JESSIE DANIEL AND THE SLOW LEARNERS
Between old-timey folk and cheery bluegrass, Santa Cruz has country covered. But the gritty, punk-country style would be almost non-existent if it weren’t for Jesse Daniel and his band the Slow Learners. Daniel recorded every instrument on his recent EP, but assembled the Slow Learners to accompany him for live shows. His influences include Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Sharing the bill are the Cadillac Grainers, a recently established local country band. Made up of Sean Skaife on lead guitar and vocals, Nick Shoulders on percussion and vocals, Chelsea Moosekian on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Lane Cunningham covering double bass, the Cadillac Grainers just returned from an East Coast tour. KATIE SMALL
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.
In old-school Jamaican music, there were the smartly dressed rude boys playing danceable ska, and then there were the deeply spiritual natty dreads playing bass-heavy reggae. But there was something else, too. Some call it the “’69 sound,” or “skinhead reggae” (not the racist kind of skinhead). It’s fun, bouncy, and slower than ska, grooving hard and emanating pure soulful passion. There’s only one modern American band that plays this music right, and that’s L.A.’s Aggrolites. They’re not Jamaican, and it’s their own modernized version of the music—they call it “dirty reggae”—but damn if they don’t exude that Jamaican late-’60s pop-reggae vibe in the best way possible. AARON CARNES
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $17/door. 429-4135.
Peter Case delivers some of the most ragged heart-on-his-sleeve acoustic ballads out there. He started his career in the Nerves, one of San Francisco’s first punk bands (who are today most famous for penning the Blondie hit “Hanging on the Telephone”). After that, he moved on the power-pop band the Plimsouls. And since 1986, he’s been building a solo career that pulls from blues, folk, country and the deepest crevices of his soul. AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
SANTA IS REAL
In 1959, country duo the Louvin Brothers released a gospel album titled Satan is Real. The record has since become a staple of classic country record collections and it helped elevate the Louvins to legendary status. On Friday, Santa Cruz’s own Carolyn Sills Combo gives a tongue-in-cheek nod to the album with its annual “Santa is Real” performance. Now in its sixth year, the show is a lively mix of holiday tunes, Western swing and classic country. Chances are good that the band will also grace listeners with their brand new classic, “Ghost Reindeer in the Sky,” a delightful mashup of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.
Iamsu is a founding member and one of nine artists in the Bay Area’s Heart Break Gang. Born Sudan Ameer Williams, the rapper developed his stage name from a childhood nickname, “Su.” The Richmond native combines paired-down electronic hip-hop with your typical pop-rap lyrics; he’s gotten a lot of mileage out of Helen Keller—her name just has the right amount of syllables, I guess. For fans of Wiz Khalifa. KS
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $27.50/adv, $30/door. 429-4135.
LOCAL MUSIC SHOWCASE
This rare treat of a show features the unhinged soulful psych-rock of the Redlight District; the smooth-funk-meets-punchy-blues-rock of Ginger and Juice; heartfelt Americana from Eric Morrison and the Mysteries (Heartfelt, soulful Americana); and the poetic, folksy acoustic duo Wild Iris. The show will also be a release party for the Redlight District’s brand new EP. AC
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $7/adv, $10/door. 479-1854.
MOE’S ALLEY’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY
They grow up so fast. We looked away for a minute and suddenly Moe’s Alley—Santa Cruz’s roadhouse for rocking blues, reggae, world, rock and more—is turning 25. To celebrate the venue’s quarter-century mark, the Moe’s crew welcomes one of Santa Cruz’s great hometown blues heroes, guitar shredder Mighty Mike Schermer (performing with the Soul Drivers featuring Andy Santana), along with Chris Cain and more. Proclaimed the “best blues guitarist, singer and songwriter you’ve never heard of” by bluesman Tommy Castro, Schermer is a fast-rising star of the contemporary blues scene and an ambassador for the Austin-by-way-of-the-Bay-Area music circuit. Don’t miss this chance to give the Moe’s crew a high-five and get a heaping dose of afternoon rock and blues. CJ
4 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $16/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.
CHARLIE HUNTER QUARTET
Seven-string guitar wizard Charlie Hunter and drum maestro Scott Amendola have logged thousands of miles together as a groove-centric duo with a rough-and-tumble repertoire of sinewy tunes. They’ve teamed up with various horn players over the years, recently adding the brilliant cornetist Kirk Knuffke, who’s also been featured recently in drum star Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom. For this West Coast tour, Hunter is tossing another horn player into the mix, the prodigiously gifted alto and tenor saxophonist Kasey Knudsen. One of the most consistently riveting improvisers on the Bay Area scene, she’s gained national attention despite favoring collective ensembles (like the Schimscheimer Family Trio and the Holly Martins) and sidewoman gigs rather than leading her own band. With two horns, Hunter can revel in the sinuous overlapping lines of his excellent 2016 album Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth (which also features Knuffke). ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $27/adv, $32/door. 427-2227.
ACAPELLA / WORLD
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK
A Sweet Honey in the Rock performance is less like your typical concert and more like a cross-cultural, love-fueled celebration of music, social consciousness, the planet and all of its inhabitants. One of the longest-running female vocal groups, Sweet Honey in the Rock filters traditional spirituals, pop tunes, jazz, R&B and hip-hop through the dynamic and powerful a cappella that has made the outfit a favorite of audiences around the world. In celebration of the “holydays,” the inimitable women of Sweet Honey bring a collection of holiday songs from a variety of cultures and styles for a “multicultural celebration of good tidings for the season.” CJ
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $35/gen, $50/gold. 423-8209.
IN THE QUEUE
Northern California guitarist blending folk, rock and R&B. Wednesday at Don Quixote’s
Hawaiian singer-songwriter brings her “All Is Bright” tour to town. Thursday at Moe’s Alley
ADAM SHULMAN TRIO
Standout jazz pianist plays Charlie Brown Christmas. Thursday at Kuumbwa
MELVIN SEALS AND THE JERRY GARCIA BAND
Members of the extended Dead family keep the train rolling. Friday at Moe’s Alley
Roots outfit featuring Joshua Lowe and Jason Lampel. Friday at Crepe Place