Tonight offers fans of old-school blues, soul, and rockabilly some interesting choices. Strathmore is presenting “Blues at the Crossroads: Robert Johnson Centennial Concert.” The show features Colorado jam band Big Head Todd & the Monsters performing with special blues guests David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, and Cedric Burnside and Lightnin’ Malcolm. These folks all worked on the recently released album 100 Years of Robert Johnson, which was recorded at the historic Ardent studios in Memphis and pays homage to the legendary Mississippi-born bluesman. Johnson, as the myth has it, sold his soul to the devil in order to play well, and died at age 28 after being poisoned by the jealous husband of a woman he had a fling with. Except for the nice gospel-like sounds of keyboardist Jeremy Lawton, the contributions of Big Head Todd & the Monsters’ bandmembers are the least interesting part of this tribute to a Delta great; guitarist and vocalist Todd Park Mohr’s formulaic noodling and average vocals pale next to the efforts of his guests. The 95-year-old Edwards knew Robert Johnson and Edward’s rough vocals and ragged guitar chords are still something to behold. Seventy-eight-year old Sumlin is best known as Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist. Sumlin’s sharp-edged tones have livened up blues gigs and recordings for decades. Look for drummer Burnside, the grandson of the late RL Burnside, to offer some distinctively syncopated rhythms.
Like Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Milwaukee’s Kings Go Forth, who are at the Rock & Roll Hotel tonight, are obsessed with old-school soul. Uninterested in adding any modern touches, bass player, DJ, and former record store owner Andy Noble and singer and tailor Black Wolf (born Jesse Davis) lead their 10-piece outfit known for its Baptist church-derived powerhouse vocals, funky percussion, ‘70s keyboard coloring, and a booming horn section.
“Capital Roots Riot #2” at the Surf Club features Northern Virginia rockabilly combo Hangover Royale. This trio employs that timeless ‘50s guitar twang, slap bass, and snare drum pounding on songs like Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” While the vocals aren’t especially charismatic, the no-nonsense rhythms are effective enough.
“Blues at the Crossroads: Robert Johnson Centennial Concert” at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. 5301 Tuckerman Lane North Bethesda, MD. $25-$45. 301-581-5100.
Kings Go Forth with the Mighty Heard and Dj Nitekrawler at 9 p.m. at the Rock ‘n Roll Hotel, 1353 H Street, NE, Washington, DC. $15-$17. 202-388-ROCK.
Capital Roots Riot #2 with Hangover Royale at 8 p.m. at the Surf Club, 4711 Kenilworth Avenue, Hyattsville, MD. $10. 301-927-6310.