As January slides into February, there are plenty of midwinter music options to heat things up. Here’s a look at some noteworthy offerings in the coming week:
Tuesday: Havana Cuba All-Stars & Dancers – Comprised of some of Cuba’s greatest and most prominent musicians, the Havana Cuba All-Stars bring their joyous music back to the Northeast Kingdom two years after their first tour of the U.S. and Canada.
Inspired by the rhythms of traditional Cuban music, the talented ensemble was formed over 20 years ago by bandleader/trumpeter Michel Padron and lead vocalist/conga player Vicente Arencibia. Joining the fiesta this time around are three of Cuba’s greatest dancing couples.
The Havana Cuba All-Stars & Dancers perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Fuller Hall, St. Johnsbury Academy. Tickets are $15-$48 (students free); call 802-748-2600 or go online to www.kcppresents.org or www.catamountarts.org.
Wednesday: Robert Walter’s 20th Congress — Southern California keyboard wizard Robert Walter — a co-founder of legendary jazz-funk group the Greyboy Allstars, and a recent addition to Phish bassist Mike Gordon’s band — makes a rare area appearance in support of a new album, “Spacesuit,” released last fall.
A 10-song collection featuring an all-new lineup of his band, 20th Congress, the album takes its inspiration from science fiction movies and comic books-in addition to such musical styles as dub reggae, krautrock, and especially the electric jazz fusion of the 1970s and ‘80s.
“I love the earliest fusion records, the idea of jazz-rock,” Walter, 48, told Relix. “Yes, it’s self-indulgent when people are playing fancy music for its own sake; it became a caricature of itself after a while. But I don’t mind. I’ll bring it back. I’m claiming it.”
Robert Walter’s 20th Congress and opener Barika perform at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, S. Burlington. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 day of show (all ages); call 877-987-6487 or go online to www.highergroundmusic.com.
Friday: Rayland Baxter — The son of pedal steel maestro Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams), Rayland Baxter has been making a name for himself as one of the more intriguing singer-songwriters around. The lauded Nashville troubadour, 34, returns in support of his third album, “Wide Awake,” released in July on ATO Records.
“Baxter channels his inner Paul McCartney, cranks the melodies up to 11, and makes a masterful play for the pop-rock middle,” said PopMatters of the album, calling it “a great record, full of catchy choruses and classic pop-rock sheen, marrying Baxter’s folk roots with lush, bouncy 1960s arrangements.”
Rayland Baxter and opener Illiterate Light perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, S. Burlington. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 day of show (all ages); call 877-987-6487 or go online to www.highergroundmusic.com.
Feb. 1: Ryan Montbleau — The soulful Massachusetts-born singer-songwriter who now calls Burlington home performs solo in support of a new live album, “Woodstock Sessions,” released in October. The album is a follow-up to his excellent 2017 album, “I Was Just Leaving,” and a stellar duo album “Yes Darling,” with singer Hayley Jane.
Ryan Montbleau (solo) performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 at ArtsRiot, Burlington. Tickets are $20 (all ages); call 802-540-0406 or go online to www.artsriot.com.
Saturday, Feb. 2: The Lil Smokies, Michigan Rattlers — Missoula, Montana progressive bluegrass band The Lil Smokies and Michigan-born, Los Angeles-based roots-rock trio Michigan Rattlers team up for a dynamite double bill. Fans of bands like Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown and Old 97’s will find a lot to like about Michigan Rattlers, touring in support of a stellar new album, “Evergreen,” released last fall.
The Lil Smokies and Michigan Rattlers perform at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge, S. Burlington. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 day of show (all ages); call 877-987-6487 or go online to www.highergroundmusic.com.