Sunday, August 29, 2010

Go See Hear in L.A.: Aug.31-Sept.5

August is closing up shop and September is putting up the “Now Open” sign. And there are a number of shows to see was Summer transitions to Autumn.

Before we hit the clubs, the Grammy Museum has a trio of excellent events this week. The sensational soul singer Mavis Staples, who has been returning to prominence in recent years, will be at the Museum on Monday night. On Tuesday night, Ray Benson, long a leader of the modern Western Swing movement, comes to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his band, Asleep At The Wheel. Then on Wednesday night, Oscar-winning Texas troubadour Ryan Bingham will be there to showcase his new album Junky Star (which I am reviewing for Country Standard Time). Get to as many of this wonderful events as you can.

Now onto the clubs:

On Tuesday night there are two notable shows on the East Side. The Submarines (Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti) surface at the Bootleg, along with Sea of Bees and Obi Best, to play some of their lovely, bittersweet indie pop in advance of their next disc slated for a fall release (
Over at the the Echo, Bobby Bare Jr ( does has a new release, A Storm-A Tree-My Mother’s Head, another in his fine line of endearingly ramshackled country rock efforts. Blue Giant will open as well as serve as his backing band.

On Wednesday Sept. 1, Colin Gilmore ( comes to town for a show at Molly Malones. Besides being the son of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Colin is a talented musician in his own right with Goodnight Lane being the most recent example of his work.

The right place to be on Thursday night is at the Santa Monica Pier for the incomparable Dr. John. The New Orleans music legend is still going strong. Earlier this year, he released the terrific Tribal album and did a colorful performance at the Grammy Museum.

Friday night finds JBM (Jesse Marchant) performing at the Hotel Café. JBM’s ( new album Not Even In July has more of an autumnal flavor with its handcrafted melancholic tunes that subtly warm your soul.
If you are looking for a lively (and inexpensive) way to usher in the weekend, you can enjoy a free show from Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys at the Farmer’s Market.

Sara Randle ( begins a Saturday night residency at Casey’s Irish Pub on the 4th. The former Rental’s vocalist has a new album, Four, of shimmering indie pop to share.
Meanwhile, the Detroit-based Deadstring Brothers ( will be bring things to live at the Hotel Café with their rough ‘n’ tumble roots rock that I have drawn comparisons to the twangier side of the Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Newbie Quickie: Unicycle Loves You

I don’t know much about this band, Unicycle Loves You. At least not yet, but one thing I do know that I love their new tune, "Mirror, Mirror." It’s a summer slice of sublime goodness. Thrift store pop reminiscent of early Blondie and those ‘90s girl-fronted Brit pop groups like the Primitives. Not all of their tunes have this quality but they do seem to hold a quirky garage pop appeal. Until I get a song link, here is where you find them on myspace -

Monday, August 23, 2010

Go See Hear in L.A.: Aug. 23-30

Before highlighting shows from the final full week of August, I wanted to talk about the bands I saw this past Tuesday at Room 5. The local outfit Loch & Key opened the show with a short but alluring set drawn from their debut Jupiter’s Guide For Submariners. Frontwoman Leyla Akdogan has a very cool, somewhat Deborah Harry-gone-Euro chanteuse quality to her. Most of their songs project an interesting SoCal “chanson” quality sparked by the interplay between Akdogan singing and guitarist Sean Hoffman’s quiet but nimble playing. A little stiff as a performer, Akdogan acknowledged that she does need to work on her stage presence.
I wasn’t familiar with the local band The Minor Canon, who played next, but came away impressed with their enthusiastic performance. They reminded me of one of those bands you’d see in a ‘60s “youth movie” with their soul-fueled rock ‘n’ roll, only a step or two up in quality.
The headliner was the Grownup Noise and they definitely have stepped things up.
Their set displayed a tougher, rockier sound that they have shown on disc, which is undoubtedly due to the unavailability of their cellist Katie French for this tour. As a compact unit of guitar, bass, keys and drums, they churned out an invigorating 9 song set plus an encore that slightly rearranged their terrific tune, Grey Skies. Frontman Paul Hansen has a warmer, softer voice than you’d expect from his lumberjack size. It’s sorta like a young James Taylor fronting an indie rock outfit like a stripped down Arcade Fire. This Massachusetts-based band serves up melancholic tunes with just enough edge and hooks to make for compelling music.

This week’s recommend shows start off Monday with Austin singer/songwriter Bettysoo ( at Genghis Cohen. I’m rather smitten with her new disc Heat Sin Water Skin, which serves up Lucinda-style, gritty Texas tunes.

Another tough, twangy lady, Manda Mosher ( has a show on Tuesday night at the Hotel Café where she is celebrating the release of her new EP City of Clowns. I reviewed her impressive debut Everything You Need for All Music Guide a year or so ago.

On Wednesday night, you can squeeze into Amoeba to catch a free set for local heroes Los Lobos, who have another fine release Tin Can Trust now out on Shout! Factory.
Then you have either try to see the legendary Jimmy Webb at Largo or Oscar winning upstart Ryan Bingham ( at the Bootleg Theatre. I’ll be reviewing Bingham’s new disc Junky Star for Country Standard Time.

Thursday night you can head down to Long Beach’s Queen Mary Park for a “sounds-too-good-to-be-true” pairing of Lucinda Williams with Chrissie Hynde, who is on tour with her new project, JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys.
Also, on the 26th, the marvelous guitarist John Jorgenson ( will be doing a free performance in front of the Culver City City Hall. He also has a show on the 28th at Boulevard Music. The one-time Desert Rose Band member recently released a pair of terrific Django Reinhardt-inspired disc.

McCabe’s offers a pair of excellent shows this week featuring musicians who came to prominence in the ‘90s. Mark Olson ( helped to usher in the scene as co-leader of the Jayhawks. Still making vital music as his 2010 disc Many Colored Kite reveals, Olson will be playing McCabe’s on Friday night. The following night Matthew Sweet has a show there. His 1991 album Girlfriend remains one of the decade’s best disc. Over the last few years, he has been collaborating with Susannah Hoffs on covers discs, so it will be interesting to see what he offers up tonight.
Also on Saturday, Cyndi Lauper will be at the Greek. While she has a new blues-based disc, this show is notable because New Orleans icon Allen Toussaint is sharing the stage with her.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Go See Hear in L.A.: Aug. 16-22

We’re zooming through August with another big week of concerts.

The week starts off with a blast as the Ruby Friedman Orchestra ( will be shaking up with Bootleg Theater on Monday night with their high-energy show.

Things turn a little quieter on Tuesday night with an excellent showcase at Room 5. The local duo Loch & Key (singer Leyla Akdogan and ex-American Music Club guitarist Sean Hoffman) will be kicking off a string of area shows, including a September Redwood Bar residency ( Their disc Jupiter’s Guide To Submariners presents a quirky yet beguiling sound that combines a bit of Europe with California. Also populating Room 5 is the talented Boston group GrownUp Noise ( who craft sophisticated melodic indie rock that’s warm and inviting. “Grey Skies,” a soaring song about depression off their self-titled full length is a fine place to start with the band.

The Grammy Museum hosts an evening with John Mellencamp to celebrate his new offering, the T Bone Burnett-produced No Better Than This, which I reviewed for Country Standard Time. These intimate evenings always provide a great glimpse into a performer, and I have a feeling that Mellencamp won’t be shy up on stage.

Wednesday bring a great big bit of New Orleans to the Hollywood Bowl with an all-star lineup featuring Neville Brothers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

Star Anna & The Laughing Dogs ( swing down from the State of Washington to show off their rugged, earthy rock ‘n’ roll. Their sophomore album The Only Thing That Matters shows that they are a band that matters, with feisty frontwoman Star Anna exhibits some real star quality.

Another impressive young band comes to town on Thursday when the Bay Area Gwyneth and Monko ( ) come to Molly Malones. Their EP Good Old Horse contains a fine, old timey folk sound that doesn’t sound lost in time. You can also catch them at Santa Monica’s Dakota Lounge on the 20th and Altadena’s Coffee Gallery Backstage on the 23rd.

If you are looking to blues by the blue water, head to the Santa Monica Pier for a special Twilight concert with one-time Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor headlining the evening’s show.

It’s a Wainwright night at the Greek on the 20th when Rufus and Martha put on a show, while over at Spaceland, Springfield Missouri’s own Ha Ha Tonka serve up their rugged Midwestern brand of rock ‘n’ roll. Crowded House will be filling Club Nokia that night with their catalog of pop gems, but come early to catch Lawrence Arabia. Their soon-to-be released Yep Roc debut is a truly impressive piece of melodic pop-rock. Coincidentally, the band’s leader James Milne has a side project BARB with Neil Finn’s musical son Liam.

Saturday the 21st holds a pair of terrific shows from which to choose: Celllist Ben Sollee ( brings his soulful Americana to the Bootleg, Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe ( swings through town again stopping at the Hotel Cafe to showcase her wonderful tunes off her smart and assured debut Suburban Nature, which stands as one of this year's better debuts.

The weekend wraps up in a particularly “crooked” way Sunday with the well-respected Darrell Scott (Robert Plant nabbed him for his new Americana project Band of Joy) will be performed songs from his new double disc A Crooked Road at the Waterfront in Marina Del Rey. Slightly inland at McCabes it will be an evening of eclectic acoustic music from Crooked Still (, a talented Massachusetts-based outfit who have put several worth-discovering album on Signature Sounds including Some Strange Country, which came out earlier this year.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Go See Hear in L.A.: Aug. 9-15 - Two Whales, A Lone Wolf and A Band Of Heathens

I am running a bit late this week but wanted to get the word out on a couple shows before that they happened. See why it’s a “whale” of a week for local gigs.

Tuesday has a trio of interesting shows. There’s the B.B. King/Buddy Guy celebration of the blues at the Hollywood Bowl. Over at the El Rey, Alejandro Escovedo will unleash tune from his dynamic new disc, Street Songs of Love (this marvelous re-teaming with Real Animal’s producer Tony Visconti and co-writer Chuck Prophet has garnered Alejandro has much deserved accolades), with L.A.-gone-Texas singer-songwriter Amy Cook opening the show.

I wanted to add a few more words to the Frazey Ford show at the Hotel Café on the 11th. Ford, who is part of the Be Good Tanyas, recently put out an impressive solo outing that I reviewed for ( I really enjoyed that way blended acoustic Americana thread with more soulful ones. Also on the bill there that night is Snow & Voices, a So Cal ensemble that mines a warm yet chilled out folk-pop sound.

On Thursday evening, you can enjoy a free show from the Hot Club of Cowtown at the Culver City City Hall. The Hot Club has long crafted a wonderful blend of gypsy jazz and western swing. Elena James, who has played in Dylan’s band, is a particularly fiery fiddle player while Whit Smith is also nimble on guitar.
The Freelance Whales share a bill with the Tokyo Police Club at the El Rey on 12th too. Even though they hail from the trendy Brooklyn rock scene, I really like the Freelance Whales’ debut Weathervanes, with its quirky but well crafted indie rock.

Friday the 13th offers a wide range of shows. On the softer side, Natalie Merchant (hmm, an ex-10,000 Maniac performing on Friday the 13th…) has a show at the Orpheum Theatre. Meanwhile, down in Long Beach at Queen Mary Park, folk legend Joan Baez shares a bill with folk/rock legend Roger McGuinn (how many Dylan covers will done there?)
Speaking of legends, the one and only Dave Alvin will be performing with steel guitar whiz Cindy Cashdollar at McCabe’s, although I’ll be surprised if tickets are still available.
If you can’t get in there and have a hankering for Americana music, you can catch Or The Whale (yes, the second Whale band to surface in town this week) at Spaceland. This San Francisco outfit offers an appealing country-rock sound that’s mostly laidback and harmony-laden but they also play with enough zest to make for a lively time. They share the bill with Americana eccentrics These United States.
Or you can check out the quietly compelling orchestral bedroom pop sound of Lone Wolf, the brainchild of U.K. musician Paul Marshall. Lone Wolf will be at the El Rey where the bill is topped by its countrymates The Wild Beasts.
The wildest show, and probably the most fitting for Friday the 13th will take place at the House of Blues where the Reverend Horton Heat, Hillstomp and Split Lip Rayfield will join forces for a riotous night of revved up bluegrass, raucous rockabilly and other root rock shenanigans.
And if that isn’t enough, Cambodian-flavored psyche rockers Dengue Fever will have a free show at California Plaza as part of the Grand Performances Summer Series.

If you have something left for the weekend, Saturday brings Eleni Mandell and Ana Egge to the Center for Folk Music and the awesome Austin country rockers, The Band of Heathens will ripping things up at the Viper Room. No doubt they will play their terrific tune, “L.A. County Blues.”

The weekend wraps up with a wonderful show Suunday at the Greek Theater, where music icon Levon Helm will share the stage with Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis (who will presumably accent her twangier material) along with some special guests (like some up-and-coming singer-songwriter named Steve Earle).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Go See Hear In LA: Aug 2-8

Before I get to the recommended shows for this week, I want to reflect on a couple shows that I actually was able to attend this past week.
On Thursday, I have the pleasure of attending the Squeeze show at the Gibson Amphitheatre, and it definitely was a pleasure. I wrote a full review that I posted here earlier this week. However, I will reiterate that Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford were in magnificent form, playing their songs with vivacity and flair. It’s always a treat to hear the terrific tunes, particularly when they are played so well and so enthusiastically.
I also was able to check out a little of the big Roots Roadhouse on Saturday at the Echo and the Echoplex. Unfortunately, I only had the opportunity to stay for around an hour but it was a great hour. First off, I got to see a couple songs from Frontier Ruckus. This Michigan-based band crafted songs that are rather linear but also wonderfully literate. Frontman Matthew Milia has a real way with words (my current favorite couplet is “back when our tongue thrust/all of our young lust” but his lyrics, as found on FR’s new disc, Deadmalls & Nightfalls, is populated with a lot of great lines) and his bandmates include banjo player David Winston Jones and saw/trumpet player (yes, those are his instruments) Zachary Nichols.
After catching the end of Pete Anderson’s set of muscular blues tunes, I stayed to see Chatham County Line. These North Carolina boys look like trad. Bluegrass guys, dress in suits and ties and huddling around a single microphone. While they are talented bluegrass players, they have expanded their music into a broader acoustic-based sound that also gets displayed impressively on their new Yep Roc album. Wildwood.
And now onto this week’s shows.
The L.A.-based singer-songwriter Nicole Simone has a gig opening up for Ferraby Lionheart at the Bootleg Theatre on Aug. 2. I wasn’t familiar with her before hearing her debut EP but it was a real attention-grabber. Simone was a soft but alluring vocal sound that she pairs with a Tom Waits-like junkyard saloon arrangements. Reminiscent of Eleni Mandell’s early work, the EP marks an impressive introduction by Simone, and suggests that she is someone to keep an eye on.
This week’s Twilight Dance Concert at the Santa Monica Pier offers up the Southern California treasure Rickie Lee Jones. It should be interesting to see what she will be playing – her old crowd pleasers or her more recent, more adventurous fare.
Also on the 5th, the Redwood hosts the dynamic duo of Rosie Flores and Ruby James. Flores is the well-known rockabilly filly (who used to be a regular around these parts), while Ruby James is another L.A. native gone Austin with a mighty fine debut Happy Now that is well worth the listen.
The Henry Clay People have a big show at the Greek Theatre on Friday the 6th. Their vibrant new album, Somewhere On The Golden Coast, is something like Pavement with more of an easy-going yet still aggressive spirit. It’s something to be heard.
Lost In The Trees comes to L.A. for a series to shows to commemorate its Anti- album, All Alone In An Empty House. This N.C. band emphasizes the chamber in their chamber-folk-rock blend. LITT’s main man Ari Picker can create some intriguing dynamics in his songs – numbers like “Fireplace” and the title track caught my ear – and it’ll be interesting to see how this quiet, string-based music translates live. They have shows at McCabe’s on the 7th, Spaceland on the 9th, Amoeba on the 10th, and the Hotel Café on the 12th – if I got it all right.
Down at the Pacific Amphitheatre on the 8th is a show headlined by Blondie with an opening set by Gorevette, a garage rock outfit put together by Amy Gore and Nikki Corvette. While Blondie has been a longtime fave, seeing them now seems like an exercise in nostalgia; however, Gorevette’s music does some fun, greasy, Motor City rock ‘n’ roll.