At least a dozen variations of Jefferson Starship have toured through the years, but the version hitting the Belly Up on May 25 was revised yet again after the January 2016 death of cofounder Paul Kantner. “A family doesn’t break up when a loved one dies, they grieve and they remember and they carry on,” according to a press release quoting their current frontwoman, the returning Cathy Richardson, who used to sing Janis Joplin songs with members of Big Brother and the Holding Company before taking multiple turns at the Starship mic. At least occasional Quicksilver Messenger Service mainman David Freiberg is aboard for this flight — the only remaining Starship founder; and drummer Donny Baldwin was a member from 1981 to 1989 (an ignoble period, to be sure, but he spent the ‘70s with Elvin Bishop, so there’s that) and from 2008 onward. Chris Smith “has been keyboardist longer than any in the band’s history” according to their website (a member since 1998). He hired string-slinger Jude Gold, a Musicians Institute instructor and L.A. editor for Guitar Player magazine, replacing longtime guitarist Slick Aguilar in 2012.
Named after the street in New Orleans where they first came together, the Deslondes will debut a newly electrified paisley underground version of their traditional Cajun country and R&B act at the Hideout on June 11. Touring in support of their sophomore album Hurry Home (due June 23 via New West Records), the group has moved the electric guitar and organ to the forefront, with all five members now sharing both vocal and songwriting duties. The result is reminiscent of classic Little Feat, Lee Hazlewood, and even our own late lamented Coyote Problem, tipping cowboy folk into Gulf Coast blues and jazz for an NPR-friendly mix that lends itself well to endless spin-worthy Phishlike jam sessions.
Throw back some Butterbeers with the mystics and Muggles when PotterCon arrives at House of Blues on June 17, described as “the best day-drinking and mingling destination for witches, wizards, squibs, and magical creatures alike.” Harry Potter fans are invited to represent for Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, or Hufflepuff during a live Sorting ceremony (magic talking hat to be provided), and Madam Malkin’s Costume Contest is bound to be overflowing with more bewitching Hermiones than you can shake a magic wand at. The 21-and-up event starts at 2 p.m.
This year’s Julian Blues Bash, happening June 17 at Menghini Winery, will be headlined by Welsh guitar whiz Philip Sayce, for a bill that includes Earl Thomas, Dennis Jones, Ben Robinson, the McCoy Brothers, and the Chris Fast Band. A Canadian for most of his life, Sayce has emerged from being a sideman for Melissa Etheridge to become the latest in an illustrious line of classic blues rockers that includes Clapton, Vaughan, Healey, and Knopfler. For many, however, the most promising act of the day may be local singer Earl Thomas, who says that getting kicked out of the Navy in 1980 for being gay ended up being the best thing that ever gave him the blues. Getting outed and ousted eventually resulted in his latter-day career switch to vocalist for blues and R&B outfits like the Rhumboogies and Kings of Rhythm. The recipient of several San Diego Music Awards, Thomas has released over a dozen albums, and his songs have been covered by Etta James, Solomon Burke, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Tom Jones, and more.
When Ron Gallo and Naked Giants play Soda Bar on June 26, opening act White Reaper will have a lot to prove after naming their newest album The World’s Best American Band. While Louisville, KY, has churned out a few decent rock ensembles (Slint comes to mind), it’s hard to pinpoint what distinguishes these guys from fellow Louisville musicos like My Morning Jacket, especially since they enlisted MMJ producer Kevin Ratterman to work on their own newest full-length. There’s plenty of screeching guitars and big, bad walls o’ drumming, but their music still sounds to more seasoned ears like yet another entry-level rock band whose young fans may or may not move on to more adventurous offerings by this time next year. If not, White Reaper can always call their next album “Louisville’s Best Band Whose Name Sounds Like a Dubious 1940s Comic Book Villain.”
San Diego garage legends the Dinettes, an all-girl punk-rock band with roots going all the way back to 1979, will stage a rare reunion performance at this year’s Sounds Like San Diego showcase on July 8 at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. Vocalist Doriot Lair, singer/guitarist Joyce Rooks, singer/drummer Irene Liberatore-Dolan, and keyboardist Sue Delguidice have all gone on to work with notable acts like Trowsers and Bauhaus’s David J (Rooks), the Puppies and Mojo Nixon (Liberatore-Dolan), Private Sector and Harpo (Delguidice), and others.
Originally known as the Cockpits and once championed by Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley, this nearly complete reunion of the definitive Dinettes (minus the late Lisa Aston Emerson) will be a rare chance to see a live set from the rowdy lady rockers. Other Sounds Like San Diego performers will showcase songs either about or originating from the city that once christened itself America’s Finest, tying into a same-named CD release for a bill that includes northern soul singer Jesse Davis, former Elvin Bishop guitarist Johnny Vernazza, local all-star combo True Stories, comedy rock duo Pony Death Ride, and more.
Somersault, the third album from Brooklyn NYC’s Beach Fossils, will be out by the time they take the Casbah stage on July 20. Last seen by many in the mercifully shortlived HBO/Martin Scorsese rock-and-roll series Vinyl, the group’s current incarnation has gone back to being essentially Dustin Payseur’s solo project, with no other members remaining from their 2009 premiere. Expect a newly expanded sound featuring everything from sax to piano, harpsichord, and flute, representing a marked departure from their lo-fi shoegaze roots.
From next November through April 2018, Jazz @ the Jacobs returns with Gilbert Castellanos once again serving as series curator. Highlights include a season opener paying tribute to the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, with accompaniment from her onetime pianist, SDMA Lifetime Achievement Award–winner Mike Wofford. January will feature the Roots of Rhythm, followed in February with Affinity: A Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson Tribute.