When looking at this week’s shows, you can to start with the weekend. The inaugural Way Over Yonder festival brings acts like Neko Case, Conor Oberst, Shovels & Rope, Justin Townes Earle, Calexico (oh, I could go on and on) to the Santa Monica Pier Saturday and Sunday – and that’s where I’ll be. But there’s also a fine tribute to Eleni Mandell at the Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon on Saturday, with Jackson Browne, The Living Sisters, Van Dyke Parks and Mike Viola among the participants. A Southern California Americana institution Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys play a special Tiki-themed show at Don The Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, with the Skip Heller Trio and The Americans also on the bill. Another Saturday highlight is the Hot Club of Cowtown delivering their energizing Western Swing/Jazz mix at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre. On Sunday, that theater hosts a world blues event featuring Taj Mahal and Vusi Mahlasela.
Friday also features two of the week’s top gigs: Mark Lanegan at the Troubadour and the Ha Ha Tonka/Samantha Crain show at the Satellite. If you aren’t familiar with Crain’s music, check her out. There is a cool, mysterious quality to her songs that is really entrancing.
However, Tuesday actually shapes up to the night crowded with the most “top shows.” Phosphorescent will light up the El Rey (with the Indians), retro-rootster Pokey LaFarge will be at the Echo, buzzed-about Brit troubadour Jake Bugg headlines the Fonda and Laura Veirs comes down from Seattle to play the Bootleg.
Going through the rest of the week. The hot, young punk band Savages will bring September to a noisy close Monday at the Fonda. The Scottish rock band Frightened Rabbit pops up on Oct. 1 to fill the Avalon with its bracing music. Also on Tuesday, Bronze Radio will be at the Satellite and Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds teams up with Berlin-based contemporary composer Nils Frahm to fill the First Unitarian Church with some lush, ethereal sounds.
More Euro exports arrive on Wednesday with the Dutch multi-instrumentalist Jacco Gardner brings his Cabinent of Curiosities (that’s his debut CD) to the Troubadour. The UK-based Americana band The Good Intentions continue their swing through SoCal with a gig at the Cinema Bar on Wednesday before going out to the Pappy and Harriets for a Friday night show. Their new album Someone Else’s Time will appeal to those who like Gram Parsons’ softer side.
Noah and The Whale surface at the Avalon on Oct. 3, while the Wiltern hosts a pair of skilled singer-songwriters Matt Nathanson and Joshua Radin. The Hotel Café, meanwhile, hosts Kat Edmundson (newly signed to Sony Masterworks) and Deep Dark Woods (whose just released Sugar Hill album Jubilee made me think of early My Morning Jacket without as much hazy distortion).
The Greek Theatre, Oct. 4-6, will be awash in tie-dye and the smell of…well, let’s just say that Further with Phil Lesh & Bob Weir will 3-night stay there. Texas will be represented on Friday night at the Bootleg where Bob Schneider will share his Lone Star State tales and Glendale’s Complex, which hosts the shoegazing rock of True Widow. Also on the 4th, Travis will headline the Wiltern but make sure you get there early enough to see openers Rathbone, whose new disc Soft contains some perfectly bratty garage pop. Victory (aka Robert Fleming) can be had at the Mint on the 5th. His new album Victory Is Music holds some nice ‘70s-inspired music.
Before signing off, I must tip off that Monday Oct. 7 is another one of those crazy jammed music weeknights. The Gogol Bordello will invade the Fonda for 3 nights (Oct. 7-9). Disney Hall hosts an evening with Fiona Apple and Blake Mills entitled “Anything We Want” – so you can guess what that might be like. The powerhouse Canadian duo The Pack A.D. will rock the Satellite (and return on the 14th to play School Night at Bardot). This Monday’s School Night features Gambles. At the Mint, meanwhile, Boston-based soulster Jesse Dee will showcase his Alligator debut On My Mind/In My Heart.
The sounds of Appalachia will fill the Valley Performing Arts Center through a performance by The Masters of Bluegrass (J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks, Jerry McCoury, Bob Osborne, and the legendary Del McCoury. As masterful as this show will be, Monday’s prime ticket is the Waterboys’ show at the El Rey. Mike Scott and the ‘boys are on their first U.S. tour in 6 years as they celebrate their new album An Appointment With Mr. Yeats (which is Scott’s “collaborative” effort with the late, great Irish poet W. B. Yeats). And that is just Day One of what looks to be the greatest week of music in L.A. for 2013.