. But now, looping is commonplace, and songs that employ the technology have to deliver beyond the gee-whiz factor. Norwegian soul singer Jarle Bernhoft, who performs under the moniker Bernhoft, has toured relentlessly with his pedals and feel-good songs for a while. He experiments, but there’s always a groove, and he frequently jumps into a falsetto voice that can go up against any ’70s AM radio singer. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $18/adv, $22/door. 479-1854.
JOLIE HOLLAND AND SAMANTHA PARTON
The Be Good Tanyas is one of the most underappreciated roots acts of our time. Formed by Frazey Ford, Trish Klein, Samantha Parton and Jolie Holland in Vancouver, B.C. in 1999, the group has quietly released a string of enduring tunes like “The Littlest Birds” that capture the heart of the folk tradition and the working-person vibe of the outfit’s Vancouver roots. On Sunday, Parton and Holland, who has become one of the most well-known and versatile roots artists around, showcase their current collaborative efforts, including a new album, Wildflower Blues, featuring originals and covers of tunes by Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and more. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $16. 335-2800.
BENNY GREEN TRIO
On his website, pianist Benny Green declares that “jazz is my life,” but it would be just as true to say that Green is the life of jazz. A joyously swinging player with a deep feel for the blues, Green embodies the hard bop ethos of grit, grease and grace. He hits Santa Cruz at the end of an SFJazz residency with a prodigious trio featuring monster bassist Dezron Douglas, a protégé of alto sax legend Jackie McLean, and drummer Kenny Washington (not to be confused with the great Bay Area vocalist of the same name). Washington has contributed to several hundred albums, and is particularly associated with piano masters such as Tommy Flanagan, Cedar Walton, Walter Bishop Jr., and most prolifically Bill Charlap. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 427-2227.
Of the five players that comprise Boston’s Novel Ideas, three of them contribute to the songwriting. If I were to guess, I’d say they were Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. OK, not really. The group is comprised of childhood friends from Boston, all relatively new to the music scene, but damn if they don’t channel those great ’70s country-folk singer-songwriters. The songs are melancholy, gorgeous, and punctuated by absolutely lush harmonies. The latest record, which is self-titled, isn’t a big departure for the band, but they’ve really honed what’s good about their folksy formula. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
HARD WORKING AMERICANS
In 2013, the supergroup Hard Working Americans made a big splash in the roots-rock music world. Comprising singer-songwriter Todd Snider, Dave Schools from Widespread Panic on bass, Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood on guitar and vocals, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi on keyboards and Duane Trucks—younger brother of Derek—from Widespread Panic on drums, the band covered other artists’ tunes on its self-titled debut. But on the 2016 follow-up, Rest in Chaos, the band flexed its own songwriting chops, dropping an album that featured all originals, plus one cover: the late Guy Clark’s “The High Price of Inspiration.” CJ
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $31.90. 423-8209.
IN THE QUEUE
String band out of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Wednesday at Don Quixote’s
Canadian soul and R&B singer-songwriter. Saturday at Catalyst
Rock and psych outfit from Marin. Saturday at Crepe Place
WAKE THE DEAD
Celtic music-infused “Summer of Love party band.” Saturday at Don Quixote’s
SELWYN BIRCHWOOD BAND
Tampa, Florida-based blues guitar sensation. Sunday at Moe’s Alley