With the second weekend of Coachella having concluded, that means this weekend holds the Stagecoach Festival out in Indio. The 3-day country-based music festival is long sold out but if you are headed out there and looking for acts to see, there are a number of good ones playing before the rather mainstream set of headliners: Paisley, Aldean, Lambert and Shelton. Notable among the second ring of name acts are Sheryl Crow and Chris Isaak along with two recent-to-newly reunited bands, the Jayhawks and the Mavericks.
In the old-timer category, you’ll find Roy Clark, John McEuen, Del McCoury and Ralph Stanley (and I guess Kenny Rogers too, but his work peaked for me in the First Edition days). Besides McCoury and Stanley, bluegrass fans can dig the Grascals, Greensky Bluegrass, the Tommy Ramone-fronted Uncle Monk, the wild Split Lip Rayfield and the legendary Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers. If that’s not enough, the lineup also includes Dave Alvin, JD Souther and a trio of excellent female performers – Sara Watkins, Elizabeth Cook and Sunny Sweeney – who all make great music. There are probably more to recommend but let me move on to the shows in Los Angeles proper.
The big L.A. show this week is the Bruce Springsteen shows Thursday and Friday. There’s probably some irony that he’s supporting his Wrecking Ball album at the not-long-for-this-world Sports Arena.
Those two nights are actually quite busy ones around town. Thursday finds Vintage Trouble doing a CD release show at the El Rey. I caught this terrific rockin’ soul band in Las Vegas this past weekend and they put on a dynamic show (more that in another blog post). While Vintage Trouble is a high-energy outfit, The White Buffalo (aka Jake Smith) is more low-key but also very compelling. In a deep, sonorous voice, he sings spare, stirring songs that feel ripped from his soul. He’ll be at the Troubadour behind his latest, the wildly compelling Once Upon A Time In The West. Do yourself a favor and track down the White Buffalo’s music. Thursday also holds April Smith and the Great Picture Show at the Hotel Café and Zoe Keating at Largo.
Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding brings her Radio Music Society to the Music Box on Friday. Ingrid Michaelson has a big headlining show at the Wiltern (remember when she was a Hotel Café darling?) while Griffin House comes to the Hotel Café and fellow Nashville troubadour Joe Pug stops into the Satellite on his way out to Stagecoach. Largo mainstay Jon Brion returns there with his eclectic show and another Americana eccentric, Howe Gelb, will be at McCabe’s.
McCabe’s also has a dandy show on Saturday when Susanna Hoffs performs (she has a new Mitchell Froom-produced disc) with her buddy Matthew Sweet. Opening will be John Wicks from that fine ‘70s/’80s pop rock band, the Records and then Sunday features the sharply written songs of Peter Himmelman. If you are looking for songs with a less cynical bite, then check out Rosie Thomas’ show at the Hotel Café. Her latest, With Love, is an album stocked with her sweetly sung love songs.
The week starts off with the cult hero Jeff Mangum, of Neutral Milk Hotel, checking into the Orpheum for a rare show. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan are the Milk Carton Kids and together they create really lovely acoustic-based music and they offer up their albums for free at http://themilkcartonkids.com.
Wednesday, John McEuen, of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fame, performs at Largo with his sons ahead of his Stagecoach appearance. He has a new project done with them called the McEuen Sessions, which mixes originals with songs significant to them. Wednesday also holds the cool Ben Kweller who will be the El Rey showcasing his Go Fly A Kite album, newcomers Caveman at the Satellite and an appearance from ‘60s psychedelic rockers the Strawberry Alarm Clock at the Echo.
On Saturday you can find Gregory Rogove downtown at the Dilettante with Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld while Liam Finn in town for a rare appearance at Largo.