Live Music

Arboretum, Alela Diane, The Homosexuals, Black Sheep, Bang on a Can + Glenn Kotche, John Hollenbeck

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photo by Natasha Tylea

Web head: Live Music Web subhead: Arboretum, Alela Diane, The Homosexuals, Black Sheep, Bang on a Can + Glenn Kotche, John Hollenbeck -->


Mon., March 2, 8pm. $8. With Meg Baird + James Blackshaw. Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St. 215.291.4945.

There is an ease to Baltimore's Arbouretum that begs you to stick around. The organic nature of the calm and subtle psychedelia breathes with every confident minute of their longer songs. Neil Young's more open-ended neo-Western guitar work isn't too far off. It certainly isn't the most original stuff around, but at its best it's effective at lulling you into an easy place. Music this lazy can collapse in on itself without any talent to drive it; fortunately Arboretum do a good job of serving their material in a way that keeps it vital no matter how laid-back. (John Cramer)

Alela Diane

Sun., March 1, 7:30pm. $12. With Blitzen Trapper. First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619.

Mid-twentysomething California-bred folkie Alela Diane is loosely affiliated with the so-called New Weird America movement, mostly because of her long-standing friendship with Joanna Newsom and Mariee Sioux. But there's nothing particularly weird or freaky about strumming simple yet affecting chords on an acoustic guitar; singing about cuckoos, forests, fireplaces and lives that are "buried in snow"; or warbling warmly and wistfully with an assured voice that occasionally recalls Joni Mitchell. So no, you don't have to listen while sitting on horse blankets or bring crystals to this show. Diane's songs are still plenty magical, though, and she can cast musical spells with the best of 'em. (Michael Alan Goldberg)

Juana Molina

Sun., March 1, 8pm. $25-$35. With Oorutaichi. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400.

Juana Molina has toured the U.S. in the past, but always by herself, relying on her own soft voice, acoustic guitar and a variety of digital aids to get her songs across. This time, however, the Argentinian actress-turned-songwriter brings a full band to help interpret her music. That'll be key as she plays from the densely textured Un D�a, out since late 2008 on Domino. The fifth album in 13 years, D�a is built on driving rhythms and striking vocal counterpoints. The new material is less like singer-songwriter epiphanies and more like ecstatic, multicultured celebrations--and sure to expand to fill the room. (Jennifer Kelly)

John Hollenbeck

Sat., Feb. 28, 7pm and 9pm. $12.50-$25. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. 215.925.9914.

One of jazz's most provocative drummer-composers, John Hollenbeck stormed Philly not long ago with his mind-altering Claudia Quintet and Tony Malaby's Cello Trio. His "Big Ears" residency, an innovative winter series sponsored by the Bride, is about to wrap up, and this week's 19-piece large ensemble gig is part one of the send-off. Marshaling the resources of top New York improvisers, Hollenbeck conjures a world of bustling eclecticism, driving rhythm and tone poetry, captured beautifully on his 2005 OmniTone release A Blessing. On March 6 he returns to lead a handpicked Philly group in "The Philadelphia Compositions," a set of new works inspired by the Big Ears experience. (David R. Adler)

The Homosexuals

Wed., March 4, 9pm. $10. With Davila 666, the Tough Shits + Casual Viking. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.

It's an old British punk legend backed by a cadre of young, energetic admirers from New York City. But it's no shtick, no Who-style go-around for extra cash or some geezer thinking he's still the shit. Because 58-year-old Bruno Wizard, Homosexual frontman, is. These Homos rock, hard and without abandon. They scream and jump around stage, sweat flying off their faces and hair in a near-cathartic stupor while delivering in-your-face, aggressive and convulsive punk rock with catchy undertones of '70s British pop. (Katherine Silkaitis)

Black Sheep

Sat., Feb. 28, 9pm. $15. With Zilla Rocca. Khyber, 56 S. Second St. 215.238.5888.

The early-'90s blending of jazz with thoughtful, intelligent lyrics never got much better than Black Sheep's debut album A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Gone was the overtly macho seriousness of the gangsta movement, replaced with funky playfulness and a welcome sense of humor, put to good effect in their gangsta parody track "U Mean I'm Not." After their 1994 album Non-Fiction it would be 12 years before they'd release another full-length, and then only on download. In 2008 their hit "The Choice Is Yours" was remixed and rereleased to lend support to the Obama campaign. Easily one of the best, most fun hip-hop acts of any era. (J.C.)

Bang on a Can All-Stars + Glenn Kotche

Sat., Feb. 28, 7:30pm. $19-$32. Kimmel Center, 260 S. Broad St. 215.893.1999.

Bang on a Can strives to push classical music into a modern, interdisciplinary arena, where genre distinctions matter little. The Bang on a Can All-Stars is a subunit, like a shuttle craft, touching off encounters with guest musicians of all types, including jazzers Don Byron and Daniel Kelly. This week they unite with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, whose solo projects (including 2006's Mobile) have an abstract, hypnotic, percussive quality reminiscent of Steve Reich. It's not the first such ambitious undertaking for Kotche, whose "Anomaly," commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, premiered in 2007. Like fellow Wilco-ite Nels Cline, he's a rocker and a seeker, with one foot deep in the avant-garde. (D.R.A.)

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