A native of Sandusky, Gillard got his start playing in punk bands in the Cleveland area before joining Death of Samantha and then Cobra Verde. After leaving Cobra Verde, he had a good run with indie heroes Guided by Voices. He recorded half of last year’s solo effort Parade On in Austin and half in New York. "Some songs were brand new and others were written right before recording," he says. "That's usually the case for me. I'm a fan of mixed-bag albums. I like it when albums sound like they're from different sessions. I grew up in rural Northern Ohio between Huron and Sandusky and the station we got in was AM radio from Detroit. There was bubble gum and glam rock. I absorbed all that. My sister's Paul Revere and the Raiders and Monkees records had an influence too." 10 p.m., $7. Grog Shop.
Color Jam II Featuring the Mucklebuck/Sassafraz/Acid Cats
Based mostly in Parma, the MuckleBuck has performed with a number of other local, regional and national bands, garnering a fervent following around Northeast Ohio and a reputation for intense rock ’n’ roll: far-out soloing, improvisation, progressive percussion — you know, the works. Tonight, they bring a festival-like atmosphere to Beachland, where musicians and artists and lovers of the same will congregate and revel in good vibes. Loren Naji, Haley Heartshine, Anadono, Jess Hamilton, Frank Lozano, Shaka and other artists will be on tap for some live painting throughout the venue. “We highly encourage the arts community to come out and be a part of the MuckleBuck experience,” drummer Jim Fultz told Scene last year. Tonight’s event will also feature a raffle in support of Art Therapy Studios of Cleveland. 9 p.m., free. Beachland Ballroom. (Sandy)
Zydeco is a style of music that emerged out of deep-south Louisiana bayous in the first half of the 20th century. Simply put, the genre blends Cajun heritage with upbeat rhythm and blues, with various accordion instruments driving the music. Buckwheat Zydeco is a pillar of the style. A good point of initiation may be the Best of/20th Century Masters collection, which boasts a number of peak singles from the Buckwheat canon. “Ma Tit Fille” showcases some of the best features of the zydeco sound — jumping percussion, funky bass, Cajun vocal stylings and, of course, jaunty accordion work. And don’t sleep on the zydeco send-up of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” You’ll be dancing all night. Dig the kitchen’s offerings while you’re at the show too; Mahall’s offers po’boys, gumbo, shrimp and grits, fried chicken and a crawfish boil all night long. (Fun fact: Buckwheat Zydeco jammed onstage with Jimmy Fallon during the final broadcast of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.) 9 p.m., $18 ADV, $20 DOS. Mahall’s 20 Lanes. (Sandy)
The Burning River Ramblers
Cheekily dubbed “your friendly neighborhood alt/rock/funk/reggae/folk band,” the Burning River Ramblers hail from Lakewood and Athens. The band took its present form after To Color a Fool was written and recorded. Throughout the writing process, which the band explains takes place both in various houses and onstage, collaboration is always key. Often enough, songs start out as seedlings brought in by one member. With the ethos of an improv-friendly jam band, the Ramblers riff on the ideas coming and going throughout rehearsal. “So we would take these songs and everyone would help each other out,” singer-guitarist Conor Standish told Scene last year, describing how the band’s material consistently builds on itself. 8:30 p.m., $10. Beachland Tavern. (Sandy)
The grandfathers of Ohio’s expansive jam band scene — culturally and musically — have always maintained close ties to the Cleveland area. From 1991’s Under Full Sail to this year’s sweetly groovin’ Brij, Ekoostik Hookah have kept their fire burning across time. Check out “Whiskey Woman” for a fine example of the hookah-laden chops still hooked around each of the band’s compositional outings. Given the band’s personal history, rife with small shows and Hookahville festivals alike, every chance to be a part of the fun is a necessary diversion from life out there. The band isn’t working on a new studio album but will play a few new songs at the show. “We never know what we’re going to play,” says band leader Dave Katz. “We could play the same venue four nights in a row and you’d never hear the same song.” 8:30 p.m., $15. Beachland Ballroom. (Sandy)
Young New York-based rapper Skizzy Mars cites indie rock acts such as Death Cab for Cutie and Animal Collective as influences. Not that you can really hear those influences on his latest effort The Red Balloon Project. The album opens with “Like This,” a narrative-heavy track that finds Mars adopting a sluggish delivery style as he intones, “like this/like this/like this” over a slow-motion groove. The loopy “The City” has a good beat to it and recalls old-school jazz-inspired acts such as Digable Planets. Local rapper C-Ro Del Fresco opens the show. He’s just released Modern Warfare, a new five-track mixtape that shows off his lyrical skill and rapid-fire delivery on songs such as the infectious “Summertime in the City” and the moody ballad “Jealous Man.” 8:30 p.m., $12. Grog Shop. (Niesel)
Singer-guitarist Chadwick Stokes started prepping for his terrific new album, The Horse Comanche, last winter on one of the coldest days of the year as the polar vortex brought subzero temperatures to the Midwest. He thought the bitter cold would turn away his co-producer, Iron and Wine's Sam Beam. But when Beam and a handful of musicians showed up at a Chicago rehearsal space, Stokes knew he was dealing with a dedicated man. "I was amazed at the resilience," he says. It's not too much of a stretch to say that that resilience comes across on the album, a meticulously crafted release that was recorded at Chicago's Shirk Studios and at L.A.'s House of Blues. Beam co-produced the release along with Brian Deck (Gomez, Josh Ritter) and Noah Georgeson (Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart). It alternates between psychedelic rockers like the title track and sparse, folk-y tunes such as album opener "Pine Needle Tea," a twitchy song that features hushed vocals and acoustic guitars. 8:30 p.m., $16 ADV, $18 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.