Weird Al Yankovic, king of parody videos
Weird Al Yankovic brings his Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour to Humphreys on May 12. The road trip’s moniker refers to the fact that he’ll mostly be doing original songs, not parodies, and is leaving the costumes, props, and video screens in storage. Just to show you how ridiculously self-indulgent and ill-advised this Vanity Tour really is, the bill includes Emo Philips, a Prince Valiant–haired squeaky-voiced standup comedian who appeared in Yankovic’s underrated 1989 film UHF and on 1997’s underseen The Weird Al Show. A few other concerts at the Shelter Island venue have just been announced for the upcoming season, including vintage funk ensemble Chromeo (April 10), Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (April 13), and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness (May 13).
The Oh Sees are at the Belly Up (it's all about founding singer-guitarist John Dwyer)
With a 20-plus-year list of former a.k.a.s, Oh Sees (not long ago known as Thee Oh Sees) is arguably all about founding singer-guitarist John Dwyer, who started out solo and then tried on, and took off, a number of wildly divergent styles and bandmates. Previous releases credited to the one band bear so little resemblance to each other that the group is probably best treated as a “new” collective that surfaced last summer with their album Orc, preceded by a single for “The Static God,” best described as somewhat clangy, thudding, nearly industrial alt-rock, by a band that may have once been punk before trying to sell a few records instead. That’s pretty much what they’re plugging with a March 14 date at the Belly Up, though there was also a “surprise” album last year with Dwyer and former Oh Sees member Brigid Dawson as OCS (the Oh Sees original name), as well as an Oh Sees EP at the end of December, Dead Medics, featuring a cover of “A Few Days of Reflection,” by 1960s Swedish prog rockers Trees, Grass & Stones (aka Träd, Gräs & Stenar). Dawson does not appear in the publicity photo seen on the ticket websites for this tour, indicating the lineup will include Dwyer with EP bassist Tim Hellman (Sic Alps) and drummer Dan Rincon (both of whom played on the Oh Sees 17th and 18th studio albums), along with secondary drummer Paul Quattrone, of Sacramento punk band !!! The bill includes L.A. psychedelic rockers Prettiest Eyes.
Bob Log III, a serious slide guitarist
Though I never heard of one-madman band Bob Log III before playing his music in preparation for this column, I’ll say this right off the bat — the dude’s a serious slide guitarist! Well, as serious as anyone can be wearing a human cannonball suit and a rocket helmet wired to a telephone speaker. In concert, he plays an old Silvertone archtop guitar and drums, impressively, with his feet, performing over a hundred dates a year on a never-ending tour that brings him to the Casbah on April 30. Looking further back in his catalog, it seems he was one half of a Delta blues duo called Doo Rag, which oddly sounded more sparse and skeletal with two people than the richly stirred noise Log III manages to concoct on his own. Having honed his chops in both Australia and Tucson, Arizona, the dusty open spaces of both of those territories come through in the live performances seen on YouTube, though it’s easy to be distracted by various inflatables and stage props that he uses to unfold his sonic travelogues. Search a few tracks from his 2016 full-length Guitar Party Power if you think I’m kidding about his playing — this isn’t Astronaut Carrot Top with a guitar. Think Buckethead meets Elmore James. And, if you attend, and he pulls out his one-time setlist staple “Boob Scotch,” be warned that he no longer invites women onstage to stir a glass of scotch with their breasts, which he’d follow by lifting his helmet just enough to drink it down. In light of the current social climate regarding that sort of thing, Bob Log III now stirs the scotch with his own breast.
Eric Andersen, revered in places like Europe and Japan
It’s been ten years and several venues since the long-running AMSDconcerts series has hosted legendary folk songwriter Eric Andersen, who’ll grace their newest stage in National City on May 4. Known for his songs recorded by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Grateful Dead, Linda Ronstadt, and many others, Andersen’s career as a solo performer may seem low key in North America, where his radio exposure doesn’t go too far past PBS and NPR, but he’s revered as a superstar in places like Europe and Japan. After five decades in the music biz, last year was one of his most prolific ever, with reissues of two seminal ’70s albums, Be True to You and Sweet Surprise, as well as two new releases, Mingle with the Universe: The Worlds of Lord Byron and Silent Angel: The Fire and Ashes of Heinrich Böll. There’s also a documentary film in post-production, The Songpoet, chronicling his rise from the ranks of the beat poets of Greenwich Village to his relocation to the Netherlands, where he frequently sparks collaborations with both area musicians and visiting superstars from all stages of his career.
Primus, Spinal Tap stretched out
A lot of people can’t figure out the appeal of a band like Primus. They seem to take an all-bass joke right out of Spinal Tap and stretch it out across album after album, putting all the “wrong” instruments forward in the mix and burying the lead guitars (and often the melody) in a stream-of-consciousness soup of sound effects and gargled vocals that could easily be mistaken for sound effects. Singer-bassist Les Claypool makes no apologies for the fact that his singing sounds like someone played a Tom Waits record backward through an oscillating fan, but he seemed to find the perfect collaborators in the 1990s with guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander, whose adventurous approach to composition made Primus seem almost like a prog band, albeit one recorded after a long night guzzling hard liquor. That definitive lineup has reunited for their first album of original music in over 20 years, The Desaturating Seven, which they’ll be touring behind when they arrive at SDSU’s Open Air Theatre on July 6. Inspired by an ecological 1978 children’s book (The Rainbow Goblins, by Ui de Rico), Claypool says, “It’s a story about gluttonous individuals sucking the colors out of the world, the overuse of resources by the greedy elite, and how the meek masses can overcome them in the end by unifying. It seemed pretty relevant these days.” The bill includes Atlanta heavy metal band Mastodon and L.A. space rockers Jjuujjuu.