The best live music for the week of June 7, 2017
In 1995, Joan Osborne had a mega-hit with the song, “One of Us,” which asked listeners to imagine how we might act if God was walking among us. Osborne hasn’t had a hit of that magnitude since, but she has established herself as a skillful and insightful singer-songwriter and song interpreter whose range reaches across pop, soul, blues, country and rock. For Osborne’s Rio Theatre performance, she’ll take on the songs of Bob Dylan. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $30/gen, $45/gold. 423-8209.
AMINA FIGAROVA SEXTET
Growing up in Baku, the capital of the Soviet state (and now independent nation) of Azerbaijan, pianist/composer Amina Figarova soaked up the sounds of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald on her jazz-loving parents’ turntable. While she trained as a classical pianist at home, she pursued her love of jazz in Rotterdam and later Boston at Berklee. A skilled accompanist who’s worked with masters like James Moody and Claudio Roditi, Figerova has spent the past two decades touring and recording as a bandleader and composer with a far-ranging musical palette. Now based in New York, she’s touring with her talent-laden sextet featuring her husband, Belgian-born flutist Bart Platteau, Dutch tenor saxophonist Marc Mommaas, trumpeter Alex Pope Norris, bassist Endea Owens, and Oakland-reared drummer Darrell Green. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $22/adv, $27/door. 427-2227.
In 2012, singer-songwriter Patrick Maguire landed in Santa Cruz, and felt entirely at home. It was no small journey getting here. He traveled from Maine, sleeping in his car, and playing open mics wherever he went, looking for a place to pursue his dream to be a full-time musician. Having grown up in a household of musicians that held frequent jam sessions, playing music was the most natural thing imaginable—making it a career less so. Now a fixture in our scene, he sticks out as an ambitious songwriter who approaches folk like soul music … or does he approach soul like folk? Who can tell? AARON CARNES
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $9/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.
THE BUILDERS AND THE BUTCHERS
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the Builders and the Butchers started out, like many rootsy indie bands do, playing on the sidewalks. They crafted a high-energy, driving sound before playing venues in Portland, around the country and beyond. Taking on topics ranging from addiction and religion to the end times and good and evil, the band blends Americana songwriting with the raw edginess of punk traditions. It has, in recent years, become a road-tested outfit that’s outgrown comparisons to other Northwest acts such as the Decemberists, and developed a style and fanbase of its own. CJ
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
PIMPS OF JOYTIME
Whether it’s funk, afro-beat, New Orleans jazz or just a good night of dancing, the Pimps of Joytime have been providing audiences all of those things—and more—for over a decade. This week the band makes its triumphant return to Santa Cruz, touring on the heels of their fifth album, Third Wall Chronicles. The Brooklyn quintet’s sound has evolved over time, adding doo-wop and even EDM (electronic dance music) beats to the mix, but one thing remains consistent: the members’ dedicated passion to making sure anyone in earshot has a smile on their face and a jig in their step. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $20/adv, $25/door. 479-1854.
With a clear voice and rafter-rattling delivery, Morgan James is a spectacular talent. Hailing from New York, the soul singer, songwriter and Broadway actor is a vocal powerhouse whose creative range seems to have no boundary as she takes on songs by Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Ann Peebles, Joni Mitchell and even Justin Timberlake, whose song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” gets transformed by James into a slow jam of epic proportions. James also paid tribute to legendary songwriter and artist Nina Simone on her album Morgan James Live. Spanning eras and genres, James is a must-see for fans of soul and pop vocals. CJ
INFO: 8 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25. 423-1338.
HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF
Alynda Lee Segarra has mashed together elements of folk, blues, and American roots music on her first five albums under the Hurry For the Riff Raff moniker. For The Navigator, she distills these elements into something more theatrical and complex, and yet somehow the closest thing to straight “rock ’n’ roll” she’s ever created. It’s not just intriguing musically—embedded in the lyrics (presented in two separate acts) is a concept album about a Puerto Rican kid named Navita Milagros Negrón. It’s too complicated to explain, but it involves a witch, life in South Bronx, and Bikini Kill. AC
INFO: 8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $22.50. 423-8209.
Robyn Hitchcock once said he thinks he’ll probably be remembered for songs about seafood—and, yeah, if you write “Where Are the Prawns,” you run that risk. But it would certainly be a shame. Hitchcock’s surreal lyrical style first made its mark on the music world in 1980 on Underwater Moonlight, the classic album by his former band the Soft Boys. He went solo with a slew of incredible records through the ’80s and ’90s, breaking on college radio with singles like “Balloon Man” and “So You Think You’re In Love.” To this day, his staying power has absolutely nothing to do with seafood; rather, it’s the way he blends bizarre imagery with real emotional power, a poetic talent that for me is epitomized by the ending of his great song “Belltown Ramble”: “You can walk a square/You can walk an oblong/Even just walk straight/You’ll be still be standing there/Though you think you did the job wrong/You did it great.” STEVE PALOPOLI
INFO: 8 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $20. 335-2800.
The four-piece L.A. garage band Allah-Las doesn’t sound like the Beach Boys. Yet the band has something in common with the iconic ’60s Southern California band. Both groups play careless, breezy California tunes, and also introspective melancholy ones. These were two separate categories of songs for Beach Boys, but Allah-Las somehow jam both of these moods into most of their songs. Despite the rock ’n’ roll groove the band has been able to create, at its heart it’s kind of loner music. That said, you should take a break from your solitary lifestyle and dance around with a roomful of loners for one night. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $18. 335-2800.
IN THE QUEUE
BASTARD SONS OF JOHNNY CASH
Americana outfit endorsed by Johnny Cash himself. Saturday at Don Quixote’s
Dance punk out of Detroit. Saturday at Catalyst
Bay Area-based, international blues-rock shredder. Sunday at Moe’s Alley
Long-running Jamaican reggae vocal group. Sunday at Catalyst
DJANGO FESTIVAL ALL-STARS
Tribute to gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt. Monday at Kuumbwa