Which might be why this week’s concert calendar is a bit on the sparse side. Plenty of people are either recovering from New Year’s weekend or just taking a short respite from performing.
There are some worthwhile shows to consider checking out in the Valley this week, including gigs by country icon Willie Nelson, R&B/soul legend Booker T. Jones, rapper Krizz Kaliko, and the punks of U.S. Bombs.
Details about their respective shows can be found below in our rundown of this week’s best concerts in Phoenix. And for even more events happening around town, hit up our live music listings.
Tuesday, January 2
Club Red in Mesa
Krizz Kaliko is best-known as co-owner with Tech N9ne of indie hip-hop label Strange Music, which boasts such powerhouse MCs as Rittz, Jay Rock and Brotha Lynch Hung.
But Kaliko is more than just a businessman; he's made six albums of his own, many of which feature the rapper bearing his soul or getting personal about his afflictions in some fashion.
To wit: Kaliko’s debut LP, 2008’s Vitiligo, was so named for the skin condition that he suffers from, while 2009’s Genius contains the track “Bipolar,” referring to his battles with depression. The song “Stop the World” for his most recent album, Go, involves him rapping about how he was considering suicide in 2015.
Kaliko’s discography is more than just him bearing his soul, however. All six of his albums feature the rapper spitting clever rhymes over a diverse variety backing tracks, ranging from R&B to surf rock. And according to Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko is a genius (hence the name of his second album).
Come see what all the fuss is about on Tuesday at Club Red for his latest Valley show. Slo Pain, Izzy Dunfore, and Poizonous Logik will open. Noah Hubbell
Wednesday, January 3
Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon
Think you have what it takes to win Country Idol? The local singing competition is on the hunt for top performers at preliminary events around the Valley, including one at Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon.
Don’t let the name of the event fool you. Singing a country song is not required to win over the judges. Contestants will be judged on showmanship and vocal ability. Winners in the preliminary round will receive a $25 and $15 bar tab for first and second place, respectively, and the chance to compete in the finals at the 33rd Annual Gay Rodeo, which runs from February 16 through 18.
It’s pitchy at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, at Pat O’s. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Country Idol website. Jason Keil
Willie Nelson & Family
Wednesday, January 3
Country music legend, poet, outlaw, and marijuana entrepreneur Willie Nelson is back. This time, it’s with God’s Problem Child, his (depending on how you count) 110th album.
Featuring all new material, the record was released on April 28, one day before Nelson’s 84th birthday. We may be averse to talking honestly about aging in our youth-obsessed culture, perhaps because it feels so unimaginable to our younger selves, but this album gives a glimpse into what it’s like to be in your 80s with your sense of humor intact regarding your own mortality.
“Still Not Dead” confronts rumors of Nelson’s demise. Written by Donnie Fritz and Lenny LeBlanc, “Old Timer” reflects, “You think you’re still a young bull rider, until you look in the mirror and see an old timer.” Former poet laureate Donald Hall wrote in Essays After Eighty a couple of years ago that “old age is a ceremony of losses.” Yet, his essays were, at times, pugnaciously funny.
This is similar terrain to God’s Problem Child. Laconic, wry, and humorous, Nelson is still going strong. And at this point, he’s as beloved as Santa Claus, albeit a skinny, pot-smoking Santa. The last track, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” is a tribute to old friend Merle Haggard, who died last April. Sativa Peterson