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Friday, September 5
Elvis Costello, Ben Folds
Compare and contrast, shall we, two singer-songwriters of somewhat different stripes: The ever-clever Irish/Englishman known as Elvis Costello (real name Declan MacManus) is nothing if not open-eared about his musical endeavors, from his 1977 debut, in which his snarling-crooning vocals and witty-witty wordplay first reared their pointy heads, onward to an amazingly varied list of collaborative projects with the likes of Burt Bacharach, Paul McCartney, the Brodsky Quartet and The Roots. Mr. MacManus will assay his innumerable hits and shoulda-beens in a swanky, jazzed-up mode with the aid of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Ben Folds, the multiplatinum-selling, Nashville-based song stylist and fellow eclectic, opens the night with a rocking slew of his piano-pop crowd pleasers, plus a movement from his new piano concerto. Also Saturday, Sept. 6. —John Payne
Rock Out for Jail Guitar Doors
“Jail Guitar Doors” is the title of a 1977 song by The Clash, which championed fellow rockers Keith Richards and Wayne Kramer, who at the time were facing serious prison sentences on drug charges. In 2009, decades after he’d finally cleaned up and gotten his musical career going again, former MC5 guitarist Kramer used the phrase as the name of a nonprofit that seeks to rehabilitate American prisoners by giving them access to musical instruments and lessons behind bars. He’s assembled a diverse lineup for tonight’s benefit, ranging from the usual suspects, such as Dave Alvin and the often-preachy Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, to more unexpected folks such as Jill Sobule and even Jackson Browne, whose easy-listening, classic-rock rambles belie the passion of his longtime social activism. —Falling James
Saturday, September 6
KDAY Fresh Fest 2014
KDAY’s annual Fresh Fest returns with a rather unexpected lineup. The show features performances by Mobb Deep, Mack 10, Trick Daddy, Above the Law, Jayo Felony and 2nd II None. Perhaps the most interesting choice is Mase, the former Bad Boy affiliate who rose to international music acclaim alongside Diddy (then Puff Daddy) during rap’s “shiny-suit era.” The rapper turned Atlanta-based pastor/author turned rapper again has since expressed regret over so abruptly moving to Christian ministry. But some of his former parishioners told TMZ that the Harlem native is a blasphemous hypocrite who has long led a double life. Tonight’s show will be one of Mase’s first major performances since officially returning to the game, and it includes surprise guests. Is a Bad Boy reunion in the works? —Jacqueline Michael Whatley
She Keeps Bees, Shilpa Ray
She Keeps Bees takes listeners to the next level of enchantment through a series of low-key, solemnly mellow songs, which unfold with slowly increasing power on their new album, Eight Houses. Singer-guitarist Jessica Larrabee intones lonely interludes such as “Feather Lighter” with a sad, soulful deliberation that recalls Cat Power. The mood shifts dramatically when drummer Andy LaPlant raises the intensity on the deceptively titled “Breezy,” as Larrabee’s stirring voice rises serenely above a grungy wreckage of guitars and cymbals. Elsewhere, spectral, spidery ballads such as “Owl” segue into heavier, swirling, hard-blues workouts such as “Both Sides.” Fellow Brooklynite Shilpa Ray used to tour as a backup singer for Nick Cave, and Cave’s Bad Seed Ltd. label has released her new EP, It’s All Self Fellatio, a bewitching combination of dreamy carny sounds and confrontational lyrics. —Falling James
Mike Miller All-Stars
Guitarist Mike Miller has been busy much of the past year, splitting his time touring worldwide with Boz Scaggs as well as Frank Zappa band offshoots The Grandmothers of Invention and Banned From Utopia. Miller continues to draw praise from better-known contemporaries, who often can be seen at his occasional headlining nights at L.A.’s oldest jazz club, the Baked Potato. Tonight’s show features fellow heavyweights Mitchel Forman on keyboards, Jerry Watts on bass, and Tom Brechtlein on drums, all of whom also have extended road careers with major acts. Miller’s original tunes are often quirky but catchy, with titles including “A Hair Less Bass” (dedicated to the completely bald Watts) and the guitar burner “Bad Dog,” which has become something of a signature for Miller’s extreme ability. —Tom Meek
Sunday, September 7
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Shiny Toy Guns
Since the release of their breakthrough debut in 2006, Los Angeles’ own Shiny Toy Guns were one of the first bands to successfully blend indie rock with synth pop. On a brief, six-show tour, the outfit is returning to the club circuit for the first time in years. Not having any new material looming, or at least publicly announced, Shiny Toy Guns are billing the tour as the last one for 2012’s III, the first since the group’s debut to feature all of the original members. The album did fairly well by today’s standards, peaking on the Billboard 200 at No. 69, and featured three singles. While this show may be one of their last for now, the band are getting along as well as they have in years, which is a step in the right direction. —Daniel Kohn
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