Awarding last year’s Best Song winner at the New Times Music Awards was a no brainer, according to judges, who unanimously bestowed the honor on Inga Swearingen for her sweet and moving “Brick by Brick,” a duet with her sister that chronicles watching their parents rebuild their home. It seriously makes me tear up every time I hear it.
The song appeared on Inga’s incredible First Rain, an album that features her jazz, Swedish folk, Americana, and bossa nova sounds. Inga was also the winner of the first ever Montreux Jazz Festival Shure Vocal Competition, which propelled her to stardom during more than a dozen appearances on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.
Well, this week you have two opportunities to catch this amazing performer with her sister Britta on vocals and percussion, and Jeff Miley on guitar, all of whom will be joined by brother duo Robby and Char Rothschild, who call themselves Round Mountain. See them Thursday, Jan. 13, at Steynberg Gallery (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $15) and Friday, Jan. 14, at Painted Sky Studios (8 p.m.; all ages; $18).
These two sibling teams plan to “share music and song rooted in family, nature, and human spirit. Listeners travel down a dusty road of rugged beauty that combines jazz, American grit, and global traditional music.”
While we’re on the topic of The Steynberg Gallery, there’re a few more shows you should know about, starting with Delilah and her interactive performance “Murder at the Steynberg,” an audience participation murder mystery on Saturday, Jan. 15 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $30 includes a complimentary beverage!). “Someone’s gonna die and you gotta figure out who! Delilah & Company invite you to Giuseppe’s new joint—a 1928 speakeasy. Come dolled up in your viper best. Food to savor, booze to flow, and the action will, too! Les Johnson is scouting talent for his radio show. Delilah will provide cabaret sounds. You’re free to join the band, try out a song, or just be a detective. But watch out; when Vicenti and Tootsie show up, fireworks will blow!” I happened to catch Delilah’s cabaret act at Sustenance last week, and she’s a terrific performer with a wide-ranging repertoire. Check her out!
On Sunday, Jan. 16 (7:30 p.m.; all ages), Le Chat Lunatique brings its unpredictable, fearless, addictive genre they call “filthy, mangy jazz,” a signature sound that drives you right to the dance floor. “Le jazz hot of Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli is their north star, but they navigate through western swing, classical, reggae, doo-wop, and far beyond.”
Finally, on Wednesday, Jan. 19 (7:30 p.m.; all ages), see the Julian Waterfall Pollack Trio, featuring 22-year-old NYC pianist Julian Waterfall Pollack, a classically trained musician who has the “jazz community abuzz with his mature, technically ferocious, and dynamic piano playing.”
SLO Brew to the rescue
Things may have gotten off to a slow start last week, but the music scene is hot, Hot, HOT! this week at SLO Brew.
On of two really big shows features the incredible multi-instrumentalist David Lindley on Tuesday, Jan. 18 (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $21 presale or $23 at the door). Pieta Brown opens what promises to be an eclectic show that will bring listens around the world via music. The other big show is Robert Earl Keen on Wednesday, Jan. 19 (6:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $24 presale or $26 at the door), with Joe Koenig opening. Neither Lindley nor Keen need much introduction. They’re both freakin’ megastars!
The other stuff happening at the Brew includes the Bunnies and Bikinis Contest on Friday, Jan. 14, when SLO County’s finest babes will strut their stuff in beachwear and snow gear (8:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $5). On Saturday, Jan. 15, soul-funk-rock act The Pimps of Joytime return (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $8). On Monday, Jan. 17, check out hip-hop and new wave artist Mac Miller (7 p.m.; all ages; $12 presale or $15 at the door) with Casey Veggies opening.
- PHOTO BY DAVID ROWE
- TOP SECRET! : Expect plenty of shoegazing goodness when The Swan Thief plays Jan. 20 at SLO Brew.
On a side note, I just got my hands on a super secret, rough mixed track by new local act The Swan Thief. It came in an unmarked jewel case, no title, no details, just the word “CLASSIFIED” scrawled in Sharpie under the band’s name. Very mysterious! Once in my CD player, it turned out to contain an extremely shoegazy, emo-esque, instrumental indie rock tune. This band may be the perfect soundtrack for teen angst. See them when they open for El Ten Eleven and Superhumanoids on Thursday, Jan. 20 (7 p.m.; all ages; $8).
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES HURLEY
- PERCUSSIVE! : On Jan. 13, The Porch will host Kat Devlin, a passionate and percussive performer in the Ani DiFranco vein, during Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcase.
Songwriters at play!
Steve Key’s weekly songwriters showcases seem to be building steam with better and better touring performers. For instance, on Thursday, Jan. 13, The Porch will host Kat Devlin, a passionate and percussive performer in the Ani DiFranco vein. Think Dar Williams and Neko Case, too, and you’ll be on the right page. The Santa Barbara-based songwriter’s work features “deeply personal lyrics, performed with passion and humor” (6:30 p.m.; all ages; free). In addition to the featured act, others will play four-song sets.
Sculpterra Winery’s showcase features Sweet Talk Radio on Sunday, Jan. 16 (1 p.m.; all ages; free). The L.A.-based folk-pop duo is the husband and wife team of Kathrin Shorr and Tim Burlingame, whose songs have been featured in numerous television series like In Plain Sight (USA Network), Army Wives (Lifetime), Beautiful People (ABC Family), and Joan of Arcadia (CBS).
Finally, The Steynberg Gallery’s showcase on Tuesday, Jan. 18, will host the return of Cal Poly alum Mike Annuzzi, best known locally as the front man to Avanti. The Bay Area native began writing songs at eight years old, and he’s shared stages with Tyrone Wells, Trevor Hall, White Buffalo, The B Foundation, Jay Nash, Damon Castillo, and Matt Masih. He’s also won several songwriting awards from West Coast Songwriters, including Song of the Year from the San Francisco competition. The Steynberg show starts at 6:30 p.m. (all ages; $5) and will feature several other performers. Annuzzi will also be the featured performer at The Porch on Thursday, Jan. 20 (6:30 p.m.; all ages; free).
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CAL POLY ARTS
- YOUTUBE HERO! : Guitarist Andy McKee (pictured) found fame on YouTube, where his videos had more than 70 million hits! See him with Grammy-winning rocker Eric Johnson and Mediterranean steel-string player Peppino D’Agostino at the Spanos Theatre on Jan. 14.
Three master guitarists descend on Cal Poly’s Spanos Theatre on Friday, Jan. 14, at 8 p.m. for an evening of virtuoso performance in a variety of eclectic styles.
You’ll hear instrumental Grammy-winning rocker Eric Johnson, American finger-stylist Andy McKee, and Mediterranean steel-string player Peppino D’Agostino touring together for the first time during a 21-date tour.
According to organizers, “The trek is sure to be an unforgettable musical experience for concertgoers that unites guitar virtuosos not just known for their awesome skills and technique but a mutual gift for song composition and melody and drawing out the full musicality of the solo acoustic guitar to near-orchestral dimensions. Creative sparks, one-time-only stunning improvisations, and mutual inspiration are sure to abound as they come together at the end of every show to offer a value-added concert bill that appeals to fans of many musical styles as well as guitar aficionados.”
Cuesta College’s Performing Arts Chair/CPAC Coordinator and finger-style acoustic guitarist Jennifer Martin will present the free lecture for ticket holders at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center’s Philips Recital Hall.
Student and adult tickets for the performance cost $30 and $38, respectively. Call 756-2787.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES HURLEY
- MAGIC MAN! : Folkworks magazine called James Hurley “One of the Top Ten Live Acoustic Male Singer-Songwriters in L.A.,” and he plays Sustenance on Jan. 15.
It seems like all musicians have an accordion story, and James Hurley, who plays Saturday, Jan. 15, at Sustenance Cooking Studio (2033 Santa Barbara Ave.), is no different.
“One day my mother answered a knock at the door. She opened it to a man traveling door-to-door attempting to sell, of all things … accordion lessons. Well, my older brother was already taking trumpet and guitar lessons, and my younger brother wasn’t even as big as the accordion, which left only me. So began a period of enforced musical training that very nearly ended my musical career before it began. I wrestled with that thing and tried to do as instructed for several months or so ... even had a recital, at which I acquitted myself with neither humiliation nor great distinction. But I don’t remember ever particularly liking either the playing itself or the sounds I was making. My folks didn’t argue when I told them I had no desire to continue with those lessons. I have to confess the accordion simply never captured my imagination.”
What did capture his imagination?
“The next school I attended had a music program, and they offered trumpet, violin, and ... drums! I signed up and became one of two drummers at that school. Mostly what I recall is fat drumsticks, a rubber practice pad, and endless flams, paradiddles, and single- and double-stroke rolls … and of course thinking, ‘I wonder if Ringo ever had to do this?’ At the once-a-week lessons, I would get to spend one hour playing a real snare drum. The rest of the time was spent pounding on that not-very-gratifying practice pad. Eventually, my folks managed to come up with (how could they possibly have known?) the worst possible excuse for a drum set imaginable. The one thing it had in common with the iconic Ludwig set I lusted for, or the close second Rogers set, was the fact that it was shaped like a drum set … the similarity ended right there.”
Eventually, Hurley became involved in rodeo—stick with me, now—which led him to guitar.
“A broken hip and some subsequent complications ended my budding rodeo career in roughly seven and a half seconds. A week or so later, back at my Dad’s house, flat on my back, trying to find something to keep myself distracted, I found that guitar he’d always kept in the house. Looking back, I realize it was a fairly good quality classical style (nylon string) guitar that had been through countless moves and three growing boys. But it still had all six strings and a pleasing sound, so I started ‘messing around’ with it. A day later I’d written my first ‘proper’ song.”
James Hurley was recently named by Folkworks magazine as “One of the Top Ten Live Acoustic Male Singer-Songwriters in L.A.”
This all-ages show starts at 7 p.m., with $20 tickets ($5 more if you want dinner). Bring your own beverage and RSVP at 543-2186.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF AL “SHIVAL” REDWINE
- PLAYING FOR DR. KING : Al “Shival” Redwine is one of several performers appearing at the 16th annual Sharing the Dream event, which celebrates the life and ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 17 at Laguna Lake Middle School.
He still has a dream!
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may be dead, struck down by an assassin’s bullet, but his dream lives on, personified in activists like Michael LoveGene, who every year organizes “Sharing the Dream,” an annual event honoring the life and work of Dr. King.
On Monday, Jan. 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in SLO’s Laguna Middle School Recreation Room, the public is invited to attend this day of music, message, and community. Now in its 16th year, the entertainment includes Al “Shival” Redwine, Valerie Johnson and Al B. Blue, Higher Movement African Dance Troupe, Tim Jackson, Pastor Gerald and Betty Purify, and Michael LoveGene.
In addition to the $10 ticket price, attendees are asked to bring non-perishable food donations for GrassRoots II, Inc., the event’s co-sponsor. Lunch will be available from Bon Temps Creole Café for an additional price.
The funds raised will help Sharing the Dream continue to provide culturally responsive events to the citizens of SLO County. Sharing the Dream will also donate 10 percent of the profits to GrassRoots II, Inc., which offers free clothing, household items, and emergency food to feed people on the Central Coast who can’t afford to provide for themselves or their families.
Come be a part of the dream!
More music …
Bay Area indie-rock act Case In Theory hits the Frog and Peach on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 8:30 p.m. as part of a two-show mini tour that concludes the next day at L.A.’s famed Viper Room. “We are a melodic rock/indie band in the same vein of bands like Incubus, Dredg, Circa Survive, Minus the Bear, Mute Math, and Deftones,” said band member Jonathan Posadas. “We currently play the premiere venues with some of the premiere bands in the Bay Area and have made great relationships with those bands, promoters and venues. We plan to go into the studio after this tour and release our first full length by summer.”
The West Coast Jazz Cartel returns to the Inn at Morro Bay’s Bay Club on Friday, Jan. 14, from 7 to 10 p.m. The new jazz quartet features Karl Welz on tenor saxophone, Mike Raynor on drums, Ryan Garcia on guitar, and Clint Iwanicha on the upright bass. Jazz on the bay!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC HENDERSON
- SEGOVIA-TRAINED! : Amazing Spanish-style guitarist Eric Henderson plays two SLOfolks concerts: Jan. 14 at Coalesce Bookstore and Jan. 15 at Castoro Cellars.
When Willie Nelson calls someone “the most incredible guitarist I’ve heard in years,” you either assume he was super high or the dude actually is a great guitarist. In this case, it’s fair to say Willie was sober when he heard the amazing Eric Henderson, who plays two $20 SLOfolks concerts: on Friday, Jan. 14, at Coalesce Bookstore (7 p.m.; 772-2880) and Saturday, Jan. 15, at Castoro Cellars (7:30 p.m.; 238-0725). If you like Spanish-style guitar, Henderson’s hard to beat. He started to play at age 6, and by age 13 he was invited to Spain—one of only three invitees—to study privately with master guitarist Andres Segovia. Now a Laguna Beach resident, he spends his time composing, advancing his guitar technique, and teaching. His albums include Cathedral Heights, Castillian Nights, Faces, All My Soul, Encore, and Guitarra. And he’s not only into Spanish guitar, with influences ranging from Jimi Hendrix to J. S. Bach. Prepare to be amazed!
The King would be 76 this year, so hard rockin’ Dave Crimmen and his band plan to celebrate Elvis Presley’s life and music during two shows at Old Cayucos Tavern, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 14 and 15, from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Just imagine if Elvis were still alive, being airlifted by helicopter onto a stage in Las Vegas, an expansive white jumpsuit encrusted with millions of sequins and semi-precious stones, his fat snarling lip quivering as a hologram of his once youthful hips dance in front of his engorged body, but the voice still there in its full glory. Ah well, we can dream. Crimmen is touring in support of his bopping new/old record Full Circle, a re-mastered collection of songs spanning his entire career, which began in 1989 when he wrote some tunes for Carl Perkins. The material holds up well, from new wavey rockers to blistering ballads to jumping rockabilly tunes. The King would be proud. Grow your sideburns, dust off your best Elvis costume, and get ready to rock!
Things change, like CAMP’s line-up. Formed in 2001, the upbeat indie rock act’s current members have been together for the last 18 months, and they’re heading to the SLO Down Pub on Saturday, Jan. 15 (7 p.m.; all ages; free). Still Evolving and Doe will open.
The Mighty Croon Dogs will be pickin’ and a-grinnin’ at the Cambria Pines Lodge on Saturday, Jan. 15, to deliver another evening of their patented, danceable, good time music. “Why stay at home when you can come to the lodge and hang out with a warm cozy fire, big stuffed couches, and cool tunage?” asked front man Billy Foppiano. “We’ll be bringin’ it with our own kinda funky, Latin-ey, swoozy, swingy, dramatic form of phun ... but how shall I put it? Just bring your dancin’ shoes; you gotta work off that New Year’s pie!”
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JFK
- WHAT YOU SMOKIN’, MAN? : Collective Effort presents Jesse Frederick Keeler of MSTRKRFT on Jan. 15 at The Graduate.
Collective Effort presents Jesse Frederick Keeler of MSTRKRFT—with special guests Mikey Lion, Casa Street Hooligans, and Easy Love Records—on Saturday, Jan. 15, at The Graduate (doors at 9 p.m.; tickets at all Vallitix locations). Keeler, a Canadian musician, is known as the bassist of former Canadian dance punk duo Death from Above 1979, and for being one half of the electronic music duo MSTRKRFT. He can sing, play drums, guitar, bass, keyboards, and saxophone, and his style spans the gamut from punk to hardcore to rock to house to electro, and more.
On Sunday, Jan. 16, one of America’s premier jazz guitarists, Bruce Foreman, returns to play the Famous Jazz Artist Series at The Hamlet (4 p.m. for $15; 7:15 for $12; or see both shows for $20; call 927-0567 for reservations). Forman has recorded several award-winning jazz recordings and also wrote the score for Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning film Million Dollar Baby. He’ll be joined by bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Jake Reed, as well as series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (vibraphone and vocals, respectively).
Keep up with Glen Starkey via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.