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And the winner is ... 

... you pick!

click to enlarge LIKE THIS, BUT IN BRONZE! - :  Readers can visit newtimesslo.com through Aug. 5 and follow the links to the New Times Music Awards “Readers Choice” contest, where your ballots will determine which of our 21 finalists get an extra Newtie Award. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • LIKE THIS, BUT IN BRONZE! : Readers can visit newtimesslo.com through Aug. 5 and follow the links to the New Times Music Awards “Readers Choice” contest, where your ballots will determine which of our 21 finalists get an extra Newtie Award.
At this very moment, I’m listening to the winners of the New Times Music Awards. Just like last year, I’m blown away by the depth of talent on the Central Coast. These songs range from the rocking to the heartbreaking, from the tender to the hilarious. Though I’d love to tell you who won first, second, and third in each category, I can’t. We’re not going to reveal that info until the four-day festival we’re mounting from Thursday, Aug. 19 through Sunday Aug. 22, but I will tell you (in no particular order) the three finalists in each genre. Why? So you can visit newtimesslo.com beginning this Friday, July 23, listen to all the tracks, and vote for your favorite. You’ll have until Thursday, Aug. 5 to cast your vote (Vote early and often!). Votes will be tabulated and a Readers Choice award will go to the artist(s) with the most votes for his, her, or their song.

Okay, so here goes: Songwriter finalists are Loren Radis for “Homesick,” Ted Waterhouse for “Fire Season,” and Bob & Wendy for “Your Beautiful Life”; Blues and R&B finalists are Don Lampson for “Turned My Back to the Wind,” Joe Koenig for “Colors,” and The JD Project for “Freight Train”; Jazz and Classical finalists are Inga Swearingen for “Brick by Brick,” The Tipsy Gypsies for “Your Heart Belongs to Me,” and Bill Wingfield for “Happy Hour”; Reggae and Worldbeat finalists are Jim McLean for “Don’t Point That Thing at Me,” Klockwyze for “Stoney Days,” and The Shival Experience for “Thankful Dread”; Hip-Hop, Rap, DJ, and Electronica finalists are Public Defendaz with (two tracks) “Revolution” and “What Happened,” and Ashley Hendershott with “Threat”; Rock, Alternative, Indie finalists are Ghostporn with “Is a Dream,” Callista with “Farther,” and Criticnue with “Murder of Crow”; and American, Folk, Country finalists are Doug Groshart with “My Yesterday,” Loren Radis with “Our Terrified Ghosts,” and Joe Koenig with “Longtime Coming.” Just so you know, the three finalists for Best Album are Still Time, PK, and Inga Swearingen. Our judges also awarded a best overall from the genre categories, but you’ll have to go to the shows to find out who that was. See you there!

click to enlarge DOUBLE TAKE :  Aerosmith returns to the Mid-State Fair on July 26. Will they fill the Main Grandstand even though they were here just a couple years ago? - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA MID-STATE FAIR
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA MID-STATE FAIR
  • DOUBLE TAKE : Aerosmith returns to the Mid-State Fair on July 26. Will they fill the Main Grandstand even though they were here just a couple years ago?
How will it fare?

I wish the Mid-State Fair no ill will. It’s an awesome fair, plenty to see and do, a great way to gain weight through fair food and lose weight through heat stroke and water loss. What I don‘t understand is why some company in Chicago is deciding on the entertainment for the Central Coast. Clearly, Jam Productions doesn’t know our market, because whatever formula they’re using loses money every year.

Do they really think Aerosmith (Monday, July 26) is going to sell out even though they were here only a couple years ago? Do they honestly believe Sammy Hagar (Saturday, July 24) is going to fill the Main Grandstand? Guess what, Mid-State Fair? We’ve got a bunch of successful promoters in the county who would love to take a swing at filling a huge stadium, but you’ve allowed Jam Productions to maintain a stranglehold on the county’s biggest venue. Bruce Howard of Otter Productions knows what would sell here, and so do Numbskull, Five Sisters Productions, Levi Beanway at Pozo Saloon, and Todd and Korie Newman from Downtown Brew.

And while I’m ranting, here’s another thing: When you do let local bands play, you toss most of them on Mission Square stage. If they’re lucky, you let them duke it out in contests like the “Cocked, Locked, and Ready To Rock Contest” on KZOZ to win a spot opening for Aerosmith. Why don’t you just throw all the bands into the Grandstand, arms them like gladiators, and let them fight to the death?

I’ve already heard grumbling about the unfairness of the KZOZ contest, about problems with the voting system, about a band called Superfix that’s from Simi Valley … or at least they were until it was pointed out they weren’t local, and hence ineligible, until one of the band members suddenly remembered he lives in Heritage Ranch in Paso.

My point is, why don’t you let some local promoters who know the area, the market, and the local music scene take a crack at it? They couldn’t do much worse than Jam Productions, right?

In the meantime, visit midstatefair.com for a complete listing of entertainment, and support the Mid-State Fair! They need the money.

click to enlarge LIFE A BEACH :  Donny Strauss and The Loveless Estate plays July 23 at Atascadero’s Camozzi’s Saloon during a three band indie rock show. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LOVELESS ESTATE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE LOVELESS ESTATE
  • LIFE A BEACH : Donny Strauss and The Loveless Estate plays July 23 at Atascadero’s Camozzi’s Saloon during a three band indie rock show.
Some love for the Loveless

The Loveless Estate’s last record, Electric Candlelight, was filled with the kind of jangly, hooky, charming acoustic folk pop that’s come to epitomize a certain segment of the alt-rock world. With music and lyrics by Atascadero’s Donny Strauss, the then-duo with Christopher Day delivered a dozen tracks that waste little time getting under your skin.

These were songs to fall in love by, such as “Lips Like Memphis”: She’s a little late but that’s just fine with me cuz I could wait for her all night/ It’s a little cold but that’s just fine with me we could hold each other tight/ With lips like a Memphis belle and eyes that cast a spell on me/ I need her all the time I know I’m weak but I’m not sorry.

“As of late, I’ve been working on my sophomore album that will be released early next year, and unlike my first album Electric Candlelight, which was purely acoustic, this album will include an array of instruments as well as a full band sound,” said Strauss. “I’m really stoked for everyone to hear it. It’s turning out amazing! I’m working on the album with the most talented DJ, Loel Green, who purchased the studio equipment from Rockwell Sound Studio in Atascadero when they retired. We’re working on the album now at Mr. Green’s recording studio in Garden Farms, Santa Margarita.”

If you want a taste of the new material, Donny Strauss and The Loveless Estate (now with drummer Manuel Soto III, bassist Trey Hanawalt, and lead guitarist Josh Partain) has a local show lined up this Friday, July 23 at Camozzi’s Saloon in Atascadero at 8 p.m.

“This is three awesome, all-local bands right out of Atascadero, all of which are of the indie/folk/alternative sound,” Strauss said. “The show will of course be 21 and older and will absolutely keep you rockin’ all night!”

You’ll also hear Lakes, “Hometown hero Seth Roberts and band,” said Strauss, and American Dirt, “Which is a band I previously was in but have recently resigned to focus purely on my project.”

click to enlarge WONDER WOMAN :  Banjoist Alison Brown is a Harvard grad, earned a MBA at UCLA, worked as an investment banker, was a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station, and went on to win a Grammy. She’s making the rest of us look bad. Throw tomatoes at her July 24 at Castoro Cellars. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ALISON BROWN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ALISON BROWN
  • WONDER WOMAN : Banjoist Alison Brown is a Harvard grad, earned a MBA at UCLA, worked as an investment banker, was a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station, and went on to win a Grammy. She’s making the rest of us look bad. Throw tomatoes at her July 24 at Castoro Cellars.
Banjo Brown

What happens when you mix a Grammy Award-sinning banjo player with multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven? Anything! This Saturday, July 24, the Alison Brown Quartet and special guest Joe Craven play a 7 p.m. SLOfolks concert at Castoro Cellars ($22 with a service charge at Boo Boo Records and Cheap Thrills, or by calling 238-0725).

Unless you’ve been imprisoned for the last decade or so, you know all about Joe Craven, a stupendous musician, musical archeologist, and raconteur. Alison Brown, on the other hand, may be a bit of a mystery.

First, you should know she’s a Harvard and UCLA grad, worked as an investment banker before joining Alison Krauss and Union Station, co-founded and co-owns the highly successful Compass Records, is a mother, and most importantly she’s an enormously talented songwriter and banjoist. What an underachiever!

She also recently released her tenth album, The Company You Keep, an opus in support of independent music.

The Company You Keep isn’t solely a statement about me or my band, or about Compass Records, it’s about independent music as a whole,” said Brown in her press materials. “The fact that we are all still here when you see closures, mergers, and percentages down everyday is a testament to real music, good music, music that matters. We’re into our 15th year with this business model at Compass and we’re not struggling; we’re thriving.”

Though the album’s title comes from Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote—“Tell me the company you keep and I’ll tell you what you are”—Brown later realized it had another, more personal meaning.

“I’ve been writing, recording, and performing my own tunes for nearly 20 years now,” said Brown, “and as I thought about the progression of my sound—our band sound—I began to think about what a collaborative effort this musical journey has been. After 15 years of recording, performing, and philosophizing about music with (pianist) John R. Burr and (bassist) Garry West, I really wanted to draw that collaborative spirit to the forefront on this album.”

The record features the musicians she has spent most of the past 15 years performing with: Burr (piano) and West (bass), as well as Craven (fiddle/ mandolin/ percussion) and Larry Atamanuik (drums). Brown also tapped other collaborators including John Doyle (guitar), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), and Kenny Malone (drums) on tunes mainly co-written by Brown and Burr.

This should be an amazing show, and if you get there early, Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana will be catering a 6 p.m. dinner for an additional charge.

click to enlarge FEEL THE HEAT :  No matter how hot Paso Robles is on July 23, it’s going to get hotter when SLO Mambo brings its sizzling hot Latin jazz and salsa music to the City Park. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO MAMBO
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO MAMBO
  • FEEL THE HEAT : No matter how hot Paso Robles is on July 23, it’s going to get hotter when SLO Mambo brings its sizzling hot Latin jazz and salsa music to the City Park.
More music…

No matter how hot Paso Robles is this Friday, July 23, it’s going to get hotter when SLO Mambo brings its sizzling hot Latin jazz and salsa music to the City Park from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Strawberry Blonde Saloon is presenting the concert for free! La Mexicana will be offering dinner for sale. J. Lohr wine, beer, water, and soda pop will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the REC Foundation, enhancing parks and recreation in the City of Paso Robles. A free Bike Valet is available during the concert courtesy of the SLO Bicycle Coalition. What more could you want?

This Saturday, July 24, the Henry Miller Library plays host to an evening of multi-sensory magic when House of Floyd, “a reverent tribute to Pink Floyd, captures the intoxicating sights and sounds of the original for even the most discriminating fan.” Get tickets at henrymiller.org/events.

“Sundays on the Sand at The Avila Beach Golf Resort” continues its series of free concerts this Sunday, July 25 from 1 to 4 p.m. with Big Daddy’s Blues Band. “Come out and enjoy your favorite local band while digging your toes in the sand,” said concert organizers. “You can access the concert from the main entrance of the golf resort or if you’re brave, cross over the knee high water from Avila Beach. Be sure to cruise over for a cold tasty beverage and ice cream!”

Burning James, the guitarist and vocalist in the House Red Band and The Funky Flames, is now hosting the SLO Blues Jam every Sunday—including Sunday, July 25—throughout the summer at the Clubhouse from 4 to 7 p.m. Joining James will be Scott Andrews on saxes, Chaz Cook on bass, and an array of excellent local drummers.  Each week they’ll be joined by other local players and singers. These shows are free!

This Sunday, July 25, renowned bassist Luther Hughes and his band The Cannonball/Coltrane Project is the next attraction at the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet in Cambria. The band also includes Glen Cashman (tenor sax), Bruce Babad (alto sax), Ed Czach (piano), and Paul Kreibich (drums). Series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (vibraphone and vocals) will also be on hand. There’s a 4 p.m. show ($15), a 7:15 p.m. show ($12), or see both for $20. Call 927-0567 for reservations.

The Yew Tree in association with Painted Sky Studio presents Two Worlds One, a concert featuring Lisa Lynne, Aryeh Frankfurter, and Molly Pasutti. Expect “an enchanting evening of Celtic Harps, Swedish Nyckelharpa, and rare instruments performing exquisite original and traditional music.” Witness this rare show at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 25 in the intimate Painted Sky Studios. Tickets are $18 at The Yew Tree or Cambria Business Center.

Central Coast Songwriters continues its weekly songwriters showcase at 7 p.m. this Tuesday, July 27 with Matthias Clark. I happened to be in Sustenance the other night when Matthias and a few of his friends were jamming. This dude’s an awesome guitar player with a varied and eclectic collection of tunes to draw from. He’s great at jamming, he leads his own band The Cry, but here he’ll be delivering his message singer-songwriter style. Expect to see a handful of other performers during this showcase.

Southern storyteller Paul Thorn has an interesting pedigree. His father was a preacher, his uncle a pimp, and he was a pro boxer before he turned his dukes into music makers. When he plays Downtown Brew this Tuesday, July 27 (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $15 presale or $17 at the door) with opening act Lenny Blue and the Otter Guys, his album Pimps and Preachers will be just over one month old. If I count right, the DTB show will be one of 37 dates in a three-month tour. Expect road-tested material sure to draw you into a gritty world.

click to enlarge HAWAIIAN HONEY :  Hawaiian-born beauty Anuhea and the Green play Downtown Brew on July 28, filling the club with acoustic soul, pop, and reggae. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ANUHEA AND THE GREEN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ANUHEA AND THE GREEN
  • HAWAIIAN HONEY : Hawaiian-born beauty Anuhea and the Green play Downtown Brew on July 28, filling the club with acoustic soul, pop, and reggae.
And while we’re talking about Downtown Brew, on Wednesday, July 28, check out the “Surf Roots Tour” featuring Anuhea and the Green with opening act Tamarama (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $13 presale or $15 at the door). Expect a fun night of acoustic soul, pop, and reggae.

Keep up with Glen Starkey via twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at Myspace.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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