The music scene is at sort of a slow ebb this time of year. We’re still several weeks away from the full-tilt boogie of the festival season kicking into gear, and it feels like everyone’s keeping it low-key for a bit as they continue recovering from holiday hangovers.
That doesn’t mean that the live music scene is dead by any means. All of the Valley’s venues both big and small will have great shows happening over the next several weeks (and you can check out our extensively updated concert calendar for proof of said statement).
That includes the follow six concerts happening this week, all of which are worthy of your time and money.
John Paul White – Tuesday, January 10 – MIM
A couple of years have passed since the split of Grammy-award winning duo the Civil Wars. Currently, singer/songwriter John Paul White is touring in support of his first solo effort in a decade, Beulah. The collection of songs, with titles like “Hope I Die,” “Make You Cry,” and “Hate the Way You Love Me,” sounds like a recipe for instant depression. While haunting, stark, and at times crushingly minimal, there’s a solid bubble of hope that floats through those darker twists and turns. His mix of folk and country doesn’t leave out a sprinkling of the soul sounds embedded in his birthplace of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where many classics were cut. AMY YOUNG
Pink Martini – Wednesday, January 11 – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Pink Martini’s blend of Latin music, jazz, and classical music is the perfect antidote to everything that’s happened in the past year — it’s music that celebrates the world’s diversity while honoring the deep musical traditions formed by musicians long passed. Founded in Portland, Oregon, in the mid-’90s, the group features multiple singers and around a dozen horn players, all skilled in the Neapolitan blend of styles that is practically the perfect lounge music. The group’s debut album, Sympathique, became a worldwide success, earning the group awards from countries as far away as France. The group is a callback to the early half of the 20th century, when America still searched outward for culture, and singers like Eartha Kitt and Doris Day sampled the cultures of the world for songs like finger foods at a fine gala. If anything, Pink Martini is a reminder to the world that Americans still can appreciate music not served on a blue plate under an American flag. DAVID ACCOMAZZO
Dawes – Wednesday, January 11 – Crescent Ballroom
Taylor Goldsmith, guitarist and vocalist of the folk-rock band Dawes, writes beautiful lyrics about finding meaning in life and spiritual transcendence. Combine this with his relationship with the singer and actress Mandy Moore, an artist who built her scandal-free reputation on her spiritual beliefs, and it suggests he might hold a strong faith. Yet Goldsmith, who often alludes to an ideal afterlife in songs like the hit single “When My Time Comes,” does not believe in heaven. Goldsmith admits that death and leading a satisfied life is a prevalent theme in Dawes’ work. The odd title of the California-based quartet’s latest release, We’re All Gonna Die, suggests Goldsmith is no longer being subtle about his favorite topic. The new album is a sonic departure for Dawes, which includes bassist Wylie Gelber, Goldsmith’s brother Griffin on percussion, and keyboardist Lee Pardini. When they released their debut, North Hills, in 2009, they found themselves associated with a ’60s California folk sound that has been hard to shake. These days, the trademark captivating lyrical details remain, but the stories they are telling are now accompanied by an edgier rock sound. Goldsmith is well aware this new direction may turn off some fans who loosened up listening to the quartet’s organic harmonies, but does not seem the least bit concerned about it. JASON KEIL
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Wednesday, January 11 – MIM
Collectively, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore represent almost a century of experience as songwriters whose attention to detail and idiosyncratic voices have made them two of America’s leading roots musicians. Alvin’s music welds the observational grit of fellow Westerners Tom Russell and Merle Haggard with a little of the muscular rock of his time as a member of X and the Blasters; last year, he and brother Phil honored R&B greats including Big Joe Turner and James Brown with Lost Time, the followup to their Grammy-nominated Big Bill Broonzy tribute, Common Ground. The distinctive nasal twang of Gilmore, meanwhile, is one of the most recognizable voices in Texas music; he’s established himself as a master of philosophical country both with longtime Lubbock compadres the Flatlanders and on acclaimed solo albums like Spinning Around the Sun and Come On Back. CHRIS GRAY
The Aggrolites – Thursday, January 12 – Crescent Ballroom
Not everyone is a fan of new American reggae, but if any band's going to convert these skeptics to the genre’s charms, it might just be the Aggrolites. The LA-based quintet, which has been kicking around the music world since 2002, reverently recreate the soulful vibe of vintage '70s Kingston Studio One productions. Modern-day reggae isn't exactly a hotbed of innovation; rather, it's all about tapping into that deep, ganja-laced skank that erases all your stress and cares with well-executed choppy guitar licks, gently pumping keyboards, snappy rimshots and cymbal splashes, and uplifting vocals. All of which the Aggrolites accomplish with convincing authenticity and traces of Meters-like funk. DAVE SEGAL
Artesyn – Thursday, January 12 – Club Red
Since debuting back in 2014, Mesa quintet Artesyn has been building a fanbase with lovers of hardcore-meets-melodic metal; think As I Lay Dying meets Bullet for My Valentine. Emerald Isle, one of my new fav local acts, is also on this bill. If you’re looking for something unique in the local scene, this electronic metal band offers a breath of fresh air. Paranova, November Skies, Shawshank Redeemed, Cries of the Captive, and more round out the bill. LAUREN WISE
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