Music Picks Feb. 14-20

Front Country plays Thursday, Feb. 15 at Don Quixote's.

Live music highlights for the week of February 14, 2018.





In the 1990s and 2000s, singer-songwriter Laura Love released a stream of well-received albums, and was a popular presence on the folk and festival scene. Then she disappeared from the public eye. Turns out, she was living off the grid, growing her own food and raising her daughter. In 2017, after what she has called a “savage couple of years” recovering from an assault and the death of her sister, Love returned to life as a touring musician—flanked by standout guitarist Terry Hunt, and with a new batch of songs and a repertoire that includes gospel tunes, field hollers, Civil Rights-era songs and socially conscious originals. Word is, she’s better than ever. Also on the bill: local folk favorite Henhouse with Sherry Austin. CAT JOHNSON

INFO: 7:30 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 423-8209.




San Francisco’s Front Country always knew they’d be swimming upstream in the acoustic American-roots music world. It’s not just because they lay their heads in the concrete jungles of San Francisco’s Mission District; the members’ past musical influences touch on just about every genre besides Americana (jazz, classical, soul, electropop). But the quintet has played to their weakness and carved out an elegant, eclectic indie-folk sound that’s rooted in ’70s folk-rock and heartfelt soul music. You won’t see any cowboy hats, but you also won’t miss them. AC

INFO: 7:30 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $12. 335-2800.




Berkeley Hammond B-3 organist Wil Blades has spent a fair amount of time in New Orleans over the last 15 years, including numerous gigs with alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, Jr., scion of a storied Crescent City musical clan. Blades is the junior partner in a project that adds two other illustrious artists into the mix. Soul-steeped vocalist Linda Tillery has been a Bay Area institution since the late 1960s, while bebop drummer Mike Clark earned acclaim as a funk innovator with Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. ANDREW GILBERT

INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 427-2227.




Open the Door for Three may not be the most intuitive name for a Celtic band, but the trio’s musical pedigree speaks for itself. Comprising fiddle player Liz Knowles, uilleann piper Kieran O’Hare, and singer and bouzouki player Pat Broaders, the members have appeared with Riverdance, Cherish the Ladies, String Sisters, Secret Garden, Anúna, the New York Pops and more. Drawing inspiration and material from centuries-old tunes, the band then reworks them, adding their own original melodies and instrumentation to reveal something timeless and fresh. CJ

INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michaels on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $18/adv, $20/door. 479-9777.




If you listen closely to the latest record by L.A. singer-songwriter Pearl Charles, you will hear traces of blues, acid-rock, southern-rock and indie-folk. But at its core, it’s gentle pop music, the kind that would have fit snugly on ’70s AM radio. Charles isn’t the kind of singer that leads her band like an overbearing dictator. She’s like a pleasant friend riding along on a coastal drive, giving little cues and directions, blending in with the music in such a subtle way that you never realize she’s telling you what to feel. AC

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12. 429-6994.




Four decades ago, brothers Phil and Dave Alvin formed the Blasters with Bill Bateman and John Bazz to play what they called “American Music.” With a blend of country, mountain music, punk and early rock’n’ roll, the Blasters were on the forefront of the 1980s rockabilly revival. Over the years the band has continued to be an inspiration to rockers and punks alike, with musicians from Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen to Rancid singing the Blasters’ praise. This week the current line-up of Dave Alvin, Bill Bateman, John Bazz, and Keith Wyatt return to Santa Cruz for a preeminent night of feet-rockin’, hip-shakin’ good times. MAT WEIR

INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.




Fred Eaglesmith is a wildcard of contemporary folk and roots music. One of the most talented singer-songwriters of our time, he’s also outspoken, irreverent and nontraditional. He bears as much similarity to a steampunk carny as he does to a run-of-the-mill folk singer—and that suits him just fine. With dozens of albums to his name and a loyal fanbase of “Fred Heads,” Eaglesmith is a true original who shuns the music industry in favor of authenticity, accessibility and independence. This Friday, Eaglesmith is joined by showstopping singer-songwriter Tif Ginn, who is also his wife. CJ

INFO: 7:30 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $25/gen, $40/gold. 427-2227.




Celebrating two decades of strangeness, the mysterious Dr. Octagon will be performing at the Catalyst for a one-night, hip-hop experience not to be forgotten. Originally created by OG MC Kool Keith, Dr. Octagon has been a favorite persona of hip-hop heads who have a clue, even after he was killed off—twice. This rare, live performance will also feature an all-star line-up of producer Dan the Automator and turntablist, QBert, who were both integral parts of the 1996 Dr. Octagon debut album, Dr. Octagonecologyst. MW

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $28/adv, $30/door. 429-4135.




A trip to Brazil would definitely be the best way to celebrate Carnaval this year. But with rent skyrocketing these days, who can afford a plane ticket to anywhere? Fortunately, Santa Cruz is home to the one and only SambaDá, a truly unique Brazilian experience. But they are only one piece of the puzzle this year at the Brazilian Carnaval show. The all-star group includes Pato Banton, DJ Oscar, and Pierre Onassis, the singer for famed Brazilian band Olodum. If you don’t come out to this party, you will hang your head in shame at the office on Monday morning. AC

INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $25. 479-1854.


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