David Berman. David Berman was supposed play the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia this coming week, but that won’t happen. The songwriter and poet, who was the leader of the Silver Jews and the Purple Mountains, died on Wednesday. The entire Silver Jews catalog is worthy of exploration — Tanglewood Numbers from 2005 is as good a place as any to start. And the new Purple Mountains is probably my favorite record of 2019. It’s packed with deep, dark, and funny self-scrutinizing songs like “That’s Just The Way That I Feel” and “Maybe I’m The Only One For Me” that will surely stand the test of time, but right now just sound really sad.
Ringo Starr & the All Starr Band. He’s a Beatle! One of only two still extant, in fact. This year’s 30th anniversary edition of the peace and love-promoting Liverpudlian’s All-Starr Band includes Steve Lukather of Toto, Colin Hay of Men at Work, and Hamish Stuart of the Average White Band. Not the most illustrious group of friends that Starr, who joined Paul McCartney on stage in Los Angeles last month, has ever played with, but with a little help from them, he’s likely to get by. Wednesday at the Met Philadelphia.
Florist. Los Angeles songwriter Emily Sprague usually records as Florist with a full band, but on the quietly startling new Emily Alone she is, well, alone. The 12-track collection of hushed, finger-picked ruminations sounds personal and private, as if the songs were accidentally overheard confessions to herself. Wednesday at PhilaMOCA.
Tony Bennett. And you thought the Rolling Stones were old: Tony Bennett is 93, and he’s had the elder statesman of the Great American Songbook status to himself since Frank Sinatra died in 1998. His interpretive abilities are still in tip-top shape and you’ll likely be amazed at his lung power when he does his singing-without-a-microphone trick. The Lehigh Valley is as close as he’s going to get to Philadelphia on this tour. Thursday at Sands Bethlehem.
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears. Austin, Texas, bandleader Black Joe Lewis’ 2018 album The Difference Between Me & You found the songwriter moving into stormy, tormented personal territory after a decade of dissatisfying music business experiences. This tour, however, celebrates the anniversary of the more upbeat album that originally put him and his brassy backing band on the map, 2009’s Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is! Thursday at Underground Arts.