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Motown Browne

A behind the scenes guy steps into the spotlight

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BROWNE’S IN TOWN :  Former Motown session man and staff songwriter Severin Browne (yes, he’s Jackson’s brother), plays Sustenance Cooking Studio on Oct. 15. - PHOTO BY STEPHEN PALEY
  • PHOTO BY STEPHEN PALEY
  • BROWNE’S IN TOWN : Former Motown session man and staff songwriter Severin Browne (yes, he’s Jackson’s brother), plays Sustenance Cooking Studio on Oct. 15.
He may not be as famous as his older brother Jackson, but Severin Browne is a musical force to be reckoned with, a terrific solo performer who’d been a Motown session man and staff songwriter for years, playing behind the scenes on dozens of popular recordings in Motor City’s vibrant music scene.

After exiting Motown in the mid-’70s for the sunnier climes of Los Angeles, he began penning tunes for Thelma Houston, Patti Dahlstrom, Colin Blunstone, Twiggy, The Dillards, and Pamela Stanley, who had a Billboard No. 15 hit with Severin’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It.”

Recently, Browne’s been entertaining audiences with his clear, warm voice and skillful guitar playing, delivering gracefully constructed songs with roots in pop, jazz, country, rock, and R&B. “He’s a romantic, a philosopher and a groovemaking hook-meister able to keep hearts throbbing, heads bobbing, and people smiling,” according to his bio.

His solo CDs From the Edge of the World, released on Moo Records in 1996, and This Twisted Road, self-released in 2001, have both scored solid reviews, and although From the Edge of the World is now out of print, This Twisted Road is currently available at cdbaby.com.

Severin Browne performs on Friday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m., in Sustenance Cooking Studio (across from Miner’s Hardware on Santa Barbara St., SLO). The all-ages show costs $20 at the door. Those 21-and-older are encouraged to bring their own adult beverages.

You may have heard some of Browne’s folk tunes recorded by Freebo, James Lee Stanley, Alfred Johnson, and Kerrville New Folk Winner David Roth. Regardless, expect some musical surprises from this performer, who has a knack for creating melodies and grooves not usually heard in folk circles.

When he’s not performing, he contents himself with teaching guitar and songwriting. He also teaches at the SummerSongs West songwriting camps in Cambria. Currently Browne lives happily in an old part of Los Angeles with his wife Melinda and an assortment of dogs and cats. For more info, visit severinbrowne.com.

HIT THE MATT :  On Oct. 14, SLO Brew kicks of the weekend early with a show by folkie/indie/rocker Matt Costa. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT COSTA
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT COSTA
  • HIT THE MATT : On Oct. 14, SLO Brew kicks of the weekend early with a show by folkie/indie/rocker Matt Costa.
SLO Brew madness!

Music fans had better be ready for a marathon on Thursday, Oct. 14, because SLO Brew kicks off the weekend early with a show by folkie/indie/rocker Matt Costa (7 p.m.; all ages; $16 presale or $18 at the door), with Threes and Nines opening. Costa, a former skate rat, is an incredible songwriter and performer who expands his musical boundaries with every album. Threes and Nines is a trio of young kids who’ll remind you of the Violent Femmes or King Missile with their quirky, hilarious songs. But the night just keeps on going when psychobilly punks The Chop Tops bring their hardcore rockabilly sounds to the stage (10:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $8 presale or $10 at the door).

On Saturday, Oct. 16, pop rock and folk artist Griffin House plays with opening act Tyler James (8 p.m.; 21-and-older; $10). According to bio materials, “Griffin House was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio. His father worked in a tire shop and his mother helped place children with foster families. In high school, the athletically gifted House landed a role in a musical and was surprised to learn that he had a natural talent for singing. He bought his first guitar for zero from a friend, turned down a golf scholarship to Ohio University, and instead went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and started to teach himself how to play the guitar and write songs.”

 On Sunday, Oct. 17, David Bazan and his band are rolling through town in support of his latest release, Curse Your Branches (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $13 presale or $15 at the door). “Known for his work fronting the enigmatic rock band Pedro the Lion, David Bazan’s emotionally charged narratives, eye for telling detail, and mournful voice have more in common with J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories or Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood than with the usual lyrical slant of popular music,” according to his bio. “Bazan is a gifted storyteller, weaving parables of spiritual conflict, suburban ennui, and personal surrender into magnetic, well-crafted songs.”

Finally, on Wednesday, Oct. 20, experimental indie rock act Minus the Bear hits the club with Tim Kasher of Cursive (8 p.m.; all ages; $18 presale or $20 at the door). Seattle-based Minus the Bear has released four albums and four EPs and features Jake Snider (vocals, guitar), Dave Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass), Alex Rose (synths, vocals), and Erin Tate (drums).

WELCOME TO INDIA :  Tabla player Pandit Hom Nath Updadhyaya and sitar player Paul Livingstone (pictured) perform a concert on Oct. 16 in the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. - PHOTO BY JAY MATSUEDA
  • PHOTO BY JAY MATSUEDA
  • WELCOME TO INDIA : Tabla player Pandit Hom Nath Updadhyaya and sitar player Paul Livingstone (pictured) perform a concert on Oct. 16 in the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.
The mysteries of India

Prepare yourself for a spellbinding evening of Indian and Nepali classical music when tabla player Pandit Hom Nath Updadhyaya and sitar player Paul Livingstone perform a concert on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m. in the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (presale are $15 at Boo Boo’s or pay $20 at the door).

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Paul Z. Livingstone is an international performing artist who’s focused his studies on North Indian classical music in which he’s been rigorously trained for the past 20 years in India and the United States, studying under the late Amiya Dasgupta, Rajeev Taranath, and the living legend Pandit Ravi Shankar.

Born in Nepal and educated in Nepal and India, Pandit Hom Nath Upadhyaya is a master teacher, performer, and scholar of the tabla, which he has played for more than 40 years. His gurus include Pandit Ramji Mishra of Benares; Pandit Shambhu Mishra of Kathmandu, Nepal; and the legendary Ahmedjaan Thirakwa. He holds a B.A. in English, History, and Sanskrit from Gorakhpur University and an M.A. in music from Prayag Sangeet Samiti in Allahabad, India.

TEAM WORK :  NAS and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley play the Avila Beach Resort on Oct. 17. - PHOTO COURTESY OF OTTER PRODUCTIONS, INC.
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF OTTER PRODUCTIONS, INC.
  • TEAM WORK : NAS and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley play the Avila Beach Resort on Oct. 17.
All the president’s music

“Have you seen the new Rolling Stone Magazine? The one with President Obama on the cover? The one where Obama mentions NAS as one of the artists that he listens to on his iPod?” asked Bruce Howard of Otter Productions, Inc.

Well, now one of the president’s faves, NAS, has teamed up with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley for a concert at the Avila Beach Resort on Sunday, Oct. 17 (2:30 p.m. doors; tickets at (1-888-825-5484 or all Vallitix outlets). Billed as the “Distant Relatives Tour,” the event will be opened by Rey Fresco.

“What we’re about to do right now is go back, back to a time when rap’s greatest hits were created in basement sound rooms, not corporate boardrooms. When dancehall and hip-hop music was all about moving the crowd, not ‘moving units.’ Before Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley and Nasty Nasir Jones first began trodding the long and winding ‘Road to Zion.’ The artists’ first collaboration went so well that they decided to do a full album together, and that album is Distant Relatives,” said press materials.

Neither a remix nor a featured guest spot on a single track, this is a fully collaborative effort filling an entire album. “This tour will definitely be one for the books!” added Howard.

BLUES LEGEND :  Legend and bluesman extraordinaire Taj Mahal plays Oct. 20 in the Performing Arts Center’s Cohan Center. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAL POLY ARTS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF CAL POLY ARTS
  • BLUES LEGEND : Legend and bluesman extraordinaire Taj Mahal plays Oct. 20 in the Performing Arts Center’s Cohan Center.
Blues monument

Taj Mahal is magnificent, and I’m not talking about the big ol’ mausoleum in India; I’m talking about living legend and bluesman extraordinaire Taj Mahal, who’ll appear in concert on Wednesday, Oct. 20, with opening performer Vieux Farka Touré at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center’s Cohan Center (student and adult tickets are $16 to $38; call 756-2787).

Mahal’s career spans four decades and includes American blues with West Africa, Caribbean, Latin America, European, and Hawaiian influences. He’s currently touring with his trio for Maestro, his first U.S. release in five years, a 12-track set that celebrates blues, roots, reggae, and beyond.

“The one thing I’ve always demanded of the records I’ve made is that they be danceable,” he said in press materials. “This record is danceable, it’s listenable, it has lots of different rhythms, it’s accessible, it’s all right in front of you. It’s a lot of fun, and it represents where I am at this particular moment in my life. This is just the beginning of another chapter, one that’s going to be open to more music and more ideas. Even at the end of 40 years, in many ways my music is just getting started.”

Malian rising star Vieux Farka Touré is the son of the great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré, but has already stepped out from his late father’s shadow, proving the soul of the blues could be found in West Africa.

GRRLS ROCK! :  The SheBANG Music Festival happens on Oct. 17 at Lago Giuseppe Winery with an all-star line-up, including Blame Sally. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAME SALLY
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BLAME SALLY
  • GRRLS ROCK! : The SheBANG Music Festival happens on Oct. 17 at Lago Giuseppe Winery with an all-star line-up, including Blame Sally.
Chicks rule

Get ready for some estrogen-driven rock when the inaugural SheBANG Music Festival raises funds for the Surfrider Foundation and Project Surf Camp on Sunday, Oct. 17, at Lago Giuseppe Winery in Templeton. The all-star line-up includes Jade Jackson, Blame Sally, Jill Knight, and Sweet Talk Radio.

San Francisco-based Blame Sally headlines the show, bringing lush vocal harmonies and percussive rhythms. Santa Margarita home-girl Jade Jackson will deliver her songs of heartache and revenge—she looks sweet, but she’s a tiger, boys. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Jill Knight will bring her amazing songs, gorgeous voice, and sparkling guitar playing. And Los Angeles-based singer-songwriting duo, Sweet Talk Radio, will bend your ear. Special guest emcee, the amazing Dian Sousa, acclaimed writer and 2008 SLO Poet Laureate, will play host.

The gates open at 11:30 a.m. with music starting at noon. Food from top local restaurants and caterers—Honeymoon Café, Splash Café and Porter’s Truck “Gourmet on the Go”—will be available, as will beverages from local craft brew favorite Einhorn Beer and a bevy of local wineries (Derby Wine Estate, Field Recording, and more).

Tickets cost $25 in advance and $28 at the door. Children’s tickets (11 to 17 years) are $10, and kids younger than 10 get in free. Advanced tickets can be purchased at shebangmusicfestival.com, by phone at 1-800-838-3006, or at Boo Boo’s.

“This festival’s commitment is to create the best music experience featuring some of the most talented singer-songwriters around—and make a difference by supporting two incredible local causes that impact our lives every day—all held at a stunningly beautiful lakeside venue in gorgeous Templeton. Perfect,” said Cynthia Stocker, co-executive producer with Sage7 Productions.

DIVING FOR PEARL :  Nashville-based Rachel Pearl plays The Porch on Oct. 14 during Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcase. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RACHEL PEARL
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF RACHEL PEARL
  • DIVING FOR PEARL : Nashville-based Rachel Pearl plays The Porch on Oct. 14 during Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcase.
More music …

Nashville-based Rachel Pearl plays The Porch on Thursday, Oct. 14, during Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcase from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Here’s what the Knoxville Journal said about the performer: “Rachel Pearl adds a fun-loving touch. Not only does she have an incredible voice, but she has lots of sass and pizzazz, as well. From her charm to her cute, quirky stage presence, there’s not much to not love about her.” Sweet sultry vocals and a jazzy touch make her candy for the ears. You may also remember her as part of Sugar Beat, a female trio that played Steynberg Gallery earlier this year. For this free show at The Porch, she’s co-billed with Eleanor Fye of Seattle and guest performers Randall Lamb, Gary Garrett, and Ynana Rose.

New kids on the block, Kollage—an acoustic cover band comprised of Tanya Kliemann (lead vocals), Bret Clark (lead guitar), Lou Ferreira (rhythm guitar and vocals), and Leslie Woodward (percussion and vocals)—are four good friends who have been “making music together for some time and have finally decided to kick it up a notch,” they said, hence a gig on Thursday, Oct. 14, at Palazzo Giuseppe’s at 7 p.m. (on Court Street, SLO). They “combine rhythmic guitar playing with unique vocal harmonies to produce music that is sure to please diverse audiences.”

Bay Area artist John Howland plays Frog and Peach at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, bringing his soul/rock-songwriter style played on an amplified Weissenborn-style lap steel (think Ben Harper, David Lindley, and John Butler Trio). “We’re releasing a new album called Here To Stay, and really bumping the touring up,” Howland said.

TWO COWPOKES :  David Olney with Sergio Webb plays The Clubhouse on Oct. 14 and The Elkhorn on Oct. 15. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID OLNEY AND SERGIO WEBB
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID OLNEY AND SERGIO WEBB
  • TWO COWPOKES : David Olney with Sergio Webb plays The Clubhouse on Oct. 14 and The Elkhorn on Oct. 15.
David Olney with Sergio Webb plays The Clubhouse on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m. “There are, maybe, 20 interesting people in the world,” said folk-blues performer-songwriter, published author, and rising YouTube star David Olney. And, they all seem to exist somewhere within his music, like on his newest CD Dutchman’s Curve, where he continues to cultivate his own Great American Songbook “featuring his multi-dimensional character studies with unparalleled perspective.” You can also catch them at The Elkhorn in San Miguel on Friday, Oct. 15.

Pozo Saloon’s got Slightly Stoopid scheduled to play on Friday, Oct. 15, at 5 p.m. The all-ages show also includes Cypress Hill, Mickey Avalon, and Living Colour—all for just $35! According to their bio, “Slightly Stoopid have perfected one of the rarest and most valuable skills a band can develop: the art of the stealth groove, that knack for quietly, almost innocently, sliding into a composition, and utterly lassoing anyone within earshot by mid-song.” Visit pozosaloon.com for tickets.

SHAKE IT :  Shakeh will bring her adult contemporary eclectic music to the Paso Wine Centre on Oct. 15. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAKEH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SHAKEH
  • SHAKE IT : Shakeh will bring her adult contemporary eclectic music to the Paso Wine Centre on Oct. 15.
Shakeh will bring her adult contemporary eclectic music to the Paso Wine Centre on Friday, Oct. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (1240 Park St.; 239-9156). “With a voice full of depth and complex emotions, this singer-songwriter spins musical tales that take the listener on a unique journey,” according to her bio. “Her candid poetic lyrics woven over tribal beats (“Blue Ivory”), playful, jazzy saxophone melodies (“Wherever the Loving Takes Us”), and sterling rock/blues guitar and piano textures (“Keep Talkin’ Bout Me”) melt together into a tantalizing seductive experience.” She’s touring in support of her fourth CD Keep Talkin’ Bout Me. While you’re soaking up the tunes, you can sample more than 50 different wines at the dispensary, with 100 more available by the bottle.

Jamaican reggae artist King Ali Baba hits the Frog and Peach on Friday, Oct. 15, with DJ Katchafiya spinning and Dread Daze’s Najashi opening the show. Born in Clarendon and raised in Spanish Town, King Ali Baba is one of Jamaica’s unsung heroes who’s made a successful career foray into the UK. His singles “One Pretty Gyal” and “Rock Ma Boat” have received extensive radio play throughout Europe, Australia, and Asia. When asked to participate in a movie to raise funds for the Fruit of Our Children charity based in New Zealand, King Ali Baba welcomed the call by recording the hit single “Judgment Day,” with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the organization because, as the King says, “Whatever I can do to help, I will. Music is natural for me, so I’m honored to give this organization my voice.” The show starts at 10 p.m.

Festival Mozaic’s WinterMezzo series, the well-known summer festival’s chamber music series, runs Friday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 17, at various locations around San Luis Obispo. Music director Scott Yoo has gathered exceptional artists from across the country for “Rivals,” which presents “a cycle of chamber works from French and English composers that highlights the musical differences across the Channel.” Each concert cycle has three ways to experience the music: a Notable Encounter Insight, a Friday evening one-hour presentation where the performers informally discuss the featured works; a Saturday evening Notable Encounter Dinner, where guest artists present lively commentary, musical excerpts, and insider observations accompanied by dinner and wine; and then the full concert program on Sunday afternoon. For more info, visit festivalmozaic.com.

Great buckets of fire, the Bucket Busters—a teenage ensemble of percussionists playing nothing but buckets, trashcans, and water bottles—plays two shows on Saturday, Oct. 16, to promote their new album Buckets of Fire! These students from Drum School 101 are using CD sales to raise scholarship money for kids in the community who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford lessons. The CD was produced by Steve Hilstein, who also directs the Bucket Busters. See them at 10 a.m. during the Colony Days Parade, and again at 2 p.m. during the Colony Band Festival at Atascadero High School Stadium.

Booker T. & the MGs tribute band The Booker Tease are playing on Saturday, Oct. 16, in Mitchell Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. “We’re playing a benefit for ‘Walk for Farm Animals,’” said drummer Miles Brown. “Yeah, I said it.” Walk for Farm Animals is “an annual event that helps spread the word about the treatment of animals on factory farms and raises vital funds for our rescue, education, and advocacy work,” according to the organization’s website.

Merrell Fankhauser and Friends play the Pismo Beach Clam Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 3 to 4:15 p.m., the perfect band since this year’s theme is “Classic California Surf.” The show also happens to coincide with the inclusion of Merrell’s 1962 hit “Wipe Out” on a compilation of other ’60s instrumental surf groups titled Walmart Presents Surf Hits!

The Painted Sky Concert series hosts an evening of Americana folk with Sweet Talk Radio on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 8 p.m. “A few weeks ago, I received a call from my friend Mike Kosin, wondering if I might be interested in booking Sweet Talk Radio to play at Painted Sky,” explained Steve Crimmel. “I went to their website, listened to their songs, and checked out their videos on YouTube. That’s all it took. They are good … very good. Sweet Talk Radio is the husband and wife team of Kathrin Shorr and Tim Burlingame. Their new CD, My Hallelujah, much like the lyrical images it references—Hank Williams, the mighty Mississippi River, or the changing current of a love affair—is full of strength and vulnerability.” Tickets cost $18 at Boo Boo’s, the Cambria Business Center, or by calling 927-8330. If not sold out, tickets will be available at the door.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, the Z-Club goes acoustic with a “knock-down, drag-out, no holds-barred, all-wireless jamboree featuring some of the best and brightest musical minds that “Cen-Cal (*cough*) has to offer, namely Chad Land of The Axia, Bay Area singer-songwriter Gary Garretts, Slick Bishop’s Jason Lytle, and me, Josh Feldman of Stray Donkey fame,” Feldman said. “Guys and gals, all sizes and shapes, 21 years or older, come on down. It’s the cheapest bar-pool in town and you can smoke indoors? Gonna be off the hizzy!” The cover’s $5.

Coming through! Outta the way! “As a public service, can you warn folks to stay outta my way Sunday, Oct 17?” asked Guitar Wiz Billy Foppiano. “I’ll be driving a black Toyota pickup, and I’m gonna be shaggin’, baby! From 3:45 to 4:45 p.m., we’ll be opening up The Montgomery Gentry concert (Billed as the Croon Dogs, but it will feature just Billy and Charlie Foppiano, with their pal Eric on Jembe), and then we’ll be racing to Hearst Ranch Winery (7310 North River Road, Paso Robles; $25 at the door) to play the Harvest Celebration there. We’ll be vaguely observing the speed limit, but God, man, please warn folks! Both events will be awesome!”

It’s a show so big, it can only be written in all capital letters! JIGU! THUNDER DRUMS OF CHINA! Now embarking on their fourth North American theater tour, this “electrifying ensemble of drummers, percussionists, and musicians have raised their ancient art of Chinese drumming to an all-new and exciting level,” according to JIGU! “Hailing from the Shanxi Province in China, this world-renown company of drummers, percussionists, and musicians will astound audiences in an ultra-sensory entertainment experience.” See for yourself on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Clark Centre (489-9444).

If you dig The Weepies or Gillian Welch, may I draw your attention to indie-folk singer-songwriter Erin Cole-Baker, who plays guitar, banjo, dulcimer, and ukulele. On Tuesday, Oct. 19, see her at Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcase at the Steynberg Gallery, then Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Shell Beach’s Spyglass Inn, then The Porch in Santa Margarita on Thursday, Oct. 21. All shows are all ages, begin at 6:30 p.m., and are free. Cole-Baker was raised in New Zealand and began playing classical piano music at age 5, picked up the guitar and wrote songs at 10, and now at 28 she’s touring in support of her first solo CD, Talon & Spur, which she calls “an uplifting folk album that teaches listeners to trust in good things and to not shy away from putting forth real work to realize goals and change the world.”

Keep up with Glen Starkey via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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