There is a lot to celebrate as we head into Chanukah weekend.
Let’s start with the Polyphonic Spree’s Holiday Extravaganza that I previewed for the L.A. Weekly (http://www.laweekly.com/2012-11-29/music/lauryn_hill_bad_brains_shuggie_otis/3/). This family-friendly show features the eccentric ensemble performing holiday tunes and their non-holiday songs (in separate sets) as well as welcoming a number of special, eclectic guests (like the kindie act Gustafer Yellowgold). The Fonda also hosts another non-traditional Christmas concert on the 4th with The Surfjan Stevens Christmas Sing-A-Long Seasonal Affective Disorder Yuletide Disaster Pageant On Ice, which also features Rosie Thomas/Sheila Saputo. Like the Poly Spree, Stevens have put out a Christmas album and with both of this holiday shows, you can expect the unexpected.
Several artists who have put out some of my favorite records this year are swinging through L.A. Lindi Ortega’s Cigarettes & Trucks is a sultry treat (that I will be reviewing for Blurt); she’ll be at Bootleg on the 4th. JD McPherson’s Signs & Signifiers ranks upon this year’s best discs. He’ll be performing his retro-based rockabilly music at the Troubadour on the 6th. Another cool up-and-comer Gaby Moreno brings her lively bi-lingual songs to the Bootleg on the 7th.
A trio of Hall of Fame acts has Southern California shows this week. ZZ Top helps the House of Blues celebrate its 20th anniversary on the 4th, with Flogging Maggie opening. That night, the Honda Center hosts Mr. Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band – nothing more needs to be said about what that concert will be like. The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir has a solo acoustic show at Wiltern on 12/8; Bay Area troubadour Jackie Greene is his opener.
However, don’t overlook several other important, if lesser known, performers. Shuggie Otis is the son of legendary R&B figure Johnnie Otis and an important musician in his own right (he wrote the classic “Strawberry Letter 23) has a rare show at the Echoplex on the 5th. Also on the bill is Cody ChestnuTT, another musician who inventively blends together soul, rock and other styles. Check out his terrific recently released Landing On A Hundred.
The Kinster – Kinky Friedman brings his BiPolar World Tour to McCabe’s on 12/7. The singer/songwriter/author/provocateur comes to will undoubtedly celebrate Chanukah (that starts the next night).
Sunday night McCabe’s has two shows from NYC-based Garland Jeffreys. He has several songs – “Wild In The Streets” and “35 Millimeter Dreams” – are ones that I never tired of listening to. His 2011 effort, The King of In Between, reveals that he is a powerful songwriter. Another veteran songwriter Bill Carter (Stevie Ray Vaughn recorded a number of his tunes) comes to the Mint on the 7th. That night Meshell Ndegeocello and James “Blood” Ulmer’s Memphis Blood (featuring Living Colour’s vocalist Vernon Reid) will be blurring musical genre lines at Royce Hall. In October, Ndegeocello released a Nina Simone tribute disc, Pour une âme souveraine. More rock-based roots music can be found at the El Rey on the 7th where the Chris Robinson Brotherhood holds court and David Bazan salutes the 10th anniversary of his Pedro the Lion album Control at the Troubadour.
This is also a strong selection of notable young bands with local gigs this week. Henry Clay People play the Satellite on the 3rd, (and the 10th, 17th and 31st). Portland’s And And And plays that club the next night and the Kopecky Family Band arrives there on the 7th. The Mint host a two nights of good roots music: Lost Bayou Ramblers and The Gumbo Brothers bring Nawlins to Pico Blvd on Monday night while Head For The Hills headlines a twang bill on Wednesday the 5th. Looking to Saturday night, David Wax Museum enlivens McCabe’s while the Turbo Fruits rocks out at Los Globos.
This also is the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas concerts, with The Lumineers, The Gaslight Anthem, Two Door Cinema Club and Youngblood Hawke being the interesting undercard to Saturday’s headliners (Linkin Park, Rise Against, Bush and Garbage). While Sunday’s acts include Jack White, Grouplove, Of Monsters and Men and The Killers.