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Music Picks: Sunset Junction Street Fair, Lucinda Williams, Y & T, Tanya Morgan 

Also, GZA, Jimmy Webb, Fol Chen and others

Thursday, Aug 19 2010
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Click here for Gustavo Turner's Q&A With Al Green.

FRIDAY/AUGUST/20

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT AT THE GREEK THEATRE

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DREW GOREN - Upsetting Silver Lake: Lee "Scratch" Perry
  • PHOTO BY DREW GOREN
  • Upsetting Silver Lake: Lee "Scratch" Perry

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The last time Rufus Wainwright came to town, the fabulous New Yorker (via Montreal) performed the collected hits of Judy Garland at the Hollywood Bowl. It's that flair for the melodramatic that keeps fans coming back to the tenor singer, guitarist, pianist and gifted orchestral arranger. While virtually every member of his family is associated with the folk movement, both then and now (see father Loudon Wainwright III, mother and aunt Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and sister Martha Wainwright), Rufus took a decidedly more full-bodied approach to music-making from the get-go. Even his 2001 debut, Poses, was packed with ideas, ranging from trip-hop-like experimentation to the kinds of ornate flourishes that would see fruition on his string-laden Want album series. His latest exploits include an original opera (Prima Donna) and a new, surprisingly stripped-down record. The recently released All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is predominantly a piano-and-voice affair, but it's still got panache, working three adaptations of Shakespeare sonnets into a loose narrative about a "dangerous woman that lives within all of us." (Chris Martins)

SCARS ON BROADWAY AT AVALON

Scars on Broadway is the on-again-off-again solo expression of System of a Down guitarist/songwriter Daron Malakian. While Scars shares System's style-hopping sense of mischief, some lyrical themes (Charlie Manson, drugs, the Armenian genocide) and a drummer (John Dolmayan), left to his own devices Malakian happily sacrifices metal for melody. SOB's eponymous 2008 debut is certainly a rock record, yet for each of its Johnny Rotten sneers there's a Sgt. Pepper smile; for every burly beat, a burbling keyboard. In concert Malakian's voice struggles to command, but on Scars on Broadway's succinct songs he delivers with a convincing snarl ("Serious"), a wry wink ("Chemicals") and a repeated sigh ("3005," "Insane"). Considering System's multiplatinum success, Malakian has little to prove; his canceling an entire Scars tour a couple of years back because his "heart wasn't into it" suggests that, when he does perform, he means it. (Paul Rogers)

CHIEF AT BOOTLEG THEATER

These local cosmic-country dudes have a lovely new debut out called Modern Rituals that wouldn't sound less modern if it were issued on wax cylinder: Jangly, harmony-drenched jams like "In the Valley" and "Nothing's Wrong" suggest a deep desire to return to those simpler days when guys like Neil Young and Gram Parsons captivated herbally enhanced audiences with melodies and lyrics, not flamethrowing bras and awards-show antics. (Irony alert: Bassist Mike Moonves is the son of CBS President Les Moonves, aka David Letterman's boss/nemesis and the man responsible for Survivor.) Thanks to the quality of their melodies (and to a lesser extent their lyrics), Chief's back-to-the-farm nostalgia staves off the coldly reactionary vibe that often spoils this kind of stuff. You get the sense that they don't think simpler is better, necessarily — just that it's simpler. (Mikael Wood)

Also playing Friday: JOHN HIATT & THE COMBO at the Canyon Club; CROWDED HOUSE, LAWRENCE ARABIA at Club Nokia; L.A. GUNS, FASTER PUSSYCAT, JOHN CORABI, INBERST at Galaxy Concert Theatre; THE CHAIN GANG OF 1974 at the Echo; TCHAIKOVSKY SPECTACULAR with fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl; BAD BRAINS at House of Blues Anaheim; DENGUE FEVER at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; HEPCAT, INCITERS, BASS HARMONY at the Music Box; CHRIS ISAAK at Pechanga Showroom Theatre; CAPTAIN AHAB, KEVIN BLECHDOM at the Smell.

 

SATURDAY/AUGUST/21

SUNSET JUNCTION STREET FAIR IN SILVER LAKE

If you find yourself wandering down the middle of Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake this weekend, you're bound to stumble across some legendary musical figures. On one corner, you might run into the wickedly funky riffs of '70s hit makers the Ohio Players; on another, you're likely to witness one of rap's mightiest voices, Big Daddy Kane, backed by the estimable soul crew Connie Price & the Keystones. The Sanborn Stage is especially loaded with funky thrills, including San Diego's festive Latin-soul-reggae assassins the B-Side Players and L.A.'s terminally frenetic punk-funk-ska combo Fishbone. The original lineup of the Bad Brains ramps things up further, powering their early hardcore blasts with far more suppleness and musical dexterity than most punk bands. As sonically intense as their metallic hard-rock songs can be, the Brains' reggae interludes are contrastingly languid and lovely, suffused with a sincere spiritual connection to Rastafarian beliefs. (And they're far more than just an oldies act, having returned to action in excellent form with a quintessentially dynamic 2007 comeback album, Build a Nation, produced by the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch.) Although the two-day Sunset Junction Street Fair long ago outgrew its roots as a simple neighborhood festival, it still remains relevant and tends to have a more racially diverse booking policy than most local indie-scene events. Saturday's highlights include visits from Neil Young protégés Everest; electro-funk Texas duo Ghostland Observatory; local synth-rockers Shiny Toy Guns; J. Rocc's homage to Miles Davis; hip-hop empress Medusa; and disco diva Evelyn "Champagne" King. Also Sun. (See Sunday pick for more details.) 3700-4300 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (Falling James)

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