Wednesday, Jan. 14
PLAN A: Chuchito Valdes @ Anthology. The second in three generations of Cuban jazz pianists, Valdes carries on “la dinastia” with jams worthy of the Buena Vista Social Club. PLAN B: Bill Cardinal, John Meeks, The Flowerthief, Katy Wong @ Ruby Room. Yet another local country act to catch my ear, Bill Cardinal isn't womanizing, drinking and drifting in Nashville or Memphis, but on the California coast. BACKUP PLAN: Marc Broussard, Jessie Baylin, Josh Hoge @ Belly Up Tavern.
Thursday, Jan. 15
PLAN A: Boyz II Men @ House of Blues. I'm not going to cheapen my nostalgic joy by ironically embracing a group that defined my early childhood. “Motownphilly” was good when I was 8, and I continue to stand behind that. See also: Looney Tunes, grilled cheese, Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever, etc. PLAN B: The Knitters, The Farmers, The Cheap Leis @ Belly Up Tavern. Twenty-three years back, John, Exene and D.J. from X formed a band with Dave Alvin called The Knitters. Aside from fewer lyrics about sex, they sound just like the country version of X. There's a shocker. PLAN C: The Stitches, Les Hatepinks @ Bar Pink. Les Hatepinks refuse to bow to the tyranny of MySpace. Just so we're on the same page, everyone agrees that wearing pink and rejecting social networking sites is what makes a band punk, right? BACKUP PLAN: Citizen of the Year, Secret Apollo @ Soda Bar.
Friday, Jan. 16
PLAN A: El Vez, Mex @ The Casbah. What more needs to be said about a former punk rocker who's made his name as a Mexican Elvis impersonator—other than that it might be the most entertaining act you've ever seen? PLAN B: Stanley Clarke @ Anthology. One of the world's best bassists, Clarke continues to refine the jazz-fusion technique he pioneered in the mid-'70s. Plus, he composed the soundtrack to Passenger 57. Somewhere in prison, Wesley Snipes asks his cellmate, “Ever play roulette? Always bet on black!” PLAN C: The Bankhead Press @ Soda Bar. The Bankhead Press digs Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and The Meters. Consequently, I dig The Bankhead Press. Sometimes it's that simple.
Saturday, Jan. 17
PLAN A: The Album Leaf, Ilya, Via Satellite @ The Casbah. Tom Waits' “Big in Japan” should be The Album Leaf's official theme song. Everybody in San Diego knows who they are, but in the Far East, they're bigger than Hello Kitty and $400 Nikes. PLAN B: 3 Inches of Blood, Toxic Holocaust, Early Man @ SOMA. Every evening, right before he goes to bed, 3 Inches of Blood singer Cam Pipes glares at the mirror, imagining that he's Bruce Dickinson. With a gleam in his eye and an ache in his heart, he demands, “Tell me why I have to be a Powerslave!” PLAN C: The Dwarves @ Brick By Brick. Once upon a time, The Dwarves were nearly the most dangerous band in America, until they started making rap songs and vocalist Blag Dahlia got knocked out by Josh Homme. But any band with enough poor taste to title an album Blood, Guts and Pussy is worth a shot.
Sunday, Jan. 18
PLAN A: Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars @ Epicentre (6 p.m.). The basis for School of Rock with Jack Black, this national music program has picked its best East Coast talent and sent them on tour. The youngsters have recently performed material by King Crimson and Frank Zappa, easily blowing the fictional version away. PLAN B: Three Mile Pilot, Little White Teeth, Theresa Andersson @ The Casbah. Stand outside and give passersby your best puppy-dog face, because all three of Three Mile Pilot's reunion shows are sold out. Maybe if you give Rob Crow a new Nintendo DS game, he'll let you in for free.
Monday, Jan. 19
PLAN A: The Walkmen, Beach House @ Belly Up Tavern. Can you handle the epic bummers peddled by these two East Coast misery merchants? Audience members should receive a cyanide capsule upon entry, just in case they aren't strong enough to make it 'til the end. PLAN B: Rumi, The Test Dream @ Soda Bar. Rumi is a group of eight dudes from New York, and apparently, they're traveling cross-country in the same van. Please, buy them a few drinks for the sake of their sanity.
Tuesday, Jan. 20
PLAN A: Curumin @ The Loft at UCSD. Luciano Nakata Albuquerque has a musical track record even longer and more diverse than his name. His latest, Japan Pop Show, is a journey through Brazilian pop, hip-hop, rock, funk, jazz and just about every other genre known to man. PLAN B: Silverleaf, Ryan Blue @ Beauty Bar. Even more indie-folk emerges from the local bar scene. Funny, I thought I was living in San Diego, not Austin.