- Friday, May 10, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
5305 Sweetwater Road (Sweetwater Community Church),
$25 - $35
There’s an art to telling stories through music that has nearly been lost since the advent of multitracking. It takes a fierce kind of bravery to face an audience armed only with a guitar, mic, and enough amplification to at least be heard over the sound of people placing and finishing their drink orders. The lineage of tale-telling performers who’ve come down the pike since Woody Guthrie, Dylan, James Taylor, and Harry Chapin may not be wide, but it’s certainly long, and Ellis Paul has become one of the genre’s most acclaimed contemporary practitioners. Paul has scored over a dozen Boston Music Awards over the course of a career that has spanned more than 20 years and nearly that many releases. His music has been heard in films (Shallow Hall, Me Myself and Irene), plus he’s been involved in a book of poems and short stories, children’s music CDs, and two award winning children’s books, The Night the Lights Went Out On Christmas (based on his own poem) and Hero in You (both a book and a CD).
His constant presence on the road usually includes over a hundred dates per year, with his next local show just announced for AMSDconcerts in Bonita on May 10, where he’ll be plugging his first new album in five years, The Storyteller’s Suitcase. Hand-stamped authentic via the Woody Guthrie tattoo on his arm, Paul has been endorsed by none other than Guthrie’s daughter Nora, who says “A singer-songwriter is only as good as the times he reflects. In times like these, when so many nuts are running the show, it’s comforting to know that Ellis Paul is actually holding our sanity on his own stage. Wise, tender, brilliant and biting, Ellis is one of our best human compasses, marking in melodies and poems where we’ve been, and where we might go if we so choose to.”
Bluesy guitar hero Gary Clark Jr. just knocked Greta Van Fleet off the top of the Saturday Night Live chat threads, with two smoking performances on February 16. Even his “Protect Trans Kids” t-shirt, Gibson Flying V guitar, and a sly reference to “Trump country” has the internet all abuzz, and the stream of his SNL take on the Prince-inspired “Pearl Cadillac” nearly broke YouTube when nearly a million people tried to play it within an hour of NBC’s upload. A few hours later, the same thing happened with his late night performance “This Land,” the title track of his fifth studio album that dropped a few days after the SNL set. Clark also played the song in January on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, along with “Feed the Babies.” All the attention being earned by the rising 35-year-old Texas star must be great news for Harrah’s Resort, who just announced booking Clark for a May 22 appearance, the day after Ringo Starr plays the Valley Center venue. Declared Best Young Gun by Rolling Stone in 2011, a lot of San Diegans (approximately 42,000 of them) got their first taste of Clark’s concert chops when he opened for the Rolling Stones at Petco Park on the fourth of July, 2015. His blend of blues, rock, hip-hop, and dance grooves got him signed early on to big-time Warner Brothers, who’ve enjoyed increasing success with each album and EP, including two live albums. Aside from his 2014 Grammy for Best Traditional R&B for his song “Please Come Home,” he’s had six number ones on Billboard’s Blues Albums chart, and he also turned up on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, where his cover of the Beatles’ “Come Together” hit number 15 in 2017. This Land looks to be his biggest release to date, so best seek those seats as soon as you read this.
- Friday, June 21, 2019, 8 p.m.
1337 India Street,
$17 - $19
To say Jenny & the Mexicats were bilingual from the start isn’t just a reference to the fact that their albums have lyrics sung in both English and Spanish. When trumpeter Jenny Ball first teamed up in Spain with percussionist David Gonzalez Bernardos, Ball didn’t speak Spanish and Bernardos spoke no English, but they still found themselves sharing the same language of music. Recruiting others who favored the same kind of Flamenco, folk rock, and rockabilly influences led to forming a band and relocating to Mexico City in 2012, where they released a debut album that scored several radio hits: “Verde Mas Alla,” “ME Voy a Ir,” and “Flor.” Their sophomore album Ome seems to be somewhat more dance-centered, even a bit disco, especially the funky lead single “Labios,” which online references indicate is still omnipresent on Tijuana and Mexico City dance floors. 2017’s Mar abierto/Open Sea album keeps the boogie bubbling, even if you just spin through portions of the tracks as I did. Their June 21 appearance at Little Italy’s Music Box will be opened by another Latin-influenced and hip-hop inclined ensemble, Oakland’s Bang Data, fronted by Deuce Eclipse from Zion I. Breaking Bad fans will remember hearing their music in the season four episode “Salud,” and they received a lot of positive, if often bemused, press for their 2016 Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute album, Quiero Creedence.
- Monday, August 19, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
Humphreys by the Bay,
2241 Shelter Island Drive,
Humphreys has announced an upcoming slate of concerts that includes Jon Anderson of Yes, Colin Hay of Men at Work, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Willie Nelson, Little Feat, Rob Thomas, Howard Jones, the Violent Femmes with X, and a Lord Huron/Shakey Graves show that has already sold out. Also likely to move quickly are tix for O.A.R., making their second appearance on the outdoor Shelter Island stage on August 19 in support of upcoming album The Mighty. The record is so far preceded by a single for “Miss You All the Time” that pretty much sounds like it could have appeared on any of their last few albums. The Maryland pop rockers have been around for more than 20 years now, much of it spent on the road. They did fine as an indie band, but signing to Lava Record and releasing their fifth album Stories of a Stranger in 2005 marked the beginning of a reign of mainstream success that was only beginning with a sold out Madison Square Garden performance in 2006. The bill includes New York City rockers American Authors, who just released their third album Seasons, and Adam Levine discovery Rozzi.