TURN IT UP: KOLARS, the raved-about live act of Rob Kolar (vocals/guitar) and Lauren Brown (tap-dance drumming), will play at Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Saturday, February 23, with opener Alex Lilly. Their newest rocker of a single, “Turn It Up,” hints at the kind of energy they’ll bring up on that Velvet stage. Few duos have the kind of percussive panache as KOLARS, whose full-bodied tap-dance drumming meets glammy guitar rock in a refreshing injection of musical vitality. Last seen at the Starry Nites Fest of 2017, the L.A.-based group is circling back before heading to SXSW in Austin.
Alex Lilly, also from L.A., will begin the ceremonies with her visionary and theatrically offbeat synth pop. Think the music of Kate Bush or St. Vincent by way of Miranda July’s visually dreamlike quirkiness. Expect a set of surreal sensuality and bright colors. Together, KOLARS and Alex Lilly shall offer an exciting and visually striking night.
YOUR VERY OWN PRIVATE ISLAND: Okay, maybe not your very own, but you can at least take a musical vacation for a night when Private Island headlines on Friday, February 22, also at Velvet Jones, with openers Kuwada and Hush. The band’s music is sunny, fresh, anthemic, and full of happy lushness. If you’re itching for a dance, Private Island will likely satisfy that craving severalfold.
Kuwada, meanwhile, is pretty dope. The pairing of Jonathan and Cameron Kuwada craft a summery dose of vocal chill-hop and tropical soul with beautiful beats, the kind you could blissfully lose afternoons to. Hailing from Hawai’i, they will most certainly bring the island vibes. Hush, from L.A., led by Leben West, will help set a mellow mood with its neo-soul.
LUSTROUS JADE: Rounding out that weekend at Velvet comes Santa Margarita–raised country rocker Jade Jackson on Sunday, February 24. Jackson’s rock is blistering and confident, afire with the heat of the sparse oaken hills and bygone rancho feel just beyond her Central Coast hometown. Her raw talents have earned the admiration of folks such as Social Distortion’s Mike Ness and none other than Willie Nelson — she joins in on the country legend’s Luck Reunion concert in mid-March. Catch some real California country before she forges on to Texas.
JOIN THE ABANDONED: Speaking of California roots rock, start the weekend early Thursday, February 21, at Seven Bar and Kitchen (224 Helena Ave.), when Orphan Jon and the Abandoned will smooth out the wrinkles of your soul with bluesy, impassioned rock. Coming from Bakersfield, these are deep-running roots they pull from, musically. Expect those drawn-out, eyes-closed, almost-pained kinds of guitar solos that make the markings of great blues and classic-rock music. Serve it with one of Seven’s drinks and/or foodstuffs and enjoy.
A DARING PAIRING: The following week, for a midweek catharsis, check out The Shook Twins and Rainbow Girls, who play on Thursday, February 28, at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.). The Shook Twins are indeed identical twins, sisters Katelyn Shook (vocals, guitar) and Laurie Shook (banjo, vocals). Their musical synergy combines for a harmonically laden spin on Americana folk that’s inventive, hypnotic, and bewitching. It’s a beautiful reanimation of formerly familiar sounds, enlivened and emboldened with dreamy rhythms. If you haven’t seen them live yet, do yourself a favor and go.
Same too goes for the Rainbow Girls, who many know as a locally grown live act worth hearing. Expect a rainbow bridge between up-tempo rockers and folky swoon-inducers, empowered with the Rainbow Girls’ luminous personalities.