Boston lost one of its rock greats this past week with the death of the namesake guitarist for the J. Geils Band. Co-founder Geils didn’t grab the spotlight as much as harp whammer-jammer Magic Dick or slashing keyboardist Seth Justman but helped anchor the combustible engine behind frontman Peter Wolf (pictured). Wolf’s been largely quiet beyond a social media post of “Thinking of all the times we kicked it high and rocked down the house! R.I.P. Jay Geils,” but the singer’s bound to address his former bandmate when he brings his Midnight Travelers to Fall River’s Narrows Center for the Arts on both Friday and Saturday. Wolf often brings a roots-music feel to Geils Band classics in addition to his fine solo fare, much like guitarist Geils returned to his love for jazz and blues in later years.
Another band with local roots, the Magnetic Fields have often toured in stripped-down form behind singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt. But a septet version of the indie-rockers will wield multiple instruments at the Berklee Performance Center on Friday and Saturday to color the entire expanse of Merritt’s autobiographical 50 Song Memoir. You can jump here to my recent chat with Merritt, who’ll play in the shell of a giant dollhouse as the group splits the album between two nights.
World Music/CRASHarts offers two distinct options for Friday night in the return of Bulgarian women’s folk choir Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares to the Somerville Theatre in addition to Saharan desert-blues rockers Tinariwen at Royale. The jazz super-trio of pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding charms Scullers Jazz Club both Friday and Saturday. And hear the budding stars of Boston’s local rock scene at Somerville’s Once Ballroom for the Friday and Saturday semifinals of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble (schedule here).
Saturday also brings pop upstart Betty Who to Royale and the Ryan Montbleau Band to the Sinclair, while the long weekend (counting Patriots Day with the Boston Marathon) closes with the rare return of PJ Harvey to House of Blues, fronting her textural big band in support of topical, Grammy-nominated album The Hope Six Demolition Project.