A lot of musicians talk about performing live as their true love, but for Robert Cray, that cliché has an entirely different meaning. Last year, Cray and his skilled blues band performed their 1,000th concert, an incredible milestone for any group. But the 51-year-old singer has no intentions of slowing down. In 2005, he recorded another watershed moment, releasing his 14th album, Twenty. Engineered by legendary studio whiz Don Smith — known for his work with the Rolling Stones and Miles Davis, among other luminaries — the record ably melds elements of jazz, soul, reggae and, of course, the blues. The album captures the fiery sound the band achieves in a live setting. Catch the fire yourself when Cray and company perform at the Ventura Theatre on Feb. 25.
Heir apparent to the guilt-free pop throne of the Kinks and Big Star, the Romantics ruled the airways for a brief period of time in the 1980s with the still-inescapable hit “That’s What I Like About You.” Better known to children of the ’90s as the hummable soundtrack to roughly eight zillion commercials, the song has proven to be bigger than the band itself, but that hasn’t stopped the group from dropping catchy melodies well into the new millennium, despite not having recorded an album in decades. But with tunes this classic, who needs new material? The band plays the Canyon on Feb. 24. Honestly, do you know a better way to spend Flag Day?
Loverman, Rastaman, roots radic, ex-con — Gregory Isaacs has been them all in his storied 30-year career. The velvet-voiced Jamaican singer practically invented lovers rock — a brand of reggae focused on the bedroom lyricism of American R&B — but he was equally adept at vocalizing the suffering of the island’s underclass. Released from prison in 1982 after serving time for a drug offense, Isaacs’ productivity increased dramatically; he’s released so many albums since, the exact amount is a point of debate. Fresh from a co-headlining slot at the Ragamuffin Festival in Long Beach, Isaacs performs at SoHo in Santa Barbara on Feb. 26.