Click photo to enlarge
Fire in the Hamptons

Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Robert Cray will help keep the blues flame burning with a show Thursday at the Golden State Theatre.

But that's not the only blues going on this week. The Monterey Peninsula's own blues stalwarts, John "Broadway" Tucker (with the Unpaid Bills) and Rollin' and Tumblin' will perform this weekend, at the Pierce Ranch Vineyards Tasting Room on Cannery Row Friday night and the Fuse Lounge in Carmel, also Friday, respectively.

The former features a stripped-down set (the tasting room is rather intimate) with Tucker on vocals and Bill Haines on guitar and Bill Sullivan on upright bass, both veterans of Tucker's Broadway Blues Band.

Tucker is a 30-year veteran of the local blues scene, mostly with his own bands, and in 2006 was awarded the Monterey Bay Blues Festival's MOBAY Award, whose honorees include such blues legends as Etta James, Clarence Carter, Koko Taylor and Charlie Musselwhite.

Doors open at 8 p.m., show at 8:30, with wines by the glass available for purchase. $5 at the door admission.

The latter, a relative newcomer on the scene, but whose members have played with a variety of local bands, both blues and rock, specializes in electric Chicago-style blues in which the harmonica and guitar play major roles. The band's name is taken from the traditional blues tune made famous by Muddy Waters.

Rollin' and Tumblin' also gets going at 8:30 p.


m., but no cover at the Carmel Mission Inn venue.

Also playing the blues (and more) Saturday night will be the irrepressible Johnny Mirani and his impromptu band The Group playing that night at the Running Iron in Carmel Valley.

"(We have) an eclectic bluesy, rockish, soulful psychedelic country sound," said Mirani, who sings, plays harmonica and lap guitar. "We're debuting a batch of new original tunes that are some of my best work, including an epic tale, 'Crown is the Devil,' an Irish rebel tune that I researched extensively. The Group consists of Michael Mahoney, Donavan MacVicker, Riddle Riddle and Bongo Blake, who are all former members of the popular band The Undecided, recently disbanded."

Show starts at 9:30, no cover, plenty of raucous energy.

In addition to the Shepherd/Cray show Thursdy night, the Golden State Theatre has a couple of intriguing lobby shows, Friday night with psychedelic blues Golden Animals, with special guest Goldenboy featuring The New Familiar and Saturday night with a triple-header: Silhouette Era, Warbler and Lost Train.

Goldenboy is an indie pop artist who was in Elliott Smith's band and has been on the road supporting artists such as Bright Eyes, Neil Finn, Stephen Malkmus and the Eels.

Silhouette Era, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Carlos J. Gonzalez, is described as "dream pop-infused indie rock," while Warbler is a "folktronic" band from San Francisco and Lost Train fuses blues, folk, country, ragtime and jazz.

Saturday is a CD/vinyl release show for Silhouette Era's "Movements," with Warbler and Lost Train joining them along with guest singers Taylor Bonetti and Simone Van Seenus.

But after Shepherd/Cray, the artist I'm most excited to see this weekend is the return of L.A.-based indie electro-pop outfit Fire in the Hamptons Saturday night at Planet Gemini in Monterey in a show presented by Freeway Productions.

The last time they played the Planet, Aug. 31, the band packed the club and put on a dynamic show that seemed as if it belonged in a much larger club.

Lead vocalist Zack Hampton, a Monterey Peninsula native, is a mesmerizing and charismatic lead man, with guitarist Ian Dowd, also a local boy, drummer Aaron Bilyeu and Emvy Venti on synth/ piano, keeping the energy sky-high, driving the tempos and mixing '80s-style synth-rock and The Edge-style ringing guitar swatches.

The band gave away its eight-song EP after its thrilling set and I haven't stopped listening to it. Every song is a gem and I'm frankly shocked that at least one song — perhaps the driving "Stargazer," the infectious '80s-styled "On the Run" or the pogo-inducing "Children of the Sun" — hasn't become a big hit.

Hampton has also promised (on Facebook) that the band will be playing some new songs at this show. Doors open at 9 p.m., show starts at 10:30 p.m. and tickets are only $10, available at

Check out the band itself on Facebook, SoundCloud or at its website

One show I wish I could attend is San Francisco retro rock band The Soft White Sixties Friday night at Fernwood Resort in Big Sur. Showtime is 9 p.m., no cover. The band, which has played at the Alternative Cafe/Golden State Theatre several times, turned some heads at the recent West End Celebration in Sand City.GO!