THURSDAY, AUGUST 23
The Holmes Brothers at the Santa Monica Pier
Freethinking blues prophets the Holmes Brothers may cleave unto tradition with a zealot’s conviction, but they also refuse to recognize any musical limits, and that intersection of abiding tradition and untrammeled repertoire makes for damn engaging music. The Virgina-born cats came up in the classic pattern — singing in the church choir, then abandoning the spiritual to toil in the neon-lit secular — and formed their own combo the Sevilles in the early 1960s. Along the way they soaked up plenty of insight sharing stages with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Jerry Butler, soul-deep experiences that are still paying off: The Holmeses have eerily effective interpretive prowess, and each time they hit the bandstand, it’s a dazzling exercise in song-redefining performances and arrangements that combine their exquisite blooded harmonies with fiery gospel passion and hard-blues pathology. This free show starts at 7:30 p.m. (Jonny Whiteside)
Marissa Nadler at Spaceland
It is said that singer-guitarist Marissa Nadler’s predilection for the dark and melancholy owes to her having endured brutal winters while growing up in a small town in Massachusetts. Whatever the case may be, try not to shiver when you listen to her just-out Songs III: Bird on the Water (Kemado), where Nadler’s digital-reverbed songs of a life gone to dust hover in a ghostly, gothic air whose aim seems to be prickling the little hairs on the back of your neck. Richly orchestrated via droning 12-string guitars in alternate tunings, Nadler’s songs mine the tradition of folkie psychedelia circa the late ’60s and early ’70s (dearly departed Judee Sill springs to mind). Her hypnotic acoustic reveries, built on classical harmonic lines, and a startling crystal-clear voice bring all the old doomy blues back home — a little too close to home. She might be persuaded to perform her very fitting cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” (John Payne)
Also playing Thursday:
DANIEL JOHNSTON at Henry Fonda Theater; DWEEZIL ZAPPA at the Wiltern; PAULA COLE, MANDY MOORE at House of Blues; LOS ABANDONED, B-SIDE PLAYERS, AWOL ONE at Knitting Factory; AIMEE MANN at Largo; GUILTY HEARTS, JINXES, ROVER’S PINKY at Mr. T’s Bowl; VAN HUNT at Temple Bar; NO AGE, MORIS TEPPER, MAE SHI, MAGIC BULLETS at Troubadour; BRAVE COMBO at Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park, 7:30 p.m.