Austin music this week: Kool & the Gang, Elvis/Bowie birthday bash, Pink Martini and more
Here are our top picks among live music options in the Austin area for Jan. 6-12. Check venue websites for COVID-19 protocols and any pandemic-related postponements or cancellations.
Kool & the Gang, Mélat at ACL Live. The iconic smash “Celebration” was just one of a dozen top-10 hits Kool & the Gang racked up during the 1970s and ’80s – enough to keep the New Jersey outfit rolling for more than five decades. They were just here a few weeks ago, closing out the Formula 1 Grand Prix, but here’s another chance to see them without Circuit of the Americas traffic jams. Arrive early for Mélat, one of Austin’s most compelling R&B-pop performers in recent years. $59-$90. 8 p.m. acllive.com.
Kelly Willis, Brennen Leigh & Melissa Carper at Saxon Pub. Kicking off a six-show run in Texas, Tennessee and Georgia, this songwriters-circle show features three women who have thrived with left-of-center country music in both Austin and Nashville. Virginia native Willis arrived in Austin as a teen in the mid-late 1980s and worked with Nashville label MCA on a string of 1990s albums that set the stage for a stellar career. Leigh now lives in Nashville but spent many years in Austin and wrote her most recent album, “Prairie Love Letter,” about her childhood years in the upper Midwest. Like Leigh, Carper also moved to Nashville after making strides in Austin with bluegrass/old-time band the Carper Family. $25. 8 p.m. thesaxonpub.com.
BowiElvis Fest at Far Out Lounge. Born 12 years apart on Jan. 8 – 1935 for Elvis Presley, 1947 for David Bowie – these two pop music icons might otherwise seem an odd fit for a dual tribute. But Houston label Splice Records has been presenting this birthday bash in both Austin and Houston for more than a decade, so it seems to have become a post-holiday tradition of sorts. Performers will include Graveltooth, Brian Scartocci and Electric Gold, plus burlesque from Dem Damn Dames as well as face painting and a costume contest. 7 p.m. doors. $15-$20. thefaroutaustin.com.
Pat Byrne vinyl release with Western Youth at 04 Center. Irish expat Byrne’s “Into the Light,” released digitally and on CD this summer, was one of Austin’s best albums of 2021. Now the vinyl’s ready, and Byrne will celebrate with a gig at this converted church space that has become one of the city’s top listening rooms since opening in 2019. Western Youth, arguably the top local Americana band of the past few years, opens. (This show was postponed from Dec. 18; tickets to that date are good for this one.) $20-$35. 7 p.m. 04center.com.
Parker Jazz Club fourth anniversary. When local musician Kris Kimura opened Parker in 2018, it was a welcome expansion of Austin’s downtown jazz scene beyond the long-running Elephant Room. Parker is a more formal room by comparison, but the atmosphere is still friendly and welcoming. The club occasionally features touring talent such as noted jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton, whose trio is there on Friday and Saturday this week. But its bread-and-butter is hometown acts, which makes it fitting that this anniversary bash will feature the Parker House Band of pianist Ryan Davis, bassist Ben Triesch, drummer Jeremy Bruch and Kimura himself. $20. 8 p.m. Reservations required at parkerjazzclub.com; the website also will present livestream of the performance, with donations for the Texas Jazz Society accepted.
Shinglers at Meanwhile Brewing. With their 2021 debut album “Cosmic Range Oven,” the Shinglers “have come out of nowhere as a fully formed honky-tonk force to be reckoned with, delivering nine original songs that hearken back to the glory days of Gram Parsons’ circa-1970 band the Flying Burrito Brothers,” we wrote in a review of the album last year. Here’s a chance to hear them live at one of the city’s best outdoor venues. Free. 7 p.m. meanwhilebeer.com.
Pink Martini at Paramount Theatre. Pianist and composer Thomas Lauderdale led this ambitious and eclectic pop collective from humble mid-’90s beginnings in Portland, Oregon – where they were like an antidote to Pacific Northwest grunge at the time – into an international sensation. Singer China Forbes will be featured out front at this show, leading the group through a repertoire that ranges from classical to pop to jazz to world music and beyond. $25-$65. 8 p.m. austintheatre.org.