Emily King at Music Box on January 22
  • Emily King at Music Box on January 22
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Emily King

Emily King

  • Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Music Box, 1337 India Street, San Diego
  • 21+ / $20 - $22

The Music Box has been stepping up with contemporary high profile acts this year, and their 2019 schedule continues the trend toward currently charting, buzz-heavy acts, especially light soul and radio pop singers like Emily King. It may have been over a decade since her debut East Side Story was nominated for a Grammy (Best Contemporary R&B Album), but she continues to occasionally record singles and EPs on her own, as well as touring as an opening act for similar singers such as Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, and Chaka Khan. She didn’t record a sophomore full-length until The Switch in 2015, which proved successful enough to spin off a deluxe edition the following year. That apparently sparked a burst of creativity resulting in a third album due next year, Scenery, which she’ll reportedly be breaking in over the course of a road trip that includes the Music Box on January 27.

The Bad Plus

The Bad Plus

The lineup for the next Jazz at the Athenaeum series has been announced, with experimental co-op the Bad Plus slated for February 13. The trio’s membership has evolved over the 20 or so years since its inception. Bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King were recently joined by new pianist Orrin Evans. Their first full-length with this lineup, Never Stop II, includes all original compositions; Anderson contributes four, while Evans and King wrote two apiece. Despite their disparate approaches to songwriting, the result is more cohesive than patchwork, akin to the best collaborative compositions from fully-melded road-tested ensembles like the Band, the Blasters, and NRBQ. At their La Jolla concert, any number of cover tunes are possible, given their penchant for reimagining tracks by such unlikely antecedents as Black Sabbath (“Iron Man”), the Pixies (“Velouria”), Radiohead (“Karma Police”), and Nirvana (“Smells Like Teen Spirit”).

Red Dragon Cartel

Red Dragon Cartel and Taz Taylor

  • Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $18 - $22

Sometimes, it seems as if one-time Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Jake E. Lee used up his lifetime allotment of luck in the first few years of his career, and has been out of luck ever since. The former San Diegan was already playing local stages with bands like Teaser while attending Mar Vista High, later serving a stint with an early version of Ratt before moving to L.A. in 1980. His lucky streak began with meeting Ronnie James Dio’s wife, who got him into a band called Rough Cutt and then Ronnie’s self-named group Dio. From 1982 through 1987, he backed Ozzy Osbourne, co-writing several tracks on platinum sellers Bark at the Moon and The Ultimate Sin. He came out of that gig with a sterling reputation as one of the only players on the planet capable of stepping in for the late Randy Rhoads, and things were looking bright for his own group Badlands. That’s when the luck ran out. Their major label album went over budget, resulting in the band getting dropped and then splintering. Lee essentially retired from the music biz, relocating to Las Vegas in the early 2000s to spend time restoring old cars. His “comeback” kickstarted in 2012 with a surprise appearance on an Enuff Z’Nuff album, which earned enough positive feedback to encourage forming a new band.

The comically bumpy road to finding a permanent frontman for his new band Red Dragon Cartel saw numerous singers come and go, and sometimes come back again, often in the middle of tours. Six roster changes were announced over four months in 2015, a year that also saw Lee cancelling dates due to a back injury and replacing the band’s Hummer limo after it caught fire near San Jose. He’s trying his luck again this month with a new Red Dragon Cartel album called Patina, which he’ll support with a February 26 appearance at Brick By Brick, where the group played some of its earliest shows in 2013 and 2014. The bill includes local support from Murder of Five and the Taz Taylor Band.

Lady Lamb

Lady Lamb

  • Thursday, May 9, 2019, 8 p.m.
  • Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $16 - $18

In advance of Lady Lamb playing the Soda Bar on May 9, the venue handily loaded its website with four playable videos showcasing her work. The half hour KEXP session features the Maine-born singer-guitarist, born Aly Spaltro, backed by a bassist-keyboardist and drummer, tearing through numbers from her first two albums, Ripely Pine and After. Between songs, she’s interviewed about her influences (mainly Sufjan Stevens) and her early career as a solo artist. Those one-woman-band days are referenced in song near the end of the video, where she relies on just the alternating power and fragility of her voice to engage with a performance that, if stripped of video and only heard as audio, would be no less riveting.

The next video dates back to when she called herself Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, with a solo outdoor lakeside rendition of “Crane Your Neck” that recalls both Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman in how it crams a notebook full of lyrics into easily consumed folk introspection. It ends on words nearly shouted with the kind of stand-firm resolution that conjures the blues by way of Alabama Shakes. “Billions of Eyes” celebrates the small but comforting things that everyone has in common and that they occasionally get to share with each other, such as “when I barely make the train and the people with a seat smile big at me.”

The final video on the Soda Bar site (would that all local venues so effectively promoted the acts they pay for) is a solo performance of “Between Two Trees” where her ethereal banjo picking makes for a fever dream soundtrack that comes across as more ad-libbed than rehearsed. The half-hour full-band video is probably most representative of how she’ll sound at the Soda Bar, where she’ll be backed by La Luz drummer Marian Li Pino, Yellow Ostrich guitarist-keyboardist Alex Schaaf, and Okkervil River bassist-keyboardist Benjamin Lazar Davis.

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