The summer music scene is in full swing, with all the big rock, pop and hip-hop shows receiving the lion's share of attention.
However, if you are looking for something a bit different from what you'll experience at the large amphitheaters, I recommend checking out Laura Marling on Friday at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
It could turn out to be the sleeper show of the summer.
If you're not familiar with Marling, I suggest you correct that situation immediately. She's an incredibly powerful vocalist who melds folk and indie-rock basically better than anybody else in the business.
She's a big star in her native U.K., where her last two albums -- 2010's "I Speak Because I Can" and last year's "A Creature I Don't Know" -- both hit No. 4 on the charts. She's also been nominated for several major awards in her homeland, winning two biggies -- the Brit Award for best British female vocalist and the NME trophy for top solo artist -- in 2011.
Marling is every bit as good as her résumé suggests. And she seems well positioned for a breakthrough year in the U.S. If you still need convincing, go to YouTube and watch her videos for "Sophia," "My Manic and I" and "All My Rage." That should do the trick.
Another huge selling point is the venue -- the spectacular Grace Cathedral with its legendary reverb. I've had the privilege of attending several SFJazz concerts there over the years and have always found the
Showtime is 9 p.m. Grace Cathedral is at 1100 California St. Tickets are $39.50 at www.livenation.com.
The Next Generation: The Monterey Jazz Festival has announced the members of its 2012 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra -- and the Bay Area and surrounding regions are represented very well.
The prestigious high school all-star orchestra, which draws membership from around the U.S., will feature young musicians from Alameda, Marin and Sacramento counties. It also will include students from Southern California, as well as from the states of Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
"The 2012 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra is once again the finest assembly of top-notch high school jazz performers in the United States," says Paul Contos, education director of the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Membership in the orchestra most definitely has its privileges.
The 21 selected students will participate in many high-profile activities -- the most impressive of which is a lengthy concert tour of Japan from July 23 to Aug. 6. The tour is book-ended by two big local shows -- July 22 at Yoshi's San Francisco and, of course, the orchestra's traditional Sunday appearance at the 55th Monterey Jazz Festival, on Sept. 23. At the Monterey Jazz Festival, the orchestra will perform with the 2012 artist-in-residence, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.
Akinmusire is a former member of the orchestra. Other Next Generation alum include such famed jazz musicians as saxophonists Joshua Redman and Dave Koz, bassist Larry Grenadier, and pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen.
This year's local participants include Elena Pinderhughes (flute, Berkeley High School); Connor Anderson (saxophone, FAME Public Charter School, Newark); Chris Palowitch (trombone, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton); Jeric Rocamora (trumpet, Rio Americano High School, Sacramento); Nick Lamb (piano, Berkeley High); and Laila Smith (vocals, Marin School of the Arts, Novato).
For information about the Next Generation, or the Monterey Jazz Festival, go to www.montereyjazzfestival.org.
In Harmony: Bluegrass queen Alison Krauss, indie-pop stars the Shins and reggae royalty Jimmy Cliff are set to play the Harmony by the Bay festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on Sept. 29.
The festival will also feature indie-rockers Tegan and Sara, Oakland electronic music act Beats Antique, reggae-rock star Matisyahu, pop singer-songwriter Kimbra and other acts.
Despite the big names, the festival, presented by Live Nation, KFOG and Harmony Festival, might be more about promoting a lifestyle than just music. Harmony by the Bay will feature more than 50 vendors in a "world marketplace," which will include a "sustainability plaza," a variety of healthy food options and even a yoga stage. Organizers call the event a "one-day interactive community experience."
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com). Prices are $75 for lower reserved seats and $49.50 for general admission, upper reserved and lawn passes. A limited number of special four-packs are available for $149.00 plus applicable charges. Parking will also be charged for this event.
Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.