- Saturday, October 13, 2018, 7 p.m.
32575 Rancho California Road,
$85 - $160
Thornton Winery announced its summer jazz series several weeks ago, with one “Special Returning Guest” slot left open on October 13, to be announced later. Pretty much all anyone had to do was look at their 2017 and 2016 schedules to see who was missing this year, and it’d be hard not to guess they were keeping a seat warm backstage for sax man Boney James. He’s been releasing albums since 1992 and has maintained a steady presence on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, where he scored no less than 11 number ones, building a following of “lights out” smooth jazz fans. Many of those fans might be surprised, however, to spot James in old footage of Morris Day’s funky 1980s band, or realize he spent years touring and recording with R&B acts such as Bobby Caldwell, Teena Marie, and even the Isley Brothers.
James usually puts on more of an improv-heavy R&B stage show than the studied jazz club recital one might expect from a player usually lumped into the “pop instrumental” category, as the Grammys keep nominating him. His newest album Honestly continues the gradual transition from smooth jazz back to his earlier R&B roots, reaching number 22 on the Billboard Current Albums Chart. While not quite as steeped in soul as his last two releases, it’s one of the most genuinely funk-filled of his 16 studio full-lengths, especially the handclapping Funkadelic tribute “We Came to Party.” If you attend, be prepared and hold onto your wine glass. The usually sedate Temecula crowd might start tossing chairs and turn the whole place into a disco dance floor.
- Monday, November 12, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
868 Fourth Avenue,
Singer-songwriter David Crosby wears his entire life on his sleeve. Aside from painfully autobiographical lyrics, his willingness to live, do, and say anything in public means that now everyone knows the ins and outs of how he fathered a child for Melissa Etheridge. The whole world seemed to chime in when a donated liver was used to replace his hep-C ravaged organ with a surgical transplant, made all the more tabloid-worthy when Phil Collins paid for it. His outspokenness on Twitter has resulted in widely circulated quotes comparing ABBA’s music to dog poo, and he even tweeted “burn baby burn” while the news reported on a fire at Trump Tower (a tweet he later deleted). Seeing a guy living like a reality TV star without a TV show (although there is a documentary film in progress, produced by famous former San Diegan Cameron Crowe), it’s easy to overlook a work ethic that has resulted in three solo albums over the past five years, with another due in a few weeks. He’s maintained the same backing band for most of those releases, including several players who’ll perform with him at the Balboa Theatre on November 12, such as Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Michelle Willis, and Becca Stevens.
Looking over setlists from the tour that just wrapped, it’s clear he’s been catering to fans of his stuff with Stills, Nash, and sometimes Young, especially the evergreens that everyone will pretend to sing along with such as “Wooden Ships,” “Ohio,” “Guinnevere,” and “Long Time Gone.” The 77 year-old’s health problems have included type 2 diabetes, said to be behind his drastic weight loss, but recent Youtube clips indicate his voice is in fine form, albeit a good deal more time-worn and even tired sounding than in his bright harmonic heyday.
- Friday, December 7, 2018, 8 p.m.
3090 Polk Avenue,
To see a photo of Manchester UK’s Pale Waves, one might assume that the two dramatic and serious looking ladies anchoring publicity pics get their makeup tips from either Siouxsie Sioux or Edward Scissorhands. It’d be a mistake, however, to assume that they’re a goth band. Well, maybe pop-goth, if goth ever really did become popular. Let’s say Prince and Madonna secretly got together to dress in black, fire up the smoke machine, and jam every track of Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals album; they could easily pass off the resultant demo as Pale Waves. A debut EP from earlier this year will soon be followed by their first full-length My Mind Makes Noises released on the same label as the similar sounding The 1975. The album is so far preceded by four singles, each with an accompanying video that makes it clear this band is a lot more fun, and even funnier (try not to laugh out loud when you figure out the lyrics to “Television Romance”), than indicated by the frown-y band photos. Their December 7 appearance at the Irenic will be opened by another newborn 1975-ish act on the same record label, Ohio rockers the Candescents, whose first EP and single are hot out of the cookie cutter.
- Tuesday, January 15, 2019, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$28 - $49
Sure, a lot of people are going to the Belly Up on January 15 to see San Francisco rockers the Stone Foxes, still touring in support of last year’s Visalia EP. The big draw, however, is the Black Crowes spinoff that cheekily namechecks another swarthy bird by calling themselves Magpie Salute. Founded a couple of years ago by former Crowes Rich Robinson, Sven Pipien, and Marc Ford, they just dropped their first studio album High Water 1. Robinson and Ford debuted the songs in a live setting for the first time in June, playing an acoustic set at a private event in the pastoral coastal New England town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, probably best known as home to the Nut Museum once run by the famed Nut Lady, Elizabeth Tashjian (or perhaps as the reputed birthplace of tick-borne Lyme disease). At this writing, the album sits at number 33 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart, and number three on the Heatseekers chart. In concert, the music of the Magpies is usually played on shuffle between tracks from the Crowes, Rich Robinson’s Band (whose members fill out the lineup), and from Marc Ford’s demonstrably less charting solo career.