.Music Picks: August 15-21

Live music highlights for the week of August 15, 2018.




A band that got its start playing the folk music club at the University of Connecticut, Parsonsfield is a self-described “multi-genre” outfit with an indie-rock-meets-folk-rock sound that brings to mind Iron and Wine and the Decemberists. Boasting catchy hooks, lush and clever instrumentation, thoughtful and open-hearted lyrics, and a passionate delivery, the band gracefully blends roots and indie styles, rising above the noise of a crowded genre to present something immediately engaging and fresh. CAT JOHNSON

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 423-1338.

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Blue Summit is a fast-rising sensation on the Northern California bluegrass scene and beyond. Led by AJ Lee, a Turlock-raised and one-time Santa Cruzan mandolin player, vocalist and bandleader, the outfit has long been part of the scene—in large part because the member grew up in and around bluegrass festivals. Drawing from traditional bluegrass, as well as swing, folk, rock, soul and old-time music, Blue Summit is garnering critical praise for its first album, Sweet Company, and establishing a loyal base of fans who understand that they’re witnessing the rise of one of the next great acts of the genre. CJ

INFO: 7:30 p.m. Michael’s on Main, 2591 Main St., Soquel. $12/adv, $15/door. 479-9777.




Santa Cruz’s favorite soulfully funky sextet is back and ready to get down with a little help from their friends. For more than a decade Harry and the Hitmen has worn out the soles of many of Santa Cruz’s shoes with their unique takes on classic Motown songs and their completely original tunes that could easily be mistaken for golden-era Stax. This Friday, be sure to stay hydrated on the dancefloor, because attendees will also have to keep up with two other down ’n’ dirty Santa Cruz funk acts, Strange Hotels, and Eric Morrison and the Mysteries. MAT WEIR

INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.




A lot of indie-pop bands go for a large, dreamy sound with pulsating moodiness that sweeps you away before you even get a chance to make out the lyrics. Florida group Sales writes songs that could very well take this approach, but instead opts for a much more intimate execution. It sounds as though Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih are playing their duel guitar parts in the room next to you, with Morgan’s conversational vocals right in your ear. It’s an unpretentious, soft voice that seems to carry with it the weight of all the heartbreak in the world. The lack of gloss with this group really works to deliver unfiltered emotion. AARON CARNES

INFO: 9 p.m. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $17/adv, $19/door. 429-4135.




The band currently in the running for best/most annoying name is Orange County’s Super Whatevr. (And yes, they are short an “e” because whatevr, who cares?) Here’s the thing though: the band writes from-the-heart rock jams that are a little punk, a little ’90s alt-rock grit and just a shade of emo breathiness. The band, currently signed to Hopeless Records, writes some pretty deep songs, and their latest album, Never Nothing, is about how we all deal with demons. Whatever it is, it’s never nothing. Sorry, I mean whatevr it is. AC

INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $14/door. 429-6994.




Robert Cray once said, “All the blues greats took chances and developed their own style. They didn’t copy.” By that definition—and a few others if we’re being honest—Indigenous is one of the blues greats of our time. Since 1998, they have blazed through the world with their fiery blend of blues, jazz and rock. Guitarist and founding member Mato Nanji has a style of his own that audiophiles and music junkies love because, even in his uniqueness, trained ears can hear Nanji’s influences mixed throughout his shredding. This is part of the Moe’s Alley’s “Afternoon Blues” series, so don’t get there any later than 4 p.m., or you’ll have the blues for a whole different reason. MW

INFO: 4 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854.




Bassist extraordinaire Victor Wooten returns to town after January’s sold-out Rio Theatre triumph, but this time he’s playing two intimate shows at Kuumbwa. Still touring in support of his recent trio album Trypnotyx, Wooten is again joined by tenor saxophonist Bob Franceschini, best known for his work with guitarist Mike Stern, and Dennis Chambers, the definitive drummer where jazz, funk and fusion converge. Since gaining renown (and five Grammy Awards) as a member of Bela Fleck’s protean Flecktones, Wooten has developed a singular body of work that is as genre-encompassing as the Flecktones, but with a much bigger bottom. ANDREW GILBERT

INFO: 7 and 9 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $31.50-$47.25. 427-2227.



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Cat Johnson
Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on community, collaboration, the future of work and music. She's a regular contributor to Shareable and her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including Yes! Magazine, No Depression, UTNE Reader, Mother Jones and Launchable Mag. More info: catjohnson.co.
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