Wednesday’s music picks: Christopher Cross, Kelly Willis

Christopher Cross is at ACL Live.
Christopher Cross welcomes friends to ACL Live.

Christopher Cross & Friends at ACL Live. A taping for a future PBS pledge drive, this show finds Cross, who rose to stardom from Austin circa 1980 and resettled here a few years ago, teaming with others who share his pop sensibilities. They include singer Michael McDonald, of Doobie Brothers and “I Keep Forgettin’” fame, and the non-Wilson-brothers Beach Boys musicians Mike Love and Jeffrey Foskett, with whom Cross toured at one point as a fill-in for Carl Wilson. Austin guitar wunderkind Eric Johnson also is aboard, along with former David Letterman band bassist Will Lee, the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s Peter Bay conducting the Barton Strings, and the Conspirare Youth Choir. $38-$63. 8 p.m. 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. acl-live.com.

Kelly Willis & Radio Ranch at Cactus Cafe. In the long run, it wasn’t until Kelly Willis parted ways with MCA Records and headed down more adventurous avenues that she fully reached her potential as a country music singer and songwriter. But when she arrived in Austin from the D.C. area fresh out of high school in the late 1980s, she created an immediate spark around town with her band the Fireballs. Its successor, Radio Ranch, recorded her MCA debut “Well Travelled Love” with her; she’s celebrating the album’s 25th anniversary by re-convening with her drummer (and ex-husband) Mas Palermo, guitarists David Murray and Mike Hardwick, and bassist Brad Fordham for a handful of shows to revisit those songs, beginning with an intimate night at the Cactus. This one sold out a couple of weeks in advance; if tickets on the secondary market are hard to come by, catch the band again on Jan. 23 at Gruene Hall, Jan. 30 at the Continental Club and Jan. 31 at Strange Brew. 8 p.m. 2247 Guadalupe St. cactuscafe.org.

Also: Another nod to Austin’s 1990s country heyday happens at the Broken Spoke, where members of Don Walser’s Pure Texas Band and a cast of special guests play an annual tribute to the late, great “Pavarotti of the Plains.” … Blues and soul great Miss Lavelle White plays the new Antone’s for the first time, along with Rosie Flores and Kaz Kazanoff. … It’s a full night of top-quality Austin roots and rock ’n’ roll at the Continental Club with James McMurtry, Jon Dee Graham and the Painted Redstarts. … Across the street at Guero’s Oak Garden, Sun Radio’s Texas Radio Live show features Austin’s Gurf Morlix and Los Angeles’ Amilia K. Spicer from 6 to 8 p.m. … A little further south and west, ABGB features the Warren Hood Band at happy hour followed by Mystery Achievement.

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and austin360.com. Twitter: @Blackstock360

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