Live music highlights for the week of May 23, 2018.
Masters of three-part harmony, the Ladles—comprising Katie Martucci, Caroline Kuhn, and Lucia Purpura-Pontoniere—blends swing, old-time, folk and more to create a handcrafted, downhome sound that brings to mind nights spent making music on the back porch while fireflies flit about and good friends catch up. The music is spacious and lovely. With instrumentation that impresses, harmonies that inspire, and an ability to capture the richness of the folk tradition without getting stuck trying to recreate the past, the Ladles is a quiet standout of the roots genre. Also on the bill: bluegrass outfit Mile Twelve. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15/adv, $18/door. 335-2800.
If you like your music lighthearted and free, then Dangermuffin is the treat your ears have been looking for. Since 2007, they have mixed folk, jazz, and jam band stylings with lyrics about family roots, the wisdom of nature and spiritual awakenings. Last year, the band released its sixth album, Heritage, an eight-song journey about “getting to the roots of humanity.” MAT WEIR
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 S. Main St., Soquel. $10. 479-9777.
When Madeleine Peyroux appeared on the jazz scene with her startling 1996 debut album Dreamland, she sounded eerily like Billie Holiday whether she was singing French chanson, vintage blues, 1920s pop tunes, or country standards. While she’s long since evolved out of her Lady Day affectations when it comes to her tone, her phrasing still lags well behind the beat, which can create delicious drama (or melodrama, depending on the tune). She puts her stamp on everything she sings, and her band is a state-of-the-art marvel, with guitarist Gregg Fine, bassist Paul Frazier, drummer Graham Hawthorne, and keyboardist Andy Ezrin, a player sought after by acts such as Steve Tyrell, New York Voices, and Joe Jackson. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7:30 p.m.; Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz; $35/gen, $50/gold. 831-427-2227
CARLA DAL FORNO
Residing in the space between ambient music, experimental, indie rock and singer-songwriter territory, Carla dal Forno creates thoughtful, often gloomy, mood music perfect for rainy days, long nights and breakups. Hailing from Australia, dal Forno, who also contributes to the bands Fingers, Tarcar, and Mole House, currently resides in Berlin, but she’s built an international audience with her unique blend of styles and melancholy approach to love, loss and longing. This Thursday, dal Forno hits the Catalyst for what promises to be an emo-yet-engaging affair. Also on the bill: musician and photographer Tess Roby. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 423-1338.
New York punk duo Diet Cig has the most adorable backstory, which involves one interrupting the other’s set at a house show, and them instantly becoming besties and starting their own saccharine sweet pop-punk band that some doctors might suggest you listen to when you are having a bad day. The lyrics are just heavy enough, without being too political, dealing with issues of anxiety and music scene politics. You can throw this on when just about any of your friends hops in the car and have a massive sing-along. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 429-6994.
I had a friend from Mexico tell me that his county is “the land of ska.” It’s easy to see why he would say this when you see some of the hugely popular bands that have been filling venues throughout the country the past two decades. Inspector, from Monterrey, is a great example. The band is a legit pop act in Mexico that fuses elements of rock, catchy hooks, traditional Mexican music, and (most importantly) plenty of ska. They are one of a million Mexican bands doing this. Another one, Genitallica (also from Monterrey), will be opening the show. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $30. 479-1854.
LAUREN RUTH WARD
Described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of L.A.’s must-see frontwomen,” Lauren Ruth Ward is a psych-rock, blues-dripping rock and roller with a show-stopping voice and magnetic delivery that demands attention. A one-time hairstylist from Baltimore, Ward has reinvented herself as one of the city’s standout artists with a sound that spans the Black Angels, classic ‘70s rock, Chrissie Hynde and Lucinda Williams. Ward is rough, edgy and a rising star of the SoCal music scene and beyond. Also on the bill: Yip Yops, an alt-rock outfit out of California’s Coachella Valley. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8/adv, $10/door. 429-6994.
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR
If you have a few hours to kill, you might want to sit down and listen to a Godspeed You Black Emperor song. In this age of instant gratification, you might be tempted to shut it off after the first 10 minutes of buildup, because you have 50 other things begging for your attention. But I suggest you stick it out, because this band is going somewhere with the quiet arpeggios, dramatic tension, droney guitars and eerie soundscapes. The Canadian experimental group, which started back in 1994, is really good at taking listeners on a journey that completely transcends the pop music experience. And live, it’s that much more spiritual. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $34.50. 423-8209.
LARRY AND HIS FLASK
Punk. Folk. Bluegrass. Gypsy. However one categorizes Larry and his Flask, it’s right. For 15 years, these genre-bending musicians have been some of the hardest-working players in the underground scene. From busking on the streets to playing restaurants to playing large venues with acts like Trampled by Turtles, Larry and his Flask has continuously proven the band is a force to be reckoned with. Their live performance is an explosion of energy, with members running around on stage, jumping in the air and swapping instruments mid-song just for kicks. MW
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst. 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $14/adv, $16/door. 429-4135.
IN THE QUEUE
12-string guitar country blues. Wednesday at Crepe Place
Socially and politically-conscious reggae. Thursday at Catalyst
CARNAVAL: THE TOUR
Las Cafeteras, Making Movies and Alex Cuba celebrate Carnaval. Thursday at Moe’s Alley
CALIFORNIA BEACH BOYS
Tribute to the Beach Boys. Saturday at Michael’s on Main
Renowned Tuvan throat-singers. Saturday at Rio Theatre