Knoxville’s Black Lillies are lurking in the middle of the first-day lineup at Southern California’s coming Stagecoach festival, which has essentially become the Disneyland of country music. By the time that April event rolls around, it’s likely that organizers are going to wish they’d put them on a bigger stage, as they just might be that band everyone’s talking about while waiting for Eric Church to start. With enigmatic frontman Cruz Contreras, the Lillies have spun the best qualities (and none of the glitz) of American country’s past 50 years into the perfect soundtrack for the drive home after a hard day’s work. These are the songs you’ll want to hear again on the juke at the roadhouse later on, cold brew in hand, dancing boots on.
San Francisco’s Soft White Sixties have been steadily upping the wattage of their incendiary live shows since their 2010 formation, to the point where it’s getting darn near impossible not to notice them. Singer Octavio Genera has that undeniable frontman “it factor,” blasting out soul-scorched vocals and exuberant stage antics reminiscent of a young Mick Jagger or Pete Almqvist of the Hives.
The four fellas behind him spend their time somewhere between the Allman Brothers’ “At Fillmore East” and the Black Keys’ “El Camino,” with a throwback flare and controlled mania that’s almost too spit-shined to be truly dirty rock ’n’ roll – but that sure doesn’t stop them from trying. The Blue Lamp is becoming a regular stopover for these ruffians, so take advantage. Bigger venues seem sure to follow. With Ranch Ghost and Red Cloud.
It’s hard to know what exactly to devote your attention to when listening to a Patty Larkin song. First, there’s the guitar playing, surgical in its precision, often sweet, sometimes haunting, and overwhelmingly rich and expressive in a way that most six-string players can only dream of creating. Then there’s the vocals, delivered with the equally intense longing and worldliness of a woman who’s had the longevity to release 13 albums over a 25-year career. Larkin has said that she wants her last release, “Still Green,” to leave listeners with “a sense of hope.” Who knows if it will, but it’s hard to imagine this tantalizing collection won’t inspire hope for many more Larkin albums to come.
We’re just going to go ahead and say this again: The Backstreet Boys are playing at Ace of Spades. The Fray is opening. Our minds are blown. 1417 R St., Sacramento. $49.95. www.aceofspadessac.com.