Jewel (June 3): On a solo acoustic greatest hits tour, this Alaskan (actually she was born in Utah) will build her setlist across her varied career, undoubtedly leaning toward the earlier years. She will be working without a net, as her crack touring band is working elsewhere, so this will be an intriguing evening.
Cyndi Lauper (6/12): With her musical opening on Broadway imminently, the diminutive powerhouse will take to the road with a clutch of new songs and a treasure trove of classics. No word yet on whether she will road test any of the songs from her production on the Great White Way, but with a title like “Kinky Boots” and a book by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein, the musical undoubtedly has some songs that she could weave into her set list.
Michael McDonald/Boz Scaggs (6/18): These crooners hit their stride in the 70s and have had more success on the road than in the studio lately. They toured last year with Donald Fagen as The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue, but Fagen is going out this summer with his original partner (see below). Scaggs forever captured the sound of suave with Silk Degrees and no word if McDonald will stick around another day to see his former band mates the next night….
Doobie Brothers (6/19): These guys shifted a lot of units back in the day (to the tune of 40 million albums), and with core members Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John McFee they have maintained their stalwart road chops. Expect many early FM radio hits and a few mid-period ballads if McDonald hangs around San Diego.
Yes (July 14): Like pretty much every band that started in the 60s, this band has gone through personnel changes. On this tour they will have one of their stronger lineups in years (Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison, Alan White, Chris Squire). Davison takes over vocals from Jon Anderson, and by all accounts he hits all the right notes. Downes was in and out of the band after Rick Wakeman departed in order to stage ice skating arena versions of his solo albums. More intriguingly, at Humphrey’s Yes will play back to back renditions of three albums, the first two of which are sterling examples of progressive rock: The Yes Album, Close to the Edge and Going For The One. Although I had fallen away from the band by the time of the latter’s 1977 release, it has withstood the test of time. The band has an otherwise improbable but brief appearance in the new book by Prince Rupert Lowenstein as one of the bands he hired for a party after he became the financial advisor to the Rolling Stones in the 1960s. The party occurred the night Brian Jones drowned in a pool across town.
Chris Isaak (August 3): Appearing a year and a day after his last Humphrey’s appearance, Isaak will start the show with three or four songs and then deliver the first of his hilarious between-song patter. Isaak has built a solid fanbase through impressive album recordings and polished stagework. He never disappoints. Expect a few choice words for the sailors crowding the water outside the venue; last year he admitted he might like being there as well. Don’t wait to get your tickets to this show.
Los Lonely Boys/Los Lobos/Alejandro Escovedo (August 8): Definitely one of the shows to which I am looking forward. Los Lobos barely needs an introduction; their infectious blend of East LA roots rock is always a treat. Escovedo is the criminally underrated troubadour from Austin, whose praises (and songs) have been sung by artists like Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, John Cale, Jennifer Warnes, Ian Hunter, The Jayhawks, and Little Steven Van Zandt. Expect the tequila to be flowing.
The Monkees (August 11): After a surprisingly successful mini-tour the three surviving members added a host of dates for this summer. Backed by a solid band, the three will also perform several songs by themselves, reminiscent of their unapologetic “Justus” album. Mike Nesmith, always the most intriguing member will probably not make mention of the fact that he was an early the progenitor of the music video. Indeed, he funded that effort as benefactor of his mother’s estate, which was rather large as she invented White-Out. If you don’t know what that is, your first album purchase was probably not by the Monkees. Nesmith won the first Grammy awarded for a music video, by the way.
Lyle Lovett & His Large Band (August 14): One of the more erudite Texan musicians you will encounter, Lovett is a gentleman and raconteur. I first saw him in his LA debut, at the tiny Roxy Theatre, and he filled the stage with his semi-large band. Over the course of many years his band grew and Lovett recorded a steady output of tasty music; this show is a very solid bet.
Steely Dan (August 21): This is not the first band to be named after a literary character, but Steely Dan is probably the first to be named after a sex toy. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker fortunately never had to rely on their looks for success. They hired a revolving cast of studio musicians (including Jeff “Skunk” Baxter from the aforementioned Doobie Brothers) to record some sparkling albums with jazz inflections. They were one of the first bands to tap into the clever idea of performing an album front to back onstage. They recently welcomed to the stage Steve Winwood, another Humphrey’s veteran.