The two best outdoor concert venues in Southern California are the Hollywood Bowl and Humphrey’s by the Bay. Each consistently offers great concerts, great sightlines and great service.
As we swing into the summer concert season, here is a look at the highlights at the Humphrey’s by the Bay. Mark your calendar.
Bob Dylan & Mavis Staples (June 13, 14) – Many people have given up on Ol’ Zimmy, asserting that the Minnesotan’s voice is shot, he eschews the guitar in favor of standing behind an electric keyboard and his songs are sufficiently reworked to be unrecognizable. All of this is true, but as one of the last few living legends from the earliest days of when music changed forever, there is always hope that magic will emerge. If you aren’t signing up for Oldchella in Indio in October, this is the bill for you. Staples was a gem last month at Coachella.
case/lang/veirs (June 22) – Slipping under the radar with a release scheduled days before the show, this lower cased trio has combined their talents into a tasty blend. Neko Case offers jazz inflected stylings, k.d. lang channels Patsy Cline with Miss Chatelaine and Laura Veirs’ indie sensibility is a nice balance. The tour starts in San Diego, so you can be ahead of the curve by seeing this gig.
Mudcrutch (June 30) – Another Traveling Wilbury in another incarnation. Before he exploded with the Heartbreakers, Tom Petty formed this band in Florida with regional success. Comprised of a couple future Heartbreakers (Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench ) the quintet is rounded out by Randall Marsh and Tom Leadon. The latter is Bernie’s brother (who did well as a founder of Eagles) and a native of San Diego, so expect some home cooking and local support.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (July 9) – This Texan has never put on a bad show. His dry wry wit, tremendous songwriting chops and impeccable band combine for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
The Psychedelic Furs & The Church (July 19) – This pairing of road warrior bands promises an evening of surging guitars. Last seen in NYC The Church has honed their sparkling fretwork arrangements with enigmatic lyrics.
Jackson Browne (August 29, 30) – Browne emigrated from Orange County as a teenager to start the LA folk/country/rock scene with fellow travellers Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, et al (but not before stopping in NYC to become the improbable muse to Nico in the Velvet Underground / Andy Warhol scene). He has since forged a songbook nearly unparalleled among solo singer songwriters. His political activism, global vision and confessional lyrics have garnered him a fervent following over nearly five decades. But he does not look old enough.
Leon Bridges (September 21) – Bridges is one of the great new voices of the last 18 months. His arrangements evoke soul and country, while his voice is sweet and evocative. He has clearly listened to all the greats, but he has built his own compelling sound.
Trombone Shorty with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (September 22) – Perhaps the funkiest bill of the season at Humphrey’s, this pairing promises a hot evening. T Shorty’s funk from N’Awleans will have the SRO crowd shaking its collective booty. The Dap Kings are deceivingly tight, weaving their slippery RnB behind Jones’ commanding vocal presence.