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'Hello It's Me' singer Todd Rundgren plays the Fremont on June 29

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Who knew when Todd Rundgren released his 1973 solo album A Wizard, A True Star—which, by the way, was critically acclaimed but a commercial failure—that it would eventually become a beacon to bedroom musicians everywhere. Now it's considered a classic and an inspiration for solo artists who want to do it all themselves.

ROCK ICON Now in his sixth decade as a performer, 76-year-old rock hero Todd Rundgren plays the Fremont Theater on June 29. - COURTESY PHOTO BY REX RUNDGREN
  • Courtesy Photo By Rex Rundgren
  • ROCK ICON Now in his sixth decade as a performer, 76-year-old rock hero Todd Rundgren plays the Fremont Theater on June 29.

As the story goes, Rundgren, inspired by experimentation with psychedelic drugs, sequestered himself in the studio and produced, engineered, and mostly performed alone all the music for the album. It was 56-mnutes long, and he released no singles off it because he wanted the recording to be heard in its entirety.

I mention this album in particular among a discography of more than 25 studio albums, most recently 2022's Space Force, because it's a classic example of Rundgren's relentless experimentation and reinvention as an artist. He's been in a number of bands—Nazz, The New Cars, Runt, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, Utopia—but as a solo artist, Rundgren has sparkled brightest, playing pop, rock, prog-rock, electronic, R&B, psychedelic, and soft rock.

He's had hits such as "Hello It's Me," "Can We Still Be Friends," "Bang the Drum All Day," "I Saw the Light," "Time Heals," and many more, but his career, taken as a whole, is what cements him as an exceptional and iconic rock musician.

"As a songwriter, video pioneer, producer, recording artist, computer software developer, conceptualist, and interactive artist (re-designated TR-i), Rundgren has made a lasting impact on both the form and content of popular music," his bio notes, and it's absolutely true. He's one of a kind.

See Todd Rundgren in the historic Fremont Theater on Saturday, June 29 (8 p.m.; all ages; $39.50 to $219 at prekindle.com)

Concerts in the Plaza

It's summer, and that means Concerts in the Plaza is back every Friday night with a free community concert in Mission Plaza. Americana is on the menu this Friday, June 28, with Miss Leo opening at 5 p.m. followed by The Mother Corn Shuckers from 6 to 8 p.m. (all ages; free).

Miss Leo has a remarkable voice and writes soulful Americana songs that burrow in and tickle your emotions.

AMERICANA-O-RAMA Beergrass heroes The Mother Corn Shuckers headline the next Concerts in the Plaza show on June 28, in the Mission Plaza. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MOTHER CORN SHUCKERS
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Mother Corn Shuckers
  • AMERICANA-O-RAMA Beergrass heroes The Mother Corn Shuckers headline the next Concerts in the Plaza show on June 28, in the Mission Plaza.

Mother Corn Shuckers are a powerhouse bluegrass-and-beyond band that bills their sound "beergrass" because of its upbeat party vibes—a mix of country, rock, bluegrass, and jam band music, often with tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The Shuckers also have some very big news.

"We're currently working on the songs for a new Shucker album to be recorded later this year by Tim Bluhm [of The Mother Hips] and to be released next summer 2025," frontman Che Miller explained. "Great new songs with a new energy and sound. We'll premier a few for Concerts in the Plaza. Shuckers are full steam ahead and ready to shuck it up!"

Numbskull and Good Medicine

With a motto like "all grit and no quit," you know what kind of country artist Josh Ward is—tough, authentic, and uncompromising. The Texan has the sort of life story that mirrors his motto.

'ALL GRIT AND NO QUIT' Texas-based country star Josh Ward and his band play a Numbskull and Good Medicine show at The Siren on June 28. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSH WARD
  • Photo Courtesy Of Josh Ward
  • 'ALL GRIT AND NO QUIT' Texas-based country star Josh Ward and his band play a Numbskull and Good Medicine show at The Siren on June 28.

As his bio explains, he's gone "from a drifter's adolescence to the jeopardous game of the rodeo circuit to the punishing toil of the Texas oil fields, and on into the fickle arms of the music business. Some might argue whether it's having 13 consecutive No. 1 hit singles in Texas under his belt that has garnered him staying power, or that he's killing it in the social media world with over 2 million views on YouTube and over 13 million streams globally on Spotify. Maybe it's his three venerated album releases."

On Friday, June 28, in The Siren, see the Josh Ward Band do what they do best, playing Texas-style country music to a crowded room (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $25 at goodmedicinepresents.com).

ROARING TWENTIES STYLE Seven-piece vintage jump blues, swing, and jazz band High Step Society plays a Good Medicine and Numbskull show on July 2, in Club Car Bar. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HIGH STEP SOCIETY
  • Photo Courtesy Of High Step Society
  • ROARING TWENTIES STYLE Seven-piece vintage jump blues, swing, and jazz band High Step Society plays a Good Medicine and Numbskull show on July 2, in Club Car Bar.

If you like phat horns that capture the spirit of the Jazz Age and throw down a full force dance party, get thee to Club Car Bar this Tuesday, July 2, to hear the sizzling sounds of High Step Society (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $25 at goodmedicinepresents.com).

The septet's "mission is to bring people together, to create a celebratory space that transcends the troubles of this world," delivering "a high-flying, beat-dropping, big band rocket ship with an ear to the past, and both feet on the gas," according to press materials. Sounds like a blast.

The Siren

How about an all-female tribute to classic hard rock Aussie band AC/DC? Because that's what Herway to Hell is going to deliver this Thursday, June 27 (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 at tixr.com). Fronted by Madame Ozzy of Mistress of Reality, she and her band pay tribute to both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras.

HAWAIIAN PUNCH Multi-instrumentalist Tavana brings his island-infused rock and blues to The Siren on June 29. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SIREN
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Siren
  • HAWAIIAN PUNCH Multi-instrumentalist Tavana brings his island-infused rock and blues to The Siren on June 29.

Honolulu multi-instrumentalist Tavana takes the stage on Saturday, June 29 (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 at tixr.com), mixing it up on guitar, banjo, lap steel, or ukulele, keeping the beat going with his feet, and singing soulful, island-inspired rock and blues. He's opened for everyone from Alabama Shakes to Shakey Graves to Jenny Lewis. In 2009, Eddie Vedder invited him to sing "Hawaii 78" with him at the Hawaii Theatre.

"He's more the exception than the rule, he is a great human, and I'm glad to know him," said Vedder when he introduced Tavana.

"I perform everything live and use no looping," Tavana said in press materials. "Everything is played moment to moment. ... It's hard to explain how fun it is to do this. It's like having a whole band in your body and mind. And they can stop and go together on a dime! They can slow down, speed up, or whatever in perfect unity! Every sound comes with its own identity, colors, and emotions, creating a much larger palette from which to express myself. Additionally, it gives my mind very little time to stray away from the music, resulting in a truly meditative state."

The Shane Stoneman Trio will open the show.

'GO YOUR OWN WAY' Twisted Gypsy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac plays the hits on June 29, in the Clark Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TWISTED GYPSY
  • Photo Courtesy Of Twisted Gypsy
  • 'GO YOUR OWN WAY' Twisted Gypsy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac plays the hits on June 29, in the Clark Center.

The Clark Center

Fleetwood Mac is arguably one of the most beloved bands of the rock genre. Indelible hits such as "Go Your Own Way," "Gypsy," "Little Lies," "Dreams," "Tusk," "Gold Dust Woman," and so many more are part of the '70s and '80s cultural zeitgeist. Twisted Gypsy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac captures those magic, hitmaking decades, and plays at the Clark Center on Saturday, June 29 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $35 to $45 at clarkcenter.org).

"Twisted Gypsy takes you back to the early days of Hollywood's Sunset Strip and the heyday of '70s rock 'n' roll," their bio promises. "They will transport you back in time to memories you forgot you had with their passion, ultra-high energy, stellar all-live harmonies, fun stage banter, and raw, track-free performances! Close your eyes and you'll be blown away by our modern interpretation of the beloved Mac, whose music and vocals dominated the hearts of the planet."

Rod & Hammer Rock

If you're a fan of The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia, SLO Brew Live has the show for you when Jerry's Middle Finger plays on Saturday, June 29 (doors at 7 p.m.; 18-and-older; $30 at ticketweb.com). Formed in 2015, the band has dedicated itself to recreating the vibe of the Dead.

More music ...

The Basin Street Regulars hosts Ginger & Hoosier Daddys, a nine-piece LA-based band specializing in vintage jazz and roaring-'20s nostalgia performing on Sunday, June 30, in the Pismo Beach Vets Hall (11 a.m. jam, with concert from 12:30 to 4 p.m.; all ages; $15 general admission, $10 for members and kids under 12 free at my805tix.com). Imagine Betty Boop fronting at sizzling hot vintage jazz band, and you'll have an idea of what to expect from Ginger and her band. The Decomposing Brass Quintet opens.

Whale Rock Music & Arts Festival

Now that Live Oak Music Festival is one for the books, it's time to turn your attention to the other big annual summer music festival, Castoro Cellars' Whale Rock Music & Arts Festival, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15. The early bird tickets for this Templeton Music Education benefit are already sold out, but if you want to go, there are still ample Tier 2 tickets available for both days.

On Saturday, see indie-folk string band Late for the Train, horn- and drum-driven song mashers Brass Mash, rock and folk juggernauts The Sam Chase & The Untraditional, Berklee College of Music educated singer-songwriter Jackie Venson, newgrass and jamgrass act Broken Compass Bluegrass, funk-R&B-soul ensemble Cool Cool Cool, pop-jazz-funk-indie fusion multi-instrumentalist Theo Katzman, and indie-folk band The Head and the Heart.

On Sunday, see singer-songwriter Max MacLaury, another performance by Broken Compass Bluegrass, roots octet Dustbowl Revival, Afro-Brazilian drum line Samba Loca, vocal trio Rainbow Girls, inveterate rock act ALO, Canadian singer-songwriter and activist Allison Russell, and funk ensemble Vulfpeck.

There're also tons of activities, yoga, art, kids' stuff, and more. Don't wait until it's too late! Buy your tickets now! Δ

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at [email protected].

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