AMENDOLA VS. BLADES
Straight off the high of opening for Wilco at the Fillmore, the remarkable Berkeley duo of drummer Scott Amendola and Hammond B-3 organist Wil Blades is touring the West Coast to mark the release of the debut album Amendola Vs. Blades Greatest Hits. Both are masters of the particular demands of their stripped-down duo, as Amendola has logged thousands of miles with guitarist Charlie Hunter, and Blades toured and recorded with Medeski Martin and Woods’ drummer Billy Martin. Together, Amendola and Blades have honed an irresistible deep-pocket repertoire of sly funk, wicked shuffles, and slow-burning blues, with a dose of Ellingtonia thrown in for imaginative flights. Mentored by B-3 legend Dr. Lonnie Smith, a newly minted NEA Jazz Master, Blades is the region’s highest profile organ practitioner, while Amendola offers rhythmic revelations with every appearance. Together, these two heavyweights pack a serious wallop. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 427-2227.
TIME SPENT DRIVING
Nineties emo bands are reuniting—not the mainstream, poppy, not-actually-emo groups, but the underground heart-on-the-sleeve sub-branch of punk rock that was actually really amazing (before the radio destroyed it). The Santa Cruz band back then was Time Spent Driving. It broke up in 2003, but has been playing again ever since 2012. It’s been a slow return—a new record, Passed and Presence, finally materialized last year, and recently the band released a music video for one of their songs. The group also just released a deluxe version of the album. This isn’t a nostalgia-dripping reunion—TSD is back and creating some really interesting new music. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
One of the more complicated characters in the modern hip-hop scene, Hopsin is the stage name of L.A. native Marcus Hopson. Originally signed to the notorious Ruthless Records, Hopsin rose to fame through a series of successful YouTube videos, most of which have several million views. His breakout moment can be traced back to the 2010 release of “Sag My Pants,” the first of multiple songs in which Hopsin disses rappers more famous than himself—including Lil Wayne, Drake, Soulja Boy, Lupe Fiasco, Tyler the Creator, Rick Ross and more. Hopsin has been arrested at his own shows, has cancelled performances due to depression, and his aggressive and explicit lyrics boast a higher-than-average amount of sexist and violent language. No description would be complete without mention of the white-colored contacts he wears for every performance, giving him a creepy, zombie-like stare. KATIE SMALL
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $28/door. 429-4135.
Sometime in the late-’90s, the old So Say We cafe hosted then-Santa Cruzan Del Rey for an unforgettable music experience. Not only did Rey wow her audience—many of us first-timers—she did so from the loft/attic of the cafe, playing her kickass brand of resonator guitar blues like a boss from high above us, with her legs dangling over the edge. Rey has since left Santa Cruz for Seattle, but Friday sees her bringing her act, which includes humor, top-notch guitarwork, and a touch of Minnie Pearl-esque variety to the Ugly Mug. Don’t miss your chance to welcome back a hometown hero. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Ugly Mug, 4640 Soquel Drive, Soquel, $15. 477-1341.
When local world beat group Universal Language formed in the early 2000s, it started out as a stripped-down acoustic band. Quickly it evolved into a full-on dance ensemble and took the city by storm. Lead singer Moshe Vilozny is back, this time as a solo artist, and with an emphasis on those delightful acoustic instruments again. Folks that loved Vilozny’s songwriting in Universal Language will be quite pleased with his new music. The influences lean much heavier into the folk, country, blues realm, and it’s still danceable. This show celebrates the release of his solo debut record, Lost and Found, his first record since Universal Language’s Revolución in 2004. AC
INFO: 7 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.
Folk-rock group the Roches is a long-running favorite of contemporary acoustic music fans. Established in the early-’70s, the sibling trio comprising Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche became a folk music staple and, for the last four decades, has shared its harmony-rich, lighthearted approach to music with audiences around the world. The current incarnation of the family band sees Suzzy and her daughter Lucy Wainwright teaming up to create award-winning music and a stage show that includes storytelling, humor and fantastic family harmonies. CJ
INFO: 2 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
Marc Broussard spent his formative years in Louisiana. That probably doesn’t need stating since his music reeks of the bayou: a mix of rock, funk, R&B, blues, and Cajun music. He—like other Louisiana natives—gets this blend in the way unique to the region. It’s not multiple genres deliberately mashed together, but rather just different pieces of the same puzzle placed together seamlessly. Broussard can croon his ass off, and restraint is his secret weapon. His most recent record was last year’s Magnolias & Mistletoe, a Christmas album. And what a holiday album it is. It’ll make you want to toss your copy of “Jingle Bell Rock” out the window. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 423-8209.
Some singer-songwriters are fantastic musicians and so-so songwriters, or fantastic songwriters and so-so musicians. Then there’s Chris Smither. One of the most skillful roots guitarists around, the New Orleans-raised Smither ups the ante by writing songs of profound depth, insight and brilliant simplicity. He then filters them through his perfectly weathered and aged voice for maximum impact as he blends country blues and folk music with tales of love, heartbreak and everything in-between. As one reviewer puts it, “Smither is an American original … and one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world.” CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 427-2227.
Ryley Walker’s indie-folk arrangements follow the style of Mark Hollis, Tim Buckley and Jim O’Rourke. The Chicago folk singer has four albums and three EPs under his belt and has been touring intensely throughout 2016, including a few gigs supporting pop-folk heavyweights Iron & Wine. His latest album, Golden Songs That Have Been Sung, was produced by Wilco multi-instrumentalist (and fellow Chicagoan) LeRoy Bach. Opening the night is Circuit des Yeux, the moniker for folk singer Haley Fohr, who has a history of impressing crowds with her unexpected baritone voice. KS
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
IN THE QUEUE
Elder statesman of ska, rocksteady and reggae. Thursday at Don Quixote’s
THERE IS NO MOUNTAIN
Portland-based psych-pop duo. Thursday at Crepe Place
Bay Area funk outfit led by P-Funk’s Ronkat Spearman. Friday at Moe’s Alley
Local garage rock. Saturday at Blue Lagoon
STEVE THROOP GROUP
High energy, Santa Cruz blues. Saturday at Pocket