April will be ending with a musical bang.
This weekend has a couple of major musical events happening.
The big name one is the Stagecoach Festival occurring out at Indio. While the headliners include Kenny Chesney, Josh Turner, Rascal Flatts and Carrie Underwood, it’s the undercard that holds the most interest to me. Pulling to Stagecoach will be such cool Americana acts like the Punch Brothers, Phosphorescent, Junior Brown, The Gourds, The Coal Porters, The Cleverlys (who have a showcase at the Mint on Thursday night), The Secret Sisters, Wanda Jackson, Leon Russell, the just added David Serby and many more.
Largo will be hosting the almost-certain-to-be-totally-sold-out L.A. Bluegrass Situation. On Thursday, it’s a special Watkins Family Hour, which will have Sara and Sean playing with some of their talented pals. On Friday, the Punch Brothers will be performing before heading out to Indio. Saturday boasts Ed Helms’ Whiskey Sour Radio Hour, in which the Office star will be picking and grinning with musicians and comedians (there’s an early and late show). Finally, these bluegrass nights wrap up with a performance by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (what is it with comedians and bluegrass, anyways?)
If you are not going to either of these events, there are more than enough other recommendable shows to consider.
Monday nights begins the 4-week residency by James Tormé at the Trousdale. If the name rings a bell, it’s because the jazzy singer is the son of Mel Tormé. Monday also is the kick-off for a series of shows by Airborne Toxic Event. The 25th, they play the Satellite, the 27th, the El Rey, the 28th the Music Box and the 29th the John Anson Ford. Bing Ji Ling, from the Phenomenal Handclap Band, also has a series of local appearance, starting with the Silverlake Lounge on Monday. Then it’s down to Costa Mesa the 26th-27yh and back to L.A. for a d.j. set at Dance Right@ La Cita on the 28th. Speaking of d.j.’s, Chris Douridas hosts Brett Dennen at his Bardot “It’s A School Night” series. I was impressed with Dennen’s recent soulful set on KCRW.
Tuesday night’s highlight is the Portland band, The Builders & the Butchers, who will be serving up their dark Americana at the Satellite.
There’s a nice variety of offerings Thursday night. The Redwood welcomes the raucous rock instrumentals of Los Straitjackets. The Mint hosts some intense singer-songwriters – Daniel Wayne and White Buffalo. Little & Ashley will perform their delightful pop songs at Genghis Cohen, while the Minneapolis band Dark Dark Dark delivers their off-kilter chamber-folk music at the Satellite. Give a listen to their new release Wild Go. Drawn from a range of American roots sounds, it’s a compelling set of music that’s something like a low-key Arcade Fire (although DDD features both a female and male singer).
Friday also has more great shows that it’s probably physically possible to see. It’ll be a special night at the Roxy, particularly for fans of ‘60s and ‘70s L.A. music. The new label High Moon Records will celebrate their new reissues (Gene Clark’s Two Sides To Every Story and Love’s Black Beauty with a performance from Gene Clark’s son Kai and his band as well as a set from surviving members of Love’s Black Beauty sessions (a previously unreleased album from 1973).
The Hot Club of Cowtown, meanwhile, will showcase their dandy new Bob Wills tribute at McCabe’s. The much buzzed about Jessica Lea Mayfield has a show at the Troubadour. Her fine new album Tell Me Out was produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. Another terrific new album is Gaby Morena’s Still The Unknown, a potent album populated with bilingual grooves that Americana fans should get hip to. She’s playing at the Bootleg and a strong bill with Sean Rowe and Olin and the Moon.
On Saturday, the Bootleg welcomes Mindy Smith, a particular favorite country singer. The legendary Leon Redbone has a show at Saddleback College’s McKinney Theatre as well as one at McCabe’s on Sunday. James McMurtry will hold fort at McCabe’s on Saturday night with a solo performance. It should be quite a show to see him play his fiery story-songs on his own. The sonorous sounds of the Tindersticks will CSULA’s Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the 30th too.
Oh, and if the song title “Into Like A Train” resonates with you, then you will want to be at the Music Box on the 30th to see the Psychedelic Furs (they will also be the Anaheim House of Blues on the 28th.