Because my job entails scraping past the bullshit to unearth unusual, diverse areas of Vegas sound, I often take perverse pleasure in piling up wildly different genres into a single column. This week I may have outdone myself. Start baking me a cookie now, please.
First, neo-soul. Love this stuff, and the artist rekindling my passion for the genre is stunning singer Goapele (gwa-puh-LAY), who performs at 10 p.m. and midnight Nov. 25-26 at the Cosmopolitan’s Book & Stage. Goapele’s been making great music for a decade, but during the last five years she’s released little save for a 2010 World Cup-themed benefit song. The tournament was held in South Africa, where Goapele’s father, an exiled human-rights activist, was born. Goapele was raised in the Bay Area’s South African community, and her music speaks about isolation, grief, love and forgiveness. Her new album, Break of Dawn, is sensual, and its single, “Play,” is pure baby-making R&B. Best part, it’s free.
Japanese noise-rockers Melt-Banana flambés Bunkhouse Saloon (124 S. 11th St.) at 10 p.m. Nov. 25 with L.A. punk act 400 Blows. Melt-Banana plays fast, hard and chaotic, so much so that I frequently can’t tell what’s happening or even if my CD player is skipping. This Tokyo act has been around for nearly 20 years. They’ve released six studio albums, the most recent being Bambi’s Dilemma, which occasionally incorporates, well, melody and conventional pop hooks. But don’t be fooled. Fans of Butthole Surfers and Big Black will have a blast at this show. Bring earplugs, because no one mutilates amp volume-maxed guitars louder than Melt-Banana.
Classical-guitar music is pleasant, but I’m not a huge fan—unless we’re talking the haunting, finger-picked, nylon-stringed, flamenco-style songs of indie-rocker Mark Kozelek. But after catching up with classically trained, super-powered fretboard racers living in town—Ricardo Cobo, Raj Rathor, etc.—I’m learning to admire the sonic authority generated by a soloist sitting on a stool and shredding away. So I’m eager to hear and see in the flesh Martha Masters, artist-in-residence at UNLV, as she conducts a master class in the Beam Music Center, at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 and 6 p.m. Nov. 29. Technically not a concert recital, this is a (free) chance for the public to observe a master musician teach young guns how it’s done. Masters has won all the major international competitions (Segovia, GFA), recorded several albums and plays with incomparable technique.
Neo-soul, Japanese punk and classical guitar? I’m ready for my cookie!