The Royal Southern Brotherhood Featuring Devon Allman and Cyril Neville
There was a time in the '80s when it seemed as if a different supergroup was born every day. You had Asia, the Firm, Traveling Wilburys, the Highwaymen. We could go on and on. Consider the Royal Southern Brotherhood, a group that features singer Cyril Neville and guitarist Devon Allman. Bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott hold down rhythm section duties. The band's new album, heartsoulblood, sounds like you'd expect it to sound. Album opener "World Blues" features some fantastic slide guitar and bluesy vocals. It sounds like the kind of tune that the group can turn into a vigorous jam when it plays live. (Jeff Niesel), 8:30 p.m., $18 ADV, $20 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.
Singer-songwriter Jonah Koslen is best known as a key member of two of Cleveland’s biggest bands — the Michael Stanley Band and Breathless. While he’s put together a decent solo career in their wake, he’s not afraid to revisit the past. For the last several years, he has gone back to the Michael Stanley Band's 1977 live album Stage Pass. Koslen, who played on the original album and wrote some of its songs, will perform the record in its entirety at this special show, an annual tradition that caters to our city’s die-hard classic rock fans. Since Koslen now lives in Southern California, he's said this is the last time for the Stage Pass concert. Since Stanley has shows in town this weekend too, don't be surprised if he makes a cameo. (Niesel), 8 p.m., $25. Akron Civic Theatre.
Ohio City Singers
About 10 years ago, singer-songwriter Chris Allen’s father asked him to write him a Cleveland Christmas song. Allen and his sister Molly worked up four of them and then threw a big Christmas party to which they invited their musician friends. They played the four original tunes they had penned as well as a few choice covers, recorded them and delivered them on a CD to their father as a Christmas gift. And thus, the Ohio City Singers were born. The band subsequently released a handful of albums and delivered holiday cheer each year by playing at area clubs and bars. Tonight's show at House of Blues is one of the last gigs for the season so don't miss it. (Niesel), 8 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. House of Blues.
Michael Stanley and the Resonators/Donnie Iris and the Cruisers
Local hero Michael Stanley has been on a roll lately. Last year, he released The Ride, which came on the heels of The Hang, an introspective album he's referred to as his darkest release yet. The Ride presents a much more positive perspective and so does the just-released The Job, an album that suggests Stanley has hit upon a particularly rich vein of new songs. Expect to hear MSB favs as well as a good sampling of Stanley's solo material. (Niesel), 7:30 p.m., $47.50-$59.50. Hard Rock Rocksino.
Formerly Known as Mick Boogie, MICK was one of the city’s most popular DJs in the ‘00s. When he won “Best DJ” back in 2002 (when he was known as Mick Boogie), here’s what we wrote about him: “No DJ is more attuned to his audience's ears than Mick Boogie. When he plays for mainstream crowds in the Warehouse District, Mick lays down beats that dancers know from the radio or MTV — and the crowd loves him for it. But just as effortlessly, he ditches pop hip-hop for the more obscure, independent-label rap. Either way, his mixes are seamless, his scratching is top-notch, and crowds are always left panting on the dance floor.” MICK returns to town tonight. He’ll play “club anthems, old school hip-hop and mashups.” Bottles of Grey Goose will cost $150 before midnight. Call 216.702.5511 for reservations. (Niesel) 9 p.m. Drop Bar.
SATURDAY, DEC. 20
Locally based Hinter Records regularly brings avant garde jazz acts to town and has booked the Amsterdam-based group Cactus Truck to play the basement of Guide to Kulchur, the book store/hipster hangout in Ohio City. Songs such as “Brand New for China!” are characterized by abrupt time signature changes and wonky saxophone snarls. The improvisational trio has accurately been described as “fire-breathing.” (Niesel), 9:30 p.m., $10. Guide to Kulchur.
There's a longstanding tradition of British musicians absorbing classic American R&B and soul music during their formative years and then going on to become famous. It happened with the Stones and the Beatles. And it's certainly the story with up-and-coming singer-songwriter Alex Clare. With his new album, Three Hearts, Clare, who is Jewish, establishes himself as a terrific singer in the fine tradition of Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. (Niesel) 9 p.m., $18 ADV, $20 DOS. House of Blues.
Since 2011’s Search, Herzog’s sound has only expanded and built out a refreshing and patently “Cleveland” take on indie fuzz rock. This year’s offering, the north shore motorcycle drive-by Boys is one of the best local cuts of 2014. “Theme for Boys” became something of an anthem this summer, what with its stringed sludge psychedelia and slacker-glam vocals. Similarly, tunes like “Henchman” and “Satan is Real” massage the musical ideas first shot into the world by frontman Nick Tolar all those years ago. The guitar thrills are strewn about with abandon, and the album’s overall vibe revolves around alternating upbeat and melancholic reflections on early adulthood. (Eric Sandy), 9 p.m., $5. Grog Shop.
When the duo in Mr. Gnome, a fine local band that's turned into a national act over the course of the past couple of years, set out to record its new album, The Heart of a Dark Star, it followed the same path it has for the past couple of albums: It took a handful of songs out to Pink Duck studios in Los Angeles. The group had just finished a lengthy tour in support of 2012's Madness in Miniature and had spent the beginning of 2013 writing new material. But something just didn't sound right when the band emerged with what it thought would be its next album. So it went back to the Northeast Ohio farm it calls home and started writing new songs. Engineer Kevin McMahon (Walkmen, Titus Andronicus, Swans, Real Estate) stepped in to mix the album and has done a remarkable job. The compelling single, "Rise & Shine," starts with whispered vocals and sparse guitars before turning into a rousing rocker that concludes with something that sounds like breaking guitar strings. Expect a big crowd for tonight's homecoming show. (Niesel) 9 p.m., $12. Beachland Ballroom.
SUNDAY, DEC. 21
Electronic musician Koji is a bit of a mystery. Apart from a growing discography found online, there’s not too much information “out there” about the Japanese artist. His latest release, Ne, sounds like the soundtrack to a pastoral RPG from the late 1990s (Harvest Moon 64 comes to mind, and not without cause). It’s an autumnal delight, featuring mostly lo-fi piano recordings floating over woodwind synth loops and the like. Weirdly, though, as soon as a certain song begins picking up a pattern, Koji fades out and ducks into the next track on the album. Still, what time he spends building melodies is very rewarding for the listener. “Yuunagi” taps into Kurosawa’s aesthetics, and “Day” has something of a Hyrulean sense of harmony. “Gisiki” is the sort of lilting gem one might put on for a long walk in a forest. (Sandy), 7:30 p.m., $8. Mahall's 20 Lanes.
Machine Gun Kelly
Last year's Black Flag might be some of Machine Gun Kelly's best work to date. It shows so much potential and suggests MGK could be a socially conscious artist who supports the community and can mix one hell of a hook. The last song off Black Flag, "Dark Side Of The Moon," is an intensely lyrical song that follows the life of Tommy, who has an abusive father; Tommy eventually takes that hate in his life to his high school with a gun in his hand. Likewise, "Swing Life Away," which samples a Rise Against song, has a solid message about how MGK has matured over the years. Even "Mind of a Stoner" isn't completely without substance as Wiz Khalifa joins the track's catchy chorus. With a new studio album looming on the horizon, expect to hear some new tracks at tonight's show, a warm-up of sorts for his NYE concert. (William Hoffman), 7 p.m., $19. House of Blues.