Leyla McCalla

Music Picks: February 6-12

Live music highlights for the week of Feb. 6, 2019

Leyla McCalla plays Kuumbwa on Thursday, Feb. 7

Live music highlights for the week of Feb. 6, 2019





There are so many things to love about rapper, J. Lately. His laid back flow that hides years of writing and practice, his 10-year hip-hop career, culminating in last year’s Be Fucking Happy, his 15th album. Then there is his name, a take on his belief that humans should be constantly seeking change for the better. But far be it for us to tell anyone how to think. Go see this Sebastopol artist upfront and personal at the Blue Lagoon and start your own list of reasons to love him. MAT WEIR

INFO: 8:30 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5 adv/$10 door. 423-7117.





Whigs frontman Parker Gispert is stretching his wings as a solo artist. After 20 years in a band, he’s enjoying the freedom of following his musical flights of fancy without having to check in with bandmates. Gispert as captain and pilot means songs less grounded in southern garage rock and more atmospheric, with introspective meanderings, acoustic elaborations and a voluminous vocal range. He wrote Sunlight Tonight completely outside, while living on a plot of farmland. His songs dizzy with self-determination and giddy with the realization of a never-ending horizon, Gispert may never return to the world of collaborators and compromise. AMY BEE

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.



Watching the evolution of Leyla McCalla has been one of American music’s great pleasures in recent years. The Haitian-American singer-songwriter has come into her own as a band leader who soaks up all the vibrations around her, transmuting sounds and experiences into strikingly beautiful music. Since moving to New Orleans in 2010, she’s had two children, and both experiences shape the music on her gorgeous new album The Capitalist Blues. She’s touring with a band plucked from the New Orleans jazz scene. At 33, she continues to explore the Creole cultural currents running between Port-au-Prince and New Orleans while extending her purview to the horizons. ANDREW GILBERT

INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $31.50 adv/$36.75 door. 427-2227.





Hot Buttered Rum will get you drunk with just a couple quick listens to their sweet and smooth tunes. The band returns to Santa Cruz for another night of no-holds-barred debauchery. This five-piece bluegrass band has been quenching their audiences’ thirst for music for 17 years, with their sixth studio full-length album, Lonesome Panoramic, released last year. Their traditional style of mountain music is so addicting it will have you moving and shaking long past last call and begging for more when the lights go out. MW

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15 adv/$20 door. 479-1854.





Is there a place where jam bands collide with EDM? The answer is yes, and apparently that place is Colorado, the state where electro-funk trio Sunsquabi lay their gyrating heads at night. It’s nothing new for electronic groups to incorporate non-electronic instruments in their music these days, but Sunsquabi takes it a step further and gives the music the meandering, low-key groove that has made stoners follow Phish and the Dead around for decades. And yet somehow it fits entirely in the electronic pill-popping realm. Ponder that contradiction while you are lost in the funk. AARON CARNES

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $14 adv/$16 door. 423-1338.



If you want to dance—and I know you do—but don’t want to commit to any one dance genre, La Misa Negra, a seven-piece cumbia band from Oakland, is calling your name. Driven by fierce horn riffs and kick-ass accordion antics, Afro-Latin music has never sounded so punk. Or heavy metal. Or hip-hop. Or disco. Okay, maybe not disco for more than a second or two. La Misa Negra combines the traditional, like currulao, tambora and salsa, with whatever contemporary inspiration tickles their fancy, creating a sound they call, “retro-future cumbia.” It’s high-voltage dance music for all cultures, backgrounds and generations. AB

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15 adv/$20 door. 479-1854.





Weirdly psychedelic (and also just plain weird), Portland’s On Drugs promises a set of songs that will “make grandma cry” and “leave dad sweating like a hooker in church.” So in case you were planning on bringing three generations of family to this Monday’s show, be warned. Playful and assaulting in equal measure, On Drugs have a bit of the Unicorns in their DNA, blended up with the hard-partying trash rock of FIDLAR. Before you know it, they’ll have you singing in a falsetto about slamming 40s and smoking out your cat. MIKE HUGUENOR

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. $7. 429-6994.



Traditionalism isn’t exactly Santa Cruz’s main squeeze. Luckily, the Rad Trads aren’t exactly traditional in a Leviticus sense. It’s more of a “get down and dance to rock ’n’ roll” traditionalism, a la the Rolling Stones. The Stones themselves get a name drop on 2016’s “Keith Richards & I,” a song with the same tightly wound energy and loose morals of it’s title hero. Dirty trumpets, trebled-out guitars and a howling beast on the mic. Call it traditional, call it a classic. It’s all rock ’n’ roll to me. MH

INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $26.25 adv/$31.50 door. 427-2227.





Some of the best reggae comes from people of mixed cultures. J Boog, a celebrity in Hawaii’s vibrant reggae scene, was raised in Compton and comes from Samoan descent. His music brings the bread and butter of easy grooves and a smooth vocal delivery with plenty of peace, love and romance. There are moments where you can feel his breezy island vibe collide with the harsh reality of his Compton upbringing. It creates some really interesting music that will tug at your heart and brain. AC

INFO: 8 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $32 adv/$25 door. 423-1338.

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