One of the biggest influences on the development of reggae and dub music in Jamaica and the world is Lee "Scratch" Perry. As a songwriter, a performer, and producer, "The Mighty Upsetter" has been at the forefront of reggae music since the late '50s ska movement.
Practically the inventor of the "scratch" turntable effect used by DJs (his production of Charlie Ace's "Cow Theory Skank" in 1973
- PHOTO BY DREW GOREN
- REGGAE HERO : Jamaican-born Lee "Scratch" Perry is one of the most influential and brilliant reggae and dub musicians ever, and he's coming to Downtown Brew on Tuesday, July 31.
Born Rainford Hugh Perry in rural Jamaica in 1936, he currently lives in Switzerland, and continues recording, touring, and performing around the world. A three-disk compilation of Perry recordings, Arkology, was released by Island in 1997. His recent album, Panic in Babylon on Narnack Records, is as relevant as ever. Drenched in Perry's signature dub-echo style, the album is musically hypnotic, with an uncluttered instrumental simplicity. The lyrics explore global fears, political corruption, and fun, spiritual humanity.
The diminutive (4 feet, 11 inches) Perry is a towering figure in reggae, a producer, mixer, and songwriter who, along with King Tubby, helped shape the sound of dub and made reggae music such a powerful part of the pop music sound. Along with producing some of the most influential acts in reggae history including Bob Marley and the Wailers and the Congos Perry's approach to production and dub mixing was considered highly innovative, even audacious.
His first release on his own Upsetter label, a single called "People Funny Boy" in 1968, was the first Jamaican pop record to use that loping, bass-driven beat that would soon become identified as roots reggae rhythm, distinct from the hyperkinetically upbeat ska. Perry and his remarkable band the Upsetters worked with just about every performer in Jamaica. In the early '70s, after hearing some of King Tubby's early dub experiments, Perry released a number of tunes reflecting his own version of aural manipulation, and opened his own studio, Black Ark, where he recorded and produced some of Bob Marley's seminal tracks.
Perry's numerous accomplishments include collaborations with the Beastie Boys on the track "Dr. Lee, PhD" for their Hello Nasty album. In 2003, he won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with Jamaican ET.
Cal Poly DJ Matthew Schneider, who broadcasts under the name Match Wider, is planning an hour-long show featuring Perry's work on Sunday, July 29, on KCPR 91.3 FM, so tune in if you want to get up to speed before the Downtown Brew show.
Lee "Scratch" Perry is the real deal, a historic musical figure with a distinctly modern edge. He's coming to San Luis Obispo with the New York City-based band Dub Is a Weapon, which has often served as his backing band on his U.S. tours. They'll provide an opening set before Perry takes the stage. Local reggae faves Resination start the show.
Put on your dancin' shoes and make it to Downtown Brew, 1119 Garden St., on Tuesday, July 31, for an 8 p.m., 21-and-older show produced by Numbskull. Advance tickets are $23 at Boo Boo's (including a $2 fee), and $25 at the door. Yippee! Don't miss this one!
More than fair
It's a huge week for live music on the Central Coast, folks, with the Mid-State Fair in full swing, bringing us a fine assortment of musical greats on the main grandstand stage at 7:30 p.m. nightly and don't forget the free stages. Tickets were still available for all of the main acts as of press time, so what are you waiting for? You can order yours at all Vallitix locations, or at the Mid-State Fair box office (238-3565 or (800) 909-FAIR) and online at midstatefair.com.
- PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MID-STATE FAIR
- THE BIG NAMES ARE HERE : The Mid-State Fair brings us some great acts, including (left to right) Stevie Nicks on Thursday, July 26 Bob Dylan on Friday, July 27, Daughtry on Saturday, July 28 Godsmack on Sunday, July 29 and Martina McBride on Tuesday, July 31.
# Rock legend Stevie Nicks is famed for her mystical chanteuse image and enchanting voice. As a singer and songwriter, Nicks has enjoyed phenomenal success not only as a solo artist, but also as a key member of Fleetwood Mac. Nicks performed lead vocals for the group's hit songs "Dreams," "Rhiannon," "Gypsy," "Landslide," and many more, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac in 1998. She's just as impressive as a solo artist her debut solo album, Bella Donna, was released in 1981 and featured the song "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." Tickets for her 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, July 26, range from $26 to $52.
Next up is musical icon Bob Dylan, who takes the stage on Friday, July 27. Defying all trends, he creates poetic music that leaves us marveling. Last fall, Dylan released his 44th (wow!) album, Modern Times, which features his most recent hit, "Thunder on the Mountain." Past hits include the classics "Like a Rolling Stone," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Just Like a Woman," and "Let Me Follow You Down." Dylan is clever, creative, and consistently creates songs that combine traditional, legendary American music with his own twist. Tickets are $26 to $52, an affordable way to catch one of the most influential musicians of our time.
Chris Daughtry, lead singer for the band Daughtry, has risen from American Idol status to become a hot new performer in rock music. The debut single from Daughtry, "It's Not Over," has risen to the top of music charts, including Adult Top 40, Billboard Top Singles, and VH1's Top 20 Countdown show. Other songs from the album include "Home," "Over You," and the bluesy swagger "What I Want." Listen up on Saturday, July 28, when tickets for the show are $20 to $36.
Godsmack started as a grunge cover band playing the Boston scene, creating quite a reputation for their live shows with lead singer Sully Erna stepping out from 20 years behind the drums. Godsmack's debut song, "Keep Away," built their reputation even further, developing a strong fan base throughout the country. In 2002, "I Stand Alone," was recorded for the motion picture The Scorpion King, and became a No. 1 single and the most played active rock song for 2002. Godsmack's current single, "The Enemy," can be heard on their newest album, Godsmack IV. Special guest Hoobastank opens the show on Sunday, July 29, with tickets ranging from $20 to $36.
The breathtaking soprano voice of Martina McBride will fill the air at the Mid-State Fair on Tuesday, July 31. Her fiery, passionate vocals have created such memorable country hits as "Independence Day," "Wild Angels," "A Broken Wing," "Blessed," and "This One's for the Girls." She's had nearly 20 singles in the Top Ten, and has sold more than 15 million records. McBride has recently released her ninth album, Waking Up Laughing. Tickets are $26 to $52.
Dierks Bentley is widely seen as the hottest young star in country music with hits including "What Was I Thinking," "Every Mile a Memory" and "Long Trip Alone." With two platinum albums 2003's Dierks Bentley and 2005's chart-topping Modern Day Drifter he's established himself as one of the most acclaimed artists in country music. Bentley won the 2005 CMA Horizon Award and just a year later was nominated for the 2006 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year. LeAnn Rimes began her career in 1996 at the tender age of 13, with the release of her first album, Blue. Since then, she's released an album nearly every year, with her next recording, Family, in stores on Aug. 28. Rimes has been called the next Patsy Cline, with her big country voice and soulful tone, releasing such hits as "Crazy," "One Way Ticket," "Commitment" and "Big Deal." Tickets ($20 to $36) are still available for the performance on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
And don't forget all the free performances at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., including Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on Thursday, July 26, Elvin Bishop on Friday, July 27, Gregg Rolie on Saturday, July 28, Jars of Clay on Sunday, July 29, Collin Raye on Monday, July 30, Chubby Checker and the Wildcats on Tuesday, July 31, Foghat on Wednesday, Aug. 1, and The Bangles on Thursday, Aug. 2.
Blues in the park
Grab your picnic basket and lawn chair and head to the Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert for a Sunday afternoon of great local blues performers on the Village Green on Sunday, July 29.
The varied lineup has been arranged by the always-amazing local nonprofit, the San Luis Obispo Blues Society, famous for its rousing blues dances at the SLO Vets Hall.
Keyboardist and singer Jud Davidson kicks off the free 1 p.m.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CURTIS REINHARDT
- HAPPY BLUES : The SLO Blues Society has put together quite a lineup for the Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert on Sunday, July 29, including Blues DeVille (pictured), the Al and Val Duo, and Jud Davidson.
Old jazz, gospel, and of course blues are featured in the music of the Al and Val Duo. Often compared to Etta James and Janis Joplin, singer Valerie Johnson is an earthy woman with unearthly silk-and-steel vocal cords. She toured Europe for years with the Bitburg Gospel Messengers, sang lead with Big Brother and the Holding Company the Bay Area band made famous with Janis Joplin as well as singing with the award-winning blues/gospel group the Holmes Brothers and boogie-woogie piano queen Deanna Bogart. These days she's heavily involved with local musical education programs for youth. Her duo partner Al B. Blue dishes up hypnotic and funky rhythms on his guitar. As a member of an Afro-funk band called Big Black and the Congregation, he toured with Curtis Mayfield.
Named after a classic guitar amp from the 1940s, Blues DeVille pumps out traditional Delta blues, Chicago blues, Texas boogie, R&B, and funk for your dancing pleasure. Guitarist Larry Curtis anchors the band. A professional musician who's been playing since the '50s, Curtis has done studio work with the Rivingtons and Little Richard. Blues DeVille's lineup also includes vocalist Steve Wright, who does double duty on harmonica and trumpet drummer John Paul Stinson, who's also played with local favorite Louie Ortega keyboardist Scott Klynas from Chicago, who's classically trained in piano and guitar and Gordon Jennings on bass.
As usual for this fine, all-ages concert series, hot dogs, popcorn, lemonade, and Doc Burnstein's ice cream will be available to supplement your picnic basket.
America's favorite two-wheeling-vaudeville-newgrass-folk-pop-circus-activist sweethearts, the Ditty Bops, are celebrating organic farms and local foods with a national Farm Tour to raise money for local farm organizations, including one right here in SLO County.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF THE DITTY BOPS
- ORGANIC TO THE CORE : Fun-loving L.A.-based acoustic duo The Ditty Bops cruise into a local family-owned organic farm, Windrose Farm near Creston, for a benefit performance on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
# The L.A.-based acoustic duo Abby DeWald on guitar and vocals and Amanda Barret on mandolin, dulcimer, and vocals is known for happy-go-lucky harmonies and their new nonprofit, You and I Save the World. They describe themselves "like Calamity Jane, Betty Boop, and Jessica Rabbit laughing in the rag-top convertible as they drive through the mysterious streets of San Berdoo."
Last year, the Ditty Bops cycled across America, instruments in tow, performing their feel-good brand of retro-flavored music, which incorporates elements of Western swing, ragtime, gypsy jazz, pop, and vaudeville-era musical theater.
The Ditty Bops come to the family-owned Windrose Farm near Creston on Wednesday, Aug. 1. Only the first 150 people will be allowed in, with a suggested donation of $20 to benefit the Windrose Farm organization and its efforts to educate people about local organic and sustainable agriculture. Fresh, delicious Windrose-grown food and farm tours are included in the price for this fun event, which starts at 6 p.m. with music at 7:30 p.m. For reservations and directions, e-mail Bill Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-3757. Carpooling or bicycling is encouraged!
Internationally acclaimed soprano Mary Rawcliffe and harpist Jennifer Sayre present an evening of harp and voice on Friday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church on the corner of Los Osos Valley and Clark Valley roads. You'll be treated to works by Handel, Purcell, Faure, Debussy, and Ravel. The suggested donation is $15.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SALLY SOMERS
- SOFT AND SWEET : Internationally acclaimed artists soprano Mary Rawcliff and harpist Jennifer Sayre present an evening of harp and voice at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Los Osos on Friday, July 27.
# Three Central Valley reggae bands liven up the stage at O'Reilly's Bar & Grill in Grover Beach (295 W. Grand Ave.) on Friday, July 27. Headlining the show are Midnight Surfers from Visalia, whose rock sound reflects ska and reggae influences. Fresno favorites No Mo Emo and Clouded Vision open the 8 p.m. show, produced by Rock Sisters Productions.
Crowd-pleaser Brad Wilson, an award-winning L.A.-based singer/songwriter/guitarist, comes to Mongo's in Grover Beach on Saturday, July 28. Wilson's music has been featured in John Carpenter's recent films Vampires and Ghosts of Mars, and the NBC soap Passions has used his music for years. ABC-TV's morning show Live With Regis & Kelly played one of Wilson's songs, "House Of Love" a fun, summertime song, described as power rock reminiscent of Springsteen. All Access Music Awards in Los Angeles voted Wilson "Best Songwriter," and he's also won "Best Blues Band" at LA's Rock City News Awards ... three times!
Local group Primitive Radio Gods takes the stage at Frog and Peach in downtown SLO on Saturday, July 28. The band is known for writing, performing, and producing an eclectic blend of what its members call "sonic bliss and melody smoke." The Spires play too. Sounds fun!
Strike Fire Productions is putting on a surf/rock/punk show featuring Grover Beach locals Malo Culo and 5 Cities locals Two Dollar Pistol. Headlining the Saturday, July 28, show at Ralph and Duane's (108 W. Branch, Arroyo Grande) is Re-Form from Florida. Music goes from 3 to 8 p.m., with no cover, and a free raffle ticket is offered to all.
The Sunday morning free-form dance movement gathering known as the woO! features Dj Activ8 on Sunday, July 29 from 10 am to noon at the Monday Club, 1815 Monterey St. in SLO. Jump on board for a musical odyssey through world beat, afrobeat, reggae, funk, and electronic tracks, with an overlay of live drums and various percussive instruments. It's $10 at the door, and with all that exercise you'll get, it's cheaper than joining a gym! More info at 748-3815.
Ahoy, mateys! A concert you can attend by land or sea is set for Sunday, July 29, at noon on the pier in Baywood Park. The delightful Cafe Musique will entertain seafarers and landlubbers with their unique arrangements of gypsy, tango, swing, classical, waltzes, and anything else that tickles their musical fancy. Bring a picnic!
Pianist Terry Trotter and his trio are the next attraction at the Famous Jazz Artist series at the Hamlet in Cambria on Sunday, July 29. Trotter's been the pianist for Lena Horne, as well as jazz greats Chet Baker and Stan Getz. He'll joined by bassist Tom Warrington (Buddy Rich) and drummer Jake Hanna (Woody Herman). Also appearing will be concert co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (vibraphone and vocals). Two performances are scheduled, at 4 p.m. for $15 and 7:15 for $12 or catch both shows for $20. You'll find the Hamlet at the northern edge of Cambria on Hwy. 1. For reservations, call 927-0567.
Morro Bay's Monteleone's Rock (280 Harbor St.) hosts regular Tuesday night showcases from 7 to 10 p.m., when one featured act plays a 45-minute set, sandwiched in the middle of the show between six or seven other artists. On Tuesday, July 31, Brad Colerick takes the stage with Gary Foshee and Cinder Jean. These are all-ages, free events (with a tip jar if you're feeling tipsy). Colerick drew a line in the dirt 20 years ago when he gave up making records to make music for commercials. With the release of Cottonwood last year, he crossed that line and now takes a big step forward with his follow up CD, Lines in the Dirt, with contributions from Suzy Bogguss, Larry Klein, Herb Pedersen, and April Verch. Join him for a journey through his life and his stories, with deep, honest songs just perfect for this Morro Bay venue.
# Yesterday's New Quintet Yesterday's Universe
Aliases have grown to be a large part of hip hop culture. Everyone works more often behind a moniker than his own birthright name. Producer extraordinaire Madlib who's created wonderful musical worlds under the names of Quasimoto, Jaylib, and Madvillian has once again stepped into the his finest tailored duds and revived his self-created jazz band, Yesterday's New Quintet. Surrounding himself with an arsenal of instruments and the influence of several decades of jazz, Madlib (Otis Jackson Jr.) with special guests, including drummer Karriem Riggins and Azymuth percussionist Mamao connects the dots between the groove-oriented fusion of soul-jazz and the headier moments of '70s avant-garde jazz movement. "Slave Riot" is muscled with an explosion of percussive soloing and a synthesizer meltdown that resembles the wilder compositions of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi years, and the funky drumming of "Street Talkin'" may be the best Bernard Purdie track the Beastie Boys never stole. If you covet your Impusle and Strata East re-issues, Madlib offers you some additional astral traveling.
Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX's "Night Train."
# M. Ward Duet For Guitars #2
Every town has its musical favorite sons. Imagine the delight of the cluster of REM fans who witnessed them in beer-drenched bars of Athens, Georgia, and suddenly saw them comet into the international skyline. Similarly, before Matt Ward shared a touring bill with Norah Jones, years back, he played his oversized guitar in local indie-rock trio Rodriguez. With quite a few home recordings taking place within backyard chicken-sized shacks, it was only a matter of time before he delivered his first album, Duet For Guitars #2, now re-released by his current record label, Merge. The Americana tint and John Fahey-styled rags his future albums now carry is present here, with his breathy, graveled croon embedding warmth in these dreamy narrations of teenage reflections ("Beautiful Car") lonesome heartache ("Good News") and emotional redemption ("It Won't Happen Twice"). It's a very welcome re-issue that points to the artistic fullness that his currents albums swell with.
Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX's "Night Train."
Freelance journalist Kathy Johnston may be reached at email@example.com. Regular music columnist Glen Starkey is back from vacation next week.