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Newly signed Kill Rock Stars recording artist Caleb Nichols plays EP release party at SLO's A Satellite of Love

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I've been following Los Osos native, queer writer, and Cal Poly Librarian Caleb Nichols' music career for many years now, watching his songwriting quietly blossom while he went about his life: earning a master's in library and information science from San Jose, an English master's from Cal Poly, a Ph.D. in creative and critical writing from Bangor University, Wales. He doesn't really fit the bill for someone signed to Kill Rock Stars, the independent record label originally known for championing underground punk acts in the Olympia, Oregon, music scene. And yet here he is.

QUEER AS FOLK Cal Poly librarian, queer writer, and newly signed Kill Rock Stars recording artist Caleb Nichols plays SLO's A Satellite of Love on Nov. 30, to promote his new EP Clarion. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NOAH KWID
  • Photo Courtesy Of Noah Kwid
  • QUEER AS FOLK Cal Poly librarian, queer writer, and newly signed Kill Rock Stars recording artist Caleb Nichols plays SLO's A Satellite of Love on Nov. 30, to promote his new EP Clarion.

"I've signed a deal with iconic indie label Kill Rock Stars and am releasing music with them this fall—a single today, an EP in November, and in summer 2022, a full length LP," he explained a few weeks ago. "I'm really excited to share 'Words That Stay' with you, which is my entry into Kill Rock Stars' 30th Anniversary covers compilation Stars Rock Kill. The song is originally by Kill Rock Stars signees Tele Novella from their album Merlyn Belle."

This Tuesday, Nov. 30 (8 p.m.; all-ages; $10 at the door), at SLO Town's A Satellite of Love, Caleb Nichols will play an EP release party for Clarion, his new four-song collection to be released on Nov. 26. Its lush, quiet sound has hints of Simon and Garfunkel and includes his cover of "Words That Stay," the title track, "Clear As Day," and "He'll Love You Better"—each track a sonic gem. Former SLO Town act Little Wings (aka Kyle Field) will open the show.

"SLO is such a small music community, and I'm very proud to be a SLO-based artist on a major indie label," Nichols added. "Sixteen-year-old me, playing hooky from Morro Bay High School, listening to a CD copy of Either/Or by [Kill Rock Stars recording artist] Elliott Smith—purchased from Boo Boo's, of course—would be very stoked indeed!"

FOUR STRING MADNESS Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro plays the Fremont Theater on Dec. 1, for a night of virtuosic genre-jumping music. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE SHIMABUKURO
  • Photo Courtesy Of Jake Shimabukuro
  • FOUR STRING MADNESS Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro plays the Fremont Theater on Dec. 1, for a night of virtuosic genre-jumping music.

Hawaiian invasion!

Two of Hawaii's finest descend on the Central Coast this week, starting with ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro at the Fremont Theater on Wednesday, Dec. 1 (Doors at 7 p.m.; all ages; $25 to $35 plus fees at eventbrite.com), and followed by pop singer-songwriter Anuhea playing Thursday, Dec. 2, at The Siren (doors at 7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $20 plus fees presale or $25 plus fees day of show at eventbrite.com).

First let's talk about Shimabukuro, a ukulele superstar touring in support of his new studio album, Jake and Friends. The album features a who's who of music royalty and includes collaborations with Willie Nelson, Bette Midler, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Loggins, Moon Taxi, Michael McDonald, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Jon Anderson, Ziggy Marley, Warren Haynes, Jack Johnson, Billy Strings, and more.

"Over the past two decades, Jake has proved that there isn't a style of music that he can't play," press materials state. "While versatility for any musician is impressive, what's remarkable about Jake's transcendent skills is how he explores his seemingly limitless vocabulary—whether it's jazz, rock, blues, bluegrass, folk, or even classical—on perhaps the unlikeliest of instruments: the ukulele."

He truly is a master musician, and while all his collaborators from Jake and Friends won't be at the Fremont, his live shows are incendiary! He's called "the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele" for a reason.

As he explained in his bio, "From the time I started playing, I was just doing what came naturally and what felt like fun. I love all types of music, so I never thought, 'Oh, I can't play that on the ukulele.' If you don't know the rules, you don't need to follow them, and then nothing can hold you back."

COOL ISLAND BREEZE Hawaiian pop singer-songwriter Anuhea plays Morro Bay's The Siren on Dec. 2, bringing her reggae-inspired sounds. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANUHEA
  • Photo Courtesy Of Anuhea
  • COOL ISLAND BREEZE Hawaiian pop singer-songwriter Anuhea plays Morro Bay's The Siren on Dec. 2, bringing her reggae-inspired sounds.

Anuhea returns to the Central Coast thanks to Good Medicine and Numbskull, and the native Hawaiian's name Anuhea translates as "a fragrance or cool breeze," which also describes her island/reggae style sounds that also blend R&B and sometimes even country.

Rylee Anuheakealaokalokelani Jenkins was born and raised in Makawao, Maui, Hawai'i—the eldest of four siblings, the daughter of a hapa-Hawaiian P.E. teacher/basketball coach from the North Shore of O'ahu and a blond-haired beautician from Oregon. After high school, she was offered film school scholarships, but after a soul searching backpacking trip to Australia, she returned home to pursue a music career that's been going strong for more than a decade.

Justin Kawika Young, Thrive, and Lea Love open the show.

More music ...

Scott Cooper, whose newest single "Cuttin the Rug" is getting airplay on KPIG, returns to town with a couple of upcoming shows. He plays in duo format with Steve Sofranko this Friday, Nov. 26, at the Ye Ole Alehouse in Los Osos, and again on Saturday, Nov. 27, with his Grateful Dead tribute band China Cats, at The Siren in Morro Bay (doors at 7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $18 at thesirenmorrobay.com).

Local Americana act Stereo Chickens are the featured performer at the Saturday, Nov. 27, Songwriters at Play at Sculpterra Winery (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.; all ages; free). Featuring Ken McMeans, Cynthia Ford, and John Nowel, Stereo Chickens' 2018 debut album, Songs From The Fire, reached No. 25 on iTunes Country Chart. Hosted by singer-songwriter Steve Key, the event will also feature performances by Leslie Rae Thompson, John Schmitt, and Servet Fidan.

LADIES NIGHT All-female Americana act The Solstice Sisters play an album release party at Los Osos' The Olde Ale House on Nov. 28. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SOLSTICE SISTERS
  • Photo Courtesy Of The Solstice Sisters
  • LADIES NIGHT All-female Americana act The Solstice Sisters play an album release party at Los Osos' The Olde Ale House on Nov. 28.

All-female group The Solstice Sisters—Emily Post (acoustic guitar and vocals), Lillian Dennis (fiddle and vocals), Cara Brown (acoustic guitar and vocals), and Christi Brown (keys and vocals)—play their album release party on Sunday, Nov. 28, at Los Osos' The Olde Ale House (1 to 4 p.m.), with Azere Wilson opening: "I go on at 1 p.m. with some old timey bluesy jazzy numbers and then The Solstice Sisters bring the shake-a-tail-feather blue-grassy folky numbers," Wilson said. "It's gonna be a good time. They are such a fun all-female band."

On Monday, Nov. 29, Cal Poly Arts presents Broadway's Tony Award-winning musical comedy Hairspray at the Performing Arts Center (7:30 p.m.; ages 5 and older; $69 to $109 at pacslo.org). "Join 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore as she sets out to dance her way onto TV's most popular show," press materials explained. "Can a girl with big dreams (and even bigger hair) change the world?" Δ

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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