I don't like reggae, but I love Bob Marley. Is that an oxymoron? No, it's just a plain old fact that after Marley, all reggae pales in comparison. Unfortunately, I never got to see Bob, but I came as close as anyone is likely to get these days: I saw Ziggy Marley at Pozo Saloon last year.
Electrifying? Damn straight!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF ZIGGY MARLEY
- A MARLEY BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SOUND AS SWEET : Ziggy Marley will play his and his fathers music on Friday, May 18, at the Avila Beach Resort for a twilight outdoor concert.
# Ziggy was channeling the ghost of his father. He sounds like Bob, moves like Bob, and is probably the only person alive who can get away with singing Bob's songs. I'm not ashamed to admit that I broke down and cried when he sang "Redemption Song."
On Friday, May 18, Ziggy Marley comes to the Avila Beach Resort for a sunset concert. Local acts The New Longview and Resination will open the show, which also includes Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
Doors open at 3 p.m., with the concert starting promptly at 4:45, with Randolph hitting the stage at 6 p.m., and Ziggy at 8. Tickets ($34) are available at Vallitix locations, including Boo Boo Records. This is an all-ages show brought to you by Otter Productions, Inc. No pets or outside food and beverages allowed.
Feel the Drama rama
- PHOTO COURTESY OF DRAMARAMA
- RELIVE THE DRAMA : 80s pop wizards Dramarama play a fundraiser at Mongos Saloon on May 19.
# The band that formed in 1982 and disbanded in 1994 reunited after a 2003 appearance on the show, proving my 20-year-cycle theory (after 20 years people forget that they were sick to death of that shit and it comes back). Frontman John Easdale still helms the outfit, and his group even recorded some new material in 2005 when they released Everybody Dies.
During its 11-year history, Dramarama seemed always on the verge of "making it," but it never quite did. They did, however, have a pretty big hit with "Anything Anything (I'll Give You)," which was cited by L.A.'s KROQ-FM as the most requested song in the station's history! The album from which it came, 1985's Cinema Verite, was the band's biggest, and though they recorded three more after it (four, if you count Everybody Dies), none managed to electrify radioland.
Still, the band always had a big sound and a loyal cult following, and this weekend's show promises to rekindle the excesses of the '80s not to mention raise funds for a worthy cause. Promoter Shirley Goetz and her company Music in Motion (on Charter Cable channel 2, on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., Monday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.) plan to donate funds to the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, which hosts Champ Camp, a summer camp for young burn victims.
"I hope to send a kid to camp out of this," Goetz said.
This is a 21-and-older show, with $22 tickets available at www.vallitix.com. Guy Budd and the Gypsy Souls will open.
These days you can still hear the nascent hardcore heart of Saves the Day, but the New Jersey act has evolved into a much more melodic, poppy act than its early sound.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SAVES THE DAY
- LOCKED AND LOADED : Punk-tinged rock group Saves the Day plays Downtown Brew on May 21.
# The band's newest offering, Sound the Alarm, is a fierce, tight album that, according to the band, was created in a "shit-storm of the highest order."
"There were some scary times when I wasn't sure we'd be able to pull this album off," said guitarist David Soloway. "We battled some pretty serious demons getting these songs together."
"We spent last year without a label while dealing with personnel changes, building a studio, and trying to write and record an entire album I was filled with frustration and anger," said lead singer Chris Conley.
It was a rough time for a band that only a couple of years earlier had the world by the tail. They'd sold more than half a million albums, were signed to a major label, had toured with Green Day, Weezer, Dashboard Confessional, and Blink-182, and were about to release both In Reverie, and the aptly-titled compilation album, Ups & Downs.
"Pride always comes before the fall," Conley admitted.
A month later, their major label went belly-up and the band was stuck in major label purgatory hell, their contract gobbled up by an even larger music conglomerate.
Near-constant touring kept their legions of fans loyal despite the lack of label, and the band manages to move 150,000 copies of In Reverie without label support. Now the band has sworn off major labels in toto: "I knew we didn't want to go back to a major label," Conley said. "We didn't want or need the big machine we just wanted to be somewhere we felt comfortable, and [small indie label] Vagrant (the band's former label) felt like home to us. We never had a single problem with them. We're proud of this new album and we wanted it to be somewhere good and fortunately for us, everyone at Vagrant was happy to have us back."
Check them out on Monday, May 21, at Downtown Brew. The all-ages, 7 p.m. show costs $16 at Boo Boo's or www.ticketweb.com. Pistolita and Nothing Ever Stays will open the show.
Joe Bonamassa is too young to sound as good as he does. He plays a blistering blues guitar, has a gritty voice, and writes songs that seem to have crawled up out of the red dirt of the deep South.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE BONAMASSA
- BLUES IN HIS SOUL : Blues guitarist and singer Joe Bonamassa bring his blistering and soulful licks to Downtown Brew on May 23.
# "I'm the luckiest guy in the world," said Bonamassa, who recently returned from a sold-out tour of Europe. His latest album, You & Me, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's Blues chart last June, he's got an acoustic project in the works, and a touring legacy that began when the legendary B.B. King invited Joe at age 12 to come on the road with him as his opening act.
At age 4, he played a short-scale Chiquita given to him by his father, a guitar dealer and player himself. By the time he was 7, he had stepped up to a full-scale model and was burning up Stevie Ray Vaughan licks. At 10, Bonamassa was gigging at venues in upstate New York, near his hometown of Utica, which was how he came to B.B. King's attention.
Bonamassa is working to spread his love of the blues through the Blues in the Schools program developed by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation to educate students about the legacy of the blues and promote and preserve its heritage.
"I love the way the kids' eyes light up," Bonamassa said. "We introduce them to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and other legends. I explain this amazing musical family tree to them, and talk about how almost every artist today can be traced back to the origins of blues and jazz."
Check him out on Wednesday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Downtown Brew. This is a 21-and-older, $22 show (at Boo Boo's). The Deacons will open.
If you missed SoCal swirling alternapop act Avocado Street, a band that captures that Jack Johnsonesque beach vibe, when they played Frog and Peach on May 16, never fear. You can see them on Thursday, May 17, at Boo Boo Records for a free 6:30 p.m. in-store show.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF AVOCADO STREET
- WALK DOWN THIS STREET : Avocado Street, a sunny SoCal alternapop act, plays a free in-store show at Boo Boos on May 17.
# On Friday, May 18, formerly local act Port O'Brien plays one last gig before heading to Alaska for a three-month "working hiatus." According to lead singer Van Pierszalowski, a lot has happened to the band since exiting SLO Town. "M. Ward [another former local who made good he opens for Norah Jones at the Santa Barbara County Bowl this June] named us his 'favorite new band' after seeing one of our shows.ÜWe were asked to open for Bright Eyes at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. ÜOur song 'Nowhere to Run' reached the top 10 on college radio in Berkeley (No. 3), Davis (No. 5), and San Luis Obispo (No. 6). We were asked to play a few festivals in the UK in September. And we recorded our follow up to 'Nowhere to Run' for February release and are talking with several independent record labels about its release." Check them out at the SLO Art Center beginning at 8 p.m.
Last week I caught Red Eye Junction at SLO Town's newest venue, The Clubhouse (on Foothill, formerly called This Old House), which has a cool Austin, Texas, roadhouse vibe. On Friday, May 18, The Deacons play the joint, and aside from raw country like Red Eye Junction, they're probably the perfect band for the cozy bar. The trio, led by blisteringly hot guitarist Pryor Baird, plays Chicago, Mississippi Delta, and Piedmont blues as well as traditional country and some jazz. Pryor just came back from the International Blues Awards in Memphis, so I imagine he's feeling a tad inspired. Get ready to feel the heat.ÜThey'll also open the Joe Bonamassa show on Wednesday, May 23, at Downtown Brew.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF MOLLYS REVENGE
- TOUCH O THE IRISH : Celtic act Mollys Revenge plays the Red Barn Community Music Series on May 19 at the Red Barn in the South Bay Community Park in Los Osos.
# Celtic act Molly's Revenge plays the Red Barn Community Music Series on Saturday, May 19, at the Red Barn in the South Bay Community Park in Los Osos. They've performed in front of huge audiences at many of the top folk festivals as well as prestigious events in Australia and China. This is a rare chance to see them in an intimate setting. Molly's Revenge begins at 7 p.m., but a potluck supper and music by Foggy Bay String Band starts at 6 p.m. A $10 donation is requested at the door.
Stellar folk duo Bob & Wendy play the remodeled Last Stage West (located halfway between Morro Bay and Atascadero on Hwy. 41) on Saturday, May 19, at 6 p.m. The two play sparkling original compositions and feature Wendy's heart-melting voice and Bob's soul-stirring cello and the joint's got some good eats!
If you need your indie rock, look no further than Steynberg Gallery, which hosts New York act Priestbird and Chicago-based Pit er Pat on Sunday, May 20. Revolver calls Priestbird's new album "a swirling haze of hookah smoke that feels too good," and indeed it's a multilayered, ambient rock'n'roll fog that rolls over and blankets you in a lush daze, driven in part by a cellist (In a rock band! What the hell?). Pit er Pat recently released Pyramids, a spook-ride of dark pop, powerful rhythms, and ethereal melodies. This may be the greatest match-up since Ali and Fraser. This is an all-ages, 8 p.m., $10 show.
- PHOTO BY AARON O
- THE PIT ER PAT OF TINY TUNES : Indie act Pit er Pat returns to SLO Town with a gig on May 20 at the Steynberg Gallery.
# Saxophonists Tim Armacost (N.Y.C.) and Chris Fagan (Seattle) play two shows as part of the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet in Cambria on Sunday, May 20. Armacost records for the Concord jazz label while Fagan is regarded as one of the leading saxophonists out of the Northwest. They'll be joined by bassist Darek Oles, drummer Paul Kreibich, and series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (piano/vibraphone and vocals). There's a 4 p.m., $15 set, or a 7:15 p.m., $12 set. Or see both for $20. Reservations are recommended: 927-0567.
Cal Poly's SAFER Program is hosting a benefit concert featuring Bay Area reggae band Indubious with local openers Sycamore and Arch Dukes on Tuesday, May 22, at 8 p.m. (18-and-older $10 advance at Boo Boo's or $15 at the door). Indubious describes itself thusly: "Throw Primus in a blender, add a little Medeski Martin and Wood, toss in some Sublime with just a hint of The Beatles" and you'll have the recipe for the Bay Area genre-bending power trio, pumping a positive message and wielding impressive instrumental skill playing reggae, funk, and acid-jazz.
On Thursday, May 24, you'll want to check out Brother Ali at Downtown Brew. The guy is blowing up right now with a No. 1 video on mtvU.com in "Uncle Sam Damn," and the No. 6 album on Billboard's Indie Chart (also No. 24 for Rap Album). The show stars at 8 p.m., is 18-and-older, and costs $10 advance (at Boo Boo's) or $12 at the door. Psalm One and the Boom Bap Project open.
Dan Deacon Spiderman Of The Rings
- PHOTO COURTESY OF TIM ARMACOST
- STRAIGHT OUTTA NYC : East Coast reed player Tim Armacost headlines the next Famous Jazz Artist Concert on May 20 at the Hamlet.
# Wildly goofy and with the BPM pitch shifted into a warp-speed overdrive, Dan Deacon has manufactured the 8-bit rave that Nintendo characters walk away from, sleepy-eyed, on Sunday morning. Magically, he's synthesized down a barrage of antique electronic influences (Wendy Carlos's maniacal Moog and Vocoder exploration, the score to first wave arcade shooters like Galaga on repeat, and the blistering pacing of the near-forgotten electronic genre Happy Hardcore) into a sum that's better than its parts. Instantly danceable, "The Crystal Cat" convulses with a ferocious mechanized beat and a helium-laced vocals more rhythmic than lyrically recognizable. Ten-minute hyper epic "Wham City" pops the collar as a call out to his Baltimore collective, and "Big Milk" offers a moment of
Gamelan-infused reprieve. But all this supposes you can get past the agitating cackle of Woody Woodpecker and blitzkrieg-beat of the opening track. This is dance music for a new age. Parents, expect to be appalled.
Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX's "Night Train."
Arriving out of Iceland with a re sume that name checks their native cousins Sigur Ros as well as glockenspiel-lover Sufjan Stevens the four ladies of Amiina now daintily rap at the doors of a larger audience with a sound that's as delicate as it is arresting. Kurr (Icelandic for "cooing") opens with a gentle refrain that couples toned orchestra bells with perfectly tuned plucked strings, a mesmerizing organic intonation reminiscent of Brian Eno's ambient endeavors. Swirling a mix of violin, cellos, and atmospheric electronics together with wordless voicing and an array of oft-overlooked instrumental sounds (the chime of tuned water glasses to the tremulous warble of a singing saw), Amiina weaves melodies into either euphonic compositions, such as the richly layered soft horns of "Bl·feldur," or mini sonic investigations, like "L·pÌna" with its early detuning strings segueing into the fat raindrop sounds of a thumbed Kalimba. All of which is an entirely relaxing bliss.
Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX's "Night Train."
Glen Starkey has taken a vow of silence. Listen to the deafening emptiness at email@example.com.