Live Music Roundup: Friday, July 31

Firstly, Blitzen Trapper and Throw Me the Statue are playing a free show at the Seattle Center (at the Mural Amphitheater), which starts at 6 p.m. I suggest bringing a picnic. And don't worry -- I know it's cloudy now, but that's supposed to burn off this afternoon.

The Black Hollies, Boss Martians, The Knast, Georgetown Orbits, DJ Mamma at the Comet, 9 p.m., $6

Not quite the evil version of the Hollies you might expect, New Jersey's the Black Hollies are nonetheless all too enamored with '60s garage, rock, and soul. The quartet spun off from the unlikely source of iconoclastic post-hardcore cadets Rye Coalition, whose former bassist, Justin Morey, plays guitar and sings lead in the Black Hollies alongside two of his former bandmates. There's a very careful feel to the band's output, and on the video for the older single "Paisley Pattern Ground," every visual and sonic detail is a loving homage. Following in the steps of the albums Crimson Reflections and Casting Shadows, the band's new Softly Towards the Light comes out on Ernest Jenning in early October, armed with another sly single in "Gloomy Monday Morning." Inventiveness isn't high on the Black Hollies' list of priorities, but they know to usher some seedy psych decay into their otherwise tightly coiled, jangle-addled guitar-pop. DOUG WALLEN

Strutzfest at Whitehorse Mountain Amphitheater in Darrington, today and tomorrow, $40-$50

Do you like classic rock cover bands? Do you like them enough to camp out and endure two full days in the hot Skagit sun? If so, Strutzfest should be a veritable Woodstock. (Okay, you don't have to camp, although there's financial incentive to do so.) The festival's Saturday night closer is Hell's Belles, Bremerton's popular and durable all-female AC/DC cover band--but that's just the icing on the cake. Before the Money Talks, you'll be treated to acts covering Heart, ZZ Top, Neil Diamond, Jimi Hendrix, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as more all-encompassing outfits like the Beatniks, Magic Bus, Strutz, and the Davanos. The late guitarist Joe Shikany played in many of these bands, and died in a freak windstorm accident a couple weeks after performing in the inaugural Strutzfest last summer. This year's sweaty, beer-soaked meatfest will be dedicated to Shikany, widely regarded as one of the local bar-band scenes true princes. It's about the only type of homage Shikany would have wanted for himself. MIKE SEELY

Alejandro Escovedo at the Crocodile, 8 p.m., $20

It's not for nothing that Texan-born rock and roll veteran Alejandro Escovedo is heralded as the consummate songwriter's songwriter. Much like John Hiatt and Richard Thompson, Escovedo possesses the proverbial Midas touch at welding memorable lyrics with catchy chord progressions and crafting them into hooks. Like all master craftsmen, however, Escovedo's work doesn't initially betray the great skill that goes into making it. Moreover, on his latest album Real Animal, Escovedo manages to write about his musical past without exploiting it or resorting to cheap rock myth-mongering. Yes, Escovedo opened for the last-ever Sex Pistols show with his first band the Nuns. Yes, he saw Sid and Nancy's bodies get carted out of the Chelsea Hotel. Yes, another of his old bands, Rank And File, was at the cutting edge of cowpunk and alt-country long before such terms fell into vogue. But Escovedo does what so few others can by finding the humanity, wisdom, and songs in that pile of worn guitar cases and fading memories. When Escovedo looks back, he does so not as a caricature, but as an adult--a creature found all too rarely even among the most wrinkled rock and rollers.

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