Live music highlights for the week of July 4, 2018.
“Hey god, I’ll trade you Donald Trump for Leonard Cohen!” So pleads singer-songwriter Steve Poltz in his typically smart-ass fashion. You might not have realized what a sharp tongue the prolific musician had if your main introduction to him was his collaboration with Jewel on “You Were Meant For Me.” The real Poltz voices all of our sorrow at losing Prince and David Bowie, but for being left stuck with Trump in the White House. You might just laugh till you cry. If that’s too political for you, don’t worry, his other material (“Fistfight at the Vegan Brunch”) might be more up your alley. AARON CARNES
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20/adv, $25/door. 335-2800.
For three decades, the members of Los Cafres have given the world their unique blend of Latin reggae, defying any preconceived notions of the genre. Hailing from Argentina, the group consists of four core members, but they continuously bring a wide roster of guest musicians on tour and in the studio. Their first album was not released until 1994, but it would take another 10 years before their popularity reached a global scale. In 2016, they released their 13th album, Alas Canciones. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $30/adv, $35/door. 429-4135.
James McMurtry is a fixture in the Austin music scene, and his reach doesn’t end in Texas. At the risk of over-hyping his talents, McMurtry is one of the finest, most human songwriters around. Elevating stories of everyday people to near-mythic proportions, the rough-but-insightful McMurtry delves into the nuances of human thought, emotion and relationships and emerges with relatable glimpses into the lives of people who may, or may not, be a lot like you. CAT JOHNSON
INFO: 8 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $25/adv, $30/door. 479-1854.
The latest single by local alt-rock ensemble Novarose is a powerhouse of emotion and heavy arena-rock guitars. The song “Release Me” takes all of the members’ goth energy and shouts it from the top of the mountain (“If I could be a stranger, I’d run away, un-live the pain”); I suggest they contact the good folks at Webster and ask this song be the new entry for the word “catharsis.” The song is everything the group’s been doing already, but bigger and better—by the end, you will be ready to flee your life while you run in the pouring rain in slow motion. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
If you’ve got a whole lotta love, but can’t seem to find the stairway to heaven, then ramble on down to Michael’s on Main this Saturday for the Bay Area’s premiere Led Zeppelin cover band Shred Zeppelin. There’s no communication breakdown when it comes to Shred Zeppelin melting audiences’ faces through good times, bad times and somethin’ else completely. MW
INFO: 8 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2541 South Main St., Soquel. $10. 479-9777.
Few artists truly change our cultural arc; Michael Jackson was one of them. From his days as the irresistibly captivating and talented youngster in the Jackson 5 through his game-changing Thriller era, Jackson helped define popular music culture for decades. Foreverland pays tribute to Jackson with high-energy celebrations of music spanning his storied career without falling into the impersonation trap. Formed in 2009, just two weeks before Jackson’s death, the band features four vocalists, a mighty horn section, and a rhythm section that won’t let you stop till you get enough. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 423-1338.
HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN
If you’re going to talk about old-timey country, Western swing and string ensemble revival music, let’s talk about a band that was doing it long before it was cool: Hot Club of Cowtown. They even made sure to include the word “Cowtown” in their name, even though when they formed in the late ’90s, that was hardly the mark of an awesome-sauce band. The group oddly enough formed in New York, and brought their snapping strings to some probably confused faces for a while. But who’s laughing now? Two decades later, everyone and their mom is in a classic country band! AC
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
SCOTT PEMBERTON BAND
If you like your rock ’n’ roll cooked in the blues, rolled in funk, sprinkled with jazz and deep-fried in weirdness, then look no further than the Scott Pemberton Band. The Portland native is a guitarist’s musician, smoothly blending all genres into a boldly unique sound. MW
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.
A bit of a mutual appreciation society, Beautiful Friendship brings together Amy Cervini, Peter Eldridge and Sara Gazarek, three critically acclaimed jazz vocalists and friends, for an evening that promises to include harmony, joy, love, and swinging music. Prolific artists in their own right, the three have garnered descriptions including “thoughtful and broad-minded,” “far more than a spinner of songs,” and the “next important jazz singer.” Catch the trio in Santa Cruz this Tuesday. CJ
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $26.25/adv, $31.50/door. 427-2227.