This week I want to start at the end as the “Show of the Week” takes place on Saturday. The big Roots Roadhouse (www.myspace.com/thegrandoleecho) takes over the Echo and the Echoplex. The headliners are California honky tonk icon Red Simpson, legendary bluesman Model-T Ford, and the “King of California” Dave Alvin. If this trio isn’t enticing enough, the lineup also boasts terrific local acts as the Chapin Sisters, Leslie and the Badgers, Old Californio, I See Hawks In LA and Pete Anderson, as well as visiting dignitaries like Chatham County Line and Frontier Ruckus. It shapes up to be a fantastic day of American roots music.
There will also be another visiting dignitary performing on Saturday night who deserves "Show of the Week" considerations. The one and only Kinky Friedman (www.myspace.com/kinky_friedman) will be making his first LA appearance in nearly 20 years with a show at McCabe's. The Kinkster certainly has been busy over the years, becoming a celebrated mystery author and running for Governor in Texas. But he first got notoriety as a singer/songwriter and, with the help of two members of his old Texas Jewboy band, he’ll playing tunes that made him infamous (like “Sold American” and “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore.”).
For those in a different mood, freak folk goddess Joanna Newsom (www.myspace.com/joannanewsomfansite) also plays in town July 31 at the Orpheum Theatre.
Now, going back to earlier in the week. The Troubadour presents a terrific bill on the 27th featuring J. Tillman (www.myspace.com/jtillman) and Phosphorescent (www.myspace.com/phosphorescent). Tillman, who playing in the Fleet Foxes, crafts lovely spare music on his own while Alabama-born, Brooklyn-based Matthew Houck (aka Phosphorescent) really impressed him with the songs that I’ve heard off on his critically acclaimed new disc Here’s To Taking It Easy.
Another expert crafter of quiet tunes, Peter Bradley Adams (www.myspace.com/peterbradleyadams) returns to LA for a show at the Hotel Café on 7/28. Adams, who now lives in the Nashville area, has a way with gently alluring, intimately heartfelt tunes. If you want to get Peter's music, you can go here Also playing that night will be the Guggenheim Grotto (www.myspace.com/guggenheimgrotto), continuing their July Wednesday Hotel Café residency.
On the 28th, the Gibson Amphitheatre hosts two key members of the ‘80s UK New Wave scene: Squeeze (www.myspace.com/squeezeofficial) and English Beat (www.myspace.com/officialbeatspace). The English Beat’s debut is one of the liveliest, more dance-happy albums of its era (or maybe any era), while Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford have a true gift for writing literate and hooky tunes. They have made a “new” disc Spot The Difference, where they re-do some of their greatest hits.
Paul Thorn (www.myspace.com/paulthorn) is a wonderful Southern storyteller with a uniquely colorful past (he has been a prizefighter and a skydiver). Touring behind his powerful Pimps & Preachers album, Thorn appears at the Mint on July 28 and the Brixton in Redondo Beach on the 29th.
Here We Go Magic’s “Collector” (www.myspace.com/herewegomagic) is one of my favorite tunes of the year. Its infectious melody and pulsating rhythms recalls the ‘80s dance-pop without sounding like they just want to be the next hip thing from Brooklyn. They bring their eclectic beats to the Troubadour on 7/29.
The Pousette-Dart Band was an act from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s that I associate with folk-pop-country acts like Pure Prairie League, Firefall and, particularly, Jonathan Edwards. The PDB tune that I remember best is the dandy, humor-filled number, “Amnesia,” which still holds up very well. I don’t know what Jon Pousette-Dart (www.myspace.com/pousettedart) has been doing over the years, but he will be playing Genghis Cohen on July 30.