They’re fools, fools I tell you! It’s spring break and the students are gone, and yet Downtown Brew is delivering live music every night for the next week. Misguided? Perhaps. Gutsy? Definitely!
- PHOTO BY JERED SCOTT
- FIRST LEG OF THE MARATHON : Mike Herrera will lead his rockabilly act Tumbledown through its paces on March 26, the first of seven consecutive nightly concerts at Downtown Brew.
More Americana awaits when Poor Man’s Whiskey plays Friday, March 27 with Red Eye Junction opening the 8 p.m., 21-and-older show ($8 presale; $10 at the door). Poor Man, a Bay Area quintet, plays “high octane hootenanny” music and has released two studio albums, Train to California (2003) and Roadside Attraction (2005), with a third to come this year, called Dark Side of the Moonshine.
Punk rockers The Pathetics play Saturday, March 28 with Latin / alt.wierdos Diego’s Umbrella opening the 8 p.m., 21-and-older show ($5 presale; $7 at the door). If you like your punk, fast, loose, and out of control, come on down!
Pro surfer turned folk singer Tim Curran will deliver an evening of breezy indie rock in the Jack Johnson / Donavon Frankenreiter vein on Sunday, March 29 at a 7 p.m., all-ages show ($10). His newest album is Word of Mouth.
Electronica / alternative artist and facial piercing aficionado Sonny (one name, like Cher!) plays Monday, March 30 with opening act Endless Hallway starting at 6:30 p.m. for an all-ages show ($10). Sonny, née Sonny Moore, taught himself how to play guitar by age 12, and later joined a band he met through MySpace when he was 15. He went to Georgia where they were recording the new record, and after the band heard him sing “Featuring Some of Your Favorite Words,” they decided to make him the lead vocalist. After that, the band wrote all the vocals with Sonny in just a week. In 2007, FFTL announced that Sonny had quit the band to work on a solo career in the electronica / classical / alternative genre. Now he’s here.
Rock act Alesana plays Tuesday, March 31 during a 6:30 p.m., all-ages show ($14 presale; $15 at the door). I’ve never heard of Alesana, but this is what their bio says: “With humble beginnings in Baltimore and then solidifying their lineup in Raleigh, North Carolina, the genre-blending quintet called Alesana has come a long way in order to bring you their musical vision and incendiary live performance. Exploring the heights of love and the lows of heartbreak and bitterness that often follow, Alesana’s music strikes a universal chord with audiences around the world.”
Finally, on Wednesday, April 1, acoustic reggae / hip-hop artists The Dirty Heads play an 8 p.m. all-ages show with Mishka opening ($12 presale; $13 at the door). “We want to be positive and entertain,” said Dirty Heads vocalist Jared Watson. “We just want to make you feel good.” Advance tickets for all shows are available at Boo Boo Records or through ticketweb.com.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JANIVA MAGNESS
- GUSTY BLUES BABE : Janiva Magness has been through hell and back and lived to sing about it, which she will on March 28 at the SLO Vets Hall.
Soulful blues vocalist Janiva Magness hits the SLO Vets Hall on Saturday, March 28 to promote her critically-acclaimed Alligator debut, What Love Will Do. The L.A.-based performer is a two-time Blues Music Award winner for Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year who’s got a voice as gusty as it is gorgeous.
She’s got something to be blue about, too: Both her parents committed suicide by the time she was 16. Magness lived on the streets and in 12 different foster homes, fought addictions, and had a baby she gave up for adoption. Thanks to seeing an Otis Rush performance, she pulled herself up from the bottom and is now a national spokesperson for Casey Family Programs promoting National Foster Care Month and recently shared her inspirational story on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
“I have a life today I never could have imagined,” said Magness. “The tragedies of my life no longer define me.”
Guy Budd and the Gypsy Souls open the 8 p.m. show. SLO Dance will offer free dance lessons from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. Concert tickets are $20 at the door, $17 for Blues Society members.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PEPPER POTS
- HOT SPANISH REGGAE! : Eleven-piece Spanish ska and reggae act The Pepper Pots, fronted by three gorgeous vocalists, play Spaceport2058, the stage behind Rockwell Sounds’ studio, on March 26.
Spaceport2058, the stage behind Rockwell Sounds’ studio, has hosted plenty of great shows: The Phenomenauts, SIKO, Firme, Grupo Fantasma, AXIA, Resination, The Aggrolites, The Chris Murray Combo, Go Jimmy Go, Criticinue, and The Uptown Sound. On Thursday, March 26, from 7 to 9 p.m., you can add Dubrobot and Spanish reggae act The Pepper Pots to the list. The 11-piece Pepper Pots are fronted by three beautiful female voices and backed by horns o’ plenty.
It’s kinda hard to listen to Yogoman Burning Band’s self-titled CD without getting jiggy. The lead track “Pass the O” has a horn-phattened ska rhythm, then the very next tune, “Doot Doot,” shifts into reggae beat with soulful falsetto vocals. On “Chaka Chaka,” you’ll be transported back to early-’80s reggae sounds. And so it goes. This is one of the most fun, unselfconscious reggae discs to drop in ages. They’re not out to save the world, they just want to make it dance.
Check them out at the newly refurbished Frog and Peach Pub on Thursday, March 26. I think their song “Gonna Get It” sums up everything you need to know about the band: “Bom bom shimmy shimmy ooo ooo way way / I like the way the music makes me swing and sway.”
Inner Faces brings their jazz-rock-classical-bluegrass aesthetics to Coalesce Bookstore on Friday, March 27. They’ve been playing their original brand of string music on the Central Coast since 1990 and have been featured at the Live Oak Music Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, National Public Radio, and numerous coffee house venues. This $10 shows kicks off at 7 p.m. Call 772-2880 for reservations.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF DIRTY NAILS
- GET NAILED! : The Central Coast’s newest power trio, Dirty Nails, plays this March 27 in the Z Club.
This Friday, March 27, a new act mysteriously called Project 41 plays Sweet Springs Saloon, bringing its special brand of jam, classic, and prog rock with a positive spin. On “Into the Future,” lead singer Skip James sings, “We can change it if we really want to. We’re gonna change things, I think we’re gonna have to. Better start thinking into the future, better start thinkin’ about it today.” Check them out at 9:30 p.m. for $5.
Scoot up the coast to Fernwood in Big Sur this Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28, and you’ll witness music almost as majestic as the coast itself. White Magic, Mariee Sioux, Glasser plus some surprises perform during this special two day concert event that also features DJ sets by Derek James (Entrance Band drummer) and Andy Cabic (Vetiver’s main man!). Buy tickets via fernwoodbigsur.com/music.html.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CHAD AND JEREMY
- RETURN TO THE ‘60S : Brit Invasion duo Chad and Jeremy reformed five years ago and will bring their melodic folk to the Música Del Río House Concerts series on March 28.
Kenny Edwards, co-founder of the Stone Poneys along with Linda Ronstadt and Bobby Kimmel, went on to back Ronstadt during her hit years in the ’70s, producing and co-writing many of the songs. Since then he’s collaborated and played with the likes of Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, and even Ringo Starr. He also teamed up with Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman, and Andrew Gold to form the legendary band Bryndle. His days in the back line are over, and now Edwards is front and center. See him in an intimate concert on Saturday, March 28 when he plays Painted Sky Studios at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $15, available at Boo Boo Records, Cambria Business Center, or by calling 927-8330.
Folk-blues-Americana act Sarah Beth and the Honest Truth hits Linnaea’s Café on Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. and The Clubhouse on Tuesday, March 31 at 8:40 p.m.
East Coast sax master Greg Abate plays the next installment of the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet in Cambria on Sunday, March 29 (4 p.m. for $15; 7:15 p.m. for $12; or both shows for $20). Abate is regarded as one of the leading disciples of the Charlie Parker school. Bassist Luther Hughes, drummer Paul Kreibich, and series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (piano/vibes and vocals) will also be on hand. Call 927-0567 for reservations.
The inaugural Pacific Breeze Concert Series strikes on Sunday, March 29 at Dinosaur Caves Park in Pismo Beach with Soulamente and Bob and Gypsy’s Parrot Show. These free concerts at the Park’s new Rotary Amphitheatre will run from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Soulamente performs dance hits from the ’70s through the ’90s, so get ready to shake your moneymaker. Bob Bartley and Gypsy have been working together for 35 years and as far as they know, the bird will be working long after Bob is gone. Bob and his colorful birds will perform during the band’s intermission and will also be greeting attendees throughout the afternoon.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY
- HE’S A PRINCE OF A FELLOW : Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (aka: Will Oldham) plays his raw and haunting folk on March 31 at the South Bay Community Center.
Alternative roots rocker Matt Bolton, backed by a band featuring members from Todd Rundgren’s band, Jesse Colin Young’s band, and Powder, will play the Frog and Peach on Tuesday, March 31 at 9 p.m. Get ready to rock.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF PEELANDER-Z
- DON’T EAT THE BROWN ACID : Peelander-Z plays a free in-store at Cheap Thrills followed by a show at Mother’s Tavern on April 1, bringing its NYC-based Japanese “action comic” punk style to the Central Coast.
Calling all Guitar Heroes!
GameStop is hosting a Guitar Hero competition beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, which will focus on style versus skill level and will feature live music by alternative rock band CS & Lewis.
“Guitar Hero competitions are generally judged based on game skill level,” says GameStop manager and contest organizer Robert Wren. “We wanted to open it up more so that anyone could enter, so we’ll be judging the competition based on style rather than skill level. We’re looking for people with star quality, people who have a lot of flash, who have fun with it and who can entertain.”
Participants are encouraged to dress the part, putting on their best rockstar duds. The event will continue through midnight, when Guitar Hero: Metallica is scheduled to launch. It’s free to enter and sign-ups begin at 8 p.m. at GameStop, 487 Madonna Rd., SLO.
Glen Starkey’s air guitar mojo is strong. Join his air band at email@example.com.
For a debut, Austin, Texas’s Black Joe Lewis is knocking on the doors of history. Harnessing the charisma and swagger of a classic soul center-stage entertainer, his eight-piece band bashes out aggressive, funky grooves that owe as much to the Memphis Horns as well as the garage attitudes of Detroit’s MC5. They play on the same field as Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, but what the Honeybears lack in instrumental precision, they make up for in brash, enthusiastic excitement. Just looking at the song titles, you’d think this was a James Brown tribute album. “Sugarfoot” recycles the Texas funk energy of Archie Bell & the Drells “Tighten Up,” “I’m Broke” mimics the undecipherable vocal patterns of the Godfather himself, while “Boogie” is Slim Harpo adrenalized to take the party over the top. But “Get Yo Shit” is the album hallmark, as Black Joe Lewis has to convince his lady he loves her with a shouted chorus, after forgetting her name, finishing the take-out before it arrives home, then sneaking out the back as cops knock at the front door. A soul scorcher from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Girl got spunk. Wielding a sword and pitched to the front of a muscle car like a bow maiden, Neko Case aims for the heart, and it’s not always pretty. Using her torchy, siren voice, she can seduce you with a hum, but Case writes herself big personas to dwell within. She opens Middle Cyclone as a fierce storm, consuming everything in her path on “This Tornado Love You,” trailing after a lover. On “People Got A Lotta Nerve” she makes it plain: “I’m a man man man man man eater/ But still you’re suprised prised prised when I eat ya.” And just as quickly, she retracts her claws, and confesses on “Middle Cyclone” how “much I need love.” Orchestrating her album with assistance from Calexico’s Joey Burns, members of Giant Sand, and alt-country expert Kelly Hogan, Middle Cyclone is as vividly beautiful as her previous works, sounding similar, but Case’s songwriting continues to sharpen to refined perfection.
—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX’s “Night Train.”