Saints, Helmets and wizards

I’m writing this by candlelight, minus an Internet connection, as high-speed desert gusts have wiped out power here at my downtown abode. The sound of fierce wind whistling against the fronds of my old-growth palm trees is distressing, to say the least. Creepy weather has got me in a dark, anticipatory mood for this week’s live music calendar. Can’t wait to see and hear wicked things coming this way.

Speaking of howling noises, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The strangest, most intriguing band in Vegas right now is post-apocalyptic Americana act Scrap Iron Saints. I’m not sure how to describe these guys better than this: Imagine the Pogues trapped on the set of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior with an acoustic guitar, accordion, washboard, cello, viola, mandolin and drum kit at their irradiated disposal.

I recently spoke via phone with frontman/concertina player Vindol Parker, who reveals that his band has at least a half-dozen new songs in their set list, including “Ballad of Nikola Tesla” (a futuristic take on the famous inventor), “Pirates of the Salt Waste” (about pirates taking control of the Mormon temple), and “The First Shot” (about shooting zombies in the head first, asking questions later). The Saints are currently holed up in an undisclosed recording studio preparing for the release of their first 7-inch record. But they’re braving the elements to play The Beat Coffeehouse (520 E. Fremont St.) inside the Emergency Arts building at 8 p.m. May 19.

Remember Helmet and its hard-core-meets-Ozzy rock anthem “Unsung” from the breakout album Meantime? The band put out a few more albums for the Interscope label before inconsistent personnel led frontman Paige Hamilton to self-release Helmet’s seventh and most recent album, Seeing Eye Dog, the band’s first effort since 2004. With the exception of an odd Beatles cover (“And Your Bird Can Sing”), Dog is down-and-dirty punk/noise/metal of the best kind, and a welcome return to form. Helmet straps it on at 9 p.m. May 21 at Cheyenne Saloon. In addition to new cuts such as the raging yet melodic “Welcome to Algiers,” I’m eager to hear the old warhorse, Meantime-era “Ironhead.” On a much different note, not many people know about my affection for early smooth jazz. One of my favorite artists in this much-maligned genre is keyboardist Jeff Lorber, whose fusion band created chops-heavy masterpieces such as Wizard Island. Incidentally, this album introduced the world to saxophonist Kenny Gorelick, who later shortened his name to Kenny G and sold millions of records. (Kenny’s not playing with Lorber these days, sadly.) As part of the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department’s free Jazz in the Park concert series, Jeff Lorber Fusion performs on May 21. Pack a picnic and drive to the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater (500 S. Grand Central Parkway) by 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show. Free parking, too. Jeff Lorber Fusion reformed after 30 years for last year’s Grammy-nominated Now Is the Time. May this elevator ride never end!

Suggested Next Read

Elvis Is King


Elvis Is King

By Jarret Keene

Sometimes you think you’ve completely figured out an artist, especially when you possess all 32 of his studio albums, plus most, if not all, of his many live recordings, compilations, boxed sets, film scores and reissues. But the vast imagination of a musician such as Elvis Costello can never be exhausted—it threatens to exhaust you.