The week ahead in music, July 30 - Aug. 5: Toby Keith, Clay Aiken, more
Here's our look at some of the most noteworthy music events scheduled for the coming week.
July 30 Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Gibson Amphitheater, Universal City, CA Does anyone cater to his audience better than Toby Keith? He opens his show cannon blasts and fireworks, sings in the bed of a pickup truck, he salutes the troops and performs songs that tell stories about drinking, girls and cowboys. With an audience that captive, Keith is no dummy -- he talks about his label and performs "I Love This Bar" while backdrops advertise his chain of restaurants. The audience walks in confident they know what they will be seeing, and 90 minutes later they are probably talking about his show exceeds expectations. It's predictable, but Keith is all about meeting the desires of his fans.
John Zorn, The Stone, New York, NY There may not be a more music-focused performance space than the Stone in New York's Alphabet City. The venue, run by the saxophonist John Zorn -- who also runs the Tzadik label -- is a hotbed for improvised music, and its fund-raisers usually involve Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. This month and next, Zorn is assembling fundraisers to keep the venue alive. His band on July 30 is Scott Robinson (reeds) Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) Ikue Mori (electronics) Shanir Blumenkranz (bass) and Jon Madof (guitar). Special guests will be joining in. On Aug. 13, the benefit night will feature Zorn with Annie Gosfield on keyboards and guitarist Roger Kleier, plus Mori and Blumenkranz.
Roots Roadhouse, Echo and the Echoplex, Los Angeles, CA
Dave Alvin, Pete Anderson, T Model Ford and I See Hawks in LA are among the 20 acts performing at the all-day country/roots/blues festival in Echo Park. An expansion of the Echo's weekly Grand Ole Echo country-rock showcase, Roots Roadhouse will take over the two live music rooms with an outdoor stage added. The BBQ trucks of Q Zilla and Barbie-Que will be on hand, too.
Acts that kick off the event are an intriguing bunch, especially the boogie band Whispering Pines.
Ponderosa Stomp: The Detroit Breakdown, Lincoln Center, New York, NY
The Ponderosa Stomp salutes the roots of rock 'n' roll annually in New Orleans -- this year it's Sept. 24 and 25 -- and makes out-of-town appearances as well. An afternoon show in New York takes Gothamites back to the '60s and '70s with the Motor City Soul Revue featuring Dennis Coffey, Melvin Davis and Spyder Turner, plus the Velvelettes and the turbaned bluesman Eddie Kirkland. A 5 p.m. show continues the Motor City madness with Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels then takes a detour to Flint, MI, where ? & the Mysterians, a Texas group that first found radio fame with "96 Tears," the greatest rock record ever. The rest of their garage rock is pretty spectacular, too.
Ancient Future, The Fret House, Covina, CA
Ancient Future is the creation of Matthew Montfort on various guitars and Mariah Parker on santur. The two have been playing "world fusion" for more than 30 years, but have not performed in Southern California since 1998. As a duo, they concentrate on Arabic, Indian and Spanish musical themes; a dozen versions of the band exist to allow them to explore different cultures with various specialists. Their tour continues Sunday at the Folly Bowl in Altadena, CA.
Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Club Nokia, Los Angeles, CA
The singers who dueled in the 2003 edition of "American Idol" have reunited for a quick summer tour that is now approaching its midway point. Reports from the road have been infrequent, but the duo has been performing medleys of songs grouped by decades -- '60s, 70s, '80s and '90s -- and they spend a fair amount of time cracking jokes. One blogger compared them to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Clay has said they're bit like Sonny & Cher.
Dark Dark Dark, Origami Vinyl, Los Angeles, CA
Origami Vinyl is a record store in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles. It has become a hotbed for indie rock in-store appearances. Bands set up in a loft space about eight feet above the store's ground floor, where the audience members crane their necks and look upward. It's bizarre, but it usually sounds pretty good. "Wild Go," the next album from the Minneapolis sextet Dark Dark Dark, won't be released until Oct. 5, but the chance to wallow in a bit of melancholic voice, piano, strings and accordion sounds like a fine way to start the week.
Lee Ritenour, Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Guitarist Lee Ritenour will talk about influences, collaborations and techniques in an interview session with MusiCares vice president Scott Goldman.
Tift Merritt, Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA
Editor's note: Tift Merrit's planned show at the Troubadour has been canceled.
Her new album "See You on the Moon" has been tagged as the most artistically mature song cycle of her career, and she has credited her subtle shift away from country and folk to listening to Bill Withers records. She gets in a club gig before hitting the road with David Gray and Ray LaMontagne.
Michael Lowman, Harvelle's, Santa Monica, CA
A singer/songwriter from Durban, South Africa, Michael Lowman moved to Las Vegas late last year with a satchel of songs he wanted to record. He set up shop in the studio at the Palms hotel and has released six tracks from those sessions. Who knows, perhaps he will blossom into another Jason Mraz.