Young Dolph will bring his syrup-drenched rhymes and Southern swagger to Seattle on Saturday.
This week, our music critics have picked everything from the experimental music showcase Space is the Place Festival to the DJ dance night Night Crush Turns 4! to the Finnish-focused Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series. Follow the links below for ticket links and music clips for all of their picks, and find even more shows on our complete music calendar and our complete guide to Seattle events in 2019.

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THURSDAY

BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

A Celtic New Year Celebration with The Gothard Sisters
Celebrate the new year with the Gothard Sisters—a trio of siblings based in Edmonds—as they play contemporary Celtic music, including tracks from their chart-topping album Midnight Sun

THURSDAY-SUNDAY

SOUL/R&B

Los Lobos
Fun fact: The Ritchie Valens music you hear in 1987 film biopic La Bamba are covers of his tunes as recorded by Los Lobos. It wasn’t just the film’s title track, which jetted East LA’s most prodigious Chicano rock band to the top of the charts in both the US and the UK. It’s why the music sound so vibrant and alive and… present, lacking that 1950s vintage gossamer. Los Lobos formed in 1973 and have released upwards of 20 albums in their venerable career. They mix elements of Tex-Mex and traditional Latin music with rock, country, folk, R&B, blues, and soul, as driven by multi-instrumental frontman David Hidalgo (his main instrument is ax, but he also juggles accordion, fiddle, bajo sexto, and requinto jarocho, among others) and singer-guitarist dark-sunglasses-wearing Cesar Rosas. Live, they’ve been known to cover artists ranging from Grateful Dead to Howlin’ Wolf to the obligatory Valens nod. You’re bound to hear aplenty during their four-night Seattle run. LEILANI POLK

FRIDAY

DANCE

Mamma Mia!
Shimmy and shake to the biggest, sparkliest hits of the '70s, with a special feature of tracks from the ABBA discography, thanks to DJ Disco Vinnie.

HIPHOP/RAP

Nappy Roots, the Bad Tenants, Hold in Fyah Ft. JMoe, New Track City, DJ Indica Jones
Kentucky-brewed alt-hiphop group Nappy Roots are longtime purveyors of greasy, Southern-drawling rap that has a faster pace and more easygoing upbeat-ness than others in the same regional sonic realms. They will just as soon offer up lyrical musings on poverty (“Po’ Folks”) as bouncing, laid-back bravado (“Awnaw”) or appreciation for the simple things in life (see “Good Day,” its optimistic hook delivered by a chorus of chipper children and somehow not annoying). They’ve released seven LPs over 16 years, though their latest output is a new single, “Spinach Dip,” full of modern ganja references (sample line: “Used to roll blunts, now I pack vape pipes”) and backup singers cooing, “So high, so high, so high.” LEILANI POLK

JAZZ

Space is the Place Festival
Born Herman Poole Blount in 1914, Sun Ra was a unique being who created his own bizarre sonic omniverse. The adventurous keyboardist/composer/arranger and his massive Arkestra did to jazz what NASA did to aeronautics—took it to the extremes of human consciousness. After Sun Ra's death in 1993, his band continued to purvey his avant-garde legacy, led by saxophonist/flautist/EVI player Marshall Allen, who's now 94 and still full of fiery inventiveness. He will guide the 14-member Sun Ra Arkestra at a Seattle festival called Space Is the Place, named after one of Sun Ra's most beloved compositions, a piece that combines earworm chants and fierce melodic beauty. Like much of the Arkestra's most fascinating output, it's always on the verge of toppling into chaos, yet it maintains a sense of revelatory progression. DAVE SEGAL

FRIDAY-SATURDAY

VARIOUS

Sixth Annual Big Ass Boom Box Festival
Early January is the live-music doldrums, so this free mini-festival of local bands, now in its sixth year, is a welcome respite from Top-40 DJ nights and other calendar-filling fluff. The lineup—which includes Face Mason, Ketamine Kat, Seasalt, Push4Luv, Phoebe Kinks, Sus, Tourist Activities, and others—is sure to please those seeking local rock and electronic music as usual. ANDREW GOSPE

FRIDAY-SUNDAY

JAZZ

Love, Lust & Rock 'N' Roll
Enjoy the smooth power of singer Storm Large and the Seattle Symphony, which will be playing the part of her loyal band, as she brings her high-energy show of American jazz classics, Broadway ballads, and rock goddess anthems back to town after the holidays.

ROCK/POP

Nearly Dan
Steely Dan were one of the smartest bands to consistently rack up platinum records. They got away with singing blisteringly acerbic lyrics and executing complex key changes and tricky time signatures while accruing crazy air time on commercial radio, back when that meant something. So a band dedicated to paying tribute to Steely Dan has to be sharper than your typical homage outfit. Nearly Dan’s 12 members (who’ve played with Ray Charles, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Gladys Knight, and, most importantly, Huey Lewis) are up to the task, interpreting the hits and deep cuts with a professionalism that would impress Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker’s accountants. DAVE SEGAL

SATURDAY

BLUES/COUNTRY/FOLK

Kelsey Sprague, Brittany Allyson, Leah T, Natalie Paige
Discover talented new artists to add to your 2019 soundscape at this indie-folk singer-songwriter showcase helmed by Kelsey Sprague, with additional sets by Brittany Allyson, Leah T, and Natalie Paige.

DJ

Medical Rx Night: Italo Disco, Synthwave, Leftfield Dance
Records/Transfusions boss Dr. Troy, DJ Sh1-tr (Jason Taylor), and their obsessive clique of DJs have been reanimating the debaucherous spirit of Italo disco, minimal wave, and other retro-futurist electronic styles at the gay bar Pony. (All sexual orientations are welcome, however.) The first week of the year is always one of the grimmest on the calendar, but Medical Rx can remedy your winter malaise with its DJs’ deep expertise in the field of off-center dance music that’s stood the test of time in underground clubs. DAVE SEGAL

Night Crush Turns 4!
Night Crush is a recurring dance party night for queers that centers people of color to maintain a safe space for QPOC, trans people, people of varying abilities, and all bodies (and if you don't identify as such, be very aware of the space you're taking up). This Saturday, enjoy jams on jams on jams at their fourth anniversary with a live set by cosmic soul and hiphop artist Guayaba and DJ sets by Joy Ma and Heavy Pleasure, along with a crew of go-go dancers and a whole queerio crowd ready to go buck.

HIPOHOP/RAP

Young Dolph
Special in that he is probably one of the few people with a similar first name to that German dictator born in the last half century, Adolph Thornton Jr., aka Young Dolph, is major, bringing his syrup-drenched rhymes and Southern swagger to our rainy, gray corner of the country. Having been the target of not one but two shootings in 2017, and dropping several chart-topping albums, the Memphis rapper has experienced both the bitter and the sweet sides of life—and this comes out in his music. Dolph’s songs are catchy, and there’s really nothing like seeing an artist on the come-up. JASMYNE KEIMIG

SPECIAL EVENTS

Mississippi Records American Tour
Portland’s Mississippi Records is one of the finest music retailers in the Northwest, as well as being a label that excels in the excavation of phenomenal old and not-so-old recordings from around the globe. On this night, owner Eric Isaacson will present A Cosmic and Earthly History of Recorded Music According to Mississippi Records, which, I imagine, will serve as a highlight reel for its fascinating discography (it includes releases by Philip Cohran, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Abner Jay). Also on tap: director Cyrus Moussavi’s short films depicting musicians from around the world, a DJ set, and a wide-ranging audiovisual lecture by Isaacson. DAVE SEGAL

SUNDAY

CLASSICAL/OPERA

Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series: Finland
Finnish trio Soittorasia will open the Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series with a program of music spanning the folk and classical traditions of Finland, complete with more than 10 instruments at play, including a variety of ancient plucked-string kanteles.

HIPHOP/RAP

Mick Jenkins, Kari Faux
Gil Scott-Heron emerged in 1971 with Pieces of a Man, a casually revolutionary debut that blended poetry, jazz, and soul with black revolutionary thought. Mick Jenkins isn’t the first rapper to pay homage to Scott-Heron, an influential figure in hiphop, but few do so as extensively as Jenkins does on his latest album, which shares a name with Scott-Heron’s debut. Sonically, Jenkins isn’t shaking up the status quo like Scott-Heron did—this is subdued, inward-looking rap that should sound familiar to fans of Earl Sweatshirt or Freddie Gibbs—but his tireless self-examination and dense wordplay is worthy of one of modern music’s underappreciated visionaries. ANDREW GOSPE