Santa Cruz County live music picks for the week of June 26
CRYS MATTHEWS AND HEATHER MAE
Crys Matthews and Heather Mae are longtime social justice songwriters and friends, and the Singing OUT tour, a spirited stage show they put on during Pride month, is a natural extension of that friendship. Singing OUT has all the empowering missives and compassionate dissents found within Mae’s and Matthew’s music, but they’re not just gigging together—they’ve curated songs to tell a story of love and struggle, culminating in a message of pride. As Mae says, it’s about “where we have been, where we are going, and not losing hope.” AMY BEE
7:30 p.m. Michael’s On Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $15. 479-9777.
Deep within an American metropolis, there is a crime-fighting bat keeping the city safe from evil men and bad music. We’re not talking about that billionaire Bruce Wayne. This is a three-piece rockabilly, punk rock, surf outfit that is—let’s be honest—better than the DC comics character. Come to a Bat! show and you will have some actual fun, not sulk in your drama. The group’s songs are fueled with rock ‘n’ roll mayhem and a non-stop party atmosphere. And they sport some pretty cool outfits, too. AC
8:30 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12 adv/$15 door. 423-1338.
Even if his name is only vaguely familiar, John Hiatt has had a successful four-decade career in music. Beginning with Three Dog Night covering his “Sure As I’m Sitting Here,” which went to No. 16 on the Billboard charts in 1974, Hiatt has been covered by, performed with or written for names like B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, and Iggy Pop. He even had Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe as part of his backing band during the late ’80s and early ’90s. This year finds Hiatt touring the country solo with just his trusty acoustic guitar, on the tails of new release The Eclipse Sessions. MAT WEIR
8 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $45. 423-8209.
THE DOGON LIGHTS
Ride It, the Dogon Lights’ recent full length, is a kind of celestial Afrobeat—roots music planted not in soil, but in the dusty expanse of night sky. Using traditional African instruments from Mali, Morocco and Burkina Faso, Dogon Lights craft a uniquely hypnotic, psychedelic hip-hop that’s not quite Afro-futurist, but always keeps an eye to the stars. Self-described as “Afro-galactic hip-hop,” the Oakland group takes its name from the creation myth of Mali’s Dogon people, who regard themselves as the descendants of Sirius. MIKE HUGUENOR
9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10 adv/$15 door. 479-1854.
For indie-progressive band Mobilities, music’s not about playing to the esoteric elitists who exploit a niche and then play gatekeeper. No, music’s for the hordes, so why not incorporate all the best tidbits and cast the widest net? Why not flow through rock, indie, punk, alt, and hip-hop the same way moods flow through the neurological system? If feelings are transient, then music must be, too. Not static, but eternally crumbling like sand into the shores of the psyche, only to be built up again by the next person with a bucket, a shovel and a dream of sandcastles. AB
8 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 423-7117.
In this post-Chappelle, call-out age of progressivism, many comedians are having a hard time discussing sensitive topics. Kaseem Bentley has no problem gracefully diving into race, economic divides, gentrification, and every other issue currently at the forefront in his native city of San Francisco. It only made sense to name his debut stand-up album Lakeview after his hometown neighborhood, even if he has spent most of his recent time in L.A. writing for Problematic With Moshe Kasher. MW
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. DNA’s Comedy Lab, 155 S. River St., Santa Cruz. $20 adv/$25 door. (530) 592-5250.
When you hear “blues legend,” do you picture a sweaty guitarist with intense facial expressions, or maybe a spazzy harmonica player? Forget all that. The blues singer-songwriter you need to see is Vanessa Collier, mistress of the saxophone. This isn’t sweet, sexy jazz; she plays roots music with a deep funky groove, and her sound boils over with blues at its rawest. AC
4 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10 adv/$15 door. 479-1854.
On paper, the Futurebirds are a southern rock band. They’ve got the acoustics, the vocal harmonies and the slide guitar, all coated in a fine layer of twang. But then there’s also the expansive reverb, the Sonic Youth-y shredding, and the trippy jam interludes. On 2017’s Portico II, the Fat Possum signee takes the traditional American rock format, and twists it just enough for some weird colors to show through—kinda like if the Band had collaborated with Wayne Coyne instead of Dylan. MH
9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12. 429-6994.
Growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, you didn’t have to be a jazz fan to encounter the unmistakable sound of Toots Thielemans’ chromatic harmonica. Featured on many film and television soundtracks, pop albums and classic Brazilian recordings, he was a singular studio musician and jazz artist of the first rank. Piano master Kenny Werner, one of jazz’s great improvisers, toured widely with the harmonica master in the years before his death in 2016 at the age of 94, and he’s put together a tribute to Thielemans with Swiss-born harmonica master Gregoire Maret. Thielemans himself passed the torch by appearing on Maret’s debut album, one of his final recordings. ANDREW GILBERT
7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $31.50 adv/$36.75 door. 427-2227.