- PHOTO COURTESY OF DREAD ZEPPELIN
- EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA! : Dread Zeppelin frontman Tortelvis will lay it on thick at Wet Zeppelin, a concert and wine-tasting fundraiser on Sept. 25 at Cayucos Vets Hall.
Elvis Presley! Led Zeppelin! Reggae music! What do they have in common? Not a damn thing … except within the rare trifecta alignment that is Dread Zeppelin! If you’ve never seen this high-concept camp act, you’re missing out on an integral, life-changing experience. Until you’ve seen Elvis impersonator Tortelvis singing Led Zeppelin covers reggae-style, you haven’t seen nothin’! If you have seen Dread Zeppelin, then you know what I’m talkin’ about, Willis.
On Friday, Sept. 25, winemaker, raconteur, and impresario Swilly Idle (aka—Stillman Brown, winemaker and founder of Red Zeppelin Winery) will host the party of the year, Wet Zeppelin, a huge benefit concert and wine tasting that raises funds for a Cal Poly Wine & Viticulture scholarship. This year’s music features the aforementioned Dread Zeppelin as well as Dario Rosa (founder/guitarist of the late, great Cabaret Diosa), Meth Leppard, Stimulus Package, Butt Flutes, Maxx Idle, Elvis Kokopelli, Sexy Time Explosion, Flying Mambos, Architecture of Destruction, and more!
It all happens at the Cayucos Vets Hall. The doors open at 2 p.m., with music from 5 p.m. to midnight. Attendees are encouraged to get decked out: Elvis wear, surf gear, or masquerade apparel would be just dandy. Taco Temple will provide the chow, and there will be a dancing cage and a hosted wine bar. A minimum $20 donation is requested, but since this is a fundraiser and the wine will be flowing, you should give more!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUES TRAVELER
- STILL TRAVELIN’ : Improvisational masters, Blues Traveler, bring their rootsy, infectious show to Pozo Saloon on Sept. 18.
As a guy with a few extra pounds, I know how cruel fat discrimination can be, but at least I wasn’t dropped from my record label for being fat! Shame on you, A&M Records! Just because Blues Traveler frontman John Popper looks like he’s trying to smuggle three canned hams through customs is no reason to dump him! Rotten bastards!
Blues Traveler, which formed 22 years ago in New Jersey, has seen its share of ups and downs. The band enjoyed enormous popularity as a Grateful Dead replacement act (along with Phish) due to their improvisational live show. But the drug overdose death of original bassist Bobby Sheehan and Popper’s ongoing struggle over the battle of his bulging belly led to waning popularity and A&M Record’s eventual dropkick of the band in 2002.
Screw ’em, said Blues Traveler, who released subsequent albums independently and on some smaller labels. How’s the band billing itself lately? Here’s their press release: “It's not every band that’s still staking out new musical territory and embracing fresh challenges more than 20 years into their career, but that’s the case with Blues Traveler. Having long ago graduated from the jam-band underground to mainstream stardom, the iconoclastic combo has consistently stuck to its guns and played by its own rules.”
See Blues Traveler on Friday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. (doors at 6) at Pozo Saloon. Local act The JD Project will open the show. Tickets for this all-ages show are available at Boo Boo Records, Cheap Thrills, Boyd’s Tobacco Shop, the Clark Center, online at pozosaloon.com, or by phone at (888) 512-SHOW.
Don’t let ‘em get to you, Popper! You’re husky; you’re not fat!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY
- DON’T THEY LOOK FRIENDLY : Horn-driven punk-o-nauts, the World/Inferno Friendship Society, descend on Downtown Brew on Sept. 18.
Seems like there’s something for everyone at Downtown Brew this week. The bustling nightclub kicks off on Friday, Sept. 18 with World/Inferno Friendship Society with Brian of Dresden Dolls (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $10). This act’s bio says it all: “NYC’s disturbingly cult-like, circus-related, Halloween-tent-revival orchestra The World/Inferno Friendship Society perform red-eyed soul show tunes for the swarming punk rock masses. With songs so sweet and a quicksilver beat, a lean nine-piece orchestra of girls and boys plays the cabaret-soul-punkety soundtrack to your romances and disasters. The vaudeville circus you always wished your life could be can be—just come and see!”
On Saturday, Sept. 19, indie alt-rockers Murder By Death (7 p.m.; all ages, $10). This “rocking Americana noir and dramatic post-punk” act “erases old style and audience boundaries as much as it tests the limits of new ones.” As singer-guitarist Adam Turla puts it, “The real energy in our songs comes from stuff like the sexual tension, the murder, the drinking, and basically any other dirt you find between the lines.”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF GINA VILLALOBOS
- AMERICANA GIRL : Gina Villalobos brings her hooky Americana tunes to Downtown Brew, opening for Elliot Randall on Sept. 20.
On Monday, Sept. 21, Mason Jennings returns with opening act Crash Kings (7 p.m.; all ages; $20 presale or $22 at the door). Jennings was hand-picked by music supervisor Randall Poster to perform two Dylan songs, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” in Todd Haynes’ acclaimed film I'm Not There, both on the soundtrack album and lip-synched by Christian Bale in the movie. He’s touring in support of his sixth album, In the Ever, being released on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records label.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, The Get Up Kids with opening act Youth Group hit the club (7 p.m.; all ages; $20 presale or $24 at the door). Kansas City’s Get Up Kids play melodic, pop-inflected emo similar to the Promise Ring and Braid, with whom the band released a split single in 1998. Check ’em out.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE LOUIS WALKER
- GUITAR HERO : Bluesman Joe Louis Walker returns to the SLO Vets Hall on Sept. 19.
One of the SLO Blues Society’s favs, Joe Louis Walker, returns to the SLO Vets Hall on Saturday, Sept. 19 for an 8 p.m. show opened by local favorites The Jerome Washington Express ($20 at the door; $17 for Blues Society Members). SLO Dance is offering free dance lessons from 7:30 to 8 p.m.
Walker is a multiple Grammy and WC Handy Award-winning guitarist whose instrumental prowess, evocative voice, and electrifying stage presence have earned him worldwide fans through his 18 solo albums and countless compilations and guest appearances. He’s recorded with BB King, James Cotton, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Branford Marsalis, and Ike Turner, among others.
He was just 8 years old when he picked up the guitar, and by the time he turned 16, he was a regular on the Bay Area scene. The prodigy cites T-Bone Walker, BB King, and Amos Milburn as early influences, and during his early career, he played with everyone from John Lee Hooker to Otis Rush, Thelonius Monk, Willie Dixon, John Mayall, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix.
In 1986, he finally started his own band, the Bosstalkers, releasing his debut solo recording Cold Is the Night. Other notable releases followed, including 1993’s Blues Survivor—an early example of combining blues with gospel, jazz, soul, funk, and rock influences. His 1993 Grammy-winning duet with BB King, “Everybody’s Had the Blues,” was a symbolic gesture of passing the blues from one generation to another. Walker’s 1997 album Great Guitars was one of the best-selling blues albums of the
In short, Joe Louis Walker is the real deal, an extraordinarily gifted bluesman whose performances never fail to impress.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SUGAR RAY
- PRAY FOR RAY : Pop punk darlings Sugar Ray hit Pozo Saloon on Sept. 19.
It’s a battle of musicians with boxers’ names on Saturday, Sept. 19. You could go to see bluesman Joe Louis [see above] or head to Pozo Saloon and see alt.pop.punk act Sugar Ray at 6 p.m. (doors at 5) with opening acts The Dirty Heads and Aimee Allen & Telecasters.
Whatever happened to Sugar Ray? For a while there, you couldn’t turn on VH1 without listening to speculation that the band was a one-hit wonder. “Fly” was that hit, but in response to criticism, the band released the album 14:59, a reference to the idea that their Warholian 15 minutes of fame weren’t quite up yet. Sure enough, the album went platinum based on the singles “Every Morning” and “Someday.”
Their next album, 2001’s In Pursuit of Leisure, did founder, and its single “Mr. Bartender (It’s So Easy)” failed to generate much enthusiasm. I haven’t really kept up with them lately. According to their press materials, they’re coming off a “five-year hiatus,” and they’re “back and better than ever.” Their new album, which I haven’t heard, is called Music for Cougars, which they claim is “an exuberant reiteration of the band’s signature sound, with particular focus on songcraft and sonic invention. As ever, musical styles—from dancehall to disco, punk to pure pop—are mixed and matched, resulting in a celebratory, swaggering collection that is distinctively and delightfully Sugar Ray.”
“I’m not going to say we made the best record of our career,” said singer Mark McGrath. “That’s just so clichéd. But we did!”
That’s just so cliché! Buy tickets for this all-ages show at Boo Boo Records, Cheap Thrills, Boyd’s Tobacco Shop, the Clark Center, online at pozosaloon.com, or by phone at (888) 512-SHOW.
- PHOTO BY DON LEWIS
- CELTIC PRIDE : Moira Smiley and VOCO play on Sept. 18 at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church.
The Red Barn Community Music Series presents Moira Smiley and VOCO on Friday, Sept. 18 at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Los Osos. Expect an evening of sweet, hard-driving Americana, crooked Eastern European songs, and stomping percussive movement. Stuart Mason will open the show with his trademark blend of oldternative bluegrass and traditional Celtic music. The cost is $10 at the door, with a potluck at 6 p.m. and the concert at 7.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF GABBA GABBA HEY
- HEY, HO, LET’S GO! : “Huey” (Chris Lord) assumes Dee Dee Ramone’s role in the Ramones tribute act, Gabba Gabba Hey, playing Sept. 18 at the Z-Club.
The Jim Townsend Blues Band will be hosting a night of Beatles music and sing-along at the SLO Down Pub in Arroyo Grande on Saturday, Sept 19 from 7 to 11 p.m. With a cast of more than 20 local musicians, including local favorites Acoustico and Stephendipity, Townsend and his bandmates intend to showcase more than 40 Beatles songs from every era of their illustrious career. The cost is $5 at the door.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, singer-songwriter Lindsay Tomasic returns to the area with an intimate CD release concert at Painted Sky Studios at 8 p.m. Her newest, The Most Amazing Dream, is a collection of 12 affecting songs penned over the span of ten months. String Planet—violist Novi Novog and stick player Larry Tuttle—will open the show. Tickets ($15) are available at Boo Boo Records, Cambria Business Center, or by calling 927-8330.
Brand new old-time bluegrass band Little Black Train will play a free show on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. at the Pour House Tap Room (1331 Vendels Circle, Paso Robles). Featuring Central Coast acoustic wizards John Weed (fiddle), Kenny Blackwell (mandolin), and Stuart Mason (guitar), the trio named themselves after a traditional Carter Family gospel song.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS AYER
- STRAIGHT OUTTA BROOKLYN! : Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Chris Ayer hits the Steynberg Gallery Sept. 19.
Get a taste of Mexico when the Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series proudly presents Mariachi Mexicanisimo and the Herencia Mexicana Dancers on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. KPMR TV has made the arrangements for this unique performance at the Rotary Bandstand in the historic Arroyo Grande Village. Herencia Mexicana, a traditional ballet folklorico dance troupe, will open the show, followed by Mariachi Mexicanisimo, Santa Maria’s premier mariachi group.
SLO’s Old Fashioned Sunday Summer Concerts conclude on Sunday, Sept. 20 with barbershop favs The Bald Spots and the excellent SLO County Band playing at 1 p.m. in Mitchell Park. Bring a lawn chair, a picnic, and the kids to this final family-friendly free outdoor concert.
Flamenco guitarist Chris Burton Jácome will play a benefit performance for the G. Roger Bailey Scholarship at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20. Jácome studied flamenco in Sevilla, Spain, where he learned how to accompany Flamenco dance and singing from the best-known names in Spain. His music has been heard on the popular television shows Kyle XY and Greek, and most recently in the film Amreeka, which was a jury selection for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Reservations are required as seating is limited. Call 771-8138 for directions and reservations. A $20 donation is suggested as proceeds go to guitar student scholarships.
Four outsider acts hit the SLO Art Center on Tuesday, Sept. 22. Hear Titus Andronicus, touring in support of its new album The Airing of Grievances; Cotton Jones, a singer-songwriter whose material leans towards a quirky Wilco-inspired sound; The So So Glos, who sound like The Clash; and Quiet Life, a loose L.A. canyon classic rock sound. This 6:30 p.m., all-ages show costs $10 at the door.
Glen Starkey needs Kanye West to back him up, yo! Tell Starkey he should have won best video at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming across as a 21st-century update to funky, swanky bachelor-pad music, Lord Newborn and the Magic Skulls is the combined force of West Coast studio elites. With the fourth Beastie Boy, Money Mark, anchoring this two-week session at his home studio, skater-turned-musician Tommy Guerrero riffs out his best languid grooves with multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee injecting his gifted composition of funky breaks. This mostly instrumental affair captures the loose, laid-back vibe of a summertime garage band jam-out, with the emphasis on Coronas and not record contracts. As Lord Newborn, they have unshackled freedom to dive into Santana-era guitar and conga psych-rock (“L.I.V.E”), dip into acid tinged, spaced-out sitar funk (“Crazy Apartment”), and then mellow out with dreamy West Coast cool (“Rainy Day Dog”). Like the reassembled soul of early Beck albums, Lord Newborn is as playful weird as it is slackly congenial.
Reviving the spirit and dense storytelling of this 1995 classic solo debut, Raekwon and his sideman Ghostface Killah give us a second chapter of glamour and guns, as if translating the street drama of The Wire for head-phoned hip-hoppers. Co-opting the narratives of gangsters and drug deals, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx ... Pt.II is a mixture of Scarface ambitions, John Woo cinematic gun play, and snipped dialogue of braggadocio kung-fu, all backed by foreboding beats. As a lyricist, Raekwon stuffs his verses with descriptive imagery (“crushed up glass,” “calloused hands,” “smell from his breath was valentine”), making his ominous stories feel alive and dangerous. “Sonny’s Missing” traces the plotting of a hit with a sinister instrumental by Pete Rock, while “Pyrex Vision” is a one-minute interlude inside a drug dealer’s mind. But while Raekwon and his litany of guests are in top lyrical form, it’s the album’s production that makes it stand out: All play toward the off-kilter, eerily melancholy production of early Wu-Tang, tagging this as a welcomed return to form.
—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and mikovision.blogspot.com, where you’ll find archived reviews and soundclips.