His hair isn't very red anymore and he's certainly no stranger to audiences, but Willie Nelson is still known worldwide as the Red Headed Stranger, a true living legend whose music ("Crazy," "Hello Walls," "Whisky River") and exploits (tax evasion, marijuana advocacy, Farm Aid) have made him an outlaw superstar for six decades.
On Friday, Feb. 8, he plays the Alex Madonna Expo Center with his sister Bobbie Nelson, who's been in Willie's band for 30 years but recently released her own debut solo album titled Audiobiography. Willie recently released a new studio album, too, titled Moment of Forever.
Born in Abbott, Texas, Willie and Bobbie were raised by their paternal grandparents who encouraged both children to play music. While Willie went on to superstardom, piano-playing Bobbie seemed satisfied to fill a supporting role until now. At age 76 (Willie will be 75 come April), Bobbie tells her life's story through a collection of her 12 favorite songs, two featuring brother Willie singing and playing guitar with her.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF WILLIE NELSON
- LIVING LEGEND : American icon Willie Nelson and his sister Bobbie both celebrate the release of new studio albums with a show at the Alex Madonna Expo Center on Feb. 8.
# Bobbie decided to step into the solo spotlight after longtime family friend Randall Jamail, founder and A&R director of Justice Records, asked her if she'd ever considered writing her autobiography. Bobbie said she could only tell her life story through music, so Jamail offered her the chance to do so with an album on his label.
"When we were talking about it, I never thought at the time it would be something I would really do," Bobbie said in press materials. "I guess I've always been a little shy about that. But then Willie also suggested that I do it, and that seemed to be the point where I got really serious about it."
"It's long overdue," her brother, Willie, added. "Whenever our band plays, Sister Bobbie is the best musician on the stage. She knows what I'm going to do even before I do sometimes."
Meanwhile, Willie is also promoting a new album, this one co-produced by Kenny Chesney, who lends his voice to a few duets. If the title Moment of Forever sounds familiar, that's because it's the name of a Kris Kristofferson album and song, which Willie covers, along with songs by Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, Dave Matthews, and Big Kenny.
If you haven't yet bought tickets for this historic concert, you'd better get to it. There were just 300 seats remaining last Tuesday to see this eight-time Grammy Award-winner and his talented sister. This is an all-ages show with a full bar available for those 21 and older. Doors open at 7 p.m. Advance reserved tickets are $65 to $85, plus a handling fee, and general admission tickets are $50 (standing room only). Pick 'em up at all Vallitix locations, including Boo Boo Records in San Luis Obispo, the Mustang Ticket Office on the Cal Poly campus, and the California Mid-State Fair Box Office in Paso Robles. Charge by phone at 1-888-825-5484. Order online at www.vallitix.com. This concert is produced by Otter Productions Inc.
Pop princes of mash-ups
- PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT BARNES
- SMASHING MASH-UPS : Bedouin Soundclash brings its innovative mix of reggae, rock, punk, and soul to Downtown Brew on Feb. 8.
# Fusing reggae, rock, punk, and soul, Bedouin Soundclash creates a sound that's freaking hotsy-totsy! Exotic yet familiar, their style blends the trio's various musical interests.
"Unlike most musicians who try to mimic their musical idols, Bedouin Soundclash forges their own musical path, creating music embodying each member's personal and diverse musical preferences," claims their press materials. I believe!
They got their name from an album by Israeli fusion artist/producer Badawi, a 1996 release that paid homage to nomadic the Arabic poet tribe of Bedouins. Bedouin Soundclash--the band--formed in 2001 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and in 2002 they recorded their debut album, Root Fire, which combined dancehall, hip-hop, dub, reggae, and R&B with elements of punk and electro.
The record blew up in Canada, and the band spent the next two years playing a string of sold-out shows before returning to the studio to record their sophomore effort, Sounding a Mosaic (produced by legendary punk-reggae bass player Daryl Jenifer of Bad Brains), which again exploded on commercial radio and video stations across Canada with the hit single "When the Night Feels My Song."
In 2006, they were invited to play the Juno Awards (the equivalent of our Grammys) alongside Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas, and they took home the "New Group of the Year" award.
The band's new album, Street Gospels, was released last year and featured the singles "Walls Fall Down" and "1259 Lullaby," the latter appearing on the hit TV series Grey's Anatomy.
Check out Bedouin Soundclash on Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Downtown Brew. This 18-and-older show costs $10 in advance, and like the aforementioned Willie Nelson show (on the same night, damn!), will likely sell out too, so buy your tickets now! Westbound Train and Beat Union will open.
I can't tell you much about Westbound Train, but Beat Union moved from the UK to Los Angeles and recorded its debut release Disconnected with John Feldmann of Goldfinger-fame producing. They've toured with Taking Back Sunday, Goldfinger, Hit the Lights, and Alexisonfire, and they've been touted by UK rock zines Metal Hammer and Kerrang!
Drink up the music of Cafe Musique
Whoa! Oh my God! Hell's bells! The debut album by Cafe Musique is wicked good! The local quartet has delivered an amazing collection of classical and ethnic folk tunes that flit effortlessly between American, Hungarian, French, Latin, Finnish, Polish, Russian, and Brazilian idioms. M'wah! A big kiss to them for their killer new recording The Dancer, introduced to the public in two
- PHOTO COURTESY OF MANUELE PHOTOGRAPHY
- AMERICAN GYPSIES : Cafe Musique plays two album release parties to celebrate their stunning new CD, The Dancer: Feb. 9 at Trinity Church in Los Osos, and Feb. 10 at the Cambria Presbyterian Church.
I seriously can't say enough good things about this album, which demonstrates a level of musicianship and an emotional impact rarely found. Credit goes to this amazing quartet of players: violinist Brynn Albanese, a fearless player who's done stints with some of the world's great orchestras bassist-percussionist-vocalist Piper Heisig, veteran of a number of well-known bands, such as Cats & Jammers and These Darn Accordions accordionist Duane Inglish, founding member of the Live Oak Music Festival and KCBX DJ for his 16-year-old public radio show "Basically Bluegrass" and guitarist vocalist Craig Nuttycombe, former A&M Records recording artist who's worked with members of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and Three Dog Night, among others.
This is a must-have recording for fans of Gypsy folk!
The Great White (Cal Poly) Way
For fans of opera and Broadway musicals, Cal Poly Arts has really been delivering the goods. Now, theater fans have two classics to choose from.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CAL POLY ARTS
- VA-VA-VROOM! : The national touring production of the classic Broadway musical Gypsy plays on Feb. 14 in the Cohan Center.
# Teatro Lirico D'Europa, one of Europe's most popular international touring opera companies, has a new full-stage production of Giacomo Puccini's haunting tragedy, Tosca, playing a return engagement on Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m. in the Cohan Center.
Tosca is a tragic story set in Rome at the time of Napoleon's advance on the city, sung in Italian with English supertitles.
A pre-show lecture by Cal Poly Music Department professor Jacalyn Kreitzer will be held at 7 p.m. in the Gallery Level lobby of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $42 to $54, with student discounts available on all seats, and may be purchased at the PAC Ticket Office or by calling 756-2787.
The national touring production of Gypsy plays at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Cohan Center, a production about which Newsweek gushes, "Hey, it's not called a classic for nothing."
Based on the memoirs of entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, Gypsy weaves a compelling tale about Rose, an overbearing stage mother determined to make her girls vaudeville stars. Rose overwhelmingly favors her younger daughter, June, who headlines the act, while Louise is relegated to the chorus. Rose eventually turns her attention to her older daughter, but Louise discovers her own talent and becomes a bigger star than Rose ever dreamed possible.
The original production starred Ethel Merman as Mama Rose and was directed by Jerome Robbins. It was an instant hit when it opened at the Broadway Theatre in 1959. You'll hear enduring Broadway classics such as "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Rose's Turn," "Some People," "You Gotta Have A Gimmick," and "Together, Wherever We Go."
Tickets range from $56 to $68 and may be purchased at the PAC Ticket Office or by calling 756-2787.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JON AND DEANNA RAMSAY
- LOVE SONGS FOR LOVERS BY LOVERS : Jon and Deanna Ramsay, who have sung to U.S. Armed Forces and for an array of audiences throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, play Feb. 14 for a gala Valentine's event at the Worship Center in Paso Robles.
# What better way to celebrate your love than by listening to two performers who are in love singing to you and your love? Jon and Deanna Ramsay, who have sung to U.S. Armed Forces and for an array of audiences in the United States, Canada, and Europe, will return on Thursday, Feb. 14, for a gala Valentine's event at the Worship Center (17th and Park Street in Paso Robles) sponsored by Harvest Bible Church. Along with the Ramsays will be comedian Eric Simpson and his wife Julie, from Hume Lake. The two couples have become good friends recently, as they have conducted romantic weekends together for couples interested in enhancing the romance in their relationships. Hubba hubba!
McGee's Catering will begin the evening with a sumptuous dinner: Entrees include sausage-stuffed pork loin or chicken piccata, complete with garlic potatoes, sauteed fresh green beans, a selection of rolls and foccacia bread, topped off with white chocolate cheesecake and raspberries. Salad and beverages of Champagne, nonalcoholic punch, coffee, and water will round out the dinner.
Tickets for the semi-formal event, a nonprofit affair, are $30 per person. For more info, call 466-9203 or 239-7703.
Psychobilly ?berstars Horrorpops drop their nasty bomb of revved up fun on Downtown Brew on Thursday, Feb. 7, for a 7 p.m. 16-and-older show that costs $14 advance (at Boo Boo's or the venue) or $15 at the door. This is a band with baditude! Pink Spiders will open.
Guitarist-singer-composer Leo Kottke plays a solo concert at Arroyo Grande's Clark Center on Friday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. The extraordinary guitarist hasn't been to the Central Coast for two years, so I imagine local fans have been chomping at the bit for some of Kottke's homespun wisdom, charming stories, and exceptional guitar playing skills. The deep-talking Midwestern raconteur is known for his quick wit, faux-cantankerous demeanor, and astounding virtuosity on the six- and 12- string guitars. Tickets are available at the Clark Center box office, by calling 489-9444, or by going online at www.clarkcenter.org.
Japan's Bright Gem Ensemble returns to Cambria on Friday, Feb.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF LEO KOTTKE
- MIDWESTERN RACONTEUR : Guitarist-singer-composer Leo Kottke plays a solo concert at Arroyo Grande's Clark Center on Feb. 8, delivering homespun wisdom, charming stories, and exceptional guitar playing skills.
Adam Balbo plays a free acoustic show at Linnaea's Cafe on Friday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. with John Larson and iamb. Balbo reminds me of Jonathan Richman, especially on "Samba Blues," a super fun novelty song you can hear on www.myspace.com/adambalbo.
Jade Jackson, winner of the 2007 SLO County West Coast Songwriters Competition, plays The Porch Cafe in Santa Margarita on Friday, Feb. 8, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Check out her lovely original folks songs for free! For more info, call 438-3376.
If y'all need to get yer country on, check out Red Eye Junction and Brian Jay & The Last Call Boys when they play a double bill at Sweet Springs Saloon on Friday, Feb. 8, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.
Feeling the need for speed? Good old greasy, pedal-to-the-metal roots rock and rockabilly speed? Check out the Cadillac Angels and The Ballistic Cats when they play a double bill at Mongo's Saloon at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. at Frog and Peach on Saturday, Feb. 9 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 10, at Painted Sky Studios in Cambria.
Several of Cal Poly's finest student ensembles will perform traditional and contemporary chamber music at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, in the Old Mission Church in San Luis Obispo. Hear the Wind Quintets, Trombone Choir, Clarinet Ensemble, Brass Quintets, Saxophone Quartets, Brass Choir, and Horn Ensemble. Tickets are $8 and $10, available at the PAC Ticket Office or by calling 756-2787.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF ADAM BALBO
- DA-DA-DA-DA-BAL-BO! K'POW! : Indie artist and Batman aficionado Adam Balbo brings his acoustic folk rock to Linnaea's Cafe on Feb. 8.
# Pianist-composer Frank French will play a special performance with violinist Paul Severtson on Sunday, Feb. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m. in Congregation Beth David's lovely new temple (10180 Los Osos Valley Road). Hear traditional and original music--tangos and other Latin-flavored music, and ragtime--for a mere $20 ($10 for students). Call 544-0760 for more info.
Austin-based singer-songwriter Eric Hisaw has embarked on his first full slate of shows in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, which includes a stop at the Clubhouse on Tuesday. Feb. 12. Hisaw's latest release, The Crosses, spent some time near the top of both the Euro-Americana and Freeform American Roots Charts, and last October he debuted in the U.K. playing a string of club dates and the Ullapool Guitar Festival. Stylewise, think folk/country greats like Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson. Check him out at www.myspace.com/erichisaw.
Mark your calendar for the return of the B-Side Players, who return to Downtown Brew for Valentine's Day (the club's having a dinner-for-two-special that night, too) on Thursday, Feb. 14. Touring in support of their newest album, Fire in the Youth, the group plays a groovy, danceable mix of pan-Latin-, Caribbean-, and Brazilian-derived party music. Dance your butt off with that certain someone--it's like foreplay! The 18-and-older show costs $10 in advance (and you get the two-for-one dinner deal), or $12 at the door.
Tickets for the happiest concert on Earth go on sale Tuesday!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIC HISAW
- COWBOY LOGIC : Countrified Austin-based singer-songwriter Eric Hisaw plays the Clubhouse on Feb. 12.
# This summer--on Sunday, June 8, at 2 p.m. to be exact--the San Luis Obispo Symphony, under the direction of Michael Nowak, will make its debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and tickets for this landmark event will go on sale Tuesday, Feb. 5, beginning at 10 a.m. online at www.ticketmaster.com and locally through Gulliver's Travel in SLO.
The concert showcases new music by Los Osos composer and Cal Poly Music Department faculty member Dr. Craig H. Russell, and will feature special guest artists performing with the orchestra in three different Russell compositions: Concierto Rom?ntico, a guitar concerto featuring Spanish guitarist Jose MarÃa Gallardo del Rey Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra with acclaimed French horn virtuoso Richard Todd and Ecos arm€nicos with Grammy-winning violinist Kathleen Lenski.
Tickets and complete travel packages to Los Angeles for the concert, including transportation, lodging, meals, and extras, are available locally through Gulliver's Travel in San Luis Obispo by calling 541-4141.
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The Lions--Jungle Struttin'
# With all of the righteous spirituality and connection to consciousness that is roots reggae, you couldn't be blamed for not thinking of Los Angeles as a growing ground for the Rasta. But recently, the City of Angels has managed to assemble quite an arsenal of musicians dedicated to the heavyweight sound of soul (Breakestra, Connie Price and the Keystones, Orgone) as well as a monthly haven for its celebration (Little Temple Bar). Now, emerging from this creative cluster is the Jamaican-inspired outfit, The Lions. Birthed from impromptu recording sessions by members of the bands listed above--as well the Rhythm Roots All-Stars, Plant Life, and Macy Gray--their debut album, Jungle Struttin', is a thick slice of Lee Perry dub, but deft enough to tackle a Lucho Bermudez-inspired Cumbia ("Cumbia Del Leon") and with funk licks for a marvelous rendition of Lyn Collins' funky female ode, "Think." Another solid Ubiquity label release.
Helio Sequence--Keep Your Eyes Ahead
# Immediately lifting off into the clouds with its first track, "Lately," the Portland duo Helio Sequence somehow captures the dreamy mood of Band of Horses with just four hands. With a readjusted sound after their previous tour left singer/guitarist Brandon Summers with a shredded vocal chord, Keep Your Eyes Ahead trades any previous electronic noisiness for the shoegaze-pop of Echo and the Bunnymen at their most commercial (think Ocean Rain, side B). With Benjamin Weikel providing a crisp, pushing drum beat along with ambient-layered keys, Summers' guitar expands to cover every square inch of available sound with cavernous reverb and fuzz. It's not until you hit the folksy, Dylanesque song "Shed Your Love"--minimally, yet lushly arranged--that you realize how intoxicating this album can be. Not every track hits this mark, which is a shame, because Helio Sequence could have released a dreamy pop perfection. Instead, we have to settle with quite good.
--Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX's "Night Train."
Glen Starkey hasn't invented a new sin, but he's trying to perfect some old ones. Absolve him at email@example.com.