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Party time! 

Bloc Party gets the party started before it's over

click to enlarge JOIN THE PARTY :  British rockers Bloc Party play the SLO Vets Hall on April 19. - PHOTO BY STEVE GULLICK
  • JOIN THE PARTY : British rockers Bloc Party play the SLO Vets Hall on April 19.

Are the tides turning for marijuana advocates? With Bush out of the White House and Obama allowing states with medical marijuana laws to operate unfettered by the threat of federal intervention, it seems as though the tone has changed, and as more and more Americans come to the realization that they were misled about the so-called “evil weed,” and that marijuana was demonized through racist, government-led propaganda, and more importantly, that people who smoke it don’t turn into crazed, ax-wielding, homicidal maniacs, marijuana is threatening to become mainstream. There’s even a bill by a California politician that aims to legalize the drug for all and tax its sale to help our cash-strapped state. I bring up all this reasonable pragmatism and commonsense thinking to point out that once the counterculture becomes the culture, 4/20 celebrations will no doubt lose their oomph. So you need to get ’em while they’re hot, and one of the hottest is the Bloc Party show at the SLO Vets Hall this Sunday, April 19 (even dope smokers have to work on Mondays!).

The British band has drawn comparisons to The Cure, Joy Division, Sonic Youth, and Radiohead due to their moody rock milieu and edgy, potent live shows. Formed in 1999, they settled on the name Bloc Party in 2003 and released their critically acclaimed debut Silent Alarm in 2005. Now touring in support of their third album, Intimacy (Atlantic Records), the band has developed a sound that mixes “dense, danceable rhythms with spiky, adrenaline-powered guitars.”

The new recording even got Rolling Stone excited: It “has the raw feel of a live album, despite the layers of swirling keyboards and samplers. Frontman Kele Okereke treats his voice like a strange instrument, chopping it up and dropping it into the mix ... he sounds liberated ... he makes Intimacy a confident new peak for his band ... a seamless rock record—their most dynamic yet.”

Menomena opens this 6 p.m., all-ages show. Advance tickets are $26 (at Boo Boo’s or or $28 at the door.

4/20 in Pozo

Hippies and stoners will surely outnumber Pozo’s rural residents tenfold or more this Sunday, April 19 when yet another 4/20 party offers up a place for celebration. Billed as the 2nd Annual 420 Celebration, Pozo Saloon will host Black Uhuru founder Don Carlos, Sambada, Resination, and local DJ KatchaFiya during a 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. afternoon concert.

click to enlarge TALK TO THE DON :  Don Carlos, founder of Black Uhuru, plays Pozo Saloon’s 2nd Annual 420 party on April 19. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DON CARLOS
  • TALK TO THE DON : Don Carlos, founder of Black Uhuru, plays Pozo Saloon’s 2nd Annual 420 party on April 19.
Don Carlos (born Euvin Spencer) hails from one of Jamaica’s most impoverished areas, the Western Kingston district notoriously known as Waterhouse, which also spawned such reggae greats as King Tubby, The Jays, Junior Reid, and King Jammy, to name but a few.

Sambada mixes hard-hitting dance music with a colorful live show that feels like Brazilian carnival. Resination, now a decade old, is one of SLO County’s most venerated and loved reggae acts. DJ KatchaFiya will spin unifying, positive dancehall sounds between the live acts.

Tickets are on sale at Cheap Thrills, Aardvark Music, online at, or by phone at (888) 512-SHOW.

Hurray for Record Store Day

I still don’t have an iPod. I’m not judging, mind you, but I prefer my music a tad more tangible and certainly more substantial than a punk Mp3 file. I want to pick up a CD case (or better yet a record album) and read the liner notes, look at photos of the performers, and read about who played on what track. And when I want to buy some new music, I want to talk to a real person who loves music as much as I do, who lives it and breathes it. That’s why I still love record stores. But so many people these days just download their music online. That’s why I fear for record stores’ safety. If they go the way of the dinosaur, we’ll have lost something very special.

Now, in case you haven’t noticed, most national chain record stores are already gone. People who actually do buy CDs go to Wal-Mart or Best Buy, places where music is merely incidental, not a way of life. Independent record stores are the last bastion of the true music lover, and SLO County is blessed with three damn fine ones—and on Saturday, April 18, each of them will be in one way or another celebrating National Record Store Day.

I’m not alone in my love of record stores: “I love the smell of them,” said Neko Case. “I love that people actually care for and know about the music they are selling.”

While Neko won’t be hanging at our record stores in SLO County (as far as I know), she’ll be here in spirit. Join the fun.

Up at Aardvark Music in Paso, they’re having no sales tax all day, free raffles for CDs, records, and T-shirts, various sales of up to 50 percent off, and local bands Green Ribbon and Burning For Bristol playing free in-store concerts from noon to 4 p.m.

Cheap Thrills will have an in-store at 2 p.m. with killer local punk-metal-rock’n’rooooolllll acts The Dirty Nails and Carneys. Check out their massive selection of used CDs and records while you’re in there.

Like last year, Boo Boo Records is offering with any purchase a free hotdog and entry into ticket giveaways to shows at Downtown Brew, Avila Beach, and Santa Barbara Bowl as well as a drawing for a free turntable. There will also be free silk screening all day long in front of the shop (bring your own T-shirt or tote bag). And there will be live music beginning at noon till 8 p.m. from Morgan Enos, Tipsy Gypsies, Booker Tease, Red Eye Junction, Damon Castillo, Travis Larson, Threes and Nines, Quiet Life with Sparrow’s Gate.

More music …

On Thursday, April 16, Downtown Brew hosts a concert to raise awareness and help the homeless at the Prado Day Center. The 18-and-older, 7:30 p.m. show will open with BODY’s funk-rock-reggae, followed by Venice, CA-based The People’s Party, who play “hippy-hop”—a combination of funk, rock, jazz, ska, and hip-hop. A portion of the tickets ($8 advance; $10 at the door) benefit Prado Day Center, and attendees are asked to bring canned goods, clothing, and additional donations. BODY is offering a free Bushworld CD Single and a Funk Fest T-shirt (donated by to the person who brings or sends the most canned goods, donation, or clothing vouchers to the concert.

Christian/R&B/country artist Sonya Diane Jones returns to our area on Friday, April 17. At noon she’ll play for residents and guests at Templeton Gardens and at 3:30 p.m. she’ll play her fourth show at the Manse on Marsh.

The Painted Sky Concert series presents extraordinary acoustic flamenco guitarist Robert Earl Longley on Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m., in Painted Sky Recording Studios. Longley’s distinctive style creates a neo-classical/flamenco fusion of world music. Tickets are $15 (Boo Boo’s, Cambria Business Center, or by calling 927-8330).

Inveterate roots rock/rockabilly/surf band Cadillac Angels will bring its ripping retro guitar sound to Monteleone’s Rock in Paso Robles this Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. “This is our last California gig before we leave for Holland,” frontman Tony Balbinot noted. “We were invited to perform this year at the Moulin Blues Festival on May 2 in the Netherlands. Quite an honor to be on stage with Roomful of Blues, etc.”

Killer punk awaits when TSOL plays Downtown Brew on Friday, April 17 during a 16-and-older, 7:30 p.m., $12 show that also includes opening act Honor Bound Heroes, our own punk legends in the making. TSOL, a politically infused punk act that’s been ripping conservatism’s hypocrisy for nearly 30 years, retains all the intelligence and anger that made them a hit during the Reagan era.

click to enlarge SAUCY SISTER :  Portland-based chanteuse Stephanie Schneiderman plays Linnaea’s Café on April 17. - PHOTO COURTESY OF STEPHANIE SCHNEIDERMAN
  • SAUCY SISTER : Portland-based chanteuse Stephanie Schneiderman plays Linnaea’s Café on April 17.

Portland-based chanteuse Stephanie Schneiderman (she’s also in the band Dirty Martini) will make a stop at Linnaea’s Café on Friday, April 17, at 9 p.m., during an extended West Coast tour to promote her new CD Dangerous Fruit. “I collaborated with prominent electronic producer Keith Schreiner (Dahlia, Sheryl Crow, Mike Elizondo, Minnie Driver) and keyboardist James Beaton (Everclear, Storm, and the Balls),” said Schneiderman. “Our sound is a blend of ambient indie-pop, trip-hop, folk, and soul. Think Goldfrapp, Feist, Suzanne Vega, and Beth Orton.”

click to enlarge STRINGERS :  National Fingerstyle Guitar champion Richard Smith and virtuoso cellist Julie Adams play two SLOFolks concerts this week: April 17 at Coalesce Bookstore and April 18 at Castoro Cellars. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD SMITH AND JULIE ADAMS
  • STRINGERS : National Fingerstyle Guitar champion Richard Smith and virtuoso cellist Julie Adams play two SLOFolks concerts this week: April 17 at Coalesce Bookstore and April 18 at Castoro Cellars.
National Fingerstyle Guitar champion Richard Smith and virtuoso cellist Julie Adams play two SLOFolks concerts this week: Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m. in Coalesce Bookstore (772-2880); and Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Castoro Cellars (238-0725). How good is Smith? Chet Atkins, a not-too-shabby guitarist himself, said Smith is the “most amazing guy I know on the guitar. He can play anything I know, only better.” Tickets are $20.

The 19th annual SLO County Earth Day happens on Saturday, April 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in SLO’s Mission Plaza, and in addition to plenty of earth-friendly vendors and eco-info, there’ll be some great bands. Ras Danny Reggae All-Star and the Ark Roots Band play at noon. BODY delivers some jazz funk at 2 p.m. Sleepy Guitar Johnson plays blues and beyond at 4 p.m. All those happen on the Mission steps. In the Amphitheater at 3 p.m., check out folk rock trio Honeyguide.

Delicious Gypsy jazz, tango, and swing await when Café Musique comes to Steynberg Gallery on Saturday, April 18 (7:30 p.m.; $15; 547-0278). “We’ve got new tunes, added a new bass player (we’re officially a quintet now), and have an upcoming Bay Area tour!” said accordionist Duane Inglish. “As a warm-up to our tour, we’re giving our new repertoire a test drive at the Steynberg Gallery.” During their first-ever Bay Area tour, the group will be making appearances at the internationally renowned jazz club, Kuumbwa, in Santa Cruz, the historic Monterey Live theater in Monterey, and a live appearance at KPIG in Watsonville.

click to enlarge FEED THEM :  Golden Animals play the SLO Arts Center on April 18. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GOLDEN ANIMALS
  • FEED THEM : Golden Animals play the SLO Arts Center on April 18.
Golden Animals play the SLO Arts Center on Saturday, April 18 with Grand Lake, which is Caleb Nichol’s new band (the SLO native was in Port O’Brien and the Bloody Heads). The show is a celebration of Record Store Day. People who show their support of Boo Boo Records in some way (a receipt, for instance, or a Boo Boo’s T-shirt) will pay $8 instead of $10.

Wonder what’s been missing in your life? This: Traditional Tattoo and Downtown Brew have teamed up to co-sponsor SLO Town’s very first Air Guitar Competition, with a $500 tattoo gift certificate put up as the grand prize for the winner. The competition is Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m. (but competitors must be registered beforehand), at Downtown Brew. The format is based around two rounds, with the first round being ‘freestyle’ where the contestant chooses their music and the second round being ‘compulsory’ where the three finalists perform a song chosen by the judging panel. Call 541-8282 to register.

Silver Lake-based percussion-driven indie rockers Local Natives tour in support of Gorilla Manor is hitting Urban Outfitters on Sunday, April 19 for an afternoon free in-store performance.

Sage, master guitarist, and Texas singer-songwriter Eric Taylor plays the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur on Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m. His songs have been performed by such people as Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett, who said, “I’m always the opening act when I’m around Eric. I love his voice, and he has a great narrative quality and sense of detail. He sort of takes you out of your own reality and into the reality of his songs. It’s good writing no matter how you cut it.” Call 831-667-2574 for your $15 tickets. If you miss Taylor in Big Sur, he plays next Friday, April 24 at Green Acres Lavender Farm (7 p.m.; $20; 466-0837).

click to enlarge JAZZ LION :  On April 19, NYC vibraphonist Mark Sherman plays the Hamlet. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK SHERMAN
  • JAZZ LION : On April 19, NYC vibraphonist Mark Sherman plays the Hamlet.
On Sunday, April 19, NYC vibraphonist Mark Sherman plays the next Famous Jazz Artist series concert at the Hamlet in Cambria. Sherman, a recent winner of Downbeat magazine’s rising star award, will be joined by Central Coast stars Dylan Johnson on bass and Darrell Voss on drums. Series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake will also be on hand. There’s a $15 4 p.m. show, a $12 7:15 p.m. show, or see both for $20. Call 927-0567 for reservations.

click to enlarge FOLK HERO :  NYC folk legend Jack Hardy plays the Clubhouse on April 21. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JACK HARDY
  • FOLK HERO : NYC folk legend Jack Hardy plays the Clubhouse on April 21.
NYC folk legend Jack Hardy plays the Clubhouse this Tuesday, April 21 as the main act of the weekly singer-songwriter showcase that starts at 6:30 p.m. Hardy, a gifted singer/songwriter and mentor to other artists, traces his history back as a key figure in the Greenwich Village folk community. Working in the Celtic airs style, he’s a living historical link to the ’60s folk explosion.

Singer-songwriter Matt Coughlin plays Frog and Peach on Wednesday, April 22 at 10 p.m. Coughlin’s repertoire effortlessly spans the gaps between roots folk, pop rock, funk, and country. Think Ryan Adams, Counting Crows, Martin Sexton, and Dwight Yoakam.

POCO (performing with Richie Furay and Jim Messina) appears at the Clark Center next Thursday, April 23, at 8 p.m. Hear classics such as “Rose of Cimarron,” “Good Feelin’ To Know,” “You’d Better Think Twice,” “Heart of the Night,” “Crazy Love,” and “Call It Love.” Tickets range from $55 to $65. Call 489-9444.
Glen Starkey almost dated a psychic, but she dumped him before they met. Set him up with your cousin at [email protected].

CD Reviews

Fred Fisher Atalobhor & His Ogiza Dance Band—African Carnival

Enough cannot be said of record label VampiSoul. Continuously, they are uncovering archives of thrilling, vintage, and unknown music from across the world. Scorching boogaloo, raw R&B, Peruvian salsa, or African polyrhythms, each album release seems handcrafted with the attention and care of a museum curator. Their latest release returns us to ‘70s Nigeria, where EMI owned a studio, thus becoming magnet for artists throughout Africa and a treasure trove of African-made recordings. Trombonist, composer, and vocalist Fred Fisher’s window of fame was small, but his output was a potent blending of afro funk rock with soul melodies, a style he self-labeled Asolo Rock. Stretched out over two CDs, Fred Fisher leads his band into lengthy jams that are springy grooves, backboned more by the buoyant bounce of African Highlife than the sizzling funk of Fela’s Afrobeat. This is a sunny, vibrant sound that is as stress-free as it is stimulating. VampiSoul knocks another one out of the park.

A-Trak—Infinity + 1

Child prodigies exist within every field. Within hip-hop, fifteen-year-old A-Trak became the youngest turntablist to win a DJ-battle world championship, then went on to swoop up three major championships before his 18th birthday. Four years later, A-Trak was tapped on the shoulder by Kanye West to become his touring DJ, gaining world exposure and eventually starting his own record label. A-Trak is living the big life, but still putting in work. On his latest mix, Infinity + 1, he moves away from the mashed-up commercial hip-hop blends of his previous releases, instead focusing on a new breed of electro-tinged hip-hop. Featuring artists like Kids Sister, Dj Mehdi, MSTRKRFT, and Little Boots, the sound reinvents the infectious synth-heaviness and futuristic pulse that italo-disco producers like Georgio Moroder made infamous. As a DJ, A-Trak blends the tracks seamlessly and exposes us to a slew of new artists along the way. Perfect before your next pre-club excursions or your next gym visit.

—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX’s “Night Train.”


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