Pop concerts coming up: Buika, Los Lonely Boys, Amy Ray
An evening with Buika
Spanish-born West African singer Maria Concepción "Concha" Balboa Buika has a catchier stage name (Buika). It well suits her contagious, jazzy musicality. In albums such as Niña de Fuego, the spare Mestizüo, and El Último Trago, with pianist Chucho Valdés, she manages to combine stateliness with emotional heat. This smoky, slinky singer has deep roots in flamenco, plus a theatricality that gives everything she does daring flair and driving rhythm. That includes La Noche Más Larga, her new album, with pianist Ivan "Melón" Lewis. Along with the drama of her recorded output, Buika is renowned for improvisational stage outbursts. She is sure to energize to La Noche Más Larga's covers of classics from Abbey Lincoln, Jacques Brel, Billie Holiday, Ernesto Lecuona, and Roque Narvaja, as well as Buika's own slowly frantic compositions. One more note: To judge from her photos, Buika looks great with a cigarette in her mouth. - A.D. Amorosi
Buika plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater, 300 S. Broad St. Tickets: $39 and $29. Information: 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org.
Los Lonely Boys
Los Lonely Boys play at 8 p.m. Friday at the Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside. Tickets: $35 and $45. Phone: 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com.
Best known as the vocal powerhouse (and edgier) half of the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray has had her own durable and diverse solo career for years. She has gone full-on country for her sixth indie outing, Goodnight Tender, a musical detour not far off the path from the Georgia native's distinctly Southern roots. Ray has taken Harlan Howard's oft-quoted description of country music as "three chords and the truth" deeply to heart: Goodnight Tender - recorded in a week, with two different groups of players - is filled with the kind of stripped-down melodies, uncluttered lyrics, and crisp instrumentation that's a benchmark of the vintage Nashville sound she's going for. The album's songs, written by Ray over the last decade, range in style from Southern rock to mountain gospel, and in topic from lost love to the late, great Duane Allman. Her top-flight touring band features six musicians who all took part in the Goodnight Tender sessions, including Phil Cook of Megafaun, who also opens the show. While there may be an Indigo tune or two in the mix, prepare to be delighted by Ray's own distinctive, hardly mainstream music. - Nicole Pensiero
Amy Ray, with Phil Cook, plays at 9 p.m. Saturday at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets: $15, $25. Information: 215-922-1400, www.worldcafelive.com.