You’ve got less than a month to get your tickets, arrange a pet sitter, find someone to water your plants, and dig out the camping gear for the best music weekend on the Central Coast. Simply put, Live Oak Music Festival is the place to be on Father’s Day weekend, an instant community that springs up fully formed in the oak-dappled hills above Santa Barbara where singles, couples, and families go to usher in summertime.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF REBIRTH BRASS BAND
- HEAVY FUNK! : Hailing from New Orleans, the Rebirth Brass Band (pictured) is but one of two dozen acts—including Indigo Girls, Carolyn Wonderland, David Lindley, James McMurtry, and John Doe—playing this year’s Live Oak Music Festival June 15-17.
It’s like a little town filled with grinning music lovers who wake up to live music with breakfast on the Hot Licks Stage, enjoy performances throughout the day and into the evening on the Main Stage, or attend workshops and concerts on Stage Too. Or you can wander the camp and find impromptu jam sessions all over the campground.
Some folks go all out with meals cooked at their camp, but I find I always end up bringing too much food because the vendor fare is so tasty and convenient it’s easy to eat that instead. There’re also vendors selling everything from jewelry to hula hoops, tons of kids activities, an art walk filled with arts and crafts, and so much more. I freakin’ love it there! And it doesn’t hurt that the music is always diverse and incredible.
This year’s headliners are Indigo Girls, Rebirth Brass Band, Carolyn Wonderland, John Doe, David Lindley, and James McMurty. Supporting acts include Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited, Darrell Scott, Oscar Hernandez, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Quinn DeVeaux and the Blue Beat Review, Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic, Melody of China, Round Mountain, Dan Curcio, History of Painters, Sparrows Gate, St. Vincent Folk, Cuesta Ridge, Lonesome Radio, Ranchers for Peace, Bruce Goldish, and the Cache Valley Drifters. Naturally, the incomparable Joe Craven will be master of ceremonies.
Sure, it’s camping, so it can be a little dusty (the Live Oak motto is “Peace. Love. Dirt.”), and you have to use porta-potties, and the “hot” showers aren’t always hot, but the people are friendly, the setting beautiful, and the stress-free environment a welcome respite from everyday worries.
If you’ve been before, you know how magical this weekend is. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? It’s as easy as visiting liveoakfest.org, buying tickets, and heading 80 minutes south—on Hwy 101 to Hwy 54 (Cachuma Pass)—where Live Oak Camp is located in the Santa Ynez valley.
The 24th Annual Live Oak Music Festival, put on by a team of dedicated volunteers under the auspices of Public Radio KCBX 90.1FM, opens on Friday, June 15, but a lot of folks arrive on Thursday night to queue up for the morning rush to find the perfect camp spot. It can be a real party in the queue line. The festival ends on Sunday, June 17, but most folks camp out until Monday morning.
Adult full-festival passes cost $122, teen passes are $77, and children (ages 4 to 12) get in for only $37. Children younger than 4 get in free. Individual day tickets are also available for $42 for adults and $17 for children. Don’t miss out! Make your plans! Buy your tickets! Peace. Love. Dirt.
Orange County rebels
Has it really been 34 years? More than three decades since Mike Ness created his signature sound of hard rockabilly and punk lashed together by incendiary lyrics and enough badditude to stop an elephant in its tracks? Yes, it has, but Ness and his current lineup (guitarist Jonny Wickersham, bassist Brent Harding, and drummer David Hidalgo, Jr.) continue to deliver blistering and infectious music.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SOCIAL DISTORTION
- SOCIAL D AT POZO! : Veteran punk heroes Social Distortion play Pozo Saloon on May 20—their only California date—before touring through Europe for three months.
“The most common thing I hear is, ‘Man, your music got me through some hard times,’” Ness said in press materials. “‘I just say, ‘Me too.’”
No doubt about it: Mike Ness is still the embodiment of punk rock. The only non-punk rock thing he’s done is not burn out and disappear, and not doing what’s expected is even more punk rock!
On Sunday, May 20, Social Distortion headlines a 4 p.m. show at Pozo Saloon that includes opening acts The Toadies and Lindi Ortega. This is the band’s only California date on a tour that runs through Washington, Oregon, and Nevada before heading overseas to play England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy.
The band is rarely off the road these days, and they continue to draw fans from their earliest days of Mommy’s Little Monster while drawing new ones from YouTube videos.
“I see people bringing their kids to shows,” Ness said, “and I see kids bringing their parents.”
The Toadies are a raw alternative rock band from Fort Worth, Texas, who are touring in support of their new EP entitled PLAY.ROCK.MUSIC. Said front man Vaden Todd Lewis, “It was fun experimenting with some new sounds and variations for this EP. This is some of the strangest and catchiest stuff I’ve ever written.”
Lindi Ortega delivers beautiful alt-country crooning, describing her music as “a roadside motel love affair between old school outlaws and country darlings.”
The doors open at 3 p.m. Tickets ($27.50) for this all-ages event are available at Boo Boo Records in SLO, the Clark Center in Arroyo Grande, Faultline Music in Paso, the DJ Shop in Santa Maria, or by visiting pozosaloon.com.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID FRANCEY
- O, CANADA! : Three-time Juno Award winner David Francey plays two intimate concerts this week: at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café on May 17, and a house concert in Cayucos on May 18.
Scotland-born Canadian David Francey was a nail-pounder for most of his life, but one day he threw down his hammer and in 1999 recorded Torn Screen Door, which quickly catapulted him to fame. Now with nine CDs under his belt, the three-time Juno Award winner has become one of Canada’s best-known singer-songwriters.
His most recent CD, Late Edition, has been lauded with praise, as well as two Canadian Folk Music nominations. In the last few years, he took home the Grand Prize in both the International Acoustic Music Award and in the folk category for the John Lennon Songwriting Award.
Singing songs of hardworking folk, drifters, and the wilds of Canada, David Francey is a true storyteller with dry wit, an open heart, and a twinkle in his eye. He’ll play intimate concerts at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café on Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m. ($15; call 234-6884) and a house concert in Cayucos on Friday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m. ($15; call 995-2456 or e-mail email@example.com).
- PHOTO COURTESY OF KIX BROOKS
- THE GOOD HALF : Kix Brooks, half of famed country duo Brooks and Dunn, plays SLO Brew on May 20.
Kix Brooks, one half of the country super group Brooks & Dunn, is arguably the biggest country music star to ever grace SLO Brew’s stage, which he’ll do on Sunday, May 20 (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $32 presale or $35 at the door), with Joe Koenig and Emily Kilimnik opening. Through the ’90s and the first decade of the 2000s, Brooks & Dunn was huge, but this year Kix Brooks decided to return to a solo career. Born in Shreveport, La., he discovered country music through his neighbor, Johnny Horton. In fact, Horton’s daughter was his first musical partner in his youth. After a stint working an Alaskan pipeline and some time playing ski resorts in Maine, he landed a songwriting gig in Nashville, eventually hooking up with Ronnie Dunn. I’m guessing that in addition to his solo material, you might hear a few Brooks & Dunn classics such as “My Maria” (a B.W. Stevenson cover), “Ain’t Nothing ’Bout You,” “Red Dirt Road,” and “Hard Workin’ Man.”
Before that show, though, we have to sadly celebrate an end of an era. After a long tenure together and a recent win as Best Band in the New Times Best of SLO Readers Poll, Still Time is calling it quits during two final SLO Brew shows: Friday, May 18 (7 p.m.; all ages; $15 presale or $18 at the door), with Bare Feet opening; and Saturday, May 19 (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $15 presale or $18 at the door), with Strange Vine opening. A band in the same vein as Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, or Freedy Johnston, Still Time was a huge local success that got plenty of radio play and lots of accolades. They toured the country a couple times, but a few of the guys didn’t like the road, and all good things must come to an end. In the meantime, front man Dan Curcio (a founding member of Fleetwood Mac—not! But go ahead and write some letters anyway) has launched a solo career in earnest, so fans will still be able to hear his warm voice and insightful songs. Still Time, I salute you!
Potent singer-songwriter Tyrone Wells returns to the club on Tuesday, May 22 (7 p.m.; all ages; $13 presale or $15 at the door), with Tyler Hilton and Mike Annuzzi opening. Touring in support of Where We Meet, a collection of his spare but earnest ballads that reached No. 3 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, Wells is an engaging and soulful performer. On a side note, Annuzzi, a former Cal Poly student now hailing from the Bay Area, has his song “Paradise” currently in rotation on The Krush 92.5FM, and on Thursday, May 31, he’ll play Cal Poly’s ASI Events Concerts in the University Union Plaza from 11 a.m. till noon and later that night at Creeky Tiki.
Finally, on Wednesday, May 23, SLO Brew welcomes Star Slinger (8 p.m.; all ages; $13 presale or $15 at the door), with The Hood Internet and Chrissy Murderbot opening. Star Slinger is a Manchester beatsmith who packs more hooks than a tacklebox in his rogue reworkings of songs by the likes of the Cocteau Twins and Nicki Minaj.
Songwriters still playing
Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcases continue to deliver original music to the masses at locations throughout the county, starting Thursday, May 17, with headliner Gayle Skidmore at The Porch (6:30 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). She’s written more than 1,700 songs, starting when she was just 8 years old. The classically trained pianist also plays more than 20 other instruments. Other performers will include Kyle Alden, Jean Butterfield, Randall Lamb, and rock-pop duo The Sign.
On Sunday, May 20, at Sculpterra, hear keyboardist Kori Linae Carothers (1 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). If you like Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, you’ll dig her. Ackerman produced her last album, Trillium, filled with keys and Native American flute playing, a mélange of jazz, rock, and classical music. Other performers include Diane Arkenstone, Tim Pacheco, and Johnee Gange.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF TREEFINGERS
- RESONATORS! : So Cal ragtime Gypsy blues duo Treefingers plays Kreuzberg on May 22.
Then on Tuesday, May 22, So Cal ragtime Gypsy blues duo Treefingers plays Kreuzberg (6:30 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). With two resonator guitars and an accordion, these guys are endlessly entertaining.
More music …
You want old school? Here’s some real old school: Cal Poly’s Early Music Ensemble presents “Music of Tudor England” on Friday, May 18, in the Pavilion of the Performing Arts Center. Conducted by Thomas Davies, the 12-member ensemble will perform works both sacred and secular from the pen of Henry VIII to William Byrd, the favorite composer of Queen Elizabeth I. “The history of Tudor England is filled with political intrigue, religious turmoil, and periods of calm,” Davies said. “Its musical history is no less varied.” Tickets are $8 for seniors and students and $12 for the public (call 756-2787).
Rita Hosking plays the next Música Del Río House Concerts in Atascadero on Saturday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. ($15; call 466-6941). The singer-songwriter’s music sounds like the mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky. Joe Craven once said of her, “From the first time I heard Rita sing, her voice gripped me and did not let go; a voice whose beauty speaks from a deep place of honest and raw and powerful emotion. Rita’s messages are immediate yet patient and her quiet conviction most strong.”
Hip-hop composer and trombonist Adam Theis, leader of the Jazz Mafia musicians’ collective of San Francisco, plays Cal Poly’s Jazz Night at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, in Harman Hall of the Performing Arts Center’s Christopher Cohan Center. Hear Theis with the University Jazz Band No. 1 in a set of his compositions for hip-hop big band. The University Jazz Band No. 2 and two jazz combos will also perform. Tickets are $12 and $15 for general admission, $10 and $13 for seniors and Jazz Federation members, and $6 and $10 for students (call 756-2787).
Ripping blues guitarist Debbie Davies returns to SLO to play on Saturday, May 19, at the SLO Blues Society show in the SLO Vets Hall (8 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 at the door), with The Lenny Blues Band opening. Born into a musical family—her father worked for Ray Charles—Davies’ career kicked off in the Bay Area before she moved to L.A. in 1984 to be the lead guitarist for Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs—an all female R&B band led by the wife of John Mayall. In 1988, she joined Albert Collins and the Icebreakers and played with them for the next three years. “What I learned from Albert is that everything that comes out has to be totally wired to your soul—no matter what.” After working with Collins, she formed her own band, which currently includes drummer Don Costagno, bass guitarist Casandra Faulconer, and organist Paul Opalach. Expect to be blown away!
Truth About Seafood will play Chronic Cellars on Sunday, May 20, from noon to 4 p.m. “We’ve got an album that we’ve started working on at my buddy’s studio in L.A. [that’s about] about 80 percent done that should be out in the fall,” said Brad Daane. “We also have a Concerts in the Plaza gig on Friday, June 22.”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF STANLEY STERN
- LEAVING ON A JET PLANE! : A tribute to the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary happens May 20 at Steynberg Gallery.
A tribute to the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, at Steynberg Gallery. Featuring Dan Mazer, Steve Kindel, Laurelle Barnett, and Mary MacLane, the group will offer faithful renditions of classics such as “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Hush-A-Bye,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “Blowing in the Wind, “This Land Is Your Land,” and many more. Tickets are $15.
On Sunday, May 20, Gary Foster, one of the Hollywood studios’ and jazz world’s most prestigious woodwind players, is the next attraction at the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the D’Anbino Wine Tasting Room in Paso Robles. See him at 4 or 7 p.m. for $15, or see both shows for $20.
How’s this for a rock ’n’ roll fable? Bryan Bielanski formed a rock trio in high school back in the ’90s, was a weekend warrior musician for years while managing a restaurant, said “screw this” and quit, pared his trio down to a grungy duo, recorded Rock and Roll Destroyed My Life, an album of nine songs in one 36-minute continuous take, sold everything and abandoned his apartment, and hit the road. Feel the commitment on Wednesday, May 23, when Bielanski’s band Angwish plays the Frog and Peach; then revel in the way he plays both the guitar notes and bass notes simultaneously on his guitar. Rock on! ∆
Keep up with Glen Starkey via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at facebook.com/glenstarkey or myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.