Whis has been one of the strangest weeks of the year for music, although I use the word "strangest" loosely since I can't quite find another word that fits.
First the great jazz pianist Dave Brubeck died Wednesday morning at the hospital in Connecticut, sending my day all akilter for various reasons. I met the man once, at a concert at the Golden Bough Playhouse presented by KRML, and saw several of his shows at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the last in 2009 (he played the festival an astounding 15 times!).
I had enjoyed his music over the years, but wasn't a huge fan of it (I tend to lean to the more adventurous, say McCoy Tyner). What I was a fan of was the man. He always seemed to be in great spirits, smiling and gracious, classy and comforting, much like his music, come to think of it.
He was a prodigious composer and was one of the first moden jazzman to become a pop star (Louis Armstrong seemed to be the one who led the way in that sense), getting his face on the cover of Time, becoming the first million-selling jazzman and opening up jazz to the greater world.
He will be missed. Rest in peace, dear Dave.
Second, the lineup of artists this week is truly, well here we go again, strange. When you have a week that includes the great singer-songwriter John Prine; Steve Earle's son and singer-songwriter blazing his own path Justin Townes Earle; hair metal star Don Dokken; oddball Texas singer-songwriter and governor candidate Kinky Friedman (who calls himself a Jewish cowboy); singer-songwriter Duncan Phillips, son of anarchist folksinger Utah Phillips; Icelandic singer-songwriter Simon Lynge; a World Music bill that includes Las Krudas, Invincible and spoken word duo and arts activists Climbing Poetree; and quirky local favorites Sky Country, which features keyboardist Nico Georis and cellist Rushad Eggleston; L.A. indie rock band Saint Motel; and local progressive metal band Granted Earth headlining a four-band bill.
I call that strange, or at least strangely appealing. And I didn't even include country-rocker Joshua Paige returning to The Running Iron Friday night; Dani Paige (no relation) and Jesse DeCarlo doing an unplugged thing Saturday night at the London Bridge Pub; touring singer-songwriters Jimmy Nash and Stevie Tombstone Monday night at the Maiden Pub in Big Sur; soul/funk band Matt Masih & The Messengers Saturday night at Britannia Arms in Monterey; bluegrass trio the Driftless Friday night at Plaza Linda in Carmel Valley; or even the "Heaven's Door Concert" Sunday night at Pacific Coast Church in Pacific Grove and featuring local stalwarts Buddy Comfort, Bob Phillips, Kenny Stahl, Alisa Fineman and Kimball Hurd.
I could even throw in a couple of shows in the Santa Cruz area, such as two-time Grammy nominee, jazz guitarist Will Bernard and his trio, which includes one of my favorite Hammond B-3 players Wil Blades and Simon Lott on drums, Wednesday night at Moe's Alley; Oklahoma rockabilly sensation J.D. McPherson doing a 1 p.m. matinee show Sunday at Don Quixote's in Felton (he just performed Tuesday on "Late Night with David Letterman"); and jamband favorite Steven Graves and his eight-piece band Wednesday night, also at Don Quixote's.
So what to do, what to do? The first one is easy, Prine and Earle on Friday night is a no-brainer. Two great songwriters in one night in one building? That's a must see. After that it gets a bit dicey, for example, both Saint Motel and country rocker Paige are playing the same night as Prine and Earle, the former at the Black Box Cabaret at CSU Monterey Bay and the latter at The Running Iron.
But if you're not going to Prine, I would recommend both, but for different reasons. I've seen both and they both put on great shows, Saint Motel plays insistent indie pop-rock, Paige rocks out with a country edge.
Dokken, Saturday night at Planet Gemini, is an interesting booking, being that he's playing "solo" with two others and playing all the hits, which will undoubtedly include "Breaking the Chains," "It's Not Love," "In My Dreams" and "Tooth and Nail."
Go for comedy with Honest John at 9 p.m., stay for Dokken at 10:30. $20 general, $30 for VIP reserved seats.
In addition to Nico and Rushad, Sky Country's gig will include Melissa Underwood on sax / "guitar mojo," Adam Zerbe on bass and Shaun Elley on drums, according to Nico. By the way, Rushad will be playing guitar and DJ C-LO (Chris Loecher) spinning rare vinyl.
The other strange one is Kinky Friedman, not only because this self-professed "Texas Jewboy" (also the name of his band) is a folksinger, songwriter, guitarist, humorist, author, columnist, musician, beautician and Governor of the Heart of Texas on his Bipolar Tour, but because he's playing The Mucky Duck in downtown Monterey at 10 p.m. Wednesday night.
I'm not sure the Duck knows what it has on its hands, but one thing is for sure, it's going to be entertaining. His new album, "Live From Woodstock," was recorded on this current tour, and it is a hoot, as they might say in Texas. Take a gander at www.kinkyfriedman.com.