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Hot, hot, hot!

Pepper can't be contained!

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GO FISH :  Hawaiian Islands-inspired Pepper plays two shows at The Graduate on Dec. 11. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PEPPER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PEPPER
  • GO FISH : Hawaiian Islands-inspired Pepper plays two shows at The Graduate on Dec. 11.

# Venue-wise, SLO County is waaay better off than it used to be, and yet local promoters still struggle to find the right fit. Just ask Otter Productions Inc. guy Bruce Howard:

"Pepper is so hot right now it really needs a 2,000-plus capacity venue, but one wasn't available, so Otter Productions Inc. decided to announce the first pairing of a couple of Central Coast favorites, Pepper and the Expendables, along with Passafire, coming to the Graduate."

To make the date work, Howard has booked two shows on Tuesday, Dec. 11--a 6 p.m. all-ages gig, and a 10 p.m. 21-and-older gig. Tickets (at all Vallitix outlets) are $23, plus handling fees.

If you haven't heard Pepper, yet, you've been missing out. Bret Bollinger, Kaleo Wassman, and Yesod Williams are three young, innovative musicians whose music is inspired by the Hawaiian Islands. Since relocating to Southern California in 1999, the band has become a favorite of the surf/skate/snowboard crowd.

Get high

FORTY OUNCES OF FUN :  "Because I Got High" rapper Afroman returns to Downtown Brew on Dec. 6 to sing about booze instead of drugs. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AFROMAN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AFROMAN
  • FORTY OUNCES OF FUN : "Because I Got High" rapper Afroman returns to Downtown Brew on Dec. 6 to sing about booze instead of drugs.

# "Because I Got High" has become dope smokers' anthem, the soundtrack of their life, and now the "High"ness himself, Afroman, is coming back to Downtown Brew to spark up another evening of music to get stoned by. The thing is, all these stoners don't seem to understand that "Because I Got High" is an ode to the pitfalls of dope smoking stoners!

Afroman (aka Joseph Foreman) has a history of rebelling against authority, channeled through music, natch.

"The first tape I made was about my eighth-grade teacher," said the 30-year-old rapper. "She got me kicked out of school for sagging my pants, which was a big deal back then. So I wrote this song about her and it sold about 400 copies: It was selling to teachers, students, just about everybody. And I realized that, even though I wasn't at school, my song was at school, so in a way I was still there. All these people would come by my house just to give me comments about how cool they thought the song was."

As for his 2001 hit, he said, "In two minutes, 11 seconds, I had written a hit, but before that it had taken me nearly seven months to recognize I had a marijuana problem. It was only then that I realized everyone talks about smoking weed, but no one ever really talks about the effects of marijuana. We know about the effects of drinking beer, we know about the effects of looking at a naked lady, but nobody knew about the effects of smoking weed. Actually, the problem was more that the people who did know weren't songwriters they were just dudes walking down the beach or whatever. So I decided to write that song."

Now Afro has turned from weed to booze with his new album Afroholic ... The Even Better Times, a comprehensive, two-disc collection released on his home-grown Hungry Hustler Records label.

Check out Afroman on Thursday, Dec. 6, at Downtown Brew for an 8 p.m., 18-and-older show. Tickets are $13.50 advance at Boo Boo's and the venue.

Music will take you there

WORLD TRAVELER :  Jeff Linsky has crossed the globe to perform for kings, sultans, and presidents, and now he'll play for you on Dec. 7 at Coalesce Bookstore and Dec. 8 at Castoro Cellars Winery. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF LINSKY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF LINSKY
  • WORLD TRAVELER : Jeff Linsky has crossed the globe to perform for kings, sultans, and presidents, and now he'll play for you on Dec. 7 at Coalesce Bookstore and Dec. 8 at Castoro Cellars Winery.

# He's played for a U.S. president, the Saudi royal family, the Sultana of Brunei, and even the Dalai Lama. Now Jeff Linsky is ready to play for you.

"My career has been quite colorful, and has allowed me to travel the world playing the guitar for over 30 years," Linsky said. "In the past several months alone, I've played concerts from Chiang Mai to Sao Paulo, Brazil. We spent the month of August at a special engagement in Bora Bora. Last month, I performed in Monaco and La CŸte d'Azur. For years, I based myself out of Hawaii and Nice, France. These days, we live in Carlsbad, near San Diego."

Award-winning composer and classical, jazz, and Latin guitarist extraordinaire Jeff Linsky is returning to the Central Coast for a series of appearances. You can learn from the master on Thursday, Dec. 6, during a 6 to 8 p.m. workshop at Matt's Music, Stage & School ($35 237-0054). He'll also play a couple SLO Folks shows, performing on his trademark instrument the requinto, a three-quarter-size Spanish guitar, which he tunes a minor third higher than a standard guitar. See him on Friday, Dec. 7, at Coalesce Bookstore at 7 p.m. ($15 772-2880) or Saturday, Dec. 8, at Castoro Cellars at 7:30 p.m. ($15 238-0725).

Sonnie Brown will also be interviewing Jeff on The Minstrel Song Show on Saturday, Dec. 8, around 2:30 p.m. on KCBX 90.1FM.

It's gonna be a doozy!

COUNTRY COMBO :  Penny Jar and Red Eye Junction join forces for a rip-roaring country show at Sweet Springs Saloon on Dec. 7. - PHOTO BY MATT PETERSON
  • PHOTO BY MATT PETERSON
  • COUNTRY COMBO : Penny Jar and Red Eye Junction join forces for a rip-roaring country show at Sweet Springs Saloon on Dec. 7.

# Not many people use the word "doozy" anymore. Just country bands, I guess. But according to Pat Hayes of Penny Jar, their upcoming Friday, Dec. 7, show at Sweet Springs Saloon with Red Eye Junction "ought to be a doozy."

"Last time we played there, we just about got banned for life, which is really hard to do at Sweeties," Hayes said. "Ever since McCarthy's reopened right across the street from our rehearsal space, things have been kinda boozy. New drummer Chad Nichol of Swilltones fame is helping steady our hand though. So hopefully we will rise to the occasion and redeem our good name with this show. And/or it'll be another drunken blow out--not sure what would be more fun. It's always good times when we partner up with the Red Eye Junction gang too, so that's a bonus."

Drench yerself in old-time country, bourbon, and cowgals. Yee haw!

Precious gem

WESTERN GAL :  The Eilen Jewell Band--(left to right) bassist Johnny Sciascia, guitarist Jerry Miller, Eilen Jewell, and drummer Jason Beek--plays Linnaea's Cafe on Dec. 9. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER LUCEY-BRZOZA
  • PHOTO BY JENNIFER LUCEY-BRZOZA
  • WESTERN GAL : The Eilen Jewell Band--(left to right) bassist Johnny Sciascia, guitarist Jerry Miller, Eilen Jewell, and drummer Jason Beek--plays Linnaea's Cafe on Dec. 9.

# I just got done listening to Eilen Jewell's rollicking new album Letters From Sinners & Strangers, and dammit if I don't feel compelled to press play again. The countrified chanteuse has been compared to contemporaries Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, and Gillian Welch, but you might as well throw Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton in there, too.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, The Eilen Jewell Band and Kenny Edwards play a 7 p.m. Linnaea's Cafe show ($10 at the door, available beginning at 6:30 p.m.).

Based out of Boston, Jewell is a 27-year-old Boise native who, at 19, began performing at farmers' markets and local bars in Santa Fe (as a college student at St. John's, the college that consists mainly of students reading the classics of Western literature, philosophy, and criticism).

In 1965, Kenny Edwards was a co-founder of The Stone Poneys, along with Linda Ronstadt and Bobby Kimmel. Later, Edwards teamed up with Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman, and Andrew Gold to form Bryndle.

It ought to be fun to see this talented newcomer paired with a master veteran.

More music

HE'LL BE YOUR TEDDY BEAR :  Matt "King" Tuttle, Elvis impersonator extraordinaire, performs Dec. 7 at SLO's Grange Hall. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT "KING" TUTTLE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT "KING" TUTTLE
  • HE'LL BE YOUR TEDDY BEAR : Matt "King" Tuttle, Elvis impersonator extraordinaire, performs Dec. 7 at SLO's Grange Hall.

# Heavy lies the crown, I guess. Elvis impersonator Matt "King" Tuttle has heard all the jokes, some many times--"most by people making less money then me," Tuttle said with a laugh. At 28, he made his way to Vegas, baby, following his dream. He had no professional showbiz experience except performing for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and car shows from age 8. "Mom made the first outfit out of a Simplicity pattern that wore out from all the gyrations," Matt remembered. Today, the 33-year-old travels the world with Carnival Cruise Lines and plays Las Vegas. His show, Elvis Lives, is coming to the San Luis Grange Hall on Friday, Dec. 7, from 8 to 9 p.m. The show follows exactly a live Elvis concert from 1974. Tickets are $15. "You don't choose to be an 'Elvis,'" Tuttle said. "It chooses you. You have to have a very thick skin."

The Frog and Peach is presenting Reggae Night on Friday, Dec. 7, with Fuzzy Logic, at 10:30 p.m. Light a fire, Rastas.

Rock Sisters Productions has a couple of hot rock shows cooked up for you at O'Reilly's Bar & Grill. The Mooks play Friday, Dec. 7, at 9:30 p.m. The trio of longtime area musicians performs melodic pop rock with a full roster of danceable rock covers by the likes of the Beatles, the Romantics, Elvis Presley, the Stray Cats, and even the world's guiltiest pleasure the Monkees. Makeshift Bronson hits the South County club on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 9:30 p.m. The Ojai-based bluesy trio features brothers Luke (guitar/vocals) and Todd Barrett (bass/vocals), and Angry Johnny (drums).

I usually don't cover all the way down to Lompoc, but since local punk rock veterans the Wimpy Dicks are playing, I thought I better let y'all know about it since the Dicks don't get to play around here too much. So, on Saturday, Dec. 8, at Alberto's Pizza (129 N. V St.,) you can see Rat Pack, Crisis Point, Bad Samaritans, Public Defecation, and those inglorious bastards the Wimpy Dicks for $5 at 6 p.m. This is an all-ages show.

O'Neill's Coffee in Cayucos is hosting a Reggae Jamdown on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 4:20 p.m. until 10ish. The event features local reggae juggernaut Ras Danny for some live DJ toasting, as well as Ark Roots Family and DJ sounds by Morning Rise Sound. Food will be available, too. O'Neill's is located at 72 S. Ocean, near the pier.

A holiday performance by the group Dolce Celli (Sweet Cellos) happens at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Arroyo Grande Library. Hear a 45-minute medley of classical, ethnic, and holiday music. The event is free, so think of it as an early Christmas present just for you.

Need your Mexicali-Gypsy-pirate-polka band fix? Look no further than Diego's Umbrella, who returns to the Frog and Peach on Saturday, Dec. 8, to celebrate the release of their latest full-length album, Viva la Juerga. Fresh off a five-week European tour, the Bay Area bubbas have some new Gypsy tricks up their sleeves. The evening begins at 8:30 p.m. with crooner Sacha Sacket, followed by Diego's Umbrella at 10:30. Sacket has recently been compared to Coldplay and the late Jeff Buckley. As a piano man with passion and flawless execution, he's also often likened to a young Elton John.

Get into the holiday spirit with a little help from your friends the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra, who will join forces with The Master's Chorale for an afternoon of charmed arrangements of traditional holiday favorites at the Atascadero Bible Church on Sunday, Dec. 9, starting at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 (children 8 and younger are admitted free).

L.A.-based alternative rock act the Steve Carson Band is coming to the Frog and Peach on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 10 p.m. for an evening of ripping guitar-drive rock. Hear some tracks at myspace.com/scb. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Omarr Escoffie of Slow Car Crash will open, playing acoustically.

Guitarist Mike Maguire will perform original acoustic classic rock at three upcoming gigs. A new arrival to the Central Coast, Maguire moved here last July. See him at Castoro Cellars Winery on Sunday, Dec. 9, from noon to 4 p.m. and at Frog and Peach on Thursday, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Austin-based folky country rocker Mario Matteoli of Weary Boys fame will plays the Frog and Peach on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 10 p.m. Hear a few tracks by the rough-around-the-edges troubadour at myspace.com/mariomatteoli.

St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Los Osos hosts celebrated singer Dianne Legro in an inspiring program titled "Christmas Joy" on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. "Christmas Joy" weaves traditional Christmas music and operatic arias with stories of Christmas around the world. Although "Christmas Joy" is free to the public, there will be a collection taken for returning Iraq Veterans.

Willie's back

Tickets for the Friday, Feb. 8, Willie Nelson show go on sale on Friday, Dec. 7, and if you've got a hankering to sit during this show, you'll probably want to trot on over to the nearest Vallitix location (or call 1-888-825-5484 or go online to www.vallitix.com) and pick one up quick.

The concert will happen at the Alex Madonna Expo Center, with a reserved seating section ($65 to $85, plus handling charges) and a standing room only general admission section ($50 plus handling charges). Obviously, seating will be limited. This is an all-ages show. A full bar is available. And hell's bells, it's Willie! ?

 

CD REVIEWS

Scout Niblett--This Fool Can Die Now

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# Existing somewhere between the plaintively voiced catharsis of Cat Power and the raw emotional power of PJ Harvey, Scout Niblett has made an album that can lull your child to sleep one minute, and shake a filling loose the next. Counting the four wonderful slices of precious folk duets with Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy / Palace Music) along with a few others, Scout Niblett's minimally arranged compositions can dazzle you with merely a drum kit and a voice ("Moon Lake") or the soft-rock aesthetics of her Van Morrison cover "Comfort You" (and Will Oldham has never sounded more delightful in-key and warble-less). But when the ferocious pounding opens on "Let Thine Heart Be Warned," Scout Niblett matches the bruising heavy blues energy with full-throated vocals that can curl your fingers into a devil's horn. Recorded by the exacting hands of Steve Albini (who also produced PJ Harvey's early albums), This Fool Can Die Now captures Scout's spunky roar with precision and clarity. Recommended.

 

Grizzly Bear--Friend

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# Swirling with layers of delicate acoustic instrumentation and voices layered until they can harness the power and beauty of an operatic choir, Grizzly Bear opened up ears with the psychedelic-drenched folk sounds on their sophomore album, Yellow House. Returning with a bulging EP that offers 11 tracks of re-assembled songs as well as covers of their material by close associates (Band of Horses, CSS, and Atlas Sound), the Friend EP shouldn't be viewed as an emptying of the closet. Receiving help from Beirut's Zach Condon and Dirty Projector's Dave Longstreth, "Alligator," a track from their debut Horn of Plenty, is expanded from a quick, loose keyboard tinkering into an expanded avalanche of bristling noise-pop. Brazilian art-punk band CSS transforms "Knife" into a giddy new-wave synth track, while Band of Horses takes "Plans" to the back porch with banjo picking, erupting with a bluegrass sing-a-long. For newbies and fans alike, the Friend EP offers Grizzly Bear a unique chance to re-fashion their tunes with tremendous results.

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


Glen Starkey believes it's best to just be yourself unless you suck. Offer your opinion at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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