Go See Hear In L.A. Feb. 20-26 (The I See Hawks/Ra Ra Riot edition

Sure, Hollywood is gearing up for the Oscars, but there are plenty of great shows for music lovers in Los Angeles (I resisted using the Tinsel Town term).

I have loved the lit. rock tunes of the Hold Steady for the past few years. Frontman Craig Finn has put out a solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes, that has songs Finn didn’t think fit the band’s rock ‘n’ roll sound. He’ll be sharing these tunes at the Troubadour on Monday.

Monday night is the first of two nights that the iconoclastic Sinead O’Conner will be at El Rey in support of her well-received How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?.

The cream of Tuesday’s shows for me is Ben Sollee’s show at the Hotel Café. While I remember seeing him playing Abigail Washburn, his own solo material brings in an interesting soul element to his acoustic-based sound.

Wednesday is an unusually packed Hump Day of music. Indie rockers Ra Ra Riot will be stirring things up at the El Rey. Siblings will rule at the Largo where Barbara and Ethan Gruska (aka the Belle Brigade) will be the special guests of the Watkins Family HourUPDATE: Jackson Browne will be the special guest as the Belle Brigade have a scheduling conflict.

It’ll be some eccentric rockabilly at Viva Cantina where Jimmy Angel and Troy Walker will be performing, while avant dance pop-ster Matthew Dear will be at Eagle Rock’s Center For The Arts.

There is plenty of competition on Thursday night. The Maryland duo Wye Oak will storm the Troubadour with the edgy indie rock. The Bootleg hosts a strong bill featuring Ferraby Lionheart and up-and-coming Tucson troubadour Brian Lopez. Over at the Music Box, Robert Francis opens up for Mat Kearney. I was a big fan of his One By One album a few years back and curious about his new one, Strangers In The First Place, which comes out later this Spring on Vanguard.

The terrific local country rock band I See Hawks In L.A. has a CD release show at the McCabe’s Friday night to celebrate their new release, New Kind of Lonely, which expertly blends old school country sounds with modern day scenarios (like “Big Old Hypodermic Needle” and “Highland Park Serenade”). It’s more old school at Viva Cantina where Deke Dickerson and the Eccofonics will be rippin’ things up. More modern rock can be found at the Troubadour where the Omaha rock vets Cursive will be.

A couple interesting multi-cultural acts will be in town on Saturday. The talented Danish-African singer Nabiha comes to the Hotel Café. I have been impressed with her catchy soulful pop music and don’t be surprised if she makes it big. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn, NY-based nine-piece dhol n’ brass band, Red Baraat will be filling the Mint with their rhythmic world sounds. They really work up a lively, and unique, groove and they are certain to create a memorable global music party.

To me, Garland Jeffreys will also hold a special place in music history for penning tunes like “Wild In The Streets” and “35 Millimeter Dreams.” Along with Willy Deville, he represented a multi-cultural slice of NYC during its late ‘70s New Wave scene that was eye-opening (or ear-opening) to me. He is still going strong as last year’s The King of In Between proves. Other choices include the Texas country rockers Reckless Kelly (at the Troubadour), Los Lonely Boys (at Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage) and blues guitarist Tommy Castro (at Redondo Beach’s Brixton).

The highlight of Sunday is the day/night doubleheader by Laura Veirs. In the afternoon she will do a free show at Dragonfly Dulou of the kids music that she did on her wonderful family music CD, Tumble Bee. That night, she’ll do an “adult” show at Largo. Over the Troubadour, ‘90s indie rock icons Archers of Loaf make a welcome return with promising newcomers Hospitality opening.

About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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