DAVE RAWLINGS MACHINE
Gillian Welch is a rock star of the contemporary roots movement. The one-time Santa Cruzan seems like she just shuttled in from the Dust Bowl, and we love her for it. What roots music newbies may not know, however, is that behind the name Gillian Welch is actually a duo comprising her and her longtime partner David Rawlings. One of the most creative, soulful and talented roots guitarists of our time—and a top-notch producer whose roster includes Old Crow Medicine Show—Rawlings is a quiet master of the genre and the secret weapon behind one of the most highly regarded roots outfits around. Thursday sees Rawlings at the Rio Theatre with his own group, the Dave Rawlings Machine, which has been called “one of the hottest string bands on the planet.” CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $32.50. 423-8209.
The Mekons’ self-titled album (1980) is a tough listen, even for wacked out British post-punk. The band’s next record of new material, Fear and Whiskey (1985), is kind of a country album, and quite possibly the first example of recorded “alt-country.” If there’s any question as to why the Mekons isn’t a household name, this kind of explains it. The members take “undefinable” to whole new heights. Even though Fear and Whiskey is considered a classic in the genre, the members pride themselves more on being genre-deviants than alt-country forebearers. The last couple of decades, they’ve consistently released boundary-pushing records, but they’ve stayed mostly under the radar. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 429-6994.
AMERICANA / JAM
SCOTT COOPER & THE BARRELMAKERS
Scott Cooper & the Barrelmakers is a Santa Cruz-based Americana jam band that falls somewhere between the Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Drawing from a wealth of musical experience, which includes work with China Cats, the Gary Gates Band, Stackabones and more, singer-songwriter Cooper fronts the all-star outfit comprising Dark Star Orchestra drummer Mark Corsolini, lap steel guitarist Scott Walker, veteran bassist Terry Shields, and pianist and vocalist Lachlan Kane. Recommended if you like long jams that romp through rock, roots and the blues. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. The Pocket, 3102 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, $5. 475-9819.
Every song on Sea Knight’s debut EP Where Are You is an important personal statement. Or maybe that’s just how it sounds with the combination of bassist Sami’s occasional violin work and vocalist Linda’s dramatic melodies. That’s not to say the group lacks in the subtly department. The San Francisco four-piece creates a lot of tension with slow builds and repeated phrases (both on the guitar and with the vocals), and with just four members, brings a lot of nuance to the music. The band has yet to follow up their 2014 EP—yet another slow build, I guess. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
Blending Eastern European and traditional Roma music with a kitchen-sink approach that includes rock, ska, klezmer, flamenco and even a bit of polka, Diego’s Umbrella is a true original. Hailing from the Bay Area, this high-energy outfit combines cultures, sounds and styles into a one-people dance party that invites listeners to get their grooves on. Also on the bill: Santa Cruz favorite, Coffee Zombie Collective. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.
Each member of Abalone Grey brings a unique music background to the mix, including elements of classical, jazz, roots, rock and even metal, which partially accounts for the band’s unique sound. Another explanation lies in the expert songwriting and the organic and subtly crafted harmonies that make this bluegrass collective stand out in Santa Cruz’s abundant folk scene. The band tours regularly, but the members agree that “pound for pound, Santa Cruz is really great—chock full of great bands and great venues.” KATIE SMALL
INFO: 7 p.m. Don Quixote’s International Music Hall, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $10. 335-2800.
JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA WITH WYNTON MARSALIS
There’s no sonic experience quite like a finely honed big band surging with seemingly unstoppable momentum, building to a delirious climax, then dropping down to a brushes-on-cymbal whisper. And there’s no large ensemble in jazz that plays with the swaggering authority and well-oiled precision of Wynton’s locomotive Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. With a repertoire ranging from Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington to Miles Davis, Jackie McLean and beyond (not to mention an impressive roster of originals commissioned from bandmembers), the 15-piece orchestra features exceptional improvisers. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. $36.75-$68.25. 427-2227.
Peaches’ genre (and gender) bending makes it difficult to succinctly categorize her music—her sound lands somewhere between surreal avant-garde pop and post-punk electro with deceptively self-aware satirical lyrics, usually delivered in rap form. As far as reviewers go, Uncut seems to have gotten closest with a designation of “high art, low humor, and deluxe filth in a hugely seductive combination.” Peaches’ experimental performance art is best digested in visual form, which may be why her music videos are such intense productions. Good luck tearing your eyes away from the provocative, bizarre spectacle that is the music video for her newest single, “Vaginoplasty,” and prepare for an uncomfortable but oddly pleasurable reaction previously reserved for the smell of your own body odor. KS
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $22/door. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
CHICK COREA TRIO
Legendary jazz keyboardist, composer and bandleader. Wednesday at Kuumbwa
Prolific, indie rap trailblazer. Wednesday at Catalyst
JOLIE HOLLAND TRIO
Singer-songwriter and founder of the Be Good Tanyas. Thursday at Don Quixote’s
Long-running Bay Area blues rockers. Friday at Rio Theatre
Frontwoman of garage rock group Heartless Bastards. Tuesday at Catalyst