Justin Nozuka; the Gabe Dixon Band

This bill pairs a couple of impressive newcomers to the pop mainstream. Nozuka, a 19-year-old guitarist/singer based in Toronto, has already established a presence on MTV and other high-profile media, earning comparisons to John Mayer. Dixon, a former classical piano major in college whose band reportedly initially focused on jazzy improv, turned to classic singer-songwriter fare, prompting comparisons to Elton John. Nozuka's debut, Holly (named for his mother), sports a lively mix of pop, folk, soul, and a touch of blues, delivered in a slightly raspy voice that impressively mines an array of soulful nuances etching the emotions he wears on his sleeve. The songs Dixon and his co-authors (including a local connection in Dan Wilson of Trip Shakespeare/Semisonic fame) wrote on his band's eponymous album (Fantasy) often have a classic-rock feel, with plenty of "piano man" vibes from Dixon. They're classy as well, from introspective musings about the yin-yang nature of life's eternal quests ("Further the Sky," a nice duet with Mindy Smith) to an assortment of thoughtful road songs and rousing, gospel-fueled, keyboard-pounding blasts like "Find My Way." You're likely to hear a lot more from both these guys. All ages.
Sun., Oct. 5, 5 p.m., 2008

 
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