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Spring Music Preview: Third Edition

Shows not to be missed this April and May!

 

DILLY DALLY
Fri. 4/5

A welcome throwback to the angsty grunge of Hole and early Smashing Pumpkins, Canada’s Dilly Dally is a reminder of why that genre, when done right, once ruled the airwaves. The quartet is all about whisper-to-a-scream dynamics: intimacy exploding into overt outpouring, with tiny sounds – often the textured murmur of chief songwriter Katie Monks – juxtaposed against tortured guitars and gangly drums. Having retreated into a time-apart hiatus following the hard-touring behind acclaimed 2015 debut “Sore,” Dilly Dally returned to slobbering reviews with last year’s relentlessly cathartic “Heaven”; both an unlikely continuation of its predecessor’s fiery form and a 34-minute advert for a full-blown grunge revival.

At Constellation Room at the Observatory, Santa Ana (Click here for tickets)

Anvil – Photo courtesy of SPV Records

ANVIL
Sat. 4/6

The relatively successful recent career of veteran Canadian metalheads Anvil was triggered by an immensely poignant 2008 documentary, “Anvil! The Story of Anvil,” which detailed their relatively unsuccessful prior three decades. Fronted by the irrepressible “Lips” Kudlow, the tragi-comic trad-metal trio now plays the sold-out clubs and top-flight fests which largely eluded them prior to finding big-screen fame (and was the stuff of dreams during a good 20 years of numbing obscurity). While Lips and co. can genuinely claim to have influenced the likes of Metallica and Slayer, their recent recorded output is workmanlike, if brisk, fist-in-the-air metal distinguished by Kudlow’s much-admired guitar work.

At The Wayfarer, Costa Mesa (Click here for tickets)

THE HAVANA CUBA ALL-STARS
Sat. 4/6

There’s something insanely uplifting and infectious about the Havana Cuba All-Stars – a collective of some of Cuba’s most revered musicians who, for this “Asere!” (“Friendship”) performance, are joined by three of that island’s most accomplished dancing couples. But in fact everyone in this dozen-strong band – comprising brass, Spanish and steel guitar, electric bass and multiple types of Latin percussion – dances, and there are few in their audience who don’t join in. The SoCal winter is far from frigid, but this ultra-rhythmic blast of sunny Caribbean bliss, which lovingly traverses rumba, cha cha chá and habanera, will nonetheless be a welcome escape at Segerstrom.

At Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa (Click here for tickets)

Buddy Guy – Photo by Paul Natkin

BUDDY GUY
Tue. 4/9

Still touring as he approaches age 83, Buddy Guy’s shudderingly inspired take on rock ‘n’ roll blues guitar has been both a blessing and a curse. Or rather it was the other way around, as it was early in his career that conservative label execs and radio programmers stifled an ultra-dynamic take on a genre that few have explored with such wide eyes and wild ability. It was not until the late 1980s blues revival that he began enjoying consistent commercial recognition for such startling originality. A relatively gentle vocal timbre further offsetting fiery fretboard virtuosity and emotive showmanship, Guy’s a national treasure best appreciated live.

At The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano (Click here for tickets)

JACK & JACK
Thu. 4/11

Few acts are such products of their time as Jack & Jack, a pair of Omaha-raised pop rappers who initially earned a following through satirical YouTube content and Vine cover tunes before, while still teens, starting to self-upload original co-compositions to iTunes. Only 22 today, these childhood buds are now big business, enjoying multiple brand partnerships which have brought further exposure to their safe, phone-ready fluff. Essentially cascades of call-and-response lyrical clichés between Jack Johnson’s nasal rhyming and Jack Gilinsky’s pitch-corrected croon, backed by drag-and-drop beats and bleeps, Jack & Jack are a crash course in what the uncool kids are buying.

At City National Grove of Anaheim (Click here for tickets)

Josh Abbott Bank – Photo by Gary Dorsey

JOSH ABBOTT BAND
Thu. 4/11

The Josh Abbott Band’s fifth full-length, 2017’s “Until My Voice Goes Out” is a contemplative yet ultimately sanguine, strings- and horns-adorned contrast to its predecessor, “Front Row Seat.” Whereas the latter documented the arc of Abbott’s failed marriage, “Until My Voice” is an appreciate-the-moment celebration shaped by both the joy of impending parenthood and the simultaneous loss of his father. His clean-cut septet defy their (quite literal) frat boy origins at Texas Tech to produce a melodious yet earthy collision of to-be-expected Texan country and more overtly outlaw Red Dirt influences, with burbling banjo, fiddle and guitars embroidering Abbott’s marvelously relatable storytelling.

At House of Blues, Anaheim (Click here for tickets)

BEN RECTOR
Fri. 4/12

Over the past dozen years, Oklahoman tunesmith Ben Rector has built the type of organic music career that simply isn’t supposed to exist anymore: over hundreds of shows and seven albums he’s gone from part-time college crooner to Top 10 seller (with 2015’s “Brand New”). Rector took his longest between-records pause yet before releasing last year’s “Magic”: another worthy collection of polished, mostly piano- and synth-driven pop with occasional country-ish melodies and echoes of 1990s college rock. Now 32 and a father, what this singing pianist/guitarist does so well is getting nostalgic while remaining optimistic – a emotional balancing act that resonates widely with his peers and beyond.

At House of Blues, Anaheim (Click here for tickets)

Pink – Photo by Sølve Sundsbø

PINK
Sat. 4/13

When Pink’s career exploded with her 2000 debut “Can’t Take Me Home,” she seemed destined to parallel poppy peers like Britney Spears (who she compared herself on 2001 single “Don’t Let Me Get Me”) and Jessica Simpson (who she mildly dissed on 2008’s “So What”). But the genre- and style-hoppin’ gal born Alecia Moore wanted more, and so has co-composed, collaborated (with everyone from Linda Perry to Tim Armstrong), and lustily sung herself into a rare, two-decades-and-counting combo of artistic credibility and chart/radio ubiquity. Pink’s famously elaborate – and downright athletic – live shows have only enhanced her rep as America’s favorite singing tomboy.

At Honda Center, Anaheim (Click here for tickets)

AARON WATSON
Fri. 4/19

Aaron Watson is a proudly independent Texas country artist who, over a 20-year career, has grazed the top of the genre – his appropriately-titled 2015 album “The Underdog” debuting at number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart – while retaining rare creative and commercial control. But that’s where any “outlaw” spirit stops for this unabashedly well-balanced, mainstream family man. On 11th studio album, “Vaquero,” however, Watson – intentionally or otherwise – tosses political hot potatoes on “Clear Isabel” and “Amen, Amigo”, which detail the cultural and literal crisscrossing of the U.S.-Mexican border (in both directions) which is fundamental to the story of Texas itself.

At House of Blues, Anaheim (Click here for tickets)

LOS LOBOS
Sat. 4/20

Incredibly, East L.A.’s Los Lobos have been exploring the music of their Mexican heritage and American lives – including rock, Tex-Mex, R&B, blues and traditional south-of-the-border sounds – for over 45 years, with four original members still aboard. From clawing their way up as a wedding band, to the years of global stardom following their international hit cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” and lately back playing in clubs, this multi-award-winning outfit has palpably retained a passion for musical (and cultural) adventure. Los Lobos’ most recent full-length, 2015’s self-produced “Gates of Gold,” while patchy, shows that the preceding 23 albums have barely dulled their creative curiosity.

At The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano (Click here for tickets)

MUSIC OF QUEEN / PACIFIC SYMPHONY
Fri. 4/26 and Sat. 4/27

Epic rock riffs and majestic symphonic strings will come together in perfect harmony as Pacific Symphony pays tribute to one of the greatest bands of all time. Joined by high-energy band and vocalists Windborne, the symphony performs hits such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are the Champions,” “Killer Queen,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and many more. The orchestra opens the show with Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Gardel’s “Por una Cabeza” (the tango heard in “Scent of a Woman” and in the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis dance scene in  “True Lies”) and a medley of hits by The Beatles.

Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa (Click here for tickets)

SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE
Tue. 4/30

Formed by celebrated Chinese American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the ambitious Silk Road Ensemble has been a culture-straddling collaboration of diverse virtuoso musicians for the past 20 years. To mark this milestone, it’s performing an entirely new concert, “Heroes Take Their Stands,” conceived by kamancheh player/composer Kayhan Kalhor and folklorist Ahmad Sadri. Comprising five works from members and friends of this unique world music ensemble, “Heroes” explores how ordinary people can make a difference, from Greek mythology’s Elektra to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Expect instruments including Galician bagpipe, Chinese lute, Japanese bamboo flute and Indian tabla to come together to thought-provoking, bridge-building effect at Segerstrom.

At Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa (Click here for tickets)

Robin Trower – Photo by Rob Blackham

ROBIN TROWER
Fri. 5/3

Robin Trower’s famed onstage gurning, while the object of lighthearted jibes, is further evidence of the deep sentiment propelling this blues-rock legend’s guitar playing. Alternately simmering and snarling on his signature Stratocaster, and sometimes sharing vocal duties with bassist Richard Watts, the now 74-year-old Brit has little to prove and apparently performs largely for pleasure. From his turn-of-the-1970s breakout with Procol Harum through a solo career featuring collabs with the likes of Jack Bruce and Bryan Ferry (and spawning new album “Coming Closer to the Day” in March), Trower’s individualist approach to soulful phrasing and blistering, post-Hendrix soloing has influenced legions of fellow axemen.

At City National Grove of Anaheim (Click here for tickets)

BERLIN
Sat. 5/4

You don’t have to even half close your eyes for Berlin front-gal (and sole constant) Teri Nunn to look paranormally similar to her 1980s chart-topping persona. And that’s a good thing, because today’s Berlin – a quartet featuring none of the instrumentalists from the band’s new wave heyday – is an almost pure nostalgia vehicle, with sets featuring throwback hits like “No More Words,” “Metro,” and ‘86’s monster-selling “Take My Breath Away” alongside only cursory nods to recordings made by the New Millennium incarnation of the band. But Nunn still utterly has it as both singer and performer, which makes Berlin one of the more convincing Reagan-era reminders.

At The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano (Click here for tickets)