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A touch of the Irish

Young Dubliners explore their roots

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I remember the first time I saw the Young Dubliners, a band filled

IRISH JIG GIG :  The Young Dubliners return to SLO Town in support of With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions, a new album of cover tunes from Irish songwriters. See them Nov. 15 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO BY DAVID SAFIAN
  • PHOTO BY DAVID SAFIAN
  • IRISH JIG GIG : The Young Dubliners return to SLO Town in support of With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions, a new album of cover tunes from Irish songwriters. See them Nov. 15 at Downtown Brew.
# with Irish transplants to Los Angeles with a few domestic musicians to boot. The band's potent mix of American rock filtered through Irish sensibilities felt like a party, and when they toured through SLO in the mid-'90s, crowds went wild.

Interestingly enough, Dublin natives and co-founders Keith Roberts (vocals, guitar) and Paul O'Toole (no longer in the band) never met until they began running into each other in L.A. pubs. According to the band's website, "Roberts was composing some Irish ballads at the time and thought a band might be in the offing. Assembling a rag-tag team of Irish transplants and like-minded American rockers, the Young Dubliners grew into a pugnacious music machine."

By 2000, the band was experiencing increasing success. Actor Gabriel Byrne requested the Dubliners to write the theme song for his television show Madigan Men, they spent much of 2001 touring Europe with Jethro Tull, and they started headlining big gigs in the United States. In 2002, they played the Salt Lake City Olympics in--obviously--Salt Lake City.

From Irish-flavored anthem rock to rowdy pub tunes, that band continues to deliver a live show filled with all the energy of an Irish futball riot. Roberts sums up the Young Dubliner's approach to their music, be it Celtic, Irish, or just plain rock: "I like to think that our take on songwriting and performance makes the Young Dubliners' sound unique and original. Our band is made up of Irish and American natives who draw influences from just about everywhere. Our strength is in the sum of our parts. We play as a band, as one."

The band's most recent recording, With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions, found Roberts and fellow members holed up in an L.A. recording studio for 17 days at the end of 2006 to focus on creating a definitive shout out to the masters of Irish songs, past and present. It was an appropriate departure for a band known for hard-hitting original Celtic rock music to now reinterpret the work of other Irish songwriters, and it was an album that the band's fans had been clamoring for.

"They asked for it, so we gave it to them!" Roberts said. "And we had a lot of fun along the way."

Advanced tickets for this Thursday, Nov. 15, Downtown Brew show are $16.50 at Boo Boo's or the venue. Troppo will open. You must be 21 or older to attend.

Return of Eliza

 It's been a while since the Hoot Road Show brought singer-

ELIZA 3.0 :  Third generation performer Eliza Gilkyson comes to Painted Sky Studios on Nov. 15, bringing with her a "lived-in" voice and a satchel full of great Americana tunes. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZA GILKYSON
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ELIZA GILKYSON
  • ELIZA 3.0 : Third generation performer Eliza Gilkyson comes to Painted Sky Studios on Nov. 15, bringing with her a "lived-in" voice and a satchel full of great Americana tunes.
# songwriter Eliza Gilkyson to town, so if you've been waiting, wait no longer, because she's playing on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m. in The Painted Sky Studios in Cambria--one of the best rooms in the county to see and hear acoustic music.

Eliza hails from a musical family. She's a third-generation performer whose father is successful songwriter Terry Gilkyson, who penned "Greenfields," "Marianne," and "Memories Are Made of This," among other tunes. A musical career was nearly unavoidable for her, though she claims that she "got into it for all the wrong reasons, more as a survival tool than anything else, but it proved to serve me more than I dared to imagine."

Though raised in L.A., by the end of the '60s she moved to New Mexico, raised a family of her own, and developed a loyal fan base in the Southwest and Texas. Later, she moved to Europe to work with Swiss composer/harpist Andreas Vollenweider, eventually returning to the United States to release a series of albums that garnered attention for her songwriting and what some have called her "beautifully lived-in voice."

The Grammy nominee and Austin Music Hall of Famer is touring behind her latest album, Your Town Tonight, her fifth album and first live recording on Red House Records. Tickets are $17, available in advance at the Cambria Business Center or by phone at 546-2857. Remaining tickets will be available at the door.

Never too late

It's pretty impressive when someone follows her dreams, even when the odds are stacked against her. Take Stacey Earle, for instance. She had to get out from the under the shadow of her more famous brother Steve, and by the time she decided to strike out on her own as a songwriter, she was older than most novices.

"I was 30 years old, and seeking a recording deal in Nashville at that age was like asking God to turn back the world clock," she said.

She eventually landed a staff writing position at Ten Ten Music, and then met her husband and musical partner Mark Stuart.

"I learned almost all the best of my musicianship from Mark, exploring a wide range of influences from blues to folk to rockabilly to country," she said. "Between the two of us, we had a lot to show and tell. We still learn from each other day in and out. A great songwriter and musician never should stop learning."

Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart play Green Acres Lavender Farm on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, available by calling 466-0837.

Fool me zero times, shame on you!

The rock gals from Rock Sisters Productions are trying to pull a fast one on me: "Just a heads up about what promises to be one of the most outrageous shows on the Central Coast this weekend. We're presenting the Beer Back Bros at O'Reilly's Bar & Grill on Friday, Nov. 16, starting at 9:30 p.m. The Beer Back Bros is a blues band with a twist. It's made up of the members of a couple of other 'legitimate' blues bands who decided they could have a real good time and let off a little steam by forming a band committed exclusively to drunken debauchery, raucous partying, and the wildest, most fun blues tunes out there, such as 'Titties and Beer' and 'Beer and Whiskey Blues.' The Beer Back Bros compare themselves to Spinal Tap but with better teeth. This won't be your run-of-the-mill blues show. You never know what will happen, but it will definitely involve copious amounts of alcohol and will then likely involve nudity as well."

Interestingly enough, when I plugged in Beer Back Bros into

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? :  This is either the Beer Back Bros or the Jeff Jensen Band, but that all depends on whether you go to O'Reilly's Bar & Grill on Nov. 16 (Beer Back Bros) or Downtown Brew on Nov. 17 (Jeff Jensen Band). - PHOTO COURTESY OF BEER BACK BROS/JEFF JENSEN BAND
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BEER BACK BROS/JEFF JENSEN BAND
  • WHO ARE THESE GUYS? : This is either the Beer Back Bros or the Jeff Jensen Band, but that all depends on whether you go to O'Reilly's Bar & Grill on Nov. 16 (Beer Back Bros) or Downtown Brew on Nov. 17 (Jeff Jensen Band).
# Google, out popped a MySpace page with a photo of the guys from the Jeff Jensen Band, who the Rock Sisters happen to have playing at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Downtown Brew: "We previously promoted this band three months ago when they performed at O'Reilly's Bar & Grill. Since then, the band was named one of the top 20 blues bands in the nation by Living Blues magazine, the oldest and most authoritative blues magazine in the country. This is an amazing accomplishment for any blues band, but particularly for a group of young men still in their early 20s who have aptly taken on the daunting task of redefining the blues for a new generation while preserving the traditions of great southern blues rock. Tickets are $8 general admission and we are offering a discounted ticket price of $6 to SLO Blues Society members."

Women, dames, broads, chicks--why are they always trying to pull the wool over my eyes?!? If you like good blues, check these guys out on both nights. Just don't expect them to be different guys, though perhaps there'll be different music. "Titties and Beer" sounds like a keeper for both nights, in my opinion.

 

Homeless help and musical merriment

The San Luis Obispo County Band performs on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. in SLO's Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church. The SLO Homeless Shelter benefit concert features a guest appearance by Wilmar "Tog" Tognazzini, a longtime Morro Bay resident and well-known educator, historian, author, and musician. Although the concert doesn't have a cover charge, donations will be requested from the audience and will be matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Last year's total contribution to the shelter was about $2,500. Let's beat that!

Tog has been a school principal, tour guide and supervisor at Hearst Castle, and columnist of the popular "100 Years Ago" history of San Luis Obispo County feature. He has years of piano playing and singing background, and his wife Henrietta has been a member of the SLO County Band for many years. This will be Tog's Central Coast conducting debut on a program that will include a variety of popular and concert tunes, with composers ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan and Camille Saint-Saens to Leroy Anderson and John Philip Sousa. The band is under the direction of Leonard Lutz.

Just for the record, the SLO County Band will celebrate its 137th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest continually running bands in the country. Take that, Rolling Stones!

More music

Award-winning Shenandoah Valley singer-songwriter-storyteller Andrew McKnight plays on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 9 to 10 p.m. following the old time jam, at Linnaea's Cafe. The flatpicking guitarist has a warm tenor and a penchant for penning cinematic vignettes of rural Americans and their struggles. More than a decade ago, McKnight walked out on his corporate environmental engineering career to become a traveling troubadour. More power to him!

NICE SILO :  Award-winning Shenandoah Valley singer-songwriter-storyteller Andrew McKnight, a guy who dumped his corporate gig to become a traveling troubadour, plays Nov. 15 at Linnaea's Cafe . - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW MCKNIGHT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW MCKNIGHT
  • NICE SILO : Award-winning Shenandoah Valley singer-songwriter-storyteller Andrew McKnight, a guy who dumped his corporate gig to become a traveling troubadour, plays Nov. 15 at Linnaea's Cafe .

# Don't forget about local trio Dustbowl Aristocracy (Kenny Blackwell, Piper Heisig, and Billy Foppiano), which will bring their Celtic, bluegrass, blues, jazz, and beyond tunes to Coalesce Bookstore on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. Call 772-2880 to reserve $15 tickets.

Citay, a seven-piece rock band based out of San Francisco, plays Friday, Nov. 16, at Tridosha Healing Center, touring in support of its second album, Little Kingdom, which was released earlier this month. Taking a cue from '70s guitar rock, Citay delivers "lots of swirling guitar layers and epic jams." Call Tridosha at 544-8120 for details.

I mentioned this show last week, but here's a reminder: Jazz vocalist Robin Adler plays with the Mike Raynor Group on Friday, Nov. 16, at the Inn at Morro Bay from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Rhythmic acoustic guitarist Matthias Clark presents "Open Source Songs," featuring Katie Franklin, Paul Girard, and James Hitchcock for three upcoming dates: Friday, Nov. 16, at The Clubhouse at 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at Frog and Peach at 9 p.m. and Friday, Dec. 14, again at the Clubhouse at 9 p.m.

The Cal Poly Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and the Pride of the Pacific Mustang Marching Band (200 collegiate musicians in all) will take the stage for "Out of This World"--aka Cal Poly Bandfest 2007--on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. in Harman Hall in the Performing Arts Center's Christopher Cohan Center. The program includes Robert W. Smith's Symphony No. 1, "The Divine Comedy," a major work for large wind band based on Dante Alighieri's epic poem. Additional highlights will include Frank Ticheli's "Vesuvius," a musical description of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in A.D. 79 and Richard Wagner's "Hundingungsmarsch," a work for wind band written in 1865 to honor King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Tickets are $8 to $19, available at the box office or by calling 756-2787.

The Amelia Piano Trio will play with the Cal Poly Symphony for the West Coast premiere of Daron Hagen's "Orpheus and Eurydice: Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano and Orchestra," on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. in Harman Hall in the Performing Arts Center's Christopher Cohan Center. The Amelia Piano Trio is known nationally for championing new music and working

THE POWER OF ISIS! :  Art metal act ISIS celebrates its 10th anniversary with a bi-coastal tour and a stop at Downtown Brew on Nov. 19. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ISIS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ISIS
  • THE POWER OF ISIS! : Art metal act ISIS celebrates its 10th anniversary with a bi-coastal tour and a stop at Downtown Brew on Nov. 19.
# energetically with young musicians. Tickets for the concert are $6 for students, $8 and $10 for senior citizens, and $10 and $12 for the public. Buy them at the box office or by calling 756-2787.

Yoga and chanting go together like yogurt and granola, except the former nourishes the spirit, mind, and body, and the latter just the body. On Sunday, Nov. 18, sacred chant artist Kalidas appears at Tridosha Healing Center at 5:30 p.m. According to his press materials, Kalidas has been living his passion for Eastern mysticism by living in spiritual communities in the Southwest and India for 10 years. While he studied various forms of chant, Kalidas noted the underlying yearning at the heart of all religions: "Chant-ing is a way to the divine. It has been used for centuries by all spiritual traditions to heighten and expand awareness. Through my music, I hope to inspire others to find their own relationship with the Divine." Contact Tridosha for info at 544-8120.

ISIS, the innovative L.A.-by-way-of-Boston-based band, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a bi-coastal tour and a stop at Downtown Brew on Monday, Nov. 19. In the Absence of Truth, the band's fourth album, continues exploring and creating "art metal," and the recording was awarded four stars by Blender Magazine and described by Pitchfork as "one of the year's most compelling, moving listens." To get an idea of the scale of the band, before they hit humble little SLO Town, they'll play Slim's in San Francisco, and after playing here, they'll be at The Troubadour in L.A. This all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $13.50 in advance at the venue or Boo Boo's. Big Business will open.

 

CD Reviews

 

Pylon--Gyrate

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# Arriving, surprisingly, out of the Athens, Ga., college scene that fostered the careers of R.E.M. and B-52's, Pylon coupled their dub bass lines to the motorik-drumming techniques of krautrock, all colored with ripping, angular shards of lead guitar and a mouthful of direct, punchy lyrics vocalized by front woman and registered nurse Vanessa Briscoe Hay. With a sound that could imitate the dance-punk bop of Gang of Four to a more controlled version of the female avant-punk of LiLiPut, the arrival of this long-undiscovered gem re-asserts Pylon's influence into a region that has rarely been connected with the associated "art-cool" of post-punk. Though all 16 tracks can eventually wear thin when consumed in one sitting, the passionate and off-kilter arrangement of their songs (the Talking Heads-like subtle rhythm on "Gravity" and percolating guitar tones on "Cool") fashion this as the perfect companion for bopping in your art studio. "In my top 100 of all time, this record falls very near the top," says R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. You can believe him, right?

 

 

LCD Soundsystem--45:33

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# Commissioned by Nike as part of their Original Run series, James Murphey's LCD Soundsystem has the baton smacked in their palm after previous outings by Aesop Rock and Crystal Method. The rules are easy: Build a continuous cycle of music paced to a tailored arc for running or exercising--a stretching, slow intro a hyper-kinetic center and a relaxed ending. LCD Soundsystem delivers in spades with a mix branded with their own space-disco, electroclash sound. The workout begins with a simple synth riff (Headband? Check. Laces tighten.) that flutters into a soulful disco bounce. (Warm-up walk started.) The momentum increases gradually. A funky tech-house track merges straight into the electro-disco shimmering (Jogging with long strides.) that's often favored by the nightlife remixes James Murphey produces under his DFA-label moniker. By its peak (Heartbeat pounding.) and eventual warm down (Gatorade, please.), the headspace you've cursed in is a welcome relief from the usual metronome of deep breathing and a bursting heart.

-Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and occasionally KCBX's "Night Train."

Glen Starkey has been stretching his stomach with sodas and Pop Rocks in anticipation of the big day next week. Send him your favorite Thanksgiving recipe at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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