Weekend Music Ideas: April 20, 2018

Brad Mehldau, Buffalo Tom, the Residents, Herb Alpert and more


Spring finally kicks in with a diverse abundance of live music. Brad Mehldau (pictured) gets deeply conversational with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard when the longtime Brad Mehldau Trio continues its intimate three-night stand at Scullers Jazz Club on Friday and Saturday. Turning to a rock trio, Boston’s own Buffalo Tom gathers no moss, adding tunes from its rich new Quiet and Peace to favorites from the heyday of ’90s alt-rock when the band plays the Paradise Rock Club on Friday. The same night brings a potent, guitar-heavy double bill of the Afghan Whigs and Built to Spill to House of Blues. And blues-folk journeyman Chris Smither taps acoustic avenues at the Sinclair with guitarist/producer David Goodrich and ex-Morphine drummer Billy Conway, while poignant folksinger Mary Gauthier (whose latest album Rifes and Rosary Beads speaks to the lives of veterans and their families) plays Marblehead’s Me and Thee Coffeehouse.

Saturday finds the mysteriously oblique and anonymous avant-rock collective the Residents invading the Brighton Music Hall, while alto saxophonist/singer Grace Kelly branches out with her pop-informed jazz at City Winery. Timeless roots-rockers Los Lobos return to the Cabot in Beverly the same night. And New York’s funky post-punk Bush Tetras—a feminist sonic counterpart of sorts to England’s Gang of Four—hit the Middle East Upstairs with Muck and the Mires and (natch) a DJ set from ex-Gang drummer/now Boston college professor Hugo Burnham. Winding out Saturday’s slate, Americana rockers the Mallett Brothers Band play Somerville’s Once Ballroom with fellow Maine resident Jon Fishman on drums (yes, he happens to anchor a somewhat popular jamband named Phish).

For Sunday, you won’t find three more divergent acts than flamboyant British hard-rockers the Darkness at Royale, onetime Tijuana Brass trumpeter Herb Alpert and his wife Lani Hall (former singer for Brasil 66) at City Winery, and ’60s Motown hit-makers Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and founding Supremes member Mary Wilson at Lexington’s Cary Hall.

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