The term “Americana” is awful because it encompasses so much but says so little. It’s the easy way out. The lazy man’s description. But when it comes to Bart Budwig, it’s hard to call him anything but Americana because his music hits every end of that vast spectrum. It’s part Steve Earle, part Justin Townes Van Zandt and mixed with some John Prine and Bruce Springsteen. His latest album, 2020’s Another Burn on the Astroturf has the soul of a rock album, the sunbaked dirt of a country album and the voice of a roadhouse jukebox. MAT WEIR
INFO: 8pm, The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.
FESTIVAL OF MONSTERS
Monsters are awesome! And they’ve been a part of culture as long as we’ve had culture. So this week, there is a 3 day Festival of Monsters in Santa Cruz. Much of the event is a ticketed conference, but Friday’s festivities are free and open to the public. It includes Unwieldy Creatures author Addie Tsai doing a reading and conversation, a Black Nerds Create panel, a keynote from author Mallory O’Meara on the topic of the Legacy of Women in Horror, and other fun stuff like a ceremonial opening of the Festival of Monsters and really cool exhibit at MAH. AARON CARNES
INFO: 9:30am, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, 705 Front Street, Santa Cruz. Free. 429-1964.
CHAMPIAN FULTON TRIO
Twenty years into her jazz career, NYC-based vocalist/pianist Champian Fulton has long since mastered the crucial art of putting her own idiosyncratic spin on standards from the jazz canon. You can hear echoes of the singer Fulton has cited as a primary influence – Sarah Vaughan – in her richly textured, self-assured vocalizing. Earlier this year she released her 16th album as a leader, the “live” session, Meet Me at Birdland. She was last seen locally as part of Mondays with Kuumbwa, the weekly online performance series during the pandemic. On this trip, Champian will front a trio that includes bassist Jayla Chee and drummer James Gallagher. DAN EMERSON
INFO: 7pm, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz $31.50/adv, $36.75/door. 427-2227.
Harp music is supposedly what the angels play, and it’s possible that Mary Lattimore is one such heavenly being, because her sound is certainly otherworldly. But her music is less lying around noshing on grapes in the clouds, and more falling through a mirror into a strange and unnerving wonderland. Her soundscapes are fully-realized explorations of various tableaus, with songs titled “Til A Mermaid Drags You Under” and “Horses, Glossy on the Hill” that evoke the precise sensations that those images suggest. Lattimore’s music is dizzying in its expansiveness, but somehow anchored by the depths it traverses. JESSICA IRISH
INFO: 8pm, Felton Music Hall, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. $21/adv, $25/door. 704-7113.
MAYA MCNEIL & BEN PEARL
Local duo Maya McNeil and Ben Pearl—who comprise The Lilac & The Apple—have prepared a selection of spooky songs to celebrate autumn. Inspired by traditional music, the pair will resurrect age-old murder ballads, ocean laments and ghost stories at the intimate mountain venue Lille Aeske Arthouse. They also promise some original tunes and have plenty to choose from with their debut album, Waiting For the Light To Change, slated to be released later this season. With earthy sensibilities, sultry tones and talk of a costume contest, McNeil and Pearl are set to deliver a show worthy of the living and the dead. ADDIE MAHMASSANI
INFO: 8pm, Lille Aeske Arthouse, 13160 Highway 9, Boulder Creek. $25/adv, $30/door. 703-4183.
When asked about his band’s third full-length, Careful!, Nic Gohl said, “I wanted these to be interesting songs, but in a way where a two-year-old would vibe out to it.” Which is truthfully the best way to describe this Chicago quintet. Formed in 2014, their 2018 self-titled debut was described as “where Deerhunter left off” by Pitchfork. They combine post-punk melodies with modern indie rock sensibilities ala The Killers, for moody and introspective tracks that challenge anyone within earshot not to dance. MW
INFO: 9pm, Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $15/adv, $18/door. 713-5492.
Born in the Midwest, Willi Carlisle now lives in the Ozarks, which he captures the sound of through his poetry sewn folk. The travelin’ troubadour brings a rare updated version of folk music, singing about the here and now in the same tradition of Woody Guthrie. Then there’s songs like “Vanlife” which grabs the honky tonk country sound of Hank Williams while singing about living in a van and eating at 7-11. His songs are fun–with elements of humor and touches of sadness, bringing a tried-and-true classic American style with the details of the highs and lows of modern society. He’s joined by Rachel Baiman, who’s latest album is all about American capitalism and the devastation it creates. Old Woody would approve. MW
INFO: 8pm, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz., $15/adv, $20/door. 479-1854
According to NPR, säje is “taking the vocal jazz ensemble into the 21st century.” In 2020, the supergroup received a Grammy nomination for its very first composition, the tender and pensive original, “Desert Song.” After that auspicious beginning, the all-female quartet attracted an energetic following, with fans around the world reveling in the magnificent harmonies that happen when Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick and Erin Bentlage sing in unison. Their self-titled, self-produced debut album is as much a tribute to the power of collaboration as it is a technical feat, marshaling intricate vocals and nuanced storytelling in service of female empowerment. AM
INFO: 7pm, Kuumbwa Jazz, 320 Cedar St, Santa Cruz. $36.75/adv, $42/door. 427-2227.
Jesse Cook’s Libre Tour brings rhumba rhythms from his 11th studio album, Libre, to town this week. The composer has been exploring diverse genres through his life, studying classical and jazz guitar early on but later eschewing strict conventions to immerse himself in gypsy jazz and world music. His style has evolved into a genre reminiscent of the flamenco rumba one hears in Andalusia, but the musician has a note of warning: “If you go to Spain and you play [my] music, they’ll say, what is this? They don’t recognize it as Flamenco because it’s not, it’s a hybrid.” AM
INFO: 7:30pm, Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz. $35-$55. 423-8209.