- PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIANNE DISSARD
- TORCH SONG TEMPTRESS : Tucson-based, French-born chanteuse Marianne Dissard will perform songs from her gorgeous debut album L’Entredeux (In Between Two) on April 28 at the Steynberg Gallery.
Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but there’s something about a woman singing in French that scorches my knickers right off. I can’t understand what she’s saying, but damn if I don’t “understand” something.
On Tuesday, April 28, French woman Marianne Dissard and her band play the Steynberg Gallery at 8 p.m. Andrew Collberg will open the show. They’ll also be doing a free in-store show at Boo Boo Records at 5 p.m. the same day. Tickets for the Steynberg concert are $16 presale at Boo Boo Records or, providing there are any left, $18 at the door.
Dissard arrived in America at age 16, but all her time here has done little to diminish her charming French accent. Her voice sounds like the cool exhale of a French cigarette in a dimly lit basement nightclub just around midnight. Yet it’s a voice that didn’t really believe in itself until recently. The Tucson-based singer just released her debut album L’Entredeux (In Between Two), which was co-written by Joey Burns from the group Calexico. Prior to this recording, the most singing Dissard had done was some backup work on Calexico recordings. It was Burns who gave her the confidence to record the album. New Times spoke to Dissard by phone.
New Times You arrived here at 16. Do you feel more French or American?
Marianne Dissard I feel in between. I feel French, of course. Here I’m reminded I’m French in different ways. I think, probably, I can’t forget I’m French because of the accent.
New Times How does a French woman fit into Tucson or America in general?
Marianne Dissard Pretty well. The thing about Tucson, a soon as you step into the downtown music scene, it’s like no one fits. It’s a little world of our own. When you belong to the downtown scene, you’re cut out of the town. Every town has its own little bubbles, but we all fit really well together.
New Times So Tucson has a pretty good scene?
Marianne Dissard Yeah, it’s great, a nice balance of competition and casualness. There’s enough people who came here and stuck around because of the low rent maybe, people who have made the space and time to do music and do it as best we can, and there’s always an influx of [new] people from outside.
New Times It seems odd that your divorce from Naïm Amor inspired these songs and yet you still collaborate with your ex-husband on the album. Is that a French thing?
Marianne Dissard Remember Richard Thompson? [He and his wife Linda had a famously difficult but artistically productive marriage.] At the time, we were going through a tough time, but it wasn’t actually that we were finally divorced and split. That only occurred last summer.
New Times So are you still friends?
Marianne Dissard Um, we’re in kind of a rough spot right now. I don’t know if it’s a French thing or maybe a human thing, but I think we’ll work together again.
New Times What about Calexico and Joey Burns’ songs made you think he’d be the perfect match for your lyrics?
Marianne Dissard I think it was the opposite way. Joey came to get me, said, ‘You’ve got to do an album.’ In the past, he called me when he needed someone to come to the studio to do a French voice. I wasn’t confident enough to allow myself that I could be a singer and get up, but when Joey sees potential, if he tells you to get up there and sing, you have to get up there and do it. I knew it was going to be a good fit because we’ve been friends for a long time and share a love for similar types of music.
New Times These words were written in 2004, yet the album was only just released. How did you maintain momentum over the course of four years to see the project through?
Marianne Dissard Oh, I guess that’s just me. I’m stubborn, I suppose. At the end of 2004, I first brought Joey these lyrics, and a few months after that, as soon as he had melodies, we made a demo version of just guitar and voice. It was just a recording for me to learn, and as soon as I had the songs down, I booked shows and went for it. I had to get a lot of shows behind me to expand the project. The timing worked well, because Joey was busy touring with Calexico and I was touring. I wasn’t immediately ready for the studio recording, the pressure of the studio. It took a good two years of touring, a lot with Naïm being the guitar player. Finally I had the confidence to record.
New Times Aside from the obvious, that it’s your first language, why French?
Marianne Dissard Probably because I was being personal and opening up. When I sang Joey’s words, I didn’t need to hide, but these were my words, and in French I can hide behind them a little bit. And French being my native language, anything that has to do with the heart, you speak it in your first language first. French is my heart language. English is pragmatic.
New Times What did you think of the French-bashing that went on here for awhile, freedom fries and all that?
Marianne Dissard Well, it didn’t have much of an impact. The French and the Americans have such a long history. In many ways, they’re like an old couple. It seems now that France and America have found each other again.
New Times Does the live show sound like the album?
Marianne Dissard That’s the thing about the album. When I recorded it, I was really starting out trying to figure out my sound and what everything meant on stage, what to do with my body. The live shows are a lot less subdued than the album. The guys playing, they’re between 18 and 23, so they’re full of energy. The thing about the live shows, they range between very quiet, subdued songs like the album to a lot more rocking rockers.
Dissard is well known as a lyricist, poet, activist, documentary filmmaker, and multimedia performance artist, but now this chanteuse, who was born within sight of the Pyrénées mountains in the South of France, will forever be known as a singer. L’Entredeux is absolutely enchanting, a recording filled with tender and biting vignettes of love and other little lies.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF POCO
- THEY WERE THERE FIRST : Country-rock progenitor Poco plays on April 23 in Arroyo Grande’s Clark Center.
Poco has entered its fifth decade, having formed way back in 1968 as a country rock act that showed immediate commercial promise, and looking at its far-reaching connection to the music industry, it’s no wonder it left and continues to leave an indelible stamp.
“Poco has an unmistakable place in American music history,” said pedal steel player Rusty Young. “It’s a legacy that runs through Buffalo Springfield, Loggins and Messina, Souther-Hillman-Furay, and the Eagles. And that legacy lives on today.”
Providing inspiration for bands such as the Eagles, Firefall, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Pure Prairie League, Little River Band, and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Poco was seminal in creating the sound that went on to become a mainstay of Americana music.
“I can’t honestly think of another band,” added Young, “that can claim this kind of heritage then or now.”
Poco plays on Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m. in Arroyo Grande’s Clark Center. The all-ages show costs between $55 and $65 (call 489-9444 for ticket availability). With 41 years, 25 albums, and thousands of fans behind them, Poco’s status as the defining voice of country-rock remains unquestioned.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF AFROMAN
- BECAUSE HE GOT HIGH : Grassroots rapper Afroman made his first tape in the 8th grade. The rest, as they say, is history. See him at Downtown Brew on April 25.
Downtown Brew is serving up a full house of music this week, starting on Thursday, April 23 with reggae-ska-indie act Sashamom, with Tribal Seeds opening the 7:30 p.m., all-ages show ($12 presale or $15 at the door). If you dig your reggae with a peaceful Hawaiian vibe, this is it.
On Saturday, April 25, another touring favorite returns, rap superstar Afroman (18-and-older, 8 p.m., $15 pre-sale or $17 at the door). Best known for his hit single “Because I Got High,” he’s a grassroots rapper who got his start making tapes in the 8th grade.
When Afrika Bambaataa teamed with the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Lydon on 1984’s “World Destruction,” it knocked me on my heels. The hook-laden dance track mixed hip-hop, disco, and punk lyrics into the hottest club track of the year. Bambaataa hits the stage on Sunday, April 26 (7 p.m.; 18-and-older; $20 presale or $22 at the door).
On Wednesday, April 29, hip-hop star Andres Legacy plays an 8 p.m., 18-and-older, $15 show. The 6’4” (6’6” with the afro!) rapper is half Armenian and half Russian, but as a Los Angeles native, he’s all American. Dirt Nasty opens.
Next Thursday, April 30, I’m extra excited about William Elliot Whitmore (with Fake Problems; 8 p.m.; 16-and-older; $10). Whitmore’s gritty voice and apocalyptic songs seem to channel an alternate Johnny Cash.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CHARLIE DANIELS BAND
- POZO PERFECT : On April 26, you can see Santa Margarita beauty Jade Jackson, the amazing musical pyrotechnics of Cuesta Ridge, and then the fiddle-fighting, Satan-slaying genius of the Charlie Daniels Band (pictured) at Pozo Saloon.
The Charlie Daniels Band? At Pozo Saloon? Why, that goes together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, moonshine and wife beating.
This Sunday, April 26, you can see Santa Margarita beauty Jade Jackson open the show, followed by the amazing musical pyrotechnics of Cuesta Ridge, and then the fiddle-fighting, Satan-slaying genius of the Charlie Daniels Band. The gates open at 1 p.m., with the show starting at 2.
Daniels began performing in the ’50s and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry last year. He’s one of those incredibly famous artists that frankly needs no introduction. If you love him, go see him. If you don’t, move back to Russia, comrade!
Call 438-4225 for info.
If you like your music on the heavy side, check out Rusted Stone on Thursday, April 23, with Sad Lisa and Heath Seager of Criticnue, at 9 p.m. at Hoovers Live. The cover’s a scant $3.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JODY MULGREW
- LOCAL HERO : Locally grown and extra awesome singer-songwriter Jody Mulgrew plays Monteleone’s Rock on April 24.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNIE AND ROD CAPPS
- SMART CAPPS : Annie and Rod Capps, a Michigan folk duo with a soulful groove and Midwestern twang, play the Clubhouse on April 25.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF LIZ MANDEVILLE
- BLOWIN’ IN THE FROM THE WINDY CITY : Chi-town guitarist-vocalist Liz Mandeville and the Blue Points play on April 25 at the SLO Vets Hall.
On Saturday, April 25 at 8 p.m. in the Chumash Auditorium on the Cal Poly campus, Cal Poly Arts presents the Latin dance extravaganza, “Salsa Dance Party,” starring headliner Johnny Polanco and his Conjunto Amistad Band. “It’s about time Cal Poly Arts patrons actually get a chance to get up and dance!” declared Cal Poly Arts program manager Peter Wilt. “And Johnny’s band will light a fire under everyone’s feet!” Spend a hot night of dancing to Latin groove! Table seating and front section chair tickets are $35; standing room tickets are $20. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase. Call 756-2787 for tickets.
- PHOTO BY BARRY GOYETTE
- CONJURING GHOSTS : Local folk duo Bob & Wendy continue to promote their excellent new album Ghost of Guadalupe with a show at Coalesce Book Store on April 26.
Jakob Martin, a nationally touring, up-and-coming independent artist from San Diego, plays the Clubhouse on Tuesday, April 28 during a stop on his West Coast tour. This month, he’s also making his entire three-album catalog available for fans to download free.
How’s this for a tagline? “If Zeppelin’s thunder, U2’s idealism, and Hendrix’s guitars met in a test tube ... the creation would arrive screaming All Hail The Angel/Devil!” The Angel/Devil’s “Black Train Coming” 2009 tour makes a stop at Frog and Peach on Tuesday, April 28 at 10 p.m.
Funk the Band, a funk-rock-ska group from the Bay Area whose motto is “We Don’t Suck,” plays the Frog and Peach on Wednesday, April 29 at 10 p.m.
Glen Starkey puts the “nah” into shenanigans. Spur him to nonsense at [email protected].
Stephen McBean’s Pink Mountaintops musically counterweights the prog/Sabbath riff-rich rock of his other band, Black Mountain. Originally the sexier of the two franchises (you get the anatomical allusion, right?), Pink Mountaintops’ dirty blues rock has slowly ingested a wider range of influences, toning down its previous testosterone posturing for a gentler combination of ramshackle folk and ethereal psychedelia. The title track “Outside Love” slinks by with the sexy melancholy and fuzzed-out guitars of a Mazzy Star ballad, only to be followed by “And I Thank You,” a lo-fi alt-country slow swagger that hints at Gram Parson and Emmy Lou Harris, with their final track “Closer To Heaven” resembling a dusty serenade by the Psychedelic Furs. The only suggestion of Pink Mountaintops’ previous muscle is the uptempo, noisy boogie of “The Gayest of Sunbeams,” which may cause a sigh of nostalgia for their first album. Either way, Stephen McBean’s rich voice is remarkably flexible for any number of musical settings. A good listen from start to finish.
Numero Group, once again, delves into the recesses of uncelebrated American small-time recording studios, this time spotlighting Ecorse, Michigan—several miles down river from Detroit—and the basement of Felton Williams, an electrician at the Ford Motor Company by day. From 1967 to 1981, Felton’s Double U Sound recorded whoever came knocking on his door. So while he longed for a national hit, this DIY electrical marvel unintentionally chronicled a local musical history. While he captured on tape the sounds of Appalachian folk (Coleman Family), garage Mod (Young Generation), and instrumental funk and soul (The Organics and Bobby Cook & The Explosions), the star of this collection is the raw gospel recordings, especially the work of Shirley Ann Lee, a contemporary of Candi Stanton. Opening the album with her spiritual stomper “There’s A Light,” Downriver Revival is an aural discovery poking through antiquated platters, only to realize they haven’t lost a gleam of their luster. Exceptional!
—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX’s “Night Train.”