BOYS HIT THE BOWL: Last week, the Beastie Boys vowed to inject our coastal haven with some much-needed punk-rap debauchery when they added the Santa Barbara Bowl as a stop on their summer tour. On August 23, the legendary hip-hop innovators will invade Santa Barbara for the first time in 12 years to promote their new, all-instrumental album, The Mix-Up. And since this is one of the most significant and groundbreaking bands in recent history, you probably have to fight for your right to score some tickets, which were released on June 16. Visit sbbowl.com for more info. –Joel Aurora
STILLWATER REVIVAL: Life on the open road-musicians of Midwest Americana love to explore this idea as if they were composing the next Odyssey. Bluesy lament after folk ballad after barnburner, these men and women sing of the impossibility of love, limitless isolation, and the curious need to keep trucking. Jimmy LaFave has tapped into the heart of this twisted romance in his latest release, Cimarron Manifesto. Mixing red dirt rockabilly with honest and unadorned country blues, LaFave’s siren song calls you to commiserate a love unrequited. Experience LaFave, presented by Sings Like Hell, with special guest Joel Rafael at the Lobero Theatre on June 23 at 8 p.m. -Jessica Hilo
FOREVER YOUNG: Too $hort is one of a kind. A true ingenue, he recorded not one, not two, but three solo albums before being discovered and signed onto a major record label in 1988. His first album, Born to Mack, went straight to gold, and smooth platinum came sailing after that, as well as nine more effortless albums filled with contagious lyrics and hip-jolting rhythms. After coming out of retirement, his new album, Blow the Whistle, proves that Too $hort hasn’t lost the magic touch that kept him popular for 16 straight albums. With catchy beats that make dancing hard to resist and rapping along even harder, $hort’s show should not be missed. Catch him at Velvet Jones on June 22. It’ll be one for the books. -Arabella Watters
MAKING MARLEY PROUD: They may not be buffalo soldiers, but The Aggrolites have worked hard to perfect their fusion of infectious reggae and ska melodies. The ‘lites don’t hail from Jamaica, but they do consider themselves lucky to have been raised in Los Angeles, a city with a thriving reggae community. As much as the band has pioneered bringing a classic reggae and ska sound to the U.S., lead singer Jesse Wagner‘s vocals are strikingly similar to a lead singer from another SoCal band, Sublime. All Brad Nowell comparisons aside, round up your dreadlocked Rastas and head down to Velvet Jones on June 23. Don’t forget your skankin’ shoes! -Jessica Small
SOLAR POWERFUL: As the sun sets on the solstice celebration this Saturday night, free spirits will still be flocking to hit SOhO for the solstice bash featuring the Dancing Drum Community Ensemble and Matthew McAvene. Aside from the sun, Dancing Drum will celebrate its seventh year of bringing exotic drumming lessons and groovy musical talent to Santa Barbara. The vast creativity of the talented McAvene complements the ensemble by bringing to the stage his catchy mellow guitar rock jams. Both performances will no doubt soar while reminding folks to keep their feet planted firmly on the Earth. Cover charge: $12. Celebrating summer’s longest day: Priceless. -Bianca Calhoun
ROCK THE BOAT: There will be no shortage of loud guitars, fast punk beats, and gritty vocals at a show by four bands hell-bent on rocking until your ears bleed. The night will definitely prove to be hard-hitting with the Denver-based band Git Some as well as Drunken Boat, coming in from Portland, Oregon. But the South Coast won’t be forgotten, since it will be represented by Ventura locals Glass and Ashes and The Fucking Wrath. Come celebrate the joy of rock on the evening of June 26 at La Casa de la Raza and see some of the best hardcore/punk bands the Wild West has to offer. -Kevin Spracher
CULTURE ROCK: North Carolina might seem an unlikely place to find one of the leaders in cultural fusion, but Toubab Krewe has been rocking with a West African influence since its formation in 2005. The Asheville, North Carolina-based instrumental group mixes rock ‘n’ roll with styles picked up on trips to Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Mali. The resulting sound has been enough to earn the band appearances at the Bonaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, in 2006 and at the remote Festival in the Desert in Essakane, Mali, in 2007. They’ll take the stage at SOhO on June 24 at 8:30 p.m. -Michael Baker
This column features writers participating in the Almost Independent contest. To read more of their entries and to vote for your favorite, click on the Almost Independent button.