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Music Picks: John Lee Hooker Jr., Faun Fables, Tribute to Dolly Parton

The Family Hooker: John Lee Hooker Jr.

Click here for a Q&A with FYF Fest's Sean Carlson.

FRIDAY/SEPTEMBER/3

THE DELTA MIRROR AT SPACELAND

Being self-conscious isn't always a bad thing. The Delta Mirror's bio describes the L.A.-based band as channeling the "broken records of mid-'90s hip-hop ... bent circuits of electronica, dead IDM laptops and broken shoegaze strings." It's a pretty astute summation. The consistency between those disparate sounds is the "busted up" element. The group's songs are decidedly damaged — with titles like "He Was Worse Than the Needle He Gave You" and "A Song About the End" — so perhaps that's why all of the narratives on their full-length debut, Machines That Listen (Lefse Records), take place within a hospital. Nine different rooms, to be exact, one for each track, where singer Craig Golden attempts healing through purging via his Interpol-like black baritone. Karrie K. provides some airier vocal support, but mostly her duty is to tend to the pulse — the bass — while David Bolt manipulates a slew of electronic devices, patching together all those emotions and ideas into a gorgeous Frankenstein's monster. (Chris Martins)

ZOMBELLE AT SPACE 15 TWENTY

Zombelle's story closely resembles that of Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls. Evidently tired of singing in someone else's band, she dropped out of whatever outfit she was a part of and picked up a guitar, then strummed her way to a full-on artistic reinvention. But unlike Dee Dee (government name: Kirstin Gundred), Zombelle's identity is still shrouded in mystery, which only adds to the creepy enigma that courses through her spare, weird guitar songs. Often, she's armed with an acoustic, laying down dark folk that brings to mind Beck's earliest experimentations. The song "Go to Her" is a perfect example of this, her voice layered many times over, vacillating between a deep growl and a high, Devendra-like warble. But she also dabbles in the electric arts, using an ax to generate sludgy texture, and God-knows-what to spruce it up with lo-bit beats and what sounds like swarms of insects (see "Do It Casanova"), while her haunted cry becomes a choir of tortured souls. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Friday: MUMIY TROLL at the Roxy; STEREO TOTAL at the Echoplex; SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS, LYNDA KAY at the Echo; EARTH WIND & FIRE at the Hollywood Bowl; ADLER'S APPETITE, STONEBREED at the Canyon; CECI BASTIDA at the Glass House; MEDIA BLITZ, SUMMER VACATION, IMPERIAL CAN at Pehrspace; THE MAU MAUS, SYMBOL SIX, THE BILLYBONES at Redwood Bar & Grill; WAILING SOULS, MIGHTY DIAMONDS at Saint Rocke; MARY WILSON at Catalina Bar & Grill; LINDA HOPKINS' BLUES REVUE at Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill.

 

SATURDAY/SEPTEMBER/4

JOHN LEE HOOKER JR. AT HARVELLE'S

The Chicago singer John Lee Hooker Jr. might be heir to John Lee Hooker Sr.'s legacy, but he nonetheless has his own style, which is closer to the Windy City electric-blues sound than to his father's earthy, traditional grooves. Following a lifetime of hard knocks (involving drugs, alcohol and jail), Junior burst onto the scene in 2004 with his belated debut album, Blues With a Vengeance, which he aptly described as "celebratory redemption." He actually got his start at an early age, performing as a teenager in his Detroit hometown with luminaries like the great Jimmy Reed and appearing on his father's 1972 album Live at Soledad Prison. In the intervening decades, Junior had his own life lessons to learn, experiences that inform the randy yet wise lyrics on such tunes as "Blues Ain't Nothin' but a Pimp." He recently released his fourth album, Live in Istanbul, Turkey, which features the florid soloing of guitarist Angelo Santi. (Falling James)

A TRIBUTE TO DOLLY PARTON AT WILL GEER THEATRICUM BOTANICUM

Nestled in the hills of Topanga lies the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, an open-air theater ringed by trees that evokes a more pastoral, peaceful era. Many of the venue's play productions have a local flavor, with participation from actors and crew in the neighborhood adding to the down-home, folksy vibe. This afternoon's homage to Dolly Parton will likely have a similar feel, with Topanga native Inara George rounding up some of her friends from the L.A. pop-folk underground, including mellow chanteuse Eleni Mandell and the Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark, George's partners in the vocal supergroup the Living Sisters. George also sings with the twee-pop combo the Bird & the Bee and is, of course, the daughter of the late Little Feat leader Lowell George. Other guests who'll work "Nine to Five" to re-create old Parton favorites (especially the chillingly heartbreaking classic "Jolene") include Paul Simon's songwriter son, Harper Simon, as well as Phillip Littell, Alex Lilly, John Gold, Juliana Raye, Justine Kragen, James Combs, Erica Canales, Sara Melson, Charlie Wadhams, Mike Viola, Dan Bern, Wendy Wang and Mike Andrews. Starts at 3 p.m. (Falling James)

 

MARK BURGESS AT THE TROUBADOUR

If you're a local fan of smart, top-shelf '80s U.K. post-punk and you thought the still-youthful guy getting coffee next to you in Silver Lake might be the legendary Mark Burgess, leader of the Chameleons (or "The Chameleons U.K.," for American consumption), well, you weren't tripping. The Mancunian Burgess has been known to spend time in the hipper parts of L.A., has deejayed for the local Anglophile synth cultists, goths and post-goths, and now is bringing a chameleonic band to the Troubadour. Hey, if Billy Corgan can call himself and his repertoire the Smashing Pumpkins, then you could very well call this a rare Chameleons show. You shouldn't, though — you might get sued. Still: Go. (Gustavo Turner)

Also playing Saturday: FYF FESTIVAL at Los Angeles State History Park (see box); THE KRIS SPECIAL at Echo Curio; EARTH WIND & FIRE at the Hollywood Bowl; CHERRY POPPIN' DADDIES at the Mint; GEORGE GLASS, OFF CAMPUS, GEISHA BOYS at Pehrspace; THE BLACK WATCH at Taix; MARY WILSON at Catalina Bar & Grill.

 

SUNDAY/SEPTEMBER/5

FAUN FABLES AT STEVE ALLEN THEATER

Faun Fables is an odd, uncategorizable, morphing entity that creates profoundly haunting excursions into arcane dreams within dreams. Beautifully forthright singer Dawn McCarthy partners with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum singer/multi-instrumentalist Nils Frykdahl to conjure a heavily contrapuntal acoustical realm that seems rooted in English plainsong and such folk-art offspring as the Incredible String Band. In October the duo bring out their first long-player in four years, Light of a Vaster Dark (Drag City), a good-humored and luminously odd meditation on the seasons of life whose sound/place is dusty and obscure, yet alluringly, naggingly familiar. McCarthy has invented another dimension of grimly gripping tall tales whose cinema verité–enhanced production — Frykdahl's guitars and percussion are intricately laced with violins, bass clarinets, shakuhachi flutes and ghostly harmonicas — adds immensely to the moody mystery. (John Payne)

THE GORIES AT SPACELAND

Mick Collins is righteously recognized as the master blaster behind Detroit's garage-rock revival, influencing the White Stripes and even Atlanta's Black Lips with his fuzzily demented longtime combo the Dirtbombs. But Collins actually got his start with the primitive mid-1980s garage-rock trio the Gories, which included drummer Peggy O'Neil (68 Comeback) and guitarist Dan Kroha (who'd later go on to front the Demolition Doll Rods). Apart from the Oblivians, perhaps, no group has had such an impact on the American garage-rock underground. What set the Gories apart from everyone else was that they weren't strict, obediently faithful '60s revivalists. Tracks like "Thunderbird ESQ" and "Detroit Breakdown" were cruder than crude, sounding sometimes more like raw blues than weak-assed British Invasion analogs. But there was also a non-retro intelligence to their songs, with Collins bringing in all of his varied interests and knowledge as a writer, producer and computer programmer. Tonight's set offers a rare chance to hear the Gories in all of their undiluted, unfiltered glory. Also at the Echo, Wed. (Falling James)

FILM MUSIC OF 20TH CENTURY FOX AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Conducted by David Newman, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra presents a tribute to 20th Century Fox's 75 years of movie-music magic, and that would include all of your big-screen extravaganzas such as The Sound of Music, Star Wars and Avatar. These award-winning scores will be accompanied by scenes projected on the Bowl's big screen. The Bowl Orchestra is composed of a choice collection of players from the L.A. Phil along with the cream of the local studio-session crop, many of whom played on the original scores, and they play the bejeezus outta this kind of stuff. One of Hollywood's top film composers, Newman (War of the Roses, Hoffa, Bowfinger, Heathers, Serenity, Ice Age, along with more than 100 others) brings real credibility to the proceedings — lest we forget his finest hour, the original score for Scooby-Doo. 80 Years of the Oscar author Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies is your knowledgeable host tonight. (John Payne)

Also playing Sunday: BAD MANNERS at the House of Blues; DIRTY MADAME at the Viper Room; MARY WILSON at Catalina Bar & Grill.

 

MONDAY/SEPTEMBER/6

VANAPRASTA AT THE ECHO

Monday-night residencies are hit or miss. Sometimes the heavens part and you are witness to rock immortality, and sometimes your eardrums get up, walk right out the door, and you get a letter from their lawyer citing domestic abuse the next morning. This Monday should be closer to the former experience: It's the first night of the lightning-hot Vanaprasta's residency at the Echo. Here's the fun part: No one knows what's going to happen. Vanaprasta will be debuting tracks from their upcoming album, Healthy Geometry, produced and mastered by heavyweights Manny Nieto (HEALTH, the Breeders) and Dave Cooley (Silversun Pickups, Local Natives) and coming out later this fall. So what do we know? Well, if their EP is anything to judge by, singer Steven Wilkin's vocals are going to knock you sidewise into a vat of country-fried folk-rock. Come, bring your friends. You can say you knew them when. (Molly Bergen)

 

Also playing Monday: KISSES, MYSTERY CLAWS at Echo Curio; SUMMER DARLING at Origami Vinyl; NASA SPACE UNIVERSE, THE EMOTRON, TERRAFORM at Pehrspace; DEFECTIVE GENIUS, AS THE ASHES FALL at the Viper Room.

 

TUESDAY/SEPTEMBER/7

RAY LAMONTAGNE AT THE GREEK THEATRE

Ray LaMontagne's rustic brand of spiritual-lumberjack folk-soul has found its way into some improbably slick situations lately, including American Idol (where more than one contestant has tackled his "Trouble") and this summer's debut by "Cooler Than Me" singer Mike Posner (which features a sizable sample of his "You Are the Best Thing"). That said, LaMontagne hardly goes Hollywood on his new one, God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise. The aptly titled "Old Before Your Time" is a down-home hoedown full of banjo and acoustic guitar, while "Are We Really Through" peels back dude's accompaniment to a bit of gentle fingerpicking. Given the natural beauty of LaMontagne's singing — he's up there with the scratchy-voiced likes of Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart — that lack of flash is no disappointment, nor will it be tonight. With David Gray and Tift Merritt. Also Wed. (Mikael Wood)

CROOKED FINGERS AT SPACELAND

Aside from paving the way for truly awful band names in the new millennium, '90s act Archers of Loaf also blazed a trail for a great deal of the indie rock we take for granted today. Eric Bachmann and his Chapel Hill, N.C.–based crew took the shambolic pop of Sonic Youth and the slacker skronk of Pavement and cut them with a sharper, more energetic dissonance as well as, eventually, a more spacious, layered quality. It's fitting, then, that Bachmann has, as a solo artist, been a labelmate to both Cursive (on Omaha's Saddle Creek) and Arcade Fire (recording for Merge). Most of his post-Loaf recordings have been as Crooked Fingers, a far better moniker that also aptly illustrates the dusty Americana that's become infused with Bachmann's taste for the angular and epic. CF's most recent album, 2008's Forfeit/Fortune, features a duet or two with Neko Case, and contributions from members of Silver Jews and DeVotchKa. (Chris Martins)

WAIT. THINK. FAST. AT THE ECHO

Wait. Think. Fast. are a promising local trio fronted by former Spaceland employee Jacqueline Santillan and her husband, Matthew Beighley, with drummer Thomas King. Tonight they celebrate the official release of their debut CD, Luces del Sur, which is an intriguing combination of Eastside indie rock and Spanish-language anthems inspired by Santillan's roots growing up in Argentina. "Leymah Contra los Diablos" is an ethereal slice of rock en español where Santillan's soaring vocals are joined in a duet by guest star Ceci Bastida (Tijuana No!, Julieta Venegas). The English-language ballad "Bad Night" echoes the yearning country-rock idylls of Neko Case, while the folksy ramble "Trouble" conjures the haunted Americana of groups like Calexico. Just as you're about to lump Wait. Think. Fast. into some convenient subgenre, they surprise you with new sonic twists and turns, moving from traditional rock to electronica to even stranger soundscapes. (Falling James)

Also playing Tuesday: A PRETTY MESS, THE LIVINGSTONS, KAMIKAZI at the Redwood Bar & Grill; FREE ENERGY at the Viper Room.

 

WEDNESDAY/SEPTEMBER/8

ISRAEL VIBRATIONS AT THE ROXY

Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin, Albert "Apple" Craig and Cecil "Skelly" Spence met as children in Kingston, Jamaica's Mona Rehabilitation Center. Each was battling polio, but their true bond was an interest in contributing to the burgeoning roots-reggae movement. From 1978 to 1981, they released three classics of the genre — The Same Song, Unconquered People and Why You So Craven — which found the trio's soulful vocals intertwining to a bang-up sound track played by some of the greatest musicians of the era: Sly & Robbie, Augustus Pablo, Mikey Chung and Ansel Collins. Their lyrics were always stubbornly positive — to wit, they have a song about the glories of surfing — even after their health needs forced a move to the States and member Apple left to pursue a solo career. The fact that Wiss and Skelly are touring is a testament to their resilience and infectiously joyous outlook. Fittingly, their last release, from 2007, is titled Stamina. Also at Saint Rocke, Tues. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Wednesday: B.O.B. at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel; DIR EN GRAY, APOCALYPTICA at Club Nokia; LOW END THEORY at the Airliner.

 

THURSDAY/SEPTEMBER/9

DAX RIGGS AT SPACELAND

On his new record, Say Goodnight to the World (Fat Possum), former Deadboy & the Elephantmen guitarist-singer Dax Riggs does a lot of heavy poking and prodding into the creepier, crawlier corners of his mind, heart and troubled roots down in south Louisiana. He takes, for example, the King's "Heartbreak Hotel" and drags its already despairing grimness further down, and down, and down, into a funeral — well, it's so contemplatively slow and sad that you gotta wonder what's gonna happen when he brings the song to its inexorable close. And we'd love to say he offers a nice bit o' contrast in the peppy-poppy tunes on the album, except that'd be a lie — Say Goodnight is Riggs' darkness-&-death downer disc (everyone's entitled to at least one), and it creaks, groans, wails and drones over the occasional nasty rocking swagger that, in that bleakly funny way, is paradoxically one of the most transcendent things you'll hear in this lifetime, or the next. Catharsis, some call it. (John Payne)

 

GARY ALLAN AT GIBSON AMPHITHEATRE

"Sometimes I think I get off on the pain," Gary Allan sings on the title track of his latest album, and he's not the only one who thinks so: More than virtually all of his Nashville peers, this SoCal-born country star revels in the dark side, describing a life of heartbreak and desperation in language even a Nick Drake fan could dig. Allan comes by much of that pain all too honestly; in 2004 his wife, Angela, committed suicide, a life-changing event that inspired the new disc's closer, "No Regrets," in which he admits, "Every night I go to bed alone." But he's also a savvy interpreter, one with a keen awareness that certain songs contain more melancholy than they might appear to; one of his biggest hits was a moody rendition of Vertical Horizon's dopey "Best I Ever Had." This show at the Gibson is Allan's biggest headlining L.A. gig to date. Think that'll cheer him up? With Jack Ingram. (Mikael Wood)

JAY ELECTRONICA AT THE KEY CLUB

Jay Electronica's 2009 single "Exhibit C" — you didn't hear it on the radio, but you did on the trailer for this past season of The Boondocks — was one of the few songs every hip-hop head in the country agrees was an instant classic. An unrelenting torrent of lyrical Tetris, it recalls the crammed verses those early corner MCs used to spit as if their very lives were on the line. But after three years in the hip-hop game, Jay Elec has yet to produce a proper album. For a scene with the patience of a 5-year-old, that's an eternity. Merely whisper his name, though, and the room falls silent and strains to hear a word, any word. Testament to his potential, maybe, or to his power as an enigmatic Everyman in today's horde of overexposed entertainers. He's from New Orleans but flows like New York, doing it better than most just to slyly prove them wrong about Southern rappers. (Also, he releases his music through a MySpace page that materializes only to vanish again.) He's not in his private cabin; he's standing next to you in the crowd. Having almost completed his ridiculously anticipated debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility, he's pushing to drop it on his birthday, Sept. 19. Live pre-release listening party at the Key Club? Likely. (Rebecca Haithcoat)

LOCH & KEY AT THE REDWOOD BAR & GRILL

Former American Music Club guitarist Sean Hoffman and visual artist Leyla Akdogan are now melodious duo Loch & Key, crooning old-style little ditties that would sound from another, gentler era if they didn't directly reference Echo Park hipsters. Their new album, Jupiter's Guide for Submariners, is a limited-edition, hand-stamped art object very much worth tracking down. Their residency at the Redwood downtown should be a nice occasion to check out how they translate their sweetly crafted tunes into an intimate live show. (Gustavo Turner)

Also playing Thursday: THE JUSTIN NOZUKA BAND at El Rey Theatre; CRACKER, CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN at the Echoplex; THE DOUGH ROLLERS, SOFT HILLS, YELLOW RED SPARKS, EARLY WINTERS at the Hotel Cafe; DAEDELUS, TEEBS at Origami Vinyl; NO AGE (DJ set) at Space 15 Twenty; ARCANIUM at the Whisky A Go-Go; L.A. PHILHARMONIC at the Hollywood Bowl.

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Space 15 Twenty

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310-395-1676

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