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Grammy Award-winner Molly Tuttle headlines opening night of the Live Oak Music Fest 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a songwriter who can weave a richer, denser narrative tapestry than Molly Tuttle. Her songs are so detailed, her characters so well drawn, you feel transported into another world. Take "El Dorado," which chronicles the 1848 California gold rush. The driving tune from her new album City of Gold is narrated by Gold Rush Kate and populated by the likes of Redwood Bill, John the Rover, Bad Luck Dave, Reno Maria, or my favorite, Snake Oil Jake.

click to enlarge GOLDEN Bluegrass firebrand Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway plays June 14, opening night of the three-day Live Oak Music Festival at El Chorro Regional Park. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LIVE OAK MUSIC FESTIVAL
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Live Oak Music Festival
  • GOLDEN Bluegrass firebrand Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway plays June 14, opening night of the three-day Live Oak Music Festival at El Chorro Regional Park.

"Stay away from Snake Oil Jake, he'll fool you with a fountain pen/ One look in his eyes, you'll be hypnotized, he's got that sleight of hand/ He's sleek and fat like an old tom cat, they say he has nine lives/ Snake Oil Jake sure met his fate when they shot him down ten times."

Then there's her reimagining of the Alice in Wonderland tale, "Alice in the Bluegrass," set in the Kentucky backwoods: "Come gather around folks for a story I'll tell/ About a girl who tripped through the bottom of a well/ Woke up in a dream with a curious habit/ Chasing a little white rabbit// Well, she landed with a thump by the field mouse door/ Said 'This don't look like Kentucky anymore'/ Knock three times and her mind swung open/ Alice had awoken."

Not only is Tuttle an amazing songwriter with a lovely and expressive voice, but she's also a masterful guitar and banjo player known for her flatpicking, clawhammer, and crosspicking skills. Last year she won Best Bluegrass Album for Crooked Tree at the 65th annual Grammy Awards and was nominated for the all-genre Best New Artist award.

On Friday, June 14, at the Live Oak Music Festival at El Chorro Regional Park, you can see Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway headline the first night of the three-day fest. Also playing that day, you can see string band Long Forgotten, Afro funk and soul-jazz act The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, psychedelic doom boogie band TK and the Holy Know-Nothings, brass band mashers Brass Mash, and Latin soul star Trish Toledo. Visit liveoakfest.org for tickets and details.

The last SLOfolks show (really!)

SLOfolks says they're really done this time. Last December's Peppino D'Agostino show was billed as their last, but now The Bills will be their last on Saturday, June 1, at Castoro Cellars (doors at 6 p.m., show at 7; all ages; $30 at castorocellars.com/events/concerts/the-bills-2).

click to enlarge CANADA'S FINEST Juno Award-winner acoustic roots act The Bills plays the very last SLOfolks concert on June 1, at Castoro Cellars. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BILLS
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Bills
  • CANADA'S FINEST Juno Award-winner acoustic roots act The Bills plays the very last SLOfolks concert on June 1, at Castoro Cellars.

"OK, we misspoke," announced the SLOfolks board of directors. "We're not fully done. We're going to do one more show. Why? Well, the D'Agostino show could not have been sweeter. It was a beautiful way to wrap up 40-plus years of bringing world-class acoustic music to the Central Coast. But, in spite of both shows being sold out, it was a relatively small number of people and we felt that we had it in us to do one more outdoor show at Castoro Cellars."

So here come The Bills, a Canadian band that won multiple Juno Awards (Canada's equivalent to the Grammy Award).

"They're renowned for their instrumental virtuosity, lush vocal arrangements, and evocative songwriting," the SLOfolks board continued. "But gosh darn it, by the end of the day, they're an embodiment of everything we love about great acoustic music: The Bills are full of musical creativity, bring traditional and contemporary sound together, and are just pure fun. And, they felt so honored by our offer to be the very last act sponsored by SLOfolks that they agreed to put a small U.S. tour together to make it happen!"

It's going to be historic. There's limited seating, so you may want to bring a chair or blanket, and there's an option for a catered dinner.

The Siren

There are a bunch of shows at The Siren this week starting when (((folkYEAH!))) presents Pearl & The Oysters on Thursday, May 30 (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 at eventbrite.com). The LA-based indie/alternative duo delivers dreamy, drum machine-driven, synth-heavy, swirling cosmic pop rock. Dog Party opens.

click to enlarge DIZZYING (((folkYEAH!))) brings psyche rockers Wand to The Siren on May 31. They're touring in support of their new album, Vertigo. - COURTESY PHOTO BY ASAL SHAHINDOUST
  • Courtesy Photo By Asal Shahindoust
  • DIZZYING (((folkYEAH!))) brings psyche rockers Wand to The Siren on May 31. They're touring in support of their new album, Vertigo.

(((folkYEAH!))) returns with Wand on Friday, May 31 (doors at 7 p.m., show at 8; 21-and-older; $25 at eventbrite.com). Wand, fronted by Cory Hanson, is touring in support of their sixth album, Vertigo, and its first single, "Smile," and it's a swirling wall-of-sound psychedelic dream. Pancho and the Wizards opens.

I recently watched the Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black and was blown away by the lead actress Marisa Abela and her ability to capture Winehouse's signature sound. When I saw The Winehouse Experience was coming to The Siren on Saturday, June 1 (8:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $22 at tixr.com), I immediately went online to see if singer Mia Karter could also do Winehouse justice. I'm happy to report, from the limited video I saw, she nails it.

Folk singer-songwriter Willy Tea Taylor & The Fellowship plays on Tuesday, June 4 (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $15 at tixr.com), with the Turkey Buzzards opening. This is going to be a heapin' helpin' of good old fashioned folk music.

Finally, (((folkYEAH!))) brings LA rockers Starcrawler on Wednesday, June 5 (doors at 7 p.m., show at 8; 21-and-older; $20 at eventbrite.com). Featuring lead singer Arrow de Wilde, guitarist Henri Cash, bassist Tim Franco, drummer Seth Carolina, and pedal steel/guitar player Bill Cash, they're touring in support of their third album, She Said.

Rod & Hammer Rock

click to enlarge DOUBLE DUTY Violinist Tyson Leonard performs at Rod & Hammer Rock as Tropo and with his duo Elysian Moon on June 6, as part of Aurora's Light: A Lucidity Pre-Party. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TYSON LEONARD
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tyson Leonard
  • DOUBLE DUTY Violinist Tyson Leonard performs at Rod & Hammer Rock as Tropo and with his duo Elysian Moon on June 6, as part of Aurora's Light: A Lucidity Pre-Party.

Country troubadour Colby Acuff plays a SLO Brew Live show at Rod & Hammer Rock this Thursday, May 30 (doors at 7 p.m.; 18 and older; $20 at ticketweb.com). Expect honest, down to earth, country music.

Also this week at Rod & Hammer Rock, experience Aurora's Light: A Lucidity Pre-Party with EDM artists such as Tropo, Elysian Moon, Luna Jay, and others on Thursday, June 6 (doors at 7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 at ticketweb.com). Headliner Tropo features violinist Tyson Leonard, who's also part of the Elysian Moon, a cello and violin duo delivering dreamy electronic and hypnotic house music.

The Clark Center

What's your favorite Rod Stewart song? "Forever Young"? "The First Cut Is the Deepest"? "Hot Legs"? "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy"? Hear your favorites when Never a Dull Moment: A Tribute to Rod Stewart comes to the Clark Center on Friday, May 31 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $30 to $45 at clarkcenter.org). This tribute sextet is fronted by Stewart Sher, who according to the band's bio has "a powerful voice that captures all the subtle nuance of Rod Stewart himself." The concert begins with Rod's early years with Jeff Beck and the Faces and progresses through his solo career.

Cal Poly

If you've never heard the Forbes Organ, you'll have a chance this Friday, May 31, when renowned traditional organist Alcée Chriss III plays the next Forbes Organ Series concert in Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $35 at pacslo.org).

click to enlarge PIPE DREAM On May 31, see renowned traditional organist Alcée Chriss III when he plays the next Forbes Organ Series concert in Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAL POLY ARTS
  • Photo Courtesy Of Cal Poly Arts
  • PIPE DREAM On May 31, see renowned traditional organist Alcée Chriss III when he plays the next Forbes Organ Series concert in Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center.

This is a magnificent pipe organ, the type and scale of which fills cathedrals and grand concert halls. Technically, it's a Fisk Opus 129 organ, but it's called the Forbes Organ because generous benefactors Bert and Candace Forbes funded the instrument, which consists of 2,767 pipes. Chriss is the subject of the PBS documentary Pipe Dreams (2019) and winner of multiple prestigious organ competitions. You'll feel this instrument fill your entire being.

Also this week at the PAC, see Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble on Saturday, June 1 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $15 and $20 general, $10 students at the Cal Poly ticket office or (805) 756-4849).

"This show will continue the exploration of additive and especially long metric modes that have become a concert theme this academic year," Arab Music Ensemble Director Ken Habib said. "In terms of the organization of time that is inherent to music making and often involves patterns of two or three beats, the pieces on this program will feature 10, 13 and as many as 24 beats per measure."

Expect to hear works celebrated across Arab society. You'll also hear popular songs from Egypt, Greece, Iraq, and Romania.

The Cal Poly Wind Bands' spring concert and season finale will be in the PAC on Sunday, June 2 (3 p.m.; all ages; $15 and $20 general, $10 students at the Cal Poly ticket office or (805) 756-4849). Titled All Hail, Green and Gold!, the concert will also see the return of the Alumni Symphonic Band.

"We are delighted to welcome back our band alumni onstage, some dating back to the 1950s," Director of Bands Christopher J. Woodruff said. "The last time we gathered like this was in 2016 to celebrate the bands' centennial."

More music ...

The SLO County Jazz Federation presents its 39th Annual Jazz Piano Showcase on Sunday, June 2, in SLO's Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church (doors at 3:30 p.m., show at 4; all ages; $40 general admission, $30 for Jazz Fed members, $10 for students at my805tix.com). "The concert will feature some of the best pianists in the area: Jim Barnett, Mark Bocchicchio, George Garcia, Bob Harway, Marshall Otwell, and Madison Scott accompanied by Dylan Johnson on bass and Darrell Voss on drums," the Jazz Fed announced. "Proceeds are a major fundraiser for the Jazz Federation's annual student scholarships. (Doors at 3:30 p.m., show at 4; all ages; $40 general.)

click to enlarge YOUNG JAZZ LIONS The D.O.M. Jazz Quintet, comprised of players from the SLO High School Honors Jazz Band, plays Madonna Inn on June 5. - COURTESY PHOTO BY JEFF BOWEN
  • Courtesy Photo By Jeff Bowen
  • YOUNG JAZZ LIONS The D.O.M. Jazz Quintet, comprised of players from the SLO High School Honors Jazz Band, plays Madonna Inn on June 5.

The D.O.M. Jazz Quintet plays Madonna Inn this Wednesday, June 5 (6 to 8 p.m.; all ages; free). The group of players are from the SLO High School Honors Jazz Band, and they've been gigging around at places such as AMSTRDM Coffee House in Paso on Fridays and the Blue Moon Over Avila restaurant Tuesdays, polishing their chops. "These boys are charismatic old souls and truly honor wonderful classic jazz," jazz singer Genéte M. Bowen said.

Don't be a drag ... be a queen!

Central Coast Pride and the Fremont Theater present two days of fun when Rise Up—A Drag & Burlesque Pride Show comes to Downtown SLO on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1 (doors at 6 p.m., show at 7; 18 and older; $29 to $100 at prekindle.com).

"Witness the dazzling art of burlesque alongside the fierce and fabulous world of drag!" organizers announced. "Our performers will tantalize and titillate with show-stopping costumes, electrifying performances, and enough attitude to fill the room. It's a night you won't forget! So, grab your friends, dust off your best outfit, and get ready to be wowed!" Δ

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at [email protected].

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