Top concert picks for this week in San Diego: June 23-29

Stephen Marley, Bob Marley's second oldest son
Stephen Marley, Bob Marley’s second oldest son, opens his 2023 “Babylon by Bus” concert tour, Saturday at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.
(Michael Lue)

Our choices include Stephen Marley, Elle King and Randy Houser at the San Diego County Fair, and a triple-bill of Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, The Taryn Donath Duo and Gregory Page at The Centre in Escondido


Stephen Marley, with Hirie

Bob Marley’s second oldest son, Stephen Marley, will kick off his 2023 “Babylon by Bus” summer tour Saturday in Del Mar on the San Diego County Fair’s Toyota Grandstand Stage. It should be a high-gear affair.

Much like his similarly gifted brothers — Ziggy, Damian and Ky-Mani — Stephen has been able to fully step out of the shadow of his legendary father, Bob Marley. But this eight-time Grammy Award-winner has made some interesting moves.

He’s collaborated with everyone from Eric Clapton and The Muppets to rappers Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame. He also produced last year’s “Celebrating Nina: A Reggae Tribute To Nina Simone,” an intriguing homage that features his sister, Cedella Marley, along with Joss Stone, Queen Ifrica and others.

Marley’s recent single, “Old Soul,” is a tender acoustic ballad that bodes well for his upcoming new album. The video for the song includes never-before-seen family photos of the now 51-year-old musician in his youth. His 2023 summer tour is named after “Babylon by Bus,” the rousing 1978 live-double album by Bob Marley & The Wailers.

By coincidence, Stephen’s older brother, Ziggy, will perform Aug. 6 at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in downtown San Diego on a quadruple-bill with Trombone Shorty, Mavis Staples and Robert Randolph.

Arrive early Saturday at the fair to catch homegrown San Diego reggae favorites Hirie, who will open Stephen Marley’s concert here.

7:30 p.m. Saturday. Toyota Grandstand Stage, San Diego County Fair, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar. $30–$65 (includes fair admission).

Elle King at CMA Fest 2022 on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville
Elle King will perform Thursday, June 29, at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar on a double-bill with Randy Houser.
(Amy Harris / Amy Harris/invision/ap)

Elle King and Randy Houser

Los Angeles native Elle King is best known for her success in country music. But this high-octane-voiced singer and songwriter is just as adept at rock, blues, pop, R&B and bluegrass.

Music has been her salvation. But going on tour with her infant child in the midst of a pandemic, after both contracted COVID-19 in December, poses major challenges

Feb. 13, 2022

That said, King’s third and newest album, “Come Get Your Wife,” is her most country-focused to date and she sounds right at home.

King will perform here Thursday, June 29, on a double-bill with Randy Houser. A gifted Mississippi-bred singer-songwriter with a rugged but flexible voice, Houser’s allegiance to rootsy country traditions is matched by his publicly stated aversion to TikTok.

Or, as he succinctly told an interviewer: “That ain’t music! I like music.”

7 p.m. Thursday, June 29. Toyota Grandstand Stage, San Diego County Fair, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar. $30–$65 (includes fair admission).

Sure Fire Soul Ensemble
Sure Fire Soul Ensemble
(Kristy Walker / Courtesy Tim Felten


The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, with The Taryn Donath Duo and Gregory Page

The price is more than right for this free outdoor concert by three of San Diego’s finest, for which paid VIP table and cabana seating is also available.

The Thursday, June 29, show will kick off the 2023 edition of Live at the Centre, a collaboration between The Centre Escondido and the local music-championing Six-String Society. The lineup teams three top-notch artists who I do not recall sharing a concert bill together in the past.

The headlining one-woman, eight-man Sure Fire Soul Ensemble specializes in vintage funk and soul-jazz with a fresh contemporary sheen. In ace drummer Jake Najor, this all-instrumental band has one of the most propulsive groove-masters in town.

Pianist Taryn Donath shines whether playing boogie-woogie, jazz or blues. Her interplay with drummer Matthew Taylor is inspired.

Live from the 4th Floor: Gregory Page

Gregory Page, long one of San Diego’s leading troubadours, has dedicated followings in the Netherlands and Australia. His lilting acoustic reveries are always welcome.

The series continues with an Aug. 3 triple-header by Jeff Berkley and The Banned, Sara Petite and California Ranges

5:30 p.m. Thursday June 29. Moonlight Veranda, The Centre, 3rd Floor, 1205 Auto Park Way, Escondido. Free for general admission; $80-$300 for VIP packages.