Last year, New Times decided the SLO County music scene had grown so much that it needed an annual guide that would list all bands, solo artists, and live DJs in the county as well as all music-related businesses such as recording studios, live music venues, equipment rental enterprises, sound engineers, and so on. That way, anyone searching for a band or DJ for a party or wedding reception could peruse our county’s awesome selection of artists, and any bands could peruse our local music resources for whatever they needed, from studio time to PA systems.
We’ve been actively compiling these listings for Soundcheck, the county’s first all-inclusive music reference guide, which hits the street on Thursday, Aug. 6. We’re asking those involved in the music scene to send their info to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to send your info for publication is Monday, June 15.
Meanwhile, New Times also decided SLO County should have its own music awards. The Bay Area has the Bammies, the Bay Area Music Awards. Los Angeles has the L.A. Music Awards. New Times has the New Times Music Awards, the Newties! Since we began publicizing the contest, entries have been streaming in, but there’s still time to enter. The deadline is also Monday, June 15, and you’ll find an entry form on page 76.
We’ll have five judges, including me, doing blind listens (we won’t know from whom the entries have come) to each track entered, and we’ll come to a consensus on the best performance of an original song by a band (plus second and third place), the best performance of an original song by a solo artist (plus second and third), and best overall song. It’s conceivable that one of these best band or solo artist winners may also win the best song category. Artists can enter up to five tracks.
We’ll be judging bands and solo artists based not only on their original material but also how well they perform. The best song portion of the competition will be judged solely on the quality of the lyrics and melody of the song.
The competition concludes with a benefit concert at Downtown Brew featuring the three top bands and three top solo performers, where they’ll receive their awards and prizes. These winners as well as other honorable mentions will be included in the New Times Music Awards compilation CD, which will be available at the benefit.
If you’re a musician or you know one, encourage them to enter today! New Times’ annual competition will honor the pool of SLO County talent this year and for years to come.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD
- YOUNG GUN SLINGER : Blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who plays May 24 at the Avila Beach Blues Festival, most recently recorded an album with his musical heroes, including B.B. King and Honeyboy Edwards.
Two years ago, Kenny Wayne Shepherd came to the Avila Beach Blues Festival and knocked the crowd on its ass. This Sunday the young blues guitar slinger returns with Susan Tedeschi and Shemekia Copeland during the 16th Annual Avila Beach Blues Festival.
Shepherd’s story is an amazing one. He began playing at age 7, picking out Muddy Waters tunes by ear. At 13 he got his first real gig, invited onstage by the New Orleans bluesman Bryan Lee. Today, a youthful 31, he’s already got 18 years of professional experience behind him!
More than that, this skinny, blond white kid from Shreveport, Louisiana has serious credibility with those who count the most: American’s living blues legacy. His most recent project, 10 Days Out, found Shepherd traversing America to play and record with such folks as B.B. King, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, David “Honeyboy” Edwards, George “Wild Child” Butler, and a dozen other famed bluesmen.
Shepherd spoke to New Times via phone two years ago.
New Times On 10 Days Out, you essentially cede the spotlight to others. Was that hard on your ego?
Kenny Wayne Shepherd No, not at all. It was quite easy, really. I have a lot of respect for these musicians, so it actually came quite natural for me. I was playing a role similar to the role of Johnny Winter back in the ’70s when he produced and played on Muddy Waters’ recordings. Backing Muddy up didn’t make him any less of a musician, and doing this recording fulfilled a big dream for me. It’s become an important part of my life and I’m very proud of these recordings.
New Times What did you learn or take away from your experience working with these blues greats?
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Every day was something different: learning about their lives, hearing them talk about working out in the cotton fields for 50 cents a day from sun up to sun down, hearing stories firsthand. And musically it was great. At one point John Dee Holeman played something on guitar and I had to make him stop and go back and show me how he did it. It was about making friends and playing with my musical heroes.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd appears with Susan Tedeschi and Shemekia Copeland on Sunday, May 24 at the Avila Beach Resort Beach Bowl for the 16th Annual Avila Beach Blues Festival. Gates open at noon and the show starts at 1:30 p.m. Reserved theater-style, table seating, and general admission lawn tickets ($35 to $55) are available at all VALLITIX outlets including Boo Boo Records in SLO, the Mustang Ticket Office on the Cal Poly Campus, and at the Mid-State Fairgrounds Box Office in Paso Robles; online at vallitix.com, or by phone at (888) 825-5484.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JACKIE GREENEPHOTO COURTESY OF JACKIE GREENE
- GREENE IS GOOD : On May 21, Jackie Greene returns to Downtown Brew to spread his amazing Americana sounds.
Oh great and powerful Downtown Brew, why do you keep exhausting me with your relentlessly good shows? I’m tired, but you keep making me go out on weeknights! Are you mad at me, or something?
On Thursday, May 21, you’ve got Jackie Greene coming back to spread his amazing Americana sounds. Sure, I love him as a member of Skinny Singers with Mother Hips frontman Tim Bluhm, but he’s too incredible to pass up solo. And to top it off, Still Time’s Dan Curcio is opening with a special acoustic set (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older, $15 presale or $17 at the door).
Thanks for giving me Friday night off, but come Saturday, May 23, I’ll be drawn down to the club to see rock, reggae, dub artists Tomorrows Bad Seeds with opening act Bare Feet. How can I resist when Seeds mixes soul and hip-hop into their already eclectic musical mélange? (8 p.m.; all-ages; $8).
On Sunday, May 24, you’re hosting a steel-cage death match of Beirut, played to the funky sounds of local heroes Siko. If you’re playing in the tourney, it’s $30 (register at dtbrew.com), or you can pay $5 at the door to watch the tourney and listen to the band. It starts at 5 p.m. and you must be 21-and-older.
There’s apparently no rest for the wicked, as you’re also forcing me to return to the Brew on Tuesday, May 26 to see Propagandhi, punkveterans touring in support of their fifth studio release Supporting Caste. The Winnipeg-based punk ass-kickers have delivered 12 new laments on Caste, including a meditation on “the humane slaughter and consumption of non-vegans in an elaborate 18-course banquet (with wine pairings).” (8 p.m.; 16-and-older; $16 presale or $18 at the door).
Downtown Brew, I don’t know whether I should kiss you or punch you. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF BUTCH BOSWELL
- HE’S TOTALLY BUTCH : Butch Boswell, he of The Muses and Virgil Cane, plays Mother’s Tavern’s regular Thursday night acoustic show this May 21.
What happens when you get married and open a business? You drop out of sight. At least that’s what seemed to happen to Butch Boswell, he of The Muses and Virgil Cane. Now, even though his guitar repair and sales business is super busy and he’s gone and knocked up his wife (they’re expecting in July), he’s decided to stretch himself a little thinner by playing Mother’s Tavern’s regular Thursday night acoustic show on Thursday, May 21.
“I went by for the last show with Tim Jackson, and it was kind of what you’d expect: touristy, with not much attention being paid to the stage. What’s up with music in this town?” asked Butch. “Anyway, it’s got potential, and I think if there was a bit more of a crowd there, that actually came for the music, it might be pretty good. I’m there this Thursday from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Think you could throw a word out?”
Done and done.
Hot on the heels of their opening gig for Charlie Daniels, Cuesta Ridge is ready to take their pyrotechnic bluegrass experience to the beach. See the acoustic folk and beyond act at the Cliffs this Friday, May 22 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Winery Vina Robles is hosting a summer concert series starting on Friday, May 22 with Kenny Blackwell and Dorian Michael. The 7 p.m. concert costs $18. Call 227-4812.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF AMANDA HOLMES
- SHE’LL SING HER HEART OUT : Amanda Holmes (pictured) and Shani Shousterman play Linnaea’s Café on May 22.
- PHOTO BY MANUELE PHOTOGRAPHY
You can get a double shot of the Dub Seeds when they play Friday, May 22 at Frog and Peach (10:30 p.m.) and then Saturday, May 23 at Mongo’s (9 p.m.). Reggae, rock, and Seedy fun!
On Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m., Steynberg Gallery is hosting Occupied, the Whittle and Sprawl multimedia performance about “the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and American minds.” Leralee Whittle and Paul Sprawl dance, sing, and play on stage with video and audio recording in this event that makes obvious what corporate media and the USA avoids. Presale tickets (brownpapertickets.com) are $12 or pay $15 at the door.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF HOT ROD TRIO
- CARS, GIRLS, ROCKABILLY! : West Coast Kustoms Cruisin' Nationals at the Santa Maria Fairpark will be filled with cars and music this weekend, and on May 23, so will Santa Maria’s Rancho Bowl when The Hydramatics, Hot Rod Trio (pictured), and Three Bad Jacks play.
West Coast Kustoms Cruisin’ Nationals at the Santa Maria Fairpark will definitely be worth the drive down to Santa Maria this weekend. On Saturday, May 23, you’ll hear The Hydramatics (11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.); Rumble Kings (1:15 to 2:30); and the Vargas Bros (2:45 to 4). On Sunday, May 24, hear The Hydramatics 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and then Vargas Bros (12:45 to 2). Rancho Bowl will also get in on the rockabilly car show weekend by hosting a concert on Saturday, May 23 at 8 p.m. with The Hydramatics, Hot Rod Trio, and Three Bad Jacks.
Devastating Karate, Venice Beach’s own country-punks, return to Frog and Peach on Saturday, May 23, playing songs from their forthcoming new album The Awesome Depression. Check ’em out at 10 p.m.
Nothing Room recording artists Dubious Ranger, a San Francisco band that just released its third full-length album, Uneasy Truce at the Watering Hole, hits Frog and Peach on Sunday, May 24. Playing a dance-y and psychedelic brand of indie rock, they’ve been described as “Franz Ferdinand with a Wild West twist.” Check ’em at 10 p.m.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER HAWLEY
- HAWLEY ROLLER : Jangle-guitaring surfer Christopher Hawley will play songs from his album The Roots of the Tree during a special acoustic set at Frog and Peach on May 27.
Pledge your allegiance!
One of the best things about living within earshot of Cal Poly is KCPR, the university’s student-run radio station. It’s an amazing resource, allowing music lovers to discover the sorts of up-and-coming bands that never get a shot at commercial radio. KCPR listeners know that “I heard it here first feeling,” and it’s a feeling you should get to know, too. You can start by tuning into 91.3FM this week and listening to some music and supporting the little station that could, during its 40th Annual Pledge Drive!
Tune into the nonprofit station between Monday, May 25 and Friday May 29 to make pledges to the station and, as a thank you, receive throw-ins of station merchandise, T-shirts, sunglasses, CDs, concert tickets, and more. Your help is essential to support progressive music on KCPR and is vital to continuing programming and keeping the station running.
Don’t let this amazing flower dry up and die!
Glen Starkey’s so poor he wishes he had a dime for every dime he doesn’t have. Fiscally stimulate him at email@example.com.
Townes Van Zandt existed just beneath the topsoil of popular appeal. A lesser known name, his songs, nonetheless, have echoed out the mouth of Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, and famously, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson in their cover of his “Pancho And Lefty.” His death in 1997 left behind a host of musicians who considered him their “center,” none more than Steve Earle, whose son carries the Texas singer-songwriter name. On Townes, Earle pays tribute to his hero with a 15-song set of Van Zandt covers. With his sandpaper-edged voice, Earle sifts through this collection with the ease of a late-night session. His stripped down, unvarnished versions of “Colorado Girl” and “Pancho And Lefty” are both weighted with a heavy heart. “Delta Momma Blues” lightens the mood with back-porch western swing, sweetened with mandolins and banjos. And appropriately, on “Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold,” Earle duets with his son, Justin Townes Earle, each spitting their lyrics with the sneer of outlaw country, and completing a circle for Earle’s musical life.
Leaving California for the interior land of Montana, Jason Lytle essentially retired from music, with Granddaddy fans holding tight to the minor masterpiece Sophtware Slump as proof something dazzling could come out of Modesto. But with a listen to the release of his first solo album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, Lytle has returned to the spacey, warm, vintage electronics that percolate beneath his brand of lo-fi indie rock. He’s essentially remerged wearing with the Granddaddy sweater, mothballs shaken loose, and the fit is still perfect. “I may be limping, but I’m coming home,” he announces on the opening tracks, and it’s true. He’s recaptured the lush, analog friendliness with these home recordings, a dusty mixture of the golden-hued synths, the folker end of indie rock, and atmospheric electronics. Freed from the weight of expectation, Lytle has settled down, releasing his best work in almost a decade. Fans won’t be disappointed, and new listeners may have a feast backtracking into his early works.
—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and mikovision.blogspot.com, where you’ll find archived reviews and soundclips.