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HORNS A PLENTY: Big Sam's Funky Nation unleashes the furyat the Catalyst on Friday.

Music Calendar

September 8 - 15, 2010

Thursday | 9/9


Anyone who spends an extended amount of time working on a submarine is bound to have some twisted ideas of what constitutes fun. For Kim Nekroman, the founder and only consistent member of psychobilly trio Nekromantix, the eight years he spent 20,000 leagues deep with the Danish navy left him with several hundred new ways to play solitaire and an insatiable love for zombies, demons and all things horrific. Two decades, a few dozen tattoos and one coffin-shaped bass guitar later, Nekromantix is one the genre's best-loved acts and a staple of the local psychobilly crowd. Catalyst; $13 adv/$15 door; 8pm. (Curtis Cartier)


Stanley Jordan didn't invent the electric guitar playing technique known as tapping. But a lot of folks certainly think he perfected it. By using both hands to thump down on the strings of one, even two guitars at a time, Jordan turns his fret board into an extended keyboard and is able to execute mind-melting jazz scales that would be impossible with a pick. Though often pigeonholed as a freak talent spectacle and nominated for four Grammy Awards arguably on this basis, Jordan these days has scorned the mainstream music culture, instead choosing to hole up in Arizona and study musical therapy, only rearing his head for certain handpicked shows. We're honored. Kuumbwa; 7pm $25 adv/$28 door, 9pm $20 adv/$23 door. (CC)

Friday | 9/10


There's nothing small about Sammie "Big Sam" Williams. Besides the bruising heft of the man himself, the giant notes he blows on his trombone are practically visible as they leave the horn. As a member of the New Orleans ensemble Dirty Dozen Brass Band, its no wonder that a man like Williams can command a room to dance. What's slightly subtler is his ability to handpick a band. With Funky Nation, Big Sam has assembled an in-your-face cross-section of the Big Easy's myriad styles, fusing them together around a message of big-time fun. Catalyst; $12 adv/ $25 door; 9pm. (CC)

Saturday | 9/11


A poster boy of the Euro house and techno scene, Italian stallion Benny Benassi has been working the late shift on the ones and twos at some of the biggest clubs in the world for nigh on 20 years. When he rolls through Santa Cruz, however, it won't be in a tour bus, a party van or club girl-hoisted litter. Nope, Benny's coming on a fixie. Dubbed the "Benny Benassi Bike Tour: A Musical Ride Through California ... Without Breaks," the sojourn sees the DJ (and apparently avid cyclist) pedaling his big beat house breakdowns from San Fran to San Diego over the course of nine days with a planned 212 bikey friends to ride in support, and, we guess, carry his equipment. Catalyst; $32; 9pm. (CC)


It took decades to happen, but power-pop has finally made its way to the mainstream, or at least indie rock's first tier. Drawing inspiration from the Beatles (and number one Beatles fan Elliot Smith), Mini Mansions are beneficiaries of this popular reconsideration. The band is adept at turning out the kind of perfect confections that rarely make their way onto the pop charts nowadays. This is a notable achievement, as many alleged pop bands ape the moves of their teenage idols but are incapable of writing original hooks. Mini Mansions' ability to credibly do both suggests they'll be worth watching in the years to come. Crepe Place; $8 adv/$10 door; 9pm. (Paul M. Davis)

Sunday | 9/12


Long before Led Zeppelin play-acted pagan rituals for record label marketing portfolios, Shawn Phillips was the real deal: a '60s folk singer as notable for his eccentric gait and mystical obsessions as his music. Yet it was his musical style that was the truly remarkable piece of the equation, an amalgam of folk, jazz, progressive rock, pop and classical that few have had the temerity to attempt. He now resides in South Africa, roughly as far away from his birthplace of Fort Worth, Texas as one could conceivably get. Don Quixote's; $12; 7pm. (PMD)

Tuesday | 6/14


To hear Ryan Bingham sing, you'd think he was 100 years old. His sound would never give him away: a voice scraping over concrete is a signature of old age. His thematic content doesn't give the game up either, but in this case weariness and death don't translate to arthritis and memory loss. He's a 29-year-old who makes critics feel he's seen too much and lived too long, winning a Grammy for his Crazy Heart theme "The Weary Kind." He grew up fast after a hardscrabble childhood and a youth spent being thrown by bulls, and the acceleration dropped his songwriting off 70 years into his emotional future. Bingham's sound haunts like a modern ghost, the perfect complement to the Dead Horses' melodies. Rio Theatre; 7:30pm; $21. (Kate Jacobson)

Wednesday | 9/15


With the market flooded with folk music, how does one woman with a guitar compete with all the other women-guitar duos? Similes can't do Eliza's voice justice. But at times it sounds like molasses poured over thunder, and you can feel it your diaphragm, in your throat. But realistically, it's an interesting voice and good lyrics that brings success, same as always, and this native Texas girl has got it good. Its what she does with that voice and the words she lingers over that make her interesting. Sometimes it sounds like its going to be ordinary, and then she goes deep and it isn't anymore. Don Quixote's; 7:30pm; $18 adv/$20 door. (KJ)


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