Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week

Jess Williamson, Ondara, Cherubs, Blushing, and more recommended shows

photo by Jackie Lee Young

Jess Williamson Album Release

Continental Club, Friday 9 – Saturday 10Waterloo Records, Sunday 11

Jess Williamson last visited the Continental Club to see Dale Watson on her 30th birthday. Now 35, the Austin-launched, L.A.-and-Marfa-based songwriter lands an ideal musical homecoming. Williamson will play two nights at the Continental: June 9 with Jesse Woods, marking the release of her fantastic fifth record, Time Ain't Accidental, and June 10 with Scott Ballew. Both openers are old friends from her days as a UT-Austin photojournalism student turned folk singer.

Having blossomed her early banjo sound into a deeply felt wash of country and pop with razor-sharp writing, Williamson also plays a free solo set at Waterloo Records on Sunday, June 11, at 5pm. Among an array of Texas scenes on the new Mexican Summer release, Williamson aims her poignant gaze on Austin in "God in Everything," specifically referencing some 'til-4am action at her favorite local brasserie. In her sweetly savage intonation, she sings: "The boys back home all worship Dylan and Townes/ And they're at Justine's 'cause it's after hours."

"I went through that whole process of thinking I was totally letting Austin go, and now I miss it so much," she says. "I can't wait to get there and play these shows, and I'm even wondering if it won't be too much longer until I live there again, because I really miss it." Read our full interview with Williamson here.  – Rachel Rascoe

Ondara, Kiely Connell

3ten ACL Live, Saturday 10

J.S. Ondara's third LP, last year's Spanish Villager No. 3, opened up new sonic territory for the Kenya-born, Minneapolis-based songwriter. Although still anchored in his warm tenor and deeply poetic imagery that earned 2019 debut Tales of America a Grammy nod, the new album expands with lusher sounds and heavier percussion, bursting with a more vibrant pop playfulness. Ondara excels in surfacing a universal connection through tales of displacement, a loneliness filled with joy of discovery and evolution. Ondara's latest tour returns to his early solo roots, with Nashville's Kiely Connell opening behind 2021 debut Calumet Queen.  – Doug Freeman

Cherubs, Rid of Me, Pinko

Lost Well, Sunday 11

Austin-born a quarter-century earlier as a key component of the pioneering local post-punk scene (Scratch Acid, Butthole Surfers, Ed Hall) and disbanded the year Kurt Cobain killed himself, the screeching noiseniks reunited a decade ago to produce gleefully galvanizing bashers 2 YNFYNYTY (2015) and Immaculada High (2019). Low ceilings at Lost Well issue a challenge: Can the trio and its O.G. faithful breach said barrier atop the grime-pop bounce of bassist Pete Shore (since 2020), guitarist Kevin Whitley, and drummer Brent Prager?  – Raoul Hernandez

David Murray/Kahil El’Zabar Duo

Draylen Mason Studio, Sunday 11

Saxophonist David Murray almost casually flits back and forth between traditional accessibility and the freest of free jazz, while percussionist/vocalist Kahil El'Zabar explores every avenue that percussion can explore within music. The pair has played in each other's bands for over 30 years and has the kind of chemistry about which players dream. Contrary to expectations, this duo's interaction won't only be sculpted chaos and controlled explosions, especially given each man's deep love of soulful blues. This kind of jazz rarely makes it to our town, so this is a special event. Presented, naturally, by local treasure Epistrophy Arts.  – Michael Toland

Blushing, Sour Widows, alexalone

The Ballroom, Wednesday 14

Dream-pop quartet Blushing returns to Austin after playing three Japan shows last month. Tinged with haunting melodies, Possessions swims in an ethereality reminiscent of Cocteau Twins. The two husband-and-wife pairs diffuse their wanderlust in a heap of sweeping, distorted guitars and beguiling vocals. Grainy wonder and introspection loom on the album: "You don't wanna be struck down/ But you love to feel the ground/ ... Can you turn the hate to the healing?" ("Weight"). The gentle discography of Sour Widows burns slow and heavy fretwork, while alexalone's erupts into psychedelic flames and rapid percussion.  – Angela Lim

Steve Hackman’s Brahms x Radiohead

Palmer Events Center, Thursday 15

It's difficult to imagine the commonalities between the 19th-century work of Johannes Brahms' First Symphony and Radiohead's 1997 OK Computer. Yet conductor Steve Hackman will be leading the Austin Symphony Orchestra and three vocalists in performing an exploratory rendition of both works, as an orchestral and chamber music palette guides moody interpretations of hits like "Karma Police" and "Paranoid Android." A fusion of both artists, the Grammy-awarded band's lyrics will at times embellish Brahms' original pieces, while the classical composer's Romantic motifs will alternately weave through Radiohead's melodies.  – Alejandra Ramirez

Farmer’s Wife, EXOTIC FRUITICA, Geranium Drive

Hotel Vegas, Thursday 15

Sludge, after conjuring imagery of a goopy mess on sole release "Greg Abbott's Maxi Pad," now goes by Farmer's Wife. A change in name only, the grunge-and-surf-mixing quartet keeps the same glamorous, troublemaking attitude in their music. Speaking of new, high-speed punks EXOTIC FRUITICA will introduce their fresh single. With new guitarist Carlos Ernesto Cruz V's bolting riffs spicing up performances, the group electrifies audiences across the city. Rounding out the array of locally sourced rock, Geranium Drive sustains mellow Sixties psychedelia with 2022 single "Movies," while fourpiece Kali Yuga pulls exploratory post-punk like last year's "Sun and Moon."  – Adam Cherian

Music Notes

by Derek Udensi

Alternative Symphony

Scoot Inn, Friday 9

The organization's USA tour tributing Dr. Dre begins in Austin. Alternative Symphony covers artists with use of a full orchestra; this particular national trek homes in on the Compton luminary's 2001 album. Imagine the iconic piano line of "Still D.R.E." with added brass, perhaps.

Rock Lottery

Hotel Vegas, Saturday 10

With a premise suitable for a MTV reality television show in the Aughts, the first Rock Lottery divides 16 musicians from various local bands into four random quartets at 10am. From there, each group has until showtime later that night to create three to five songs (with a one-cover song limit). Musicians include Sydney Harding-Sloan (Hey Cowboy!), KindKeith, and Nolan Potter.

Benny Benassi

Devil May Care, Sunday 11

The Italian electro house DJ/producer, known for songs such as "Cinema" and Chris Brown's "Beautiful People," hosts a day party.

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