Live music highlights for the week of Jan. 23, 2019
A little more than three decades ago, two melodically inclined students were in the audience at a funk concert thinking, “We could be a better band than them.” Soon after that, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow began playing shows as the Posies. Before long, they evolved into a full-fledged band, complete with a major label deal and a string of hit singles (one of which was even covered by Ringo Starr). Now celebrating 30 years of power pop, the Posies return to their duo roots, coming to Santa Cruz for an intimate acoustic performance at Flynn’s. MIKE HUGUENOR
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret & Steakhouse, 6275 Hwy 9., Felton. $20 adv/$25 door. 335-2800.
A dark soul weaves its way through the Yawpers blend of psychobilly and truckstop blues. This trio from Denver delves deep into the maniacal and grotesque with thudding grooves, screeching, raspy vocals and foreboding, gothic literary aspirations. Their 2017 album Boy In A Well is about exactly what the title states. At once haunting and morbid, the Yawpers take the old notion of a concept album and give it a second wind with a complete and concise exploration of a melancholy life lived in a well. Concept albums aren’t dead—far from it. But the boy in the well probably is. AMY BEE
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
The moment the beat drops in nearly any Wifisfuneral track, the Palm Beach rapper jumps in with a mile-a-minute, rapid-fire flow and doesn’t quit. His beats are tailor-made to pump you up like audio steroids. Lyrics about drug benders and a day in the life of a rap star take front stage in his verses, which might sound like typical hip-hop braggadocio. But within all the nonstop, turn-up energy is a subtle inherent sadness in everything Wifisfuneral is rapping about. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15. 423-1338.
Guitarist Bill Frisell is a protean creative force who’s wandered down countless musical paths. He’s been a thrasher and a bluegrass acolyte, a post-bop explorer and a Delta blues rambler. Drawing on material from 2016’s When You Wish Upon a Star, Frisell applies his bittersweet tone to his arrangements of themes written for Hollywood films and television, exploring everything from Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho to Johnny Mandel’s “The Shadow of Your Smile” to the Evans/Livingston theme song for Bonanza. He’s joined by violist Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan, drummer extraordinaire Rudy Royston, and vocalist Petra Haden. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $31.50-$47.25. 427-2227.
Though their band photos suggest otherwise, Tempest is not a gang of swashbuckling pirates on the hunt for buried treasure. At its core, this is Celtic-influenced rock ’n’ roll. But the group also mixes in music from all over the high seas: Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, African, Irish. It’s all in there because they’ve all been there (allegedly). Your urge to swing back a drink and sing along in a drunken slur will surely be high if you dare test the waters of a Tempest show. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $15. 479-9777.
Deep from the bowels of sunny San Diego comes the aural void of black metal quartet Mythraeum. Ok, so maybe San Diego doesn’t sound like the darkest, most evil place for a black metal band to hail from, but don’t let that fool you. Their music is as brutal as anything from a pagan forest, and my guess is their live show is just as relentless. Rounding out the night in a fury of hellfire and sound is Oakland’s Dearth, with Cult Graves and Slege from San Jose. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.
The world of electronic music is a colorful, wild and muddied place. There are thousands of DJs constantly putting out new music, trying to find a new sound while keeping one step ahead of the competition. But there are some names that stand out from the rest, and Chrome Sparks is one of them. Since 2012, he has continued to expand the realm of Futurebeats, mixing original sounds into danceable moments. MW
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $18 adv/$20 door. 423-1338.
Jake Shimabukuro travels the musical landscapes with his trusty ukulele, turning beloved (and often overplayed) iconic singles into something strangely poignant and new because, you know, he’s doing it on a ukulele. One might think this is a gimmick, until one hears Shimabukuro shred solos, trade sparring riffs with guitarists, or give a rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that makes even the most hardened prog-rocker soften up and take notice. With a mixture of covers and originals, Shimabukuro validates the ukulele and proves that it’s not just a tiny island guitar to play at bonfires. AB
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $35. 423-8209.
Starting out as a rocksteady vocal group in the mid-60s, the Gladiators were playing roots reggae at the time when reggae was still laying its roots. In 2014, longtime singer Albert Griffiths retired from touring, but the band carried on, replacing him with up-and-comer Droop Lion (note: not Snoop Lion), whose soulful and gravelly voice had already become famous around Jamaica for his hit “Freeway.” Now made up of the four original Gladiators along with Droop Lion on the mic (and Griffiths’s son Anthony on drums), the Gladiators are still essential to the story of reggae music. MH
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Drive, Santa Cruz. $15 adv/$20 door. 479-1854.