IL SOGNO DEL MARINAIO, THE URBAN LOUNGE, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 9 p.m., $12
As an unabashed Mike Watt fanatic, I’ll readily admit that if the other two guys in Il Sogno Del Marinaio were touring through town with an unknown-to-me bass player, I probably wouldn’t have paid them much attention. No doubt that’s the same across the country as Watt’s latest project barrels around, playing 53 shows in 53 days. Watt met guitarist Stefano Pilia and drummer Andrea Belfi a few years back when he took his Second Men band to Italy on tour. The Italian tour promoter hooked Watt up with Stefano to help navigate the country, and they hit it off so well they started jamming, composing enough songs to knock out an album, La Busta Gialla, and do six quick tour dates. They took their time writing and recording a follow-up, the brand new Canto Secondo, and the sound will be familiar to fans of Watt’s jagged, jazzy way leading a band with his bass-playing. As Watt puts it, “I think Andrea and Stefano bring things out in me that maybe would be lost otherwise–not just old stuff but things in the moment, too.” Kiing Tiger opens.
MACY GRAY, THE DEPOT, Monday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m., $30
It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from Macy Gray, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the soulful songstress when she pops into town on Monday. During her meteoric rise–largely on the strength of still-killer 1999 hit “I Try”–and in the years after when she tried to recapture the magic of her debut album, On How Life Is, Gray always knew how to throw down a seriously funky good time on stage. Her distinct rasp remains one of the more unique voices in modern music, and her sensibility leans more toward the brash experimentation of P-Funk and retro-soul of James Brown than the smooth R&B of many recent divas. Most recently, Gray released a covers album in 2012, and a new album this year called The Way. We Are the Strike open the show.
ORENDA FINK, KILBY COURT, Friday, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m., $8
Songstress Orenda Fink has always had a knack for exploring some of the darker corners of the human mind and ethereal realms of spirituality in her music, even when crafting highly listenable pop-rock full of atmospheric flourishes and plenty of hooks. Such was the case during her years as half of Azure Ray, and continuing into her solo career. Her latest release, Blue Dream, takes a look at death from all possible angles, the result of a year-long meditation on the subject inspired by the death of her own 16-year-old dog. Life, death, the afterlife, the tricky line between the conscious and subconscious, all of her musing proved productive when it came time to record her new songs, which sound a bit like Kate Bush at times. That is not a bad thing at all. Modern Kin, Big Wild Things and Henry Wade are also on the bill for her Salt Lake City show.
CONOR OBERST, RED BUTTE GARDEN, Sunday, Sept. 14, 6:30 p.m., $40
Considering the ridiculous comparisons and expectations heaped on Conor Oberst since he was a teenager leading Omaha band Bright Eyes, it’s remarkable that he’s continued creating must-hear music well into adulthood. I mean, how would YOU like to be compared to Bob Dylan when you’re just figuring out your musical voice? Still only 34, Oberst has two decades of remarkable music already tucked away in his back catalog, as leader of Bright Eyes and Desaparecidos and the Mystic Valley Band, as well as a member of Monsters of Folk with Jim James, Mike Mogis and M. Ward. His third solo album, Upside Down Mountain, came out earlier this year, and offers more evidence that Oberst is a voice with a lot to say musically. He’s also a winning live performer, capable of leading huge ensembles or playing solo sets, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. As a season-capper at Red Butte Garden, he’s a fine choice. Jonathan Wilson opens the show.
Jane Lynch for New Year’s Eve? Cool. Marcia Ball and Elvin Bishop for Valentine’s Day? Pretty sweet. Sam Bush any day you can book him? You betcha.
The Park City Institute announced its lineup for this fall and winter, and it’s easy to see why PCI’s executive director Teri Orr called it the “most ambitious” slate in PCI’s history. The mix of music, dance and spoken word has a little something for all tastes, with shows running from November through April at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets go on sale to PCI members Monday, and to the general public Sept. 22. There’s more information on how to get tickets, prices, etc., below, but first, this season’s stellar lineup:
Nov. 1–Witness Uganda, an award-winning musical headed to Broadway in 2015
Dec. 6–Disney’s Choo Choo Soul “with Genevieve!” is a music-based performance geared toward four- and five-year-olds, who will learn while they are entertained.
Dec. 20–Parsons Dance Company is one of the hottest tickets in contemporary dance, with remarkable athleticism and fluid movements sure to thrill.
Dec. 30–Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk is basically an on-stage circus, completely on wheels.
Dec. 31–Jane Lynch You know her for her comedic acting roles in Glee or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but she can sing, too, making this night of comedy and cabaret a sure bet for New Year’s Eve.
Jan. 3–Keb’ Mo’ brings his smooth blues to town.
Jan. 10–Green River Ordinance is a Texas-based quintet playing with classic pop-rock sounds.
Jan. 17–Aoife O’Donovan is the leader of bluegrass band Crooked Still, and she’s performed with the likes of Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile and Yo-Yo Ma.
Feb. 7–MOMIX “Dreamcatcher” is the latest effort to combine dance and illusion from the noted dance troupe.
Feb. 14–Marcia Ball and Elvin Bishop will bring a dash of sultry blues for a romantic night out.
Feb. 21–Lucia Micarelli is a remarkable violinist capable of tackling any genre of music over the course of a show.
Feb. 28–Sam Bush is simply a musical tour de force, a mandolin player who is hard to top whether he’s playing traditional bluegrass or delving into rock.
March 8–L.A. Theatre Works “In the Heat of the Night” brings a classic American story to the Eccles stage.
March 21–Suzanne Vega brings her blend of urbane edge and folk sounds to town for the first time in years.
April 4–Mummenschanz has brought its unique blend of mime and dance to audiences for 40 years.
April 11–Hot Sardines bring the jazz sounds of 1920s Paris to life.
April 18–An Evening with Neil Gaiman features the noteworthy author telling tells and inspiring artists in the audience.
April 25–Alonzo King LINES Ballet brings a mixed repertory of performances to town to cap off the season.
Tickets and Season Punch Cards go on sales to Park City Institute members on September 8 and to the general public on September 22. Tickets may be purchased by calling 435-655-3114, online at www.EcclesCenter.org or at the box office, which is located within The Eccles Center (1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City). Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; the Box Office is open from noon through show time on the day of a performance.
SYLVAN ESSO, KILBY COURT, Friday, Aug. 29, 7 p.m., $12
Electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso are one of the buzz bands of the year so far, thanks to the strength of a self-titled debut that showcases a savvy way with melody from Amelia Meath and an ornate array of sounds from her partner and producer Nick Sanborn. The set is all the more impressive considering the duo put the songs together in a Durham, North Carolina, bedroom. The multi-layered sounds and lyrics tackling multiple aspects of love and loss make songs like “Hey Mami” and “Play It Right” immediately stand out in a cluttered music landscape. Listening to Sylvan Esso’s set now makes their spring tour opening for like-minded genre-masher tUnEyArDs make a lot of sense. I missed that one–I suggest you make a point of seeing them in the cozy confines of Kilby. Dana Buoy of Akron/Family opens the show.
THE HEAD AND THE HEART, PIONEER PARK, Thursday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m., $5
For Seattle folk-rockers The Head and the Heart, the past five years have been a remarkable blur. And even though the band has grown from an ad hoc collective playing open mic nights into a band capable of headlining for thousands of people at events like the Twilight Concert Series, one has the sense that there is still plenty of exciting things to come from the group. The Head and the Heart recorded their first album before they had a record deal, selling them in handmade denim CD sleeves at shows and at local Seattle record stores. Soon, the stores couldn’t keep them in stock, their shows started drawing huge crowds and a bunch of record labels came calling in hopes of signing the band. They ultimately decided to sign with Seattle label SubPop Records, and their debut was released nationally in 2011. They toured nearly non-stop for almost two years, headlining clubs and opening for the likes of My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists and Vampire Weekend. When they opened for the Dave Matthews Band here in Utah, they added a late-night show at the Urban Lounge after playing at the Usana Amphitheatre in West Valley City, and that not-so-secret gig was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. They should be a fine choice for the finale of this year’s Twilight Concert Series. San Fermin open the show.