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Music Picks: Plaid, Cher, Metz

Jesika Von Rabbit: See Thursday.

PHOTO BY MARINA CHAVEZJesika Von Rabbit: See Thursday.

fri 7/4

Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Edie Brickell

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Lest you think Steve Martin is a mere dilettante when it comes to bluegrass, the comedian has been plucking the banjo since he was 17, when he was taught how to play by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen. In his early stand-up days, Martin often broke out his banjo, although it was more of a prop for his comedy, until he began gigging and recording seriously with North Carolina's Steep Canyon Rangers in 2009. While Martin's snide lyrics sometimes distract in novelty tunes such as "Atheists Don't Have No Songs," he and the band stir up energetically authentic bluegrass runs, and their music has grown more heartfelt in recent collaborations with Edie Brickell. The onetime New Bohemians songstress used to be painfully inarticulate in her early work, but she has found a more persuasively convincing voice in this setting. Also Wednesday, July 2, and Thursday, July 3. —Falling James

The Baked Potato Allstars

THE BAKED POTATO

Guitarist Jeff Richman is a regular at L.A.'s oldest jazz club, the Baked Potato in Studio City. Once a month he can usually be found leading a group of the area's finest players through a range of well-crafted original songs as well as covers ranging from Wayne Shorter to Peter Gabriel to Jeff Beck. Richman plays two shows in three nights this weekend: Tonight's gig includes bassist Dan Lutz, drummer Mark Ferber and keyboardist/L.A. Weekly scribe Gary Fukushima. Sunday's group features longtime Frank Zappa drum king Chad Wackerman, bassist Jimmy Haslip and keyboardist Jeff Lorber. Both nights will provide plenty of holiday-weekend ear candy. Also Sunday, July 6. —Tom Meek

sat 7/5

Stones Throw Picnic

CALIFORNIA PLAZA

Los Angeles' Stones Throw Records hosts an elaborate event at Grand Performances for Fourth of July weekend. The independent label helmed by Peanut Butter Wolf, who will be showcasing his turntable skills, doesn't limit itself musically, talentwise or with the evening's activities. Appearances by stalwart Stones Throw artists such as the inexhaustible Madlib, funk ambassador Dam-Funk and dub reggae enthusiasts The Lions, among others, are just part of the fun. Arrive early to browse through the Beat Swap Meet, featuring vinyl record collectors and dealers; enter (or watch) a breakdancing contest; load up on Stones Throw merch, including the recently released Peanut Butter Wolf and Charizma box set; and register to vote. Then go home and (legally) download the insightful documentary Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records, and really appreciate what you just experienced. —Lily Moayeri

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

FORD AMPHITHEATRE

In 1961, Allan and Sandra Jaffe founded Preservation Hall in New Orleans, where they held nightly concerts of traditional jazz music played by those who had seen jazz being born. Defying decades of Jim Crow laws, they integrated blacks and whites in their audiences and even in their band. All the current players hail from New Orleans, with some the offspring of the original band members, including Allan's son, Ben, who like his father plays tuba and leads the group. The younger Jaffe has astutely infused healthy doses of hip into the band, booking appearances on the Grammy Awards, Austin City Limits, Kimmel and Fallon, and associating with the likes of Tom Waits, Andrew Bird and Foo Fighters. Yet for all the hype, they understand the music of New Orleans on a profound, familial level, making them the realest deal of all. Local group Dustbowl Revival opens. —Gary Fukushima

The Sheds

COBALT CAFÉ

Though punk's myriad subdivisions leave little room for fresh interpretation, local brothers The Sheds bring refreshing musicality and panache to the genre without compromising its signature pace and pummel. Morgan Miller's guitars and Evan Miller's super-literate bass intertwine in almost symphonic fashion, every bit as expressive as big bro Mac's tuneful vocals, which, while deeply indebted to '90s pop-punk, never stray into truly whiny, my-girlfriend-doesn't-get-me territory. Last year's I'll Be Fine full-length has scarcely a shadow of the band's ska-stained mid-aughts beginnings, instead juggling grooves around unashamedly anthemic hooks to create something like a less preachy, more introspective Rise Against. Thoughtful, restless and ludicrously tight, The Sheds sound deadly serious about having fun. —Paul Rogers

sun 7/6

Plaid

THE ROXY

English electronic duo Andy Turner and Ed Handley purvey beat-savvy post-techno whose hypnotic melodicism you want never to end. They've been doing Plaid for lo these 25 years now and are still finding new paths to pure sonic bliss, as heard in fine form on their new Reachy Prints (Warp), another finely crafted set of rolling rhythms and head-skewing electronic textures. This is gently experimental music that's good for the body and the brain, bubbling with emotion and not a little dry humor, whose shimmering aural colors and open-minded air provide the real sweet stuff for your daydreaming pleasure. We should point out that as a live unit, Plaid like to rock the dance floor very, very hard indeed. —John Payne

mon 7/7

Cher, Cyndi Lauper

STAPLES CENTER

If you can look past Cher's celebrity marriages, a generally rewarding film career and the distracting and almost invisible architecture of her infamous Bob Mackie dresses, you might recall that the former Cherilyn Sarkisian was once a legitimately influential musical force and a pretty groovy singer. Many of her early tunes with former musical partner Sonny Bono, such as "Baby Don't Go" and "Needles and Pins," have aged better than more recent and bombastic solo hits such as "Believe." Cher is at her best when she ditches the artifice — aside from those fantastic Mackie creations — and strips down the songs with her mournful voice. She could learn a lot from Cyndi Lauper, who has reinvented herself as a Memphis soul-blues diva while still reveling in the euphoric giddiness of her '80s heyday. Also at the Honda Center, Wednesday, July 9. —Falling James

tue 7/8

KISS, Def Leppard

THE FORUM

With all of their extracurricular activities, which include owning an AFL football team and a chain of restaurants, it's surprising that KISS have any time left for music. Yet this summer, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and company will be hitting the road to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary. Amidst much fanfare, 2014 has so far seen Stanley release a semi-biting autobiography and the rockers be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, albeit only in their original form. Offstage antics aside, the quartet will be kicking off its fifth decade in style. With Def Leppard opening, the show will feature all of the theatrics of a classic KISS concert, and thus will be one of the most explosive, hardest-rockin' dates of the summer. —Daniel Kohn

Cloud Nothings

THE ROXY

Clevelander Dylan Baldi deserves more credit than he's getting from critics who think his music sounds like Blink-182. That chunk of Ohio put out some of the best American punk music ever, and if you dig back into his history with his band, Cloud Nothings, you'll find Baldi repping for (and referencing) such Cle-punks as The Clocks, The Pagans, Rocket From the Tombs and more. Alien punk, basically, made by people trapped on this planet with no way out, which is what's happening on Cloud Nothings' latest, Here and Nowhere Else. It's a happy/sad, postadolescent, rock 'n' wreck album built from Wipers-style hooks, deadpan Dinosaur Jr. desolation and that part on the first Replacements LP where Paul snarls, "The way I used to love you/That's the way I hate you now!" In short: He's on fire, just like the Cuyahoga River. Also Wednesday, July 9. —Chris Ziegler

wed 7/9

Charlie Wadhams, Leslie Stevens

SILVERLAKE LOUNGE

Just a few years ago, Leslie Stevens was this city's best and brightest new alt-country singer. Fronting Leslie & the Badgers, she cooed and trilled with a birdlike loveliness and intricacy, which evoked Dolly Parton, but her folk-pop songs were too rooted in the here and now to come off as merely quaint nostalgia. Whether she's backed by the Badgers, duetting with other singers or performing on her own, Stevens always blends heartfelt soul and intelligence with delicately homespun phrasing, turning the often-tired Americana genre into something that feels new. Former Rex Aquarium leader Charlie Wadhams strums quietly reflective songs such as "Out at the Bar" with soothing harmonies and restless imagery. He has worked with Priscilla Ahn and Benji Hughes, and two of his coolly evocative original songs appeared in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. —Falling James

thu 7/10

Wye Oak

EL REY THEATRE

Wye Oak conjure an unusually full and mesmerizing sound considering the Baltimore group is just a duo composed of singer-guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer Andy Stack. But Stack helps stack their songs with other layers of mystery when he somehow simultaneously plays drums and keyboards onstage. Wasner belies the title of the pair's fourth album, Shriek, with dreamy contrails of singing that drift into Stack's cloud bank of keyboards. "I woke up on the floor thinking I have never dreamed before," she confides. "I tell you stories, but truth be told/I can't remember what came before." Bereft of memory and past expectations, Wasner gazes out across the hazy soundscapes of "The Tower" and "Schools of Eyes" with a newfound sense of openness. —Falling James

Jesika Von Rabbit

VIPER ROOM

Jesika Von Rabbit is perhaps California's ultimate postmodern, intergalactic pop provocateur. First thrust upon this unsuspecting world as co-founder of groundbreaking freakno rock oddballs Gram Rabbit, the buxotic blond vixen became such an inescapable force in her Joshua Tree–adjacent headquarters that she even has her own menu item (Nachos Von Rabbit) available at cosmic desert honky-tonk Pappy and Harriet's. Now operating as her own free agent, Von Rabbit's solo assault comes in the form of a characteristically sizzling, celestial psych-disco sound — with wildly redefined versions of songs by everyone from The Dickies to Garth Brooks — while the kinetic stage presentation is significantly enhanced by a writhing trio of dancers. After you flip, trip and slip down this rabbit hole, you'll never want to come back. —Jonny Whiteside