Live music highlights for the week of September 27, 2017.
If you go onto Pierre Bensusan’s website, there’s a photo of the guitarist embracing his acoustic guitar with the intimacy and seriousness one might use to hold their lover the night before they head out to war. What I’m saying is that Bensusan is connected to his instrument, and his gentle New Age-folk-Celtic finger-picking ballads sound like the musical equivalent of a man making sweet love to his wife of 25 years. It’s not really sexual; it’s a level of togetherness so profound, you can’t help but get swept away in it. AARON CARNES
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
If “Sometimes it Takes Balls to be a Woman” sounds like a country song you always kind of wished someone would get around to writing, then Elizabeth Cook is the singer-songwriter for you. That single, off her Rodney Crowell-produced 2007 album Balls, earned her the most attention she’d gotten since beginning her career in 2000 on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. But it wasn’t really until two appearances in 2012 on Late Night with David Letterman—one with Jason Isbell of the Drive-By Truckers, another coutry artist who took way too long to get his due—that Cook got mainstream attention. But being on the outside is still her thing—in 2014, she won an Ameripolitan Music Award in the “Outlaw Female” category, and she now hosts a popular show on Sirius XM Outlaw channel. I guess sometimes it takes … oh right, she already said that. STEVE PALOPOLI
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $22. 479-9421.
Pat Hull is exactly what I imagine every health-food-obsessed, L.A.-based ’70s singer-songwriter to sound like. I don’t know if Hull is a health-food nut—and he’s a Chico guy, for the record—but I can imagine him in Birkenstocks singing his gentle, introspective folk tunes to a group of robed vegan cultists in 1971 and making some heads turn. His high falsetto voice is searing and surreal. It creates this almost transcendental quality in his otherwise simple acoustic tunes. He’s one of Chico’s best known songwriters, and does well anywhere that sells tofu and “lifestyle manuals.” Non-spiritual meat eaters love him, too! AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
CROOKED BRANCHES & MOSHE VILOZNY
Moshe Vilozny is the former singer of local world beat ensemble Universal Language. His solo material is a much more mellow acoustic version of his Universal Language songwriting. Crooked Branches is a killer six-piece band that takes the line that separates folk and soul, and obliterates it. It’s down-home storytelling that also has a funky groove to it. You’ll dance, you’ll sing along, you’ll think about the purpose of life. Yay! AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10. 479-1854.
INSANE CLOWN POSSE
It’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t heard of Detroit rap group Insane Clown Posse (aka ICP). For almost 30 years, the face-painted duo has built a family of fans—known as Juggalos—around their blend of horrorcore hip-hop. Their wild live performances are literally drenched in Faygo brand soda, which Juggalos happily bathe in while shouting “Woop Woop” and “Fam-ah-ly.” Yet their self-proclaimed “most hated band in the world” title is no laughing matter, as ICP is constantly attacked in the media. The FBI labeled Juggalos as a gang, which thousands of fans protested in Washington D.C. on the same day as the pro-Trump “Mother of all Rallies.” No, it’s not you—2017 really is that weird. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $28.50/adv, $30/door. 429-4135.
SPANISH HARLEM ORCHESTRA
What’s in a name? In the case of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, it’s much more than a mere assertion of regional pride. The moniker evokes the pioneering Latin Dance bands of Machito, Tito Rodriguez, and Tito Puente, who laid the foundation for salsa in the 1940s and ’50s. In the hands of pianist/arranger/producer Oscar Hernandez, the 13-member SHO has earned two Grammy Awards and kept the classic salsa Duraflame burning brightly. Now based in Los Angeles, Hernandez earned respect in salsa circles recording with conga legend Ray Barretto in the early 1980s, but really came into his own during a long stint with Ruben Blades’ popular and innovative band Seis Del Solar. Deep in the tradition, he’s a forceful pianist with a big, ringing sound. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $35/adv, $40/door. 427-2227.
IRMA THOMAS AND GUESTS
If Irma Thomas or the Blind Boys of Alabama or the Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet were coming to town, it would be a really big deal. The fact that all three are performing together is, for fans of American soul and gospel music, a bit staggering. Thomas is affectionately known as the “Soul Queen” of New Orleans, and for good reason. She’s been holding court in the Crescent City since the 1960s and has been one of the most influential voices in R&B and gospel in the last 50 years. The Blind Boys of Alabama is a long-running, Grammy-winning gospel harmony group with roots that stretch back to the ’30s. The Preservation Hall Legacy Quintet pays tribute to the rich, sustaining legacy of Preservation Hall, the legendary music venue in New Orleans. If you’re interested in gospel, soul, or the impact New Orleans has had on popular music, do not miss this show. CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $40/gen, $60/gold. 423-8209.
Haunting, distorted, darkly melodic—these are just some of the ways to describe garage rock trio L.A. Witch. This isn’t their first Catalyst performance, but it looks to be their largest, hot on the heels of their self-titled debut album’s release on Suicide Squeeze Records. The nine-track LP perfectly captures the group’s aesthetic and live sound, delivering sweet pop tunes coated in existential gloom. With all of the press they’ve been receiving, we’re guessing this might be the last time fans will get to see L.A. Witch in a room the size of the Atrium. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $12/door. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
Cello tribute to Metallica. Wednesday at Rio Theatre
INCITERS & PACIFIC ROOTS
Northern Soul double-bill. Thursday at Moe’s Alley
Swedish singer-songwriter with a knack for Americana. Friday at Lille Aeske
Tribute to the Rolling Stones and Gregg Allman. Saturday at Don Quixote’s
West Virginia-born and raised singer-songwriter. Sunday at Crepe Place