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'Wild and Free' in Pozo

The legends of reggae ride again!

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What is it about Pozo that makes it such a perfect place for reggae? Must be the laidback rhythm, with a touch of rebellion, plenty of roots, and an abundance of sunshine!

Reggae on the Range brings Ziggy Marley and Steel Pulse back to the Pozo Saloon for the fourth time. Fresh from a sold-out Legends of Reggae show at the Hollywood Bowl, five-time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley will be rolling into Pozo with his special dance-ready blend of roots reggae, African percussion, gospel, ska, and soul.

His career began as a family affair with the formation of the Melody Makers with his two sisters and brother in Kingston, Jamaica, which garnered Grammy awards for their major label debut Conscious Party, and for One Bright Day and Fallen Is Babylon. Striking out on his own two decades later in 2002, Ziggy Marley released Love Is My Religion, a musical exploration of the personal, social, and political themes that continue to run through his music. Marley’s latest album, Wild and Free, also challenges social injustice. It earned a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album.

Legendary British reggae band Steel Pulse has been keeping audiences swaying to the rhythm since the mid-’70s. Formed in Birmingham, England, by schoolmates from working-class West Indies immigrant families—David Hinds, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter; Basil Gabbidon on guitar; and Ronnie “Stepper” McQueen on bass—Steel Pulse was an opening act for punk and new wave bands including the Clash, the Stranglers, the Police, and XTC.

Pumping out authentic roots reggae with touches of jazz and Latin music, peppered with hip-hop and dancehall, Grammy-winning Steel Pulse is still going strong.

Also rockin’ the Pozo stage along with Ziggy Marley and Steel Pulse will be Pato Banton, another revered longtime reggae performer from Birmingham. Local favorites Nada Rasta and Elizabeth Grace open the show.

Reggae on the Range is set for Sunday, Sept. 2 at the Pozo Saloon, east of Santa Margarita (90 West Pozo Road, 438-4225). Gates open at 1 p.m., and food and beverages will be available. Tickets are available at Boo Boo Records in SLO, the Clark Center, Faultline Music in Paso Robles, and Up N Smoke in Santa Maria, or at pozosaloon.com ($75 for VIP seating, $27 general admission, plus fees).

And if you hear an unusual, eerie wailing sound when the show is over, don’t be alarmed; it’s just the local tule elk bugling their hearts out to signal the beginning of rutting season, a sure sign that summer, sadly, is coming to an end.

Hear the twang!

From its humble beginnings a few years back at Frog and Peach, the Twang N Bang music fest is turning heads and delighting ears with all the rootsy music on offer. The seventh Twang N Bang features not just local bands (seven of ’em!), but also some favorites from elsewhere in the state.

The lineup includes Santa Barbara folk-punkers The Mutineers, as well as veteran alt-country kings Grubdog and the Amazing Sweethearts from Sacramento. Also from Sac is 50-Watt Heavy.

As Patrick Hayes writes in to say, local bands playing for the music fest include Hayburner (bluegrass), Dead Volts (twangy rock), Magazine Dirty (punk), Readum ‘N’ Weepers (country rock), Stoney Danzas (anti-folk!), American Dirt (garage country), and the Cross Brothers (hard blues).

And here’s the best thing: the Twang N Bang fest is absolutely free! It’s set for 3 p.m. till late into the night on Sunday, Sept. 2, at Frog and Peach. Check out the schedule on twangnbang.com.

What’s brewin’ …

Voted Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards, the Band of Heathens has topped the Americana chart. With their rich vocal harmonies and roots rock tendencies, the group has been featured at Bonnaroo, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and Austin City Limits festivals. The Band of Heathens performs Thursday, Aug. 30 at SLO Brewing Co. Luke Byron opens the show (7:30 p.m., 21-and-over, $12 advance, $15 at the door).

Next up at the Brew is country music storyteller Jackson Taylor from Texas. One of 11 children of migrant-worker parents, he’s had a life worth singing about. As Billy Joe Shaver writes on Taylor’s website, “Jackson’s songs are so real and honest, you know straight off he’s been there and done that.” Jackson Taylor and the Sinners play Friday, Aug. 31 (7:30 p.m., 21-and-over, $10 advance, $12 at the door).

Renegade rock’n’roll prophets Three Bad Jacks bring their hard-hitting, propulsive sound to SLO Brew on Saturday, Sept. 1 (7:30 p.m., 21-and-over, $10 advance, $12 at the door). According to promo materials, “High impact, soul deep, thoroughly original, this is uncut rock’n’roll expression that goes upside the head with stunning force.”

Songwriters at Play

Country rocker Stephen Styles is the featured performer at the Songwriters at Play Showcase on Thursday, Aug. 30 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at SLO Down Pub (1200 E. Grand Ave., Arroyo Grande, 481-4067; all ages; pass the hat). This Buellton-based singer/songwriter is no stranger to the showcases. His songs, including “Jesus Drives a Pickup Truck” and “Set ’em Up, Shoot ’em Down,” are aimed straight at the country charts. Styles has a voice that’s in demand at Nashville recording studios, and his songs are being recorded by up-and-coming country stars such as Scott Lindsey. Guest performers at the showcase include Santa Barbara’s Karen Thurber, and the Hawaiian music of Mo and Eddy the Genial Howlies.

Soulful folksinger Brindl debuts at Sculpterra Winery (5015 Linne Road, Paso Robles, 226-8881; all ages; pass the hat) on Sunday, Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. Brindl’s music has flavors of blues and jazz mixed in with folk, in the same vein as Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin. Raised in Northern California, Brindle grew up listening to vinyl records of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, plus ’80s pop radio and big band jazz. After earning a degree in film school, Brindl recorded her first full-length album Acoustic Heart in her bedroom in 2008, inspiring two West Coast tours. Sample tracks from her latest CD, Shine, are available at brindl.com. As usual, other singer/songwriters will play four-song sets during the showcase.

Local singer/songwriter/guitarist Ted Waterhouse has to be the quintessential Songwriter at Play, and in honor of his birthday, a showcase on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at Kreuzberg in downtown SLO will feature his music, played by others (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). Waterhouse is currently working with blues/soul/Americana act The Blue Souls as well as the swing jazz group the Viper Six. Employing standard acoustic and bottleneck slide guitar, Waterhouse plays a wide variety of music, from the classic styles of Delta, Chicago, and jump blues to rockabilly, rock’n’roll, swing jazz, honky tonk country, and folk. And he’s an award winner: first place for songwriting in the 2010 New Times Music Awards, for “Fire Season.” The lineup includes Bob & Wendy, Peter Yelda, Randall Lamb, Craig Louis Dingman, Jody Mulgrew, Steve Key, Ynana Rose, Kate Wells, and Molly Reeves, all covering his tunes.

The backyard is best

It’s billed as a house concert, but this show is actually taking place in the lovely lawn-filled backyard at the Inglish Family residence in Garden Farms, featuring four fun bands.

Evie Ladin and Keith Terry are headlining the show. As Erin Inglish writes, “If you have seen Evie Ladin, then no explanation is needed. If you have not yet seen this amazing lady perform, then you must. She sings. She writes great songs. She rules the banjo. She dances like nobody’s business.” The polyrhythmic funk of Evie Ladin’s clawhammer banjo, resonant voice, real stories, and rhythmic dance has been heard everywhere from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

The founder of the International Body Music Festival, Keith Terry is a renowned percussionist and rhythm dancer who adds what Inglish calls “delightfully unusual elements” to the show.

Also on the bill is Inglish and Louise, comprised of singer/songwriter and banjo player Erin Inglish and singer/songwriter/guitarist Gabrielle Louise. Get ready for tight harmonies and original folk songs with a positive message.

Local bluegrass Americana favorites Cuesta Ridge will no doubt get the folks out of their lawn chairs for some dancing on a warm summer evening. This all-acoustic group of superb pickers features Toan Chau (guitar, vocals), Patrick Pearson (guitar, vocals), Dan Keller (mandolin, vocals), Brent Vander Weide (percussion, vocals), Matt Reeder (bass, vocals), and Allan Dick (fiddle, vocals).

Opening the concert will be the Rockabelles, two generations of local talent featuring Emy Bruzzo and her daughters.

The show starts at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept 2 at 17404 Walnut Ave. in Garden Farms, near Santa Margarita. Bring your own lawn chairs, blankets, picnic, and beverages. Suggested donation is $30. Reservations are available by calling 748-2998 or e-mailing einglish@gmail.com.

Roll out the red carpet!

The esteemed judges for the New Times Music Awards have made their selections for the winners in five musical genres, and now it’s your turn to enjoy some of SLO County’s best musical performers.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Thursday, Sept. 6, when this year’s winners of the coveted Newties will gather at SLO Brew. That’ll be your chance to hear live performances by some of the area’s best local musicians. Set to perform in the country/folk/Americana category is Emily Wryn. Taktical throws down the hip hop, and Dr. Danger will be representing the R&B/blues category. From the rock/alternative category comes The Swan Thief. Closing out the show is the reggae/worldbeat band Zongo All-Stars. One of these acts will win the Best Live Performer award, judged on the spot.

First, second, and third place winners in each category, plus best song and best album, will be there to find out what place they won and pick up their awards.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the all-ages show, music starts at 7 p.m., and tickets cost $8 at the door.

More music …

Southern California surf rock band Aloha Radio is stopping in SLO County on their first West Coast tour, in support of their EP, Big Wave Madness. The band already has a strong SoCal following, after kicking off the Doheny Days Music Festival, and performing with Ben Harper, Weezer, Black Uhuru, and many others. Aloha Radio will make waves at Marisol at the Cliffs in Shell Beach on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 4 p.m.

Get ready for some wildly improvisational rock, blues, and Americana when One Time Spaceman takes the stage at the Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos on Saturday, Sept. 1. Featuring mostly original tunes, the band’s lineup includes local favorites Mark Adams, Dylan Johnson, Jacob Odell, and Chandler Smiley.

It’s Baywood Park’s feel-good community event of the year. Bayfest is a free concert right on the water, in the beautiful gardens of the Back Bay Inn, on Sunday, Sept. 2. Kicking off this year’s show at 2 p.m. is Café Musique, with its celebrated, fun gypsy/tango sound. And speaking of fun, Zongo All-Stars performs their can’t-sit-still mix of reggae and world-beat music till the sun goes down.

Red Eye Junction is celebrating the release of their fourth album. Known as the past, present, and future of country music, Red Eye Junction dishes up some new tunes at Frog and Peach on Wednesday, Sept. 5. St. James Infirmary opens the show, so what are you waiting for?

Contributing writer Kathy Johnston is filling in for Glen Starkey while he’s off getting married. Send congratulations to gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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