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A little taste of Texas soul 

Joe Koenig's simple truth

Joe Koenig likes to keep things sparse. After all, his sound is about lyrics and melody—his power as the songwriter amplified by his minimalist approach. Most of his songs are autobiographical. In fact, on his website texas-soul.com he claims that if you organized his songs in the right order, they’d tell his life’s story.

The Houston native’s life has been filled with its share of travails, and his songs can be heart wrenching, but he’s settled into a comfortable life on the Central Coast with his wife Chi-Chi. This Friday, March 5, Joe Koenig will be joined by Lucas Ohio Pattie at Downtown Brew (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $8 presale or $10 at the door).

Television network CBS picked up Koenig’s last album Somethin Concrete and it was played to a national audience all of last year. He also spent time touring Europe over the summer and New Zealand and Australia in December. So what else is new with Koenig?

“Well, we’re having a baby in July. That’s new. Music-wise, I’ve been playing a lot of dates in L.A., and I’m getting ready to tour in May. We’re gonna be sticking to this side of the country, but the plan is to go down through Texas and take a northern route home, up into Utah, Colorado, Nevada, then into San Francisco.”

And what about new tunes?

“Yeah, I’ve been working on ‘em and have quite a few. I’m trying to stack up about 20 or so to pick through for a
new album. It’d be nice to get into the studio before the baby comes, but you know how that goes. Depends on how crazy life gets.”

If his previous songs are any indication, pretty damn crazy.

As for the rest of the Brew’s line-up, on Saturday, March 6, punk veterans The Adolescents and Youth Brigade share a double bill (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $15 presale or $16 at the door). This promises to be an evening of old school ‘80s punk.

On Sunday, March 7, there’s a rock triple bill featuring headliner Steel Train with Barcelona and Gold Motel (7 p.m.; all ages-$10 presale or $12 at the door). Steel Train are Southern rock revivalists in the vein of My Morning Jacket and Kings of Leon. Barcelona is an indie pop act from Seattle. Gold Motel hails from Chicago and rose from the ashes of The Hush Sound.

“Our first show was a sell-out in Chicago at The Beat Kitchen (300 capacity), and we followed it with a week of sold out shows at Schuba’s opening for Butch Walker during his Chicago residency,” explained Gold’s Greta Morgan.

On Monday, March 8, reggae-infused acoustic soul pop princess Anuhea and the Green hits the stage (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $8 presale or $10 at the door). Rylee Anuheake’alaokalokelani Jenkins (aka—Anuhea) was born on Maui and lists R&B, soul, reggae, hip-hop, and funk as influences.

Finally on Wednesday, March 10, E-40 returns to the club with opening act Alias John Brown (8 p.m.; all ages; $25 presale or $27 at the door). E-40, a rap innovator and business tycoon, has been emulated by the likes of Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and others who are impressed by his gift for unusual rhymes. His most recent album is The Ball Street Journal.

“Anything that rolls off the tongue slick and is catchy, that’s where it’s at,” says E-40. “The Ball Street Journal just flew off the tongue and it’s memorable. This traces everything from the beginning to now. I’ve been through hard times and I’ve been through good times. It’s like a discography of how my life has been, because I touch down on a lot of different angles on the album. It covers all angles of the game.”

A real angel

Tony Balbinot of the Cadillac Angels is probably the hardest working man in show business, at least the hardest working musician I know personally. He’s endlessly on the road or recording. You probably know the lives of most musicians are ones of abject poverty, yet Tony is a relentless philanthropist who recorded an album to benefit educational programs on the Arizona Hopi Indian Reservation.

This Friday, March 5, the Cadillac Angels will play a 6 p.m., free in-store at Boo Boo’s to promote Haunt This Guitar. 

“As you know, all proceeds from this disc go directly to educational programs on the Hopi Indian Reservation,” reminded Tony. “Cal Poly looks like the Taj Mahal compared to the schools on the Hopi reservation.”

Haunt This Guitar is also a tribute to the late great Link Wray, who was also American Indian as well as Tony’s friend.

“Let’s be clear that this disc is not a collection of other musicians playing Link Wray’s songs but mainly original material, written by local artists, reflecting Link’s unquestionable influence on rock guitar,” explained Tony. “As a side note: I’ve had it with these so called ‘tribute bands.’ It seems to have started with Elvis in Sin City and spread like a virus throughout this country. I have no problem with musicians performing other artists’ music—we all do in one way, shape or another—however, if you’re dressing up like Robert Plant or Johnny Cash or some other music icon and playing their music exclusively, to draw a crowd and make money, well, then you’re nothing but an artistic parasite that should remain in your host: Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Ouch! You tell ‘em, Tony.

Light your Lampson

Don Lampson is the crustiest bastard whoever strode the earth, a storyteller of rare talent, a guitar picker that’s forgotten more about the art of coaxing sounds of a stringed wooden box than most players will ever know.

On Friday, March 5, the Porch Cafe will present a “Santa Margarita Evening with Don Lampson” beginning at 7:30 p.m.

If you like cowboy ballads and railroad tales, songs of hard labor, broken hearts, and pitiless revenge, Lampson’s your man. On 6- and 12-string guitar, he’ll weave mesmerizing narratives about people you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

“By the end of the evening the audience will leave with feelings of euphoria and a rough knowledge of how to sing the cowboy song ‘Blood on the Saddle’ for personal amusement in the privacy of their own home, should the inspiration strike,” claims Lampson.

There is no cover charge for the performance, but “love offerings” will be graciously accepted for Don’s missionary work in the local bars. A real humanitarian, this one. Call 438-3376 for more info.

More music…

Local Date Night Concert Series continues with Delaney Gibson in concert on Thursday, March 4 at 7 p.m. in La Bellasera Hotel and Suites. The five-time MAVRIC Music Award Winner has sung with the likes of Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, and Andre Bocelli. According to her bio, “This isn’t ‘woe is me girl loves boy fluff.’ Gibson’s observations on life and relationships both good and bad have a unique lyrical perspective presented with her already well documented vocal and musical ability.” Tickets are only $15 and reservations can be made online at discoverypointentertainment.com or by calling 591-9053. Walk-ups welcome!

You can chill in style and listen to some acoustic tunes when Native Lounge & Tolosa Wine Clique present “Native Unplugged,” a weekly event where they showcase great local bands in an intimate dining setting every Thursday. Happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m., with live music from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is free and dinner reservations are recommended. On Thursday, March 4, check out Jamaican reggae artist Ras Danny, and on Thursday, March 11, see The JD Project.

On Saturday, March 6, Castoro Cellars Winery will hold a “Benefit for Haiti” to help Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) continue their humanitarian work there. Jody Mulgrew (formerly of the Johnny Starlings) will open the show with a solo acoustic set. Then, the Louie Ortega Band will take the stage for a rockin’ set. Finishing up the evening will be the Guy Budd Band, with their mixture of existential blues. Bon Temp Creole Café will offer various dinner selections for an additional price beyond the $15 suggested donation (feel free to give more as all proceeds will directly benefit Doctors without Borders).

Anglophiles unite! Music from the British Isles will be featured in the next concert for the San Luis Obispo Symphony on Saturday, March 6, at 8 p.m. in the Christopher Cohan Center. The concert begins with “Enigma Variations,” Edward Elgar’s best-known large-scale composition. In the second half of the program, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim will join the orchestra to perform Max Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy,” a four movement fantasy on Scottish folk melodies, many of which will be very familiar to today’s listener. Tickets range from $12.50 to $65. Call 756-2787. A “No Ties Allowed! Free Dress Rehearsal” is open to the public at 1 p.m.

Carolyn Cruso, a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who lives on the rustic Orcas Island near Seattle, brings her elegant melodies and arresting voice to two shows this week. With four albums to her credit, she’ll have plenty of original material to draw from when she plays Linnaea’s Café on Saturday, March 6 at 8 p.m. (a $5 to $7 donation is suggested) and at the Oak Creek Commons Co-Housing Community (635 Nicklaus Dr. in Paso Robles) on Sunday, March 7 at 7 p.m. This show begins with a 6 p.m. potluck and a suggested $10 donation. Call 239-4597 for more info.

Mexican and Cuban folk music act Cascada de Flores (Waterfall of Flowers, gringos) returns to the community on Saturday, March 6 at the Red Barn at South Bay Community Park in Los Osos (6 p.m. potluck, show at 7 p.m.; a $10 donation is requested). Dedicated to the exploration, preservation, and dissemination of Mexican and Cuban regional music and dance, this quartet performs with immense talent and heartfelt expression.

Singer-songwriter Shane Cooley has been compared to Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Neil Young, and James Taylor, but what makes his music unique is its relentlessly positive outlook. The Virginia native plays three local gigs this week: Monday, March 8 at Senor Sancho’s Songwriters at Play, 5 p.m.; Tuesday, March 9 at The Steynberg Gallery, 7:15 p.m.; and Wednesday, March 10 at Linnaea’s café, 8 p.m. All the shows are free.

Glen Starkey steals from the poor and gives to himself, just like the American banking industry! Tell him what a good little capitalist he is at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

 


 

CD Reviews

 

 

Pomegranates: Persian Pop, Funk, Folk, and Psych of the '60s and '70s

As often as Iran has been maligned in the press, it’s a civilization far older than ours that battles a very modern internal battle with religious fundamentalism and cultural conservatism. But oh-those-swinging ‘60s! With the export of oil raising the wealth of the country, a tension arose between its Eastern religious tradition and the emerging socioeconomic freedom pushed by the Shah. Record label Finders Keepers presents us with a curious investigation of a Persian musical underground that uniquely straddled the sonic psych phenomena of the US and Britain yet remaining distinctly Iranian. Female singer Googoosh swayed youth with her fashion and hairstyle (similar to Twiggy), and her track “Talagh” melds her voice over a funky, psych-heavy guitar riff with lush strings. Introducing the sitar in the Persian music scene, Mehrpouya cut a groove-heavy sitar funk on “Soul Raga,” with its drugged-out tonal expressions. As much of Eastern music soaked into '70s jazz and progressive rock, Pomegranates excavates a bit of cultural truth from a hidden people: Iranian musicians.

 

 

Whitefield Brothers—Earthology

The alter-ego of Germany’s greatest retro-funk band, The Whitefield Brothers always sounded dirty and looser than the crisp precision of their main act, The Poets Of Rhythm. On their debut album, In The Raw, Jan and Max Weissenfeldt scored their psychedelic funk with African chants and percussion that produced a dizzying voodoo slop, with fuzzed organs and sparse horns. Earthology continues this exhilarating mash with a further worldwide musical palette, gaining groove-replicating assistance from the El Michel Affairs and the Dap-Kings. Primarily an instrumental affair, the Whitefield Brothers shape a track with instinctive propulsion, crafting a sound that combines the reverb saturation of psych with the fierce polyrhythms of funk and the modal exploration of African, Oriental and Arabic scales structures. Yes, this is a dense stew. “Safari Strut” rides the xylophone of Ethiopian jazz, while funky Herbie Mann flute showcases “Lullaby For Lagos.” But “Reverse” is where it all comes to a boil, with clanking cow bells, spacey organ stabs, a barrage of Middle Eastern woodwind, and hip-hop lyrics to firmly set this as something originally new, wholly invigorating.

 

—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and mikovision.blogspot.com, where you’ll find archived reviews and soundclips.

 

 

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