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Hot, hot, hot!

Los Pinguos pumps out sizzling and provocative Latin rhythms

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CHILLIN’ OUT:  Los Pinguos, a hot band from Argentina, performs at Castoro Cellars on Sept. 11. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOS PINGUOS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LOS PINGUOS
  • CHILLIN’ OUT: Los Pinguos, a hot band from Argentina, performs at Castoro Cellars on Sept. 11.
Known as “the Latin Beatles of the 21st century,” Los Pinguos has a catchy, enthusiastic style that appeals to much more than a Spanish-speaking audience. These acclaimed musicians from Buenos Aires, Argentina, take their name from a slang word for penguins, but there’s nothing cold about their sound. It’s a festive Latin smorgasbord of salsa, flamenco, cumbia, samba, reggae, and rock.

Los Pinguos’ can’t-stop-dancing performances have garnered an enthusiastic fan base worldwide. The band won the audience vote and claimed the grand prize on Ed McMahon’s “The Next Big Star” TV show. Their music is featured in Imagining Argentina, a film with Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson.

Spanish guitars, a Cuban tres, Peruvian cajon (box-drum), bass, and harmonizing vocals come together in a unique sound that’s been featured on three Putamayo World Music compilations: Baila!, Radio Latino, and World Party. Their audiences just can’t sit still, as I personally discovered during the recent Strawberry Music Festival where Los Pinguos was a featured dance band. Dancing—it’s cheaper than joining a gym!

Los Pinguos will perform at Castoro Cellars’ last outdoor summer concert on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets for this SLOFolks show are available at Boo Boo Records, or you can get yours by calling Castoro at 238-0725.

CLASSIC COUNTRY :  The Ranch in San Miguel plays host to rising country stars the Eli Young Band on Sept. 11. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ELI YOUNG BAND
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ELI YOUNG BAND
  • CLASSIC COUNTRY : The Ranch in San Miguel plays host to rising country stars the Eli Young Band on Sept. 11.
A whole lot o’ country

The Eli Young band is rolling into the Central Coast for a show at The Ranch in San Miguel. This American country music band, based in Denton, Texas, has built a solid base of fans all over the West, thanks partly to national exposure on CMT and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. They’ve opened for the Dave Matthews Band, Alan Jackson, Pat Green, and Robert Earl Keen.

The band was formed by James Young and Mike Eli as an acoustic duo when they attended the University of North Texas, eventually becoming Eli Young Band when Chris Thompson and Jon Jones joined up. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2002, followed by their Carnival records release Level in 2005. The band’s third album, Jet Black & Jealous, was released in 2008 by Universal South Records, and has garnered three Top 40 singles on the Billboard country singles charts.

Eli Young Band has been nominated for the Academy of Country Music award for top new vocal group. Hear what all the fuss is about on Sept. 11, and don’t forget your boots! Tickets for this 21-and-older show are available at The Ranch in San Miguel (liveattheranch.com), at vallitix.com, or by calling 1-888-825-5484.

RIDING INTO SLO :  Electro music icon Benny Benassi performs his DJ set at Native Lounge on Sept. 14. - PHOTO BY ROCCO BIZZARRI
  • PHOTO BY ROCCO BIZZARRI
  • RIDING INTO SLO : Electro music icon Benny Benassi performs his DJ set at Native Lounge on Sept. 14.
Godfather of electro

Grammy Award-winning Italian DJ /producer Benny Benassi will make his first appearance in SLO as part of his West Coast tour on a fixed-gear bicycle. Dubbed the “Benny Benassi Bike Tour: A Musical Ride through California … Without Breaks,” the trip from San Francisco to San Diego involves pedaling his custom-made, eco-friendly BBike all the way down the coast while fans follow along at bennybenassibiketour.com.

Hailing from Reggio Emilia, Italy, Benny Benassi rose to worldwide fame with the 2002 release of his chart-topping single “Satisfaction.” With that tune, he initiated a new genre of music known as electro. His campy and quirky Hypnotica, released in 2003, won the European Border Breakers Award and racked up the most sales for an Italian album outside of Italy. Working with vocalists Paul French and Violeta, Benassi produced a group with cousin Alle, called Benassi Bros., coming out with two recordings: Pumphonia and Phobia. In 2007, Benassi released a remix of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise,” which won a Grammy for best remix (dance).

Earlier this year, he released “Electro Sixteen,” an experimental music video on Ultra Records, featuring more than 15,000 photographs from his DJ set at New York’s Electric Zoo Festival. He also broadcasts a one-hour radio show on Sirius XM Radio and headlines major festivals and venues around the world, including performances at this year’s Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival festivals, and major North American clubs including Pacha in New York and Government in Toronto. His latest recording, Spaceship, due out later this year on Ultra Records, features new songs, including the title track with its sultry vocals by Kelis and rhymes by apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas and producer Jean-Baptiste.

The godfather of electro, Benny Benassi performs at Native Lounge in downtown SLO on Sept. 14 in a sold-out show that organizers are calling “the biggest event ever to come to Native Lounge.”

More music …

“That girl with the amazing voice,” Delaney Gibson, is proving herself to be that girl with the amazing songs, too. Her latest recording, Hurricanes and Forget Me Nots, is a collection of introspective and moving tunes, some of which have been featured on MTV and the Oxygen Network. Gibson’s observations on life and relationships offer a unique lyrical perspective, combined with her stunning vocal ability. She’s also studied opera and backed musical legends Barbra Streisand and Andre Bocelli in concert. Your chance to hear her comes on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., when she plays a free all-ages show for Unplugged at Native Lounge.

GET A LISTEN :  Nashville-based singer/songwriter Mare Wakefield dishes up some tunes on Sept. 9 at the Porch in Santa Margarita and Sept. 10 at Linnaea’s Café in SLO. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARE WAKEFIELD
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MARE WAKEFIELD
  • GET A LISTEN : Nashville-based singer/songwriter Mare Wakefield dishes up some tunes on Sept. 9 at the Porch in Santa Margarita and Sept. 10 at Linnaea’s Café in SLO.
With echoes of Dolly Parton in her voice, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Mare Wakefield weaves jazz and bluegrass into her rootsy, award-winning compositions. Her new album Ironwood is currently featured in Starbucks across the country. Check out this verse from the opening track, “Enjoy the View”: “Every star in the sky will shine for you; every dreamer that died survives in you.” You have two chances to hear her: Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Porch in Santa Margarita, and Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. at Linnaea’s Café in SLO.

NEWFANGLED FUN :  Country-rock pioneers the Earl Brothers bring their old-new sound to the Clubhouse on Sept. 10. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EARL BROTHERS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE EARL BROTHERS
  • NEWFANGLED FUN : Country-rock pioneers the Earl Brothers bring their old-new sound to the Clubhouse on Sept. 10.
Pioneers of the country-rock genre, the Earl Brothers have worked with the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Desert Rose Band. Unlike traditional bluegrass bands that seek to re-create the music of the original bluegrass masters, the Earl Brothers are blazing their own trail while staying solidly within the gritty tradition of the 1940s and ’50s. This old-but-new musical form is built around the unique vocal and songwriting talents of Robert Earl Davis (lead vocals, banjo), Danny Morris (lead and tenor vocals, guitar), the soulful fiddle playing of Tom Lucas, and the driving bass of James Touzel. The Earl Brothers come to the Clubhouse on Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Black Water Union opens the $8 show.

The Man in Black comes alive when the San Diego-based Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out takes the stage. Douglas Benson, Kevin Manuel, and Sean Glithero are known for their uncanny ability to reproduce that well-known sound. Do they wear black? Find out for yourself at Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo on Sept. 10 (8 p.m., 21 and older, $12 at ticketweb.com or Boo Boo’s).

In spite of its name, there’s nothing threatening about Dr. Danger, except perhaps the way this local rock, blues, and soul band will get you jumping around the dance floor. You have three upcoming chances to let the good doctor raise your pulse rate: Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Branch Street Deli in the village of Arroyo Grande, Sept. 16 at the Clubhouse in SLO starting at 8 p.m., and Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at SLO Down Pub in Arroyo Grande.

Grab your dancin’ shoes and head out for a lively performance by the Central Coast’s most versatile band, the Mighty Croon Dogs. Feel like some reggae? No problem. How about R&B, salsa, rock, country, soul, or blues? These master musicians play it all. Get some exercise at the Fuel Dock in Morro Bay from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 11, or later that same evening at the Paso Robles Inn from 9 to 11 p.m. Find out more at funlivemusic.com.

How about some enjoyable live music for a very worthy cause? The Hope and Harmony Festival benefits Hospice of SLO County. You’ll hear eclectic folk from Ames and Maryanne Anderson; jazz standards and originals from Adam Levine and Judy Philbin; and great classic rock and Americana from Common Ground. Your $25 donation also includes a barbecue and a chance to bid on some amazing silent auction offerings. The fun takes place on Sept. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the courtyard at St. James Church, 1335 Oak St. in Paso Robles. For tickets and info, check hospiceslo.org or call 544-2266.

JAZZIN’ IT UP :  The Cuesta Night Band delivers its big-band sound, along with other Cuesta College jazz ensembles, at the Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series on Sept. 12. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CUESTA NIGHT BAND
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CUESTA NIGHT BAND
  • JAZZIN’ IT UP : The Cuesta Night Band delivers its big-band sound, along with other Cuesta College jazz ensembles, at the Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series on Sept. 12.
Summer may be heading out, but there’s still one last chance to catch a great outdoor concert at the Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series. Fine jazz from several Cuesta College groups will enliven the Rotary Bandstand Stage, including a CD release concert for Cuesta Jazz 2010—Hear and Now. This release includes recordings from the Cuesta Night Band, the Cuesta Jazz Ensemble, Chorinho, the Cuesta Jazz Combo, and the Cuesta Jazz Faculty. Closing the Cuesta Jazz Show will be the Cuesta Night Band, a group of professional musicians who’ve rehearsed together in some form with various members for more than 30 years. Monday night is the one night that professional musicians usually have off. So what do some of the top Central Coast jazz musicians do on their night off? They play in the Cuesta Night Band, joining other top-notch players. This 18-piece ensemble, directed by Ron McCarley, offers a full spectrum of big-band sounds, including traditional classics such as “Take the A Train” and “All of Me,” as well as music by contemporary composers. Send the free concert series off on a high note on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.

Halfway between Morro Bay and Atascadero is Last Stage West, where an old school bus with a peace sign on the back will be making a stop so Education Rock Music can perform. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, this musical entourage loves to play music to make themselves and us happy, calling their genre “western/jungle/rock.” Their bus stops on Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Downtown Brew in SLO is the place to be for high energy, rockin’ showmanship when Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers take the stage. This is classic rock in the best sense of the word, with echoes of Neil Young, Tom Petty, and John Cougar in their original sound. Known by fans as SK6ERS, the band’s Vanguard debut album The Bear was produced by Tom Schick, who also produced Norah Jones, Ryan Adams, and Rufus Wainwright. Like their heroes The Band, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers trade instruments and sound just as good whatever they play. Also on the bill is singer/songwriter Roy Jay, with gritty, groove-driven blues and roots rock. Jay writes, “My music is for people who come to a show to have fun and a great time—to sing, dance, party, and shake their a**.” And who doesn’t want to do that? Check them out on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. (all-ages, $10 advance at ticketweb.com or Boo Boo Records, $12 at the door).

If you like your twang served up with a dose of sass, you’re in luck because Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers are coming to town. “We’re a high-octane Americana roots and rockabilly act out of Austin, Texas, with a penchant for playing twang the way it was meant to be heard—with attitude!” writes Ruby Dee in an e-mail. The quartet’s album Miles from Home, written after touring across America and Europe, includes the song “Cold Pines and Red Dirt” which earned runner-up honors in Songwriter magazine’s 2007 competition. Blue Suede News wrote of the album, “Blending snarling rockabilly with honky-tonk heartache, Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers have crafted their best recorded set thus far.” Their newest CD on Dionysus Records, Live from Austin Texas, is due out in a few weeks, and the pre-release is already showing up on both the Americana Music Association charts and the FAR Texas Third Coast Music charts. “Risky—and perhaps just a bit risqué—Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers conjure forth all sorts of visions of another time,” writes one reviewer. “Rooted firmly in the classic country and rockabilly tradition, the band is an authentic backdrop for lead singer Ruby Dee’s blend of Wanda Jackson sass and Patsy Cline pathos. The band holds it down with the insistence of a chugging train while Dee, a pin-up heartbreaker of yesteryear with a thoroughly modern attitude, commands the stage.” Hear for yourself on Sept. 14 at Last Stage West on Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero.

   Local foot-stompers Mud Thump will be featured at the Central Coast Songwriters’ gathering at the Clubhouse on Sept. 14. This bunch of country boys is earning a reputation for their lively new-grass originals and down-home dance tunes, soon to be available on their upcoming debut album.

SHAKE IT, BABY :  The Portland-based band Kleveland performs along with Bad Assets at Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos on Sept. 15. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KLEVELAND
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF KLEVELAND
  • SHAKE IT, BABY : The Portland-based band Kleveland performs along with Bad Assets at Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos on Sept. 15.
Nothing like some dynamite rock’n’roll to make your week fly by! Check out Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos, when Bad Assets and Kleveland take the stage. Kleveland is a female-fronted band from Portland that has opened for punk legends X and toured all over the United States and Europe. Get ready to sweat on Sept. 15, when the walls will be shaking. Get a listen beforehand at myspace.com/kleveland.

The next Songwriters at Play showcase in Santa Margarita features Paul Sprawl, whose songs combine percussive guitar techniques with bottleneck, tapping, and harmonica, along with clever lyrics about the downtrodden and forgotten. With eight CDs to his credit, Sprawl has been a touring musician for more than a decade. He’ll make a stop at the Porch (22322 El Camino, 438-3376) on Sept. 16 along with various other songwriters from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Bring a donation for the tip jar!

Contributing writer Kathy Johnston is filling in for Glen Starkey while he’s undergoing professional development. See if you notice the difference when he’s back next week. Send comments to gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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