Monday, June 21, 2010

Go See Hear in L.A.: June 21-27

The start of Summer starts off with one of the hottest – and busiest - weeks of music shows in LA so far. At least when it comes to my concert radar. It's one of those weeks that it is not only difficult to pick the show of the pick but it's hard to pick just the top shop of the night since several nights have more than one show to recommend.

Peggy Sue is a cool, young UK group, led by co-singers Rosa Slade and Katy Young, with an intriguing “folk noir” sound draws upon old and modern elements. Their 6/22 show at Spaceland supports their US debut, Fossils and other Phantoms that’s out on Yep Roc.

The veteran band Blue Rodeo performs at the Mint on June 22. One of Canada’s most esteemed groups for around 20 years, they are still creating their signature harmony-rich country rock as their recent double album The Things We Left Behind proves.

The Viper Room hosts the all-female quartet, Katzenjammer on the 22nd too. Hailing Norway, they play a lively gypsy folk-rock and I found their US debut Le Pop, which comes up at the end of June on Nettwerk, a kicky listen that should attract them a good deal of attention. They’re also known for using a trunkload of instruments on stage, suggesting that they are fun to see in concert too.

I have been a longtime fan of Josh Ritter, who’s one of the most talented singer-songwriters of his generation. His new disc, So Runs The World Away, stands as his most ambitious work of his young career. He has a show at the Music Box on June 23, with the talented Carolina Chocolate Drops is opening with their take on old time string music that’s inspired by their African American backgrounds.,

Sarah Borges has been another of my favorite acts in recent years. Her music is a captivating mix of barroom country and rock ‘n’ roll – maybe it’s “punky tonk.” On her last album (The Stars Are Out, Sugar Hill Records), her covers range from NRBQ to Lemonheads and Smokey Robinson. Known for her energetic live shows, She brings her band the Broken Singles to the Mint on 6/23.

Last month, Kate Miller Heidke was in town opening for Ben Folds. In my LA Weekly preview of that show, I praised the quirky Australian songtress’ album Curiouser for its lively dance pop music (that) comes colored with a theatrical streak and then twisted up in ‘70s New Wave disco." You have another chance to check out this colorful performer as she returns to L.A. for her own set at the Hotel Café on 6/

The 24th also is a night for a special benefit at the Echo that MusiCares is doing for Nashville Flood Relief. The lineup includes such wonderful roots rockers as Syd Straw, Exene Cervenka and Dave Alvin, plus the great Carlene Carter will be performing too. She did a strong comeback album, Stronger, a few years back and her classic album, Musical Shapes was the inspiration for this blog title. For more show info., visit

Maryland-bred singer-songwriter Joe Pug might not do anything fancy on his debut The Messenger but it still impresses by being a mature effort from a first timer. He has a show at the Echo on 6/25.

While legendary indie rock Lou Barlow is the headliner at the Bootleg on Sat. June 26, I want to sing the praises of his opening act, Sarah Jaffe . The twenty-something Texan’s debut full length Suburban Nature caught my ear for its captivating offering of bedroom folk that’s energized with edgy emotionality.

On the 26th, McCabe’s hosts Greg Brown, a mainstay in the American folk scene since the early ‘80s. Possessing a rich voice and literate story-songs, I always think of him as a Midwestern Dave Alvin. The Iowan, by the way, is married to Iris Dement and is the dad to musician, Pieta Brown.

Last year, Peter Case had heart surgery, so not only is it great to welcome him back to the stage – he has a show that Claremont Folk Music Center on June 26 and one at McCabe’s on July 9 – but it’s also great that his new disc, Wig, is such a wonderfully bluesy, rockin’ affair.

The 26th is also the date that the Wiltern will be shaking with the sweet soul music served up by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. They are coming to town supporting their new album, I Learned The Hard Way, and it’s heartening that their old school soul sound is getting a niche in the mainstream.

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