11 Concerts to Catch This Weekend

Concert Preview


Trampled by Turtles

After a string of dynamite albums and a cloudburst moment (2010’s “Wait So Long”), Trampled by Turtles now sit atop the mantle of bluegrass and American folk rock in this young century. Their latest album, last year’s Wild Animals, is a stripped-down version of what most Americana listeners have come to know and love from these guys in previous years. It’s a contemplative album — one that lets each musician advance his craft in new ways. Take a song like “Ghost,” which transposes a moody story of lost love over haunting strings and a steady wash of backing “oohs.” One of Trampled by Turtles’ great strengths has always come off the fingers of fiddler Ryan Young. He shines on the last album, accenting slower tunes (“Wild Animals”) and sending waterfalls of strings cascading across Dave Carroll’s mind-frying banjo work (“Come Back Home”). (Eric Sandy), 9 p.m., $23 ADV, $25 DOS. House of Blues.

 Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo

With no embarrassing attempts at modernizing her sound to relate to the nebulous and mysterious age group known as "the kids," early MTV vixen Pat Benatar embodies the term "aging gracefully." Sure, she can't escape the countless reruns of VH1's I Love the '80s, which preserve the badass pixie look she sported during her arena-rock heyday: cheekbones as spiky as her high heels, raccoonish rings of black eyeliner, and post-disco fashion glitz. But the Brooklyn-born, Long Island-raised Benatar realized in the 1990s that her meat and potatoes are the chart glories that made her a superstar in the first place — album-rock staples such as "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Shadows of the Night," and "Love Is a Battlefield." Her most recent endeavors — the CD/DVD set, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo: The 35th Anniversary Tour and the current tour with husband/collaborator/Cleveland native Neil Giraldo — all wisely celebrate the times when selling out the local arena was a lock, rather than a longshot. (Annie Zaleski), 8 p.m. Hard Rock Rocksino.

The English Beat

When the English Beat emerged in the late ’70s, the U.K. group fused punk rock brashness with old-school Jamaican ska beats. The results were striking and the band delivered hits such as “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “Too Nice to Talk To.” Though the group took a long break in the late ’80s and ’90s, singer Dave Wakeling, who now lives in Los Angeles, managed to get the group going again in the late 2000s. Last year, the band released a live album and the guys just wrapped a Pledgemusic campaign for a new studio effort, Here We Go Love. (Jeff Niesel), 8 p.m., $25 ADV, $28 DOS. Music Box Supper Club.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which singer-guitarist Jon Spencer formed in 1991 in New York, sticks with a garage rock formula on its new album, Freedom Tower — No Wave Dance Party 2015, but plays with a little more swagger, delving into blues, funk and hip-hop. And it does so without bass guitar. Spencer sings and plays electric guitar while Russell Simins backs him on drums and Judah Bauer plays electric guitar. The formula works — album opener “Freedom” begins with a bit of white noise before Spencer starts hiccupping, “Here we go.” The song sounds like a cross between the Beastie Boys and the White Stripes with a bit of Prince thrown into the mix. 8:30 p.m., $15 ADV, $17 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.


Cities & Coasts

With a great debut on streets now (Postcards from the Great Lakes), Cities and Coasts have tossed a cool beach rock vibe into the wintry Cleveland music scene. “I grew up listening to the Beatles and Beach Boys and '60s pop and rock stuff,” guitarist Nathan Hedges told Scene last year. “When I sit down and write, this is the most natural, easy thing that comes out. I think I've suppressed it because I wasn't in a band that could do Beach Boys vocals or Beatles harmonies. I was like, 'Fuck it. I want to put out the record I want to put out with the players I want.' It turned into this cool thing.” Now, just imagine Brian Wilson waxing poetic about the wonders of Lake Erie, and you’ve got a good thing goin’ on. (Sandy), 6:30 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. Agora.


The story behind the formation of Somekindawonderful, a Cleveland pop/rock band that last year had a huge hit on its hands with the infectious synth-pop/soul single “Reverse,” sounds so incredible, it’s hard to believe it’s true. The band came together in 2013 after Los Angeles-based singer Jordy Towers randomly met guitarist Matt Gibson and drummer Ben Schigel at the North Olmsted bar Aces Depot. Towers was a solo artist who had been signed to Interscope, which he says “wasn’t a pleasant experience.” He had left the label and wanted to get away from L.A. for a minute so he went to visit family in Strongsville. And that’s when he met Gibson and Schigel., The guys went back to Schigel’s Spider Studios where they recorded the tune, an infectious pop number about the blossoming of a relationship that’s told, as its title suggests, in reverse. The song received heavy rotation at stations such as KYSR/Los Angeles, KNDD/Seattle, KTCL/Denver and WLKK/Buffalo. (Niesel), 9 p.m., $10. Grog Shop.

The Speedbumps CD Release

The Kent-based folk-rock outfit the Speedbumps first came together in 2007 when singer-guitarist Erik Urycki, who had been busking with cellist Sam Kristoff, met drummer Patrick Hawkins and formed the group. The band's semi-acoustic music has drawn comparisons to singer-songwriter types like Jack Johnson and David Gray but doesn't clearly fit into one genre. It has a roots-rock feel and generally gets labeled Americana. Recorded in an A-frame cabin in the Northwest woods of Pennsylvania, the group's new album, Soil to the Seed, is the second album engineered and produced by Columbus-based Jay Alton (Saintseneca, the Floorwalkers) and mastered by Ohio native Brian Lucey (Black Keys, Beck, Ray LaMontagne). It also features new members Abby Luri (vocals, guitar, banjo, keys) and Danny Jenkins (drums/percussion). Luri even co-wrote three songs on the record with lead Urycki. In addition, Urycki co-wrote a song with Akron native Chuck Auerbach (father to the Black Keys’ singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach), and the album also features mandolin player David Mayfield (brother to singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield). 8:30 p.m., $13 ADV, $15 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.


Bone Thugs N Harmony

Though the group has encountered a number of bumps along the way, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has outlasted many of its hip-hop peers. In the course of a 20-year career, the group has won Grammys and countless other music awards, selling millions of albums. To mark its 20th anniversary, all five original members (Lazyie Bone, Krazyie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone and Flesh-n-Bone) reconvened in 2012 to play the Rock the Bells Festival. While that tour didn't come to Cleveland, the group played a special show at the Agora to commemorate its 20th anniversary. For tonight's show, the group will perform its 1995 album E. 1999 Eternal — the album came out just after the death of the group's mentor, N.W.A.'s Eazy-E, and was dedicated to him — in its entirety. (Niesel), 6 p.m., $30 ADV, $35 DOS. Agora.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

Frequent touring partners Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt each draw from similar country wells in their songwriting. Hiatt’s 2014 album Terms of My Surrender has a guitarist at the top of his game, etching on-the-run narratives onto deft pickin’ and thunderous percussion work. He’s the rare songwriter who’s aged with an edge and takes that arc of life experience deep into his lyrical mindset. The same can be said about Lovett, who kicked around decades of understatedly bitchin’ country music to land yet another dynamite cut with 2012’s Release Me. He played the Hard Rock Rocksino last year, bringing along his energetic band and laying down a sterling show for a packed house. Together, these guys are a real force. (Sandy), 7 p.m. Akron Civic Theatre.

Low Lily

Blending the traditional roots of Irish, Scottish, New England, and Old Time Appalachian music with more contemporary song structures and production, Low Lily taps into a danceable world of strings and thumping bass. “False Sir John” has gotten a nice amount of play across the folk scene, what with its countryside-road winding fiddle lines and Liz Simmons’ gentle vocals. The band recently completed the Indiegogo fundraising process for their new EP, so there’s more around the corner from this up-and-coming Vermont trio. (Sandy), 7:30 p.m., $10 ADV, $12 DOS. Beachland Tavern.

Todd Rundgren

Singer-guitarist Todd Rundgren has spent the past couple of years playing a series of tour dates billed as An Unpredictable Evening with Todd Rundgren, and as we point out early in our conversation, it’s quite appropriate, because “unpredictable” is a perfect summary of his career in a nutshell. It’s all part of the “choose your own adventure” feeling that comes with being a Rundgren fan. More than four decades into his career, the veteran artist and producer continues to be driven to explore the new challenges and ideas whenever the inspiration might strike. He’s keenly aware that his musical experiments can test the limits and patience of his fans and yet if there’s a line, it doesn’t seem like he’s afraid of driving over it. (Matt Wardlaw), 7:30 p.m., $29.50-$59.50. Hard Rock Rocksino.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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