In between all of the Easter, Earth Day and 420 celebrations, there are a variety of shows that are all vying for some spring break attention. Most can be found in The Californian, on Facebook or at kernevents.com. Our busy winter is over everywhere but HBO. The touring season has begun.
On Thursday, Texas native Casey Donahew returns to Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace. He’s on the road promoting his upcoming album, “One Light Town,” and new single ”Let’s Make a Love Song.”
“I’m excited,” Donahew wrote in an email. “Such a cool venue and arena with a great music tradition that makes you feel part of it.”
“One Light Town” is due out in late July but fans can preorder the album and be able to stream seven songs off of it.
Donahew’s style of country music is muscular and straightforward, especially on songs like “Double Wide Dream” and his “Stockyards.” Others, like “Shine on Me” and his cover of Matchbox Twenty's song “3 A.M.” showcase the singer’s more poignant side. Live, Donahew, who turns 42 three days after his Crystal Palace show, is a lively and likable performer who’s been compared to Garth Brooks for his high-energy performances.
And, much like fellow Texan country artists like Cody Jinks, Josh Ward, Sunny Sweeney and Cody Johnson, Donahew’s career is self-made.
He’s achieved millions of streams and the ability to record and tour totally independent from any major record label. Everything is done in-house, almost quite literally since Donahew credits his wife as an equal contributor in his bio.
For Donahew, it’s been a steady climb since first performing at the Fort Worth Stockyards in 2002, and there’s a reason for his consistency: He’s still hungry. Don’t expect a cynical weekend warrior phoning it in. Even with all those years under his belt, apparently he’s just getting started.
On Friday, a completely different kind of show will be happening at Going Underground Records.
Cruz de Navajas (fantastic name that is Spanish for “cross of knives”) is a post-punk trio based out of Mexico City and Oakland with a dark, raw sound that fans of 1980s goth music will just adore. Imagine Siouxsie Sioux singing for “First, Last and Always”-era Sisters of Mercy with The Cure’s Robert Smith on guitar and you’ll get an inkling of what they kind of sound like. I cannot recommend their 2018 album “Dominacion” enough.
Razor-sharp distortion guitars, growling bass and thunderous drums echo throughout their latest single “Prioridad,” reminding me musically of The Cult when it was still in its opulent psychedelic-goth phase. Frontwoman Sharon, who sings in Spanish, is a killer. This show will be a rare treat.
On Saturday, Riley’s Tavern will host Down Town Music Fest, which promises live bands, DJs, live graphic design, pop-up shops and free food provided by Jerry’s Pizza and others. There is also a prize giveaway, sponsored by Ill Rah Entertainment, consisting of Beats by Dre headphones, JBL bluetooth boomboxes and air buds totaling $800.
Performing will be Here By Fate, Felony Jackson — runner-up for best band name of the week — Tomas Medina of Heavy Vinyl and others. The event is being put together with the hopes of it re-occurring every few months on the premise of “Making Downtown Great Again” — not to be confused with a popular political slogan — according to event coordinator and DJ Kimble Woods, who also DJs for HITS 93.1.
“We want to re-establish the camaraderie for entertainment and good vibes,” Woods said. “From First Fridays to the downtown alley events, we want people to know that downtown is the place to be and that it’s safe there.”
And lastly, also on Saturday, Long Beach-based electronic musician Wayde Rawley will perform an all-ages show at Bruised Reeds along with local acts Sweatpants, Early Nites and DJ JD Dyslexic (third best name) performing in-between sets.
Rawley’s darkwave sound on his album “California Sanctuary” is stark and heavy on atmospherics. A little Joy Division, a little Gary Numan, and a lot of early 1980s synth-pop sensibilities. Between him and Cruz de Navajas, it’s a good weekend to visit your inner dark side, just as everything around swirls in pastels. A big deal might be made about spring flowers, but let’s not forget it’s the gloomy showers that help make them bloom.
Casey Donahew, 7 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. $20. buckowens.com, 328-7560.
Cruz de Navajas, 7 p.m. Friday, Going Underground Records, 1312 19th St. Free.
Down Town Music Fest, 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Riley’s Tavern, 1523 19th St. No cover before 10 p.m.
Wayde Rawley, Early Nites, Sweatpants and DJ JD Dyslexic, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Bruised Reeds, 1660 S St. Free.
Average White Band, 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Spectrum Ampitheatre, 11200 Stockdale Highway. $15-$35. axs.com.
The Average White Band’s song “Pick Up The Pieces” is so embedded in my own pop culture databank that I can’t think of the song without picturing the scene it was used in the 1996 film “Swingers.” With pre-director-phase Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and their crew slow-motion walking from one Los Angeles dive bar to another with a stop at a diner somewhere in between.
But even with that, and having to play their tune “Cut The Cake” so many times at gigs where cake had to be cut, they’re a phenomenal horn-based soul and funk band. And Bakersfield does love those kind of bands.
Local band Soulajar will open with its own brand of bohemian soul.