Spring arts 2019 | Top music picks in San Diego: Gary Clark Jr., Chris Thile, Morgan James, Father John Misty and more


Spring in San Diego means more music in more venues, as the outdoor concert season gets under way.

Morgan James

Broadway vocal veteran James, 27, shines whether doing original numbers or putting her spin on Motown standards and classics by everyone from Nina Simone and Nirvana to Prince and Joni Mitchell. She has also ably covered all 30 songs from 1968 double-album “The Beatles.” 8 p.m. April 2. House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave., downtown. $30-$35. (800) 745-3000.

The Messthetics, with Craig Wedren

The Messthetics teams edgy guitarist Anthony Pirog with bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty, both alums of the pioneering punk-rock band Fugazi. Together, they make intense instrumental music that is brainy and brawny. 9:30 p.m. April 11. Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd., Middletown. $12-$14. Must be 21 or older to attend. (619) 231-4355.

“This Includes You!” featuring Pinback, El Ten Eleven, John Reis, Rob Crow, The Color Forty-Nine

This is a benefit concert for the special education program of San Diego’s Museum School, a tuition-free public charter school near Balboa Park. Pinback co-founder Rob Crow will appear with his band and debut a new musical project with Rocket From The Crypt mastermind John Reis. 8:30 p.m. April 20. The Music Box, 1337 India St., downtown. $22-$75. Must be 21 or older to attend. (619) 795-1337.

Chris Thile

Fresh from his latest Grammy Award victory in February, mandolin master Chris Thile is a San Diego native and co-founder of the bands Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers. His solo concerts usually mix original compositions, Bach cantatas and bluegrass staples into an intoxicating blend. 8 p.m. April 24. Baker-Baum Concert Hall, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. $35-$85. (858) 459-3728.

El Gran Festival de Musica Cubana

This celebration of Cuban music features three original members of the groundbreaking Buena Vista Social Club — Juan De Marcos, Eliades Ochoa and Jesus Aguaje Ramos — along with gifted newcomer Ibrahim Ferrer, Jr. and a 50th anniversary performance by the ebullient band Los Van Van. 8 p.m. May 24. Humphreys (on sale 10 a.m. April 6) Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island. $85.

Gary Clark Jr.

Texas-bred singer, guitarist and songwriter Gary Clark Jr. is steeped in the blues but equally conversant with funk, rock, hip-hop, vintage soul, reggae and more. The result, especially on stage, is both raw and carefully calibrated for maximum impact. 8 p.m. May 22. Events Center, Harrah’s Resort SoCal, 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center. $39.50-$211.46. Must be 18 or older to attend. (800) 745-3000.

Little Feat 50th anniversary tour

Two of their original members are long dead, but Little Feat endures. Credit its superior musicianship and a slew of classic songs that includes such gems as “Willin’,” “Apolitical Blues” and “Dixie Chicken,” the song that gave the Dixie Chicks their name. 8 p.m. May 24. Humphreys Concerts by the Bay, 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island. $55.

Father John Misty, Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, Jade Bird

Father John Misty and Jason Isbell are assured troubadours who can expertly hold an audience’s attention. Arrive early for 21-year-old English songstress Jade Bird, whose 2018 show here at the Casbah was rich in promise. 7:30 p.m. June 6. Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre at SDSU, 5500 Campanile Drive, College Area. $19.50-$69.50. (800) 745-3000.

Jazzmeia Horn

Jazzmeia Horn was just 21 when she won the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and 23 when she won the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. Her brief but riveting 2017 Jazz at the Jacobs performance here left no doubt she’s a star in the making. 7 p.m., 9 p.m. June 8. The JAI @ The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. $25-$39. (858) 459-3728.

Brad Paisley with Chris Lane and Riley Green

Country-rocking dynamo Brad Paisley readily acknowledges that a good number of his songs are designed as vehicles for his guitar playing, not his singing. But so what? Anyone who picks with such consistent verve and fluency should fire away at will. 7:30 p.m. June 1. North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista. $39-$268. (800) 745-3000.

Father John Misty
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Twitter @georgevarga