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Are you going to eat that?

Nobody gets a free lunch ... or do they?

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Pop quiz! What band is named after a character from William Burrow’s experimental novel Naked Lunch? Need another hint? During the classic rock period, they stood out as a band that created a unique sound mixing jazz, blues, popular music, with highly ironic lyrics filled with black humor? Still nothing? Two of their most popular albums were Pretzel Logic and Aja. A ha! Yes, we’re talking about Steely Dan and those two creative wackos Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who play Friday, July 25, 7:30 p.m., at the MidStateFair.

I think my favorite Steely Dan story comes from the band’s early years, when they were installed as staff songwriters at ABC/Dunhill Records in Los Angeles. They were moved into a tiny office with a piano and a desk, and in one of the desk drawers sat a brown bag lunch left by the previous songwriters. Fagen and Becker,

MEN IN BLACK :  Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are the creative geniuses behind legendary rock act Steely Dan, which plays July 25 at the Mid-State Fair. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STEELY DAN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF STEELY DAN
  • MEN IN BLACK : Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are the creative geniuses behind legendary rock act Steely Dan, which plays July 25 at the Mid-State Fair.
according to their bio, “interpreted this touching detail as a symbol of the impermanence of success in the pop music scene. They proceeded to write a series of classic but unrecordable cheesy pop songs, while secretly planning to assemble their own band and record their own album.”

Interestingly enough, because of Fagen and Becker’s perfectionism, they rarely toured in their heyday. Either they pried the phone pole out of their butts and accepted their own limitations, or they have reached perfection and can tour freely.

Tickets cost $40, $46, and $56—available at the venue, online at either www.midstatefair.com or www.vallitix.com, or by phone at 238-3565 or 1-800-909-FAIR or 1-888-825-5484.

 

 

 

What goes around …

Bust out your flannel shirts, thermal underwear, torn jeans, and stomp boots, because grunge is back! Okay, not really, but one of the most popular bands of the grunge era—Stone Temple Pilots—regrouped recently for the first time in eight years and is on a 65-city North American tour, including a stop at the MidStateFair on

CIGARETTE! AT LEAST IT’S NOT HEROIN! :  Stone Temple Pilots, with their notorious frontman Scott Weiland (second from left), play July 26 at the Mid-State Fair. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF STONE TEMPLE PILOTS
  • CIGARETTE! AT LEAST IT’S NOT HEROIN! : Stone Temple Pilots, with their notorious frontman Scott Weiland (second from left), play July 26 at the Mid-State Fair.
Saturday, July 26, at 7:30 p.m. (Tickets cost $26, $42, and $56, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will open the show).

The band’s Led Zeppelin/Blue Cheer-inspired rock was a thundering good time in the ’90s, but the band’s skills were eclipsed by frontman Scott Weiland’s well-publicized and career-threatening battle with heroin addiction. While in rehab, the band actually replaced him with another singer and recorded Talk Show, an album that never really took off. Then Weiland released a solo album, 12 Bar Blues, but the accompanying tour was canceled when he was arrested for drugs … again. The band did reunite and record their fourth album, No 4, but by the time it was released Weiland was in jail doing a year for drug charges.

They did tour in 2000, but I don’t know what’s been going on for the last eight years. Weiland must be doing okay since this 65-date tour wasn’t cheap to mount. Expect a rock’n’roll extravaganza!

Trivia! Stone Temple Pilots began as Mighty Joe Young before changing their name to Shirley Temple’s Pussy and finally to Stone Temple Pilots.

 

 

 Cowboy up!

COUNTRY ICON :  For the past 20 or so years, Alan Jackson has been one of the biggest names in country music, displaying a consistency and excellence nearly unmatched. See him July 27 at the Mid-State Fair. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN JACKSON
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN JACKSON
  • COUNTRY ICON : For the past 20 or so years, Alan Jackson has been one of the biggest names in country music, displaying a consistency and excellence nearly unmatched. See him July 27 at the Mid-State Fair.

Alan Jackson’s one of those musicians best called prodigious. Since his 1989 debut Here in the Real World, Jackson has released a total of 16 albums, most recently 2008’s Good Time, a rollicking 17-song romp that bounces freely around the country music genre, from honky-tonk to ballads to two-steppers.

“You know,” said Jackson in press materials, “I felt like I wanted something that had some fun on it, because when I play in concert people still want to hear songs like ‘Chattahoochee’ and ‘Don’t Rock the Jukebox’—all those are a big part of our success, too, as well as the big ballads. That’s why I wanted to call it Good Time, even though the whole album’s not a bunch of party songs.”

Jackson plays Sunday, July 27, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $40, $46, and $56.

 

 

 

More MidState Fair action

This week’s other headliners include Al Jardine’s Endless Summer Band, a grandstand show that’s free with your fair admission. Jardine, you’ll recall, was a member of the Beach Boys, a friend of the Wilson Brothers and their cousin Mike Love. Jardine took over for forgotten Beach Boy David Marks, who was forced out of the band. He enjoyed a long tenure with the Beach Boys until Brian Wilson’s famous meltdown, and now he tours without the Beach Boy name, due to legal wrangling between the various band members, though expect to hear Beach Boys hits all night long on Monday, July 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

A BEACH BOY BY ANOTHER NAME AL :  Jardine’s Endless Summer Band, featuring former Beach Boy Al Jardine, plays a free show with your Mid-State Fair admission on July 28. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AL JARDINE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AL JARDINE
  • A BEACH BOY BY ANOTHER NAME AL : Jardine’s Endless Summer Band, featuring former Beach Boy Al Jardine, plays a free show with your Mid-State Fair admission on July 28.

Radio darlings Matchbox Twenty have reunited after a five-year hiatus to release Exile on Mainstream. They burst onto the scene in 1996 with You or Someone Like You and its hit single “Long Day,” followed by more chart topping singles, as well as covers of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” Frontman Rob Thomas launched a successful solo career, but fan demand bought the band back together. See them at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29, for $40, $46, or $56. Vanessa Carlton opens the show.

Rod Stewart is awesome! His gritty voice, his rock star good looks, his storied past filled with all the jet setting and supermodel dating—who wouldn’t want to be Rod Stewart? Best of all, he never took himself too seriously, engaging in self-parody during his live shows and on his albums. In recent years he turned his talents to the Great American Songbook, recording albums of popular tunes and playing sold-out performances. When he kicks off an 18-city tour on Wednesday, July 30, with special guest Bryan Adams, expect to hear the hits. In his press release, Stewart said of the tour, “I couldn’t be more excited. Eighteen of my favorite cities and I don’t intend to disappoint any of my fans—at least not the paying ones.” Wow, Paso Robles, you’re one of Rod Stewart’s favorite cities. Now that’s awesome! Tickets cost $53, $78, and $88.

Stacy Ferguson, aka—Fergie, the ultra-saucy singer from hip-hop stars The Black Eyed Peas, will do her solo thang next Thursday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $40, $46, and $56.

 

Estrogen rocks!

YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD BAND DOWN :  Reformed after a five-year hiatus, Matchbox Twenty returns with a new album, Exile on Mainstream. See them July 29 at the Mid-State Fair. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MATCHBOX TWENTY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MATCHBOX TWENTY
  • YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD BAND DOWN : Reformed after a five-year hiatus, Matchbox Twenty returns with a new album, Exile on Mainstream. See them July 29 at the Mid-State Fair.

Two of Blame Sally’s four women were regular fixtures in the SLO County music scene for years. Percussionist and singer Pam Delgado and guitarist Jeri Jones played with lots of local acts, but things really took off for these performers when they hooked up with Bay Area musicians Monica Pasqual and Ren»e H. Arcourt to form Blame Sally, whose lush four-part harmony vocals never fail to amaze.

Their third CD, Severland, continues a tradition of excellence that’s made the quartet a favorite of indie-pop folk fans. Beautiful songs, inventive and sometimes political songwriting, and stellar musicianship led the recording to be pre-nominated this year for three different Grammy Awards, including Best New Band, Best Contemporary Folk Album, and Best Song.

See Blame Sally on Saturday, July 26 at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. Visit the library Web site at www.henrymiller.org for ticket info.

 

 

STILL COOL :  Indefatigable performer Rod Stewart plays the Mid-State Fair on July 30, with Bryan Adams opening. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ROD STEWART
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ROD STEWART
  • STILL COOL : Indefatigable performer Rod Stewart plays the Mid-State Fair on July 30, with Bryan Adams opening.

  More music…

Jill Knight and Tamra Engle play Friday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Steynberg Gallery. Engle is an award-winning singer- songwriter who’s latest release, The Blonde Flame Session, was on the nominating ballot for the 50th annual Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Jill Knight is SLO County’s own folk icon, whose voice and guitar playing is so amazing, I’m still scratching my head wondering why she’s never been signed to a major label.

Strike Fire Productions is putting on its last summer bash in the Five Cities area on Friday, July 25 at Mongo’s Saloon with local boys 2$Pistol (rock/punk), SLO Town band Impossible Sunday (rock/reggae/punk), and the headlining punk/reggae act Re-Form from Florida. The show starts at 9 p.m.

So-Cal reggae-rock act Seed plays the Frog and Peach this Friday, July 25 at 10 p.m. Judging from their Myspace page, this is a guitar-driven reggae trio, featuring smooth vocals by a guy named Chris Taylor. Sounds like good music to chill to.

The Jimdangles have a couple of immediate shows, first on Friday, July 25 at the Wine Attic in Paso Robles from 6 to 9 p.m., and then at the Steynberg Gallery on Saturday, July 26 from 7 to 10 p.m. Both are $10 and are worth every penny if you like exploratory jazz that grabs sounds from other music genres and presents it in a way that’s simply astonishing in its creativity.

SLO singer-songwriter Loren Radis, 23, fronts the band Each Passing Day, but he’ll play solo on Friday, July 25, opening for touring songwriter Buddy Mondlock at Shepherd’s Table in Grover Beach. He’ll also do a solo gig on Saturday, July 26, sharing a 9 p.m. show with Ish Moreno at the 3rd Coast Cafe in Santa Maria. The whole band will be the featured act in a songwriters showcase at The Clubhouse in SLO on Tuesday, July 29.

GRRL’S RULE :  Indie-pop folk artists Blame Sally, a quartet that sings in stunning four-part harmony, plays the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur on July 26. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAME SALLY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAME SALLY
  • GRRL’S RULE : Indie-pop folk artists Blame Sally, a quartet that sings in stunning four-part harmony, plays the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur on July 26.

Local rockers Refuge, a quintet of 13 to 15-year-olds, are the youngest band ever to be included on New Rock 107.3’s annual SLO and Dysfunctional CD, on which the band’s track “Alive” opens the album. See them live at the Shell Beach Farmers Market on Saturday, July 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Rock on, boys!

You can ask Nashville pro Buddy Mondlock how he got Garth Brooks to record his song on Saturday, July 26, during a noon to 2 p.m. workshop hosted by local singer-songwriter Steve Key. Mondlock’s songs have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Janis Ian, David Wilcox, Edwin McCain, Nanci Griffth, and others. The workshop costs $30. For reservations, contact Steve Key at 204-6821 or steve@stevekey.com.

Matt’s Music, Stage & School is bringing multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven (violin, mandolin, tin can, bedpan, cookie tin, tenor guitar, mouth bow, banjo, berimbau, balalaika, boot ‘n lace, plus a world of percussion instruments, including animal bones, squeeze toys, cake pans, waste cans, umbrella stands, martini shakers, and himself) to Paso Robles’ Stacked Stone Cellars for a workshop and concert on Saturday, July 26. The 5 p.m. workshop ($30) is followed by an 8 p.m. concert ($15), and you can get dinner, too ($12). Call 237-0054 to buy tickets and get more info. “You have no excuse!” says Craven.†“You have nothing to loose and everything to gain by making music.”

Rocky Votolato hits Downtown Brew on Saturday, July 26. Unlike Rocky’s last tour (full band), these will be intimate acoustic shows durin which the singer-songwriter will present some new material. Alternative Press said of Votolato’s last album, “The disc Ryan Adams keeps threatening to make but never quite delivers.” High praise for Votolato; a slap in the face for Adams. Tickets for this 16-and-older, 7:30 p.m. show cost $10 at Boo Boo Records or the venue. OWEN will open the show.

Downtown Brew presents the “Crunk in the Trunk (energy drink) Tour” featuring Nothing Ever Stays, Bidwell, Lakes, Goodnight Sunrise, and Scarlet Letters on Sunday, July 27 at 6:30 p.m. Nothing Ever Stays hails from Atascadero, and they seem to be heading places. They recently signed with Regular Music and re-released their first album Progression with additional acoustic songs “Leave This All Behind” and “The Revenge of Holden Caulfield.”

Sacramento acoustic rock trio Out of Place plays the Frog and Peach on Monday, July 28.† They’re touring in support of Friday Evening, the follow-up to their 2005 debut album Tiny Heart Attack. ?

 

 

CD Reviews

 

Bobby Womack—The Best Of

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Bobby Womack is bigger than we know. Yes, “Across 110th Street” provided the hue of blaxploitation to several films, but that only scratches the surface. A prot»g» of Sam Cooke, a songwriter for Wilson Pickett and Janis Joplin, and a session guitarist for the likes of Aretha Franklin and Sly Stone, Womack is a triple-threat, especially when factoring in his scorching, raspy baritone. As comfortable with fiery, raw southern soul (“I’m A Midnight Mover”) as with tender, sweet soul ballads (“That’s The Way I Feel About Cha”), Womack’s only real trouble was saying no to soulful renditions of pop classics (“California Dreamin’” and “Fire and Rain” fare surprisingly well, whereas “Fly Me To The Moon” is lackluster ho-hum). But these missteps are rare. Instead, you’ll be entranced by how well he translates his heroes: The hip funkiness he learned from Sly while contributing to his There’s A Riot Going On album permeates the track “Communication,” while the secular sermonizing that builds to rapturous intensity on “The Preacher (Part Two)” is a righteous tribute to Sam Cooke’s life extraordinaire.

 

Boredoms—Vision Creation Newsun

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Vision Creation Newsun is the aural equivalent of stepping inside a sweat lodge and getting out of your mind. But instead of the required perspiring cleanse, The Boredoms infiltrate your cerebrum with their lengthy, frenzied jams balanced between free form, experimental wig-outs, and hypnotizing pulsing rhythms. Mixed as one long continuous piece, with symbols replacing track names, The Boredoms have refined their previous noise-fest EPs into something more palatable. Built upon the motorik, propulsion of “Kraut-rock” drumming, it’s easy to mesmerize yourself into a daze, especially when it’s fronted by undulating synthesized tones and trance-inducing drone. But it’s this driving beat that keeps your attention in gear, never slipping into a neutral meditation, or a dumbing stupor. There’s still avant-garde grit and an abrasive edge meshed into the compositions, enough to challenge but never isolate the listener. It’s a trip best enjoyed within the confines of a moving vehicle or ear-closing headphones. Just let go.

—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX’s Night Train.


Glen Starkey was beaten by a computer at chess, so he challenged it to a kickboxing match. Guess who won at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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