Albert Lee and Cindy Cashdollar will perform as a duo at Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall on September 9, a benefit concert in support of NAMM’s Museum of Making Music. Lee probably needs little or no introduction, as an acclaimed guitarist with the Crusaders, the Thunderbirds, and occasionally the Biff Baby All-Stars (whose roster has included Eddie Van Halen and Steve Morse, among others). Cashdollar may be less familiar, a dobro and lap-steel guitar player best known from her tenure with Asleep at the Wheel, though the five-time Grammy winner (the first woman inducted into the Texas Steel Guitar Hall of Fame) has also been heard with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton, among others. MoMM’s annual Play it Forward fundraising gala “furthers the museum’s mission to offer educational immersion opportunities, exhibitions, hands-on experiences, and live performances that inform and inspire guests as they learn how musical instruments impact popular culture and connect lives,” according to the event announcement.
Humphreys just announced a last-minute addition to this year’s event roster, Stevie Van Zandt, who’s on his first major U.S. tour since 1990 in support of Soulfire, his first solo album in nearly two decades. The onetime Asbury Juke and occasional Springsteen sideman hasn’t dug so hip-deep into the Jersey Shore since his earliest days, before he got all sidetracked with acting gigs on TV shows like The Sopranos and Lilyhammer (the latter featuring his scores in all three seasons), hosting his weekly syndicated radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage, bitching about Sun City, and running his Wicked Cool Records label. You can stream the new album’s first track (“Saint Valentine’s Day”) while deciding if you want to head over to Shelter Island to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul on October 18, where he’ll be backed by a 12-piece band plus backup singers. Judging from several recent setlists posted online, it’s a marathon show featuring the best of his own songs going all the way back to the Jukes, as well as tunes covering Etta James, Gary U.S. Bonds, James Brown, Jimmy Barnes, Chuck Berry, and others.
Another Jersey boy, Delicate Steve’s first new record in four years, This Is Steve, features the acoustic prog-pop rocker pulling a Prince by producing and playing all the instruments. His career to date has included him doing everything from recording with Sondre Lerche and Death Grip’s Zach Hill to opening a sold-out North American tour for Tame Impala, performing with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, and playing guitar on a Paul Simon album. A video can be viewed online for the new album’s first single, “Tomorrow,” and he’ll be at the Soda Bar on October 25.
Big Sandy & His Flyrite Boys will once again unpack their usual bag of western boogie, country swing, and traditional bluegrass onto the Casbah stage on November 24. Coming up on their 30th anniversary next year, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductees are finally earning widespread recognition, thanks to being perpetually on tour, several national television appearances, and multiple guest spots at the Grand Ole Opry. It’s been four years since their last album, an acoustic package reimagining previous tracks called What a Dream It’s Been, but there’s a good reason why the Casbah has booked these guys a half dozen times in just over four years. They never fail to deliver a knock-down, drag-out show well worth another night on Kettner.
My drummer friend Joe D’Elia once told me “The thing that bugs me about reggae is that the backbeat is on three,” which for me triggered a total “Aha!” moment explaining why I’ve always been annoyed by reggae. Remove the political angle, and usually all that remains is lowest-common-denominator beats and machine-repetitive “grooves.” It’s musical marshmallow Fluff, something to fill the mouth but with all the nutrition and substance of air. At best, entry level. At worst, strictly for morons unwilling to learn anything new. It wasn’t until I inherited a large collection of backyard party CDs by groups like Sublime and their spin-off group, the Long Beach Dub Allstars, that I realized there’s a funk and hip-hop infused variation on reggae that doesn’t sound to me like bees living in my head. So I never mind spinning a disc or streaming a track by the Allstars, but you probably won’t see me at their Observatory North Park appearance on November 24, where Fortunate Youth will headline and Arise Roots will open. Out of over 300 concerts I’ve attended, I’ve only been vomited on at two, and both were headlined by the Allstars. I’ll catch the show later on YouTube.
Jonny Lang’s new studio album, Signs, is his sixth major-label release and his first full-length in four years. The 36-year-old has finally shed the “next Clapton” hype from his teen debut and evolved into a soulful soloist and evocative vocalist whose take on the blues, gospel, and barroom rock often sounds like someone with at least twice as many years of living to draw upon. Another road addict who can’t seem to turn down a chance to tour, Lang returns to the Belly Up on December 6, for his fifth Solana Beach appearance in six years (though the last time he was in town was for the 2016 fair in Del Mar). It’ll be interesting to see and hear if his increased focus on Christian themes will continue on the new album, due September 8. His previous God-heavy release, 2013’s Fight for My Soul, hit a respectable number 50 on the Billboard 200 chart, as well as topping the Blues Album chart and reaching number two on the Christian Album chart. A new single, “Make It Move,” is available online as a free download.