In this week’s episode of Sacramento musicmakers doing newsworthy things: A Midtown bluesman scores an opening slot with two rock legends; a local rapper and soul-singer invite us to catch a glimpse of the Broadway struggle; and The Rise of Hobo Johnson has yet to peak.
If you’ve found yourself at one of the downtown dives that regularly host open-mics and chill music sets—spots like Kupros Craft House, Torch Club and the Shady Lady Saloon—Then you’ve probably seen Michael Ray in mid-hustle on the mic and the guitar, playing B.B. King-style licks solo or with his backing band.
Well, next Thursday, July 26, Ray will play to a soccer stadium full of rock ’n’ roll fans who likely wear cheap sunglasses or drink alone, this time at Papa Murphy’s Park in Cal Expo. He’s opening for ZZ Top, the bearded brothers who wrote the iconic “La Grange,” and George Thorogood, the hard rock lone-wolf most famous for “Bad to the Bone” (accompanied by his band, The Destroyers).
Call it a steady incline for the Sac native, who’s opened for blues master Robert Cray a handful of times, released a full-length album this year titled Raw, and put out a Snarky-Puppy-esque live LP recorded by neighborhood sound-engineer-extraordinaire Ira Skinner at the name-worthy Gold Standard Studios. Tickets to the Papa Murphy’s Park show are $49.50-$275. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. For tickets: ticketmaster.com.
Meanwhile, can postal carriers struggling to survive be the unwitting messengers of institutional oppression? Check out the music video for “Broadway,” released last Friday, and witness emcee POOR Majesty’s sermon on life in Sacramento: “Barbecue spots and black-owned barbershops, cameras on every block while them boys just watch. Hard to feel at home with hella cops in helicopters over these modern day sharecroppers … the landlords say they’re building condos, and they don’t want the rent raised so we’re out, pronto.”
POOR, one-third of the rap trio Tribe of Levi, collaborated with singer-songwriter Sené Goss, who in the chorus invites the listener to experience what she calls a “beautiful struggle” and “invisible tragedy” downtown. POOR rhymes about rent control, police brutality and the New Jim Crow as the neighborhood mailman, and the video’s heavy turning point is something that—spoiler alert—you should watch for yourself.
And Hobo Johnson & the LoveMakers are still coming for everyone. On a North American tour leg right now, Johnson and the gang have been selling out 500ish- capacity venues across the UK, U.S. and Canada since June, riding the viral wave of their unrequited-love song “Peach Scone” and promoting the band’s second album, The Rise of Hobo Johnson.
The band canceled its Concerts in the Park show slated for July 13 (Rituals of Mine headlined instead), and the closest they’ll come to Sac this summer is for Outside Lands in San Francisco (Sunday, August 12), sharing the bill with Janet Jackson, Janelle Monae and The Internet. Tickets range from one-day passes ($149.50) to 3-day VIP ($795). For tickets and lineup info: sfoutsidelands.com.