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Beauty and the beat 

Kate Voegele uses looks and talent to climb the charts

After I wrote about Devil Doll a couple of weeks ago, an "avid reader" wrote to tell me what a sexist pig I am: "If bra size were the measure of musical talent, then Devil Doll would I suppose deserve some attention from writers such as you."

click to enlarge A DATE WITH KATE TV :  actress Kate Voegele, who stars as singer-songwriter Mia on One Tree Hill, brings her original music to Downtown Brew on March 20. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KATE VOEGELE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF KATE VOEGELE
  • A DATE WITH KATE TV : actress Kate Voegele, who stars as singer-songwriter Mia on One Tree Hill, brings her original music to Downtown Brew on March 20.

# The anonymous two and a half page handwritten letter went on to say, "If you had taken your 'lonely guy on a Saturday night' eyes off her for a moment, you may have noticed how bored and mediocre her band is." Not only that, but I was instructed to "close [my] eyes" to discover "Devil Doll can't sing! When she's 40 she'll be done. Perhaps entertainment papers such as New Times should have another section devoted to 'tits and ass' entertainment."

Well, we used to. It was called the classifieds, but Craig's List stole all our "escort" ads, so now it's all up to me. For a rabid er, avid reader and a guy (he signed his letter "Devil Doll's Future Ex-Husband"), it seems weird that he's just started to notice that music and sexuality go together like shit, what am I saying? Sex goes with everything. Anyway, get your pen out, "avid reader," because I'm about to tell you how great Kate Voegele is, and yes, a lot of her greatness has to do with how hotsy totsy she is--live concerts are aural and visual, duh!

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter-actor plays Downtown Brew on Thursday, March 20 ($10 advanced tickets all-ages). I needed a photo for this story, so I opened her MySpace page and my officemate Steve E. Miller, New Times' intrepid photographer, gaped at her beauty until the music started.

"She should just stand around and look pretty," Steve said. "Her music sounds like Christian music: boring."

Granted, Steve's a Hessian, a longhaired metal-head of the first order. He said he'd go see Voegele if I got him a free ticket and bought him a beer. If a guy who doesn't like her music is willing well, my point is this: A pretty face goes a long way. How else do we explain Britney Spears' success? It's not like she had, has, or will have a good voice.

Personally, I think Voegele does have a good voice, though her material is admittedly middle-of-the-road (think Jewel or Sarah McLachlan). She's touring nationwide to promote Don't Look Away, her first full-length album (on MySpace Records). Her media machine is comparing it to John Mayer's Room for Squares, Mayer being another relentlessly middle-of-the-roader.

Bio materials note that while her music is "contemporary, her sensibility is deeply rooted," adding that she grew up around the music of "seminal singer/songwriters like Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Eric Clapton," and began writing her own songs at age 15.

"It's my personal goal to continue the standard set by those before me," she said. "No matter how a song develops, my main goal is to reach people, because there were so many musicians who spoke to me, and still do, to help me to deal with situations. It's so easy nowadays with all the tech-nology for people to fake it. For me, it's just so important that the true musical talent and passion for the songs be there."

Voegele's music and acting chops landed her a reoccurring role on One Tree Hill, a primetime teen soap, where she played Mia. She apparently just wrapped her multi episode arc, and meanwhile her album has jumped to No. 27 (from 89!) on the top Billboard 200--and her tour just started two days ago. She'll be shooting a video with director Phil Griffin (Amy Winehouse, Leann Rimes) within the next few weeks.

She's going places, and guess what, "avid reader," it's not because she's ugly.

The Key to good music

click to enlarge JAKE'S WORLD :  On March 21, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jake Armerding plays The Clubhouse at This Old House to support his new album, Walking on the World. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE ARMERDING
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE ARMERDING
  • JAKE'S WORLD : On March 21, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jake Armerding plays The Clubhouse at This Old House to support his new album, Walking on the World.

# Singer-songwriter Steve Key has done more for the singer-songwriter scene in SLO Town than just about anyone in recent memory. In addition to hosting songwriting competitions, he's been using his considerable connections to bring great acoustic performers to the area. On Friday, March 21, he's booked singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jake Armerding to play The Clubhouse at This Old House. The bluegrass fiddler-turned folk-pop artist plays an 8:30 p.m., all-ages show for, get this, $15! Why's that such a big deal, you ask? Because the guy plays the Sings-Like-Hell series the next night for like $45 a seat!

I just listened to Armerding's new CD, Walking on the World, which is filled with hook-laden folk pop nuggets, beautifully played and gorgeously accompanied by his sweet tenor voice. This guy's amazing!

 

The Boston Globe called him "the most gifted and promising songwriter to emerge from the Boston folk scene in years." At 13, he joined his father's bluegrass band, Northern Lights, on fiddle. He wrote and recorded his first CD, Caged Bird, while earning a degree in English literature at Wheaton College. Now's he's touring in support of the terrific Walking on the World.

Going, going, gone?

click to enlarge TAKE TWO :  Tasmania-born country chanteuse Audrey Auld Mezera and guitar genius Andrew Hardin play March 21 at the M·sica Del RÌo House Concert in Atascadero. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AUDREY AULD MEZERA AND ANDREW HARDIN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AUDREY AULD MEZERA AND ANDREW HARDIN
  • TAKE TWO : Tasmania-born country chanteuse Audrey Auld Mezera and guitar genius Andrew Hardin play March 21 at the M·sica Del RÌo House Concert in Atascadero.

# I can't guarantee there are tickets ($15) to be had, because last I heard this show was dangerously close to being sold out, but Audrey Auld Mezera with Andrew Hardin play the M?sica Del RÃo House Concerts in Atascadero on Friday, March 21, at 8 p.m. If you're interested, I'd call organizers the Munroes ASAP at 466-6941 to see if they've got a couple left for you.

Mezera, who hails from Australia, describes her style as "music with the dirt left on." The Tasmania-born singer-songwriter sounds like she could have been raised in Austin or Nashville, the latter of which Mezera did move to last summer.

Concert organizers The Munroes first saw her "at the Live Oak Music Festival in 2006, [and] fell in love with her style of weaving a song and her music to go with it, as she introduced herself to the Central Coast accompanied by our old friend Nina Gerber."

This time, she'll play with Andrew Hardin, renowned for his gifted guitar playing that can be heard on Nanci Griffith's Winter Marquee, Eliza Gilkyson's Lost and Found, and with Tom Russell's Love and Fear.

Candle lights the way

Songwriter Kevin Coons, who fronts indie folk band Candle, has penned a spectacular collection of songs for Candle's second full-length CD, Miles and Miles and Miles. He's clearly soaked up and wholly assimilated the alt-country indie-folk milieu made famous by the likes of Whiskytown, Wilco, and their musical fathers Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

What began as Coons' solo experiment in 2005 has developed into a well-formed quintet of players working as an ensemble to create the kind of subtly lush orchestration that marks the best of the modern folk genre. This new album, recorded at Paul Frankel's Real Love Studio at Sculpterra Winery in Paso Robles, features Coons (voice, guitar, harmonica, banjo, keyboards, organ, and percussion), Ross Major (guitar, mandolin, piano, banjo, lap steel, organ, voice), Jon Wilson (bass, lap steel, guitar, percussion, voice), Rachel Spotten (voice and keyboard), and Frankel (drums and percussion) working with an impressive list of guest stars (playing fiddle, kapiano, trumpet, cello) as well as a chorus of voices.

click to enlarge BURN, BABY, BURN :  Folk quintet Candle burns bright on their new album, Miles and Miles and Miles, released to the public on March 27 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CANDLE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF CANDLE
  • BURN, BABY, BURN : Folk quintet Candle burns bright on their new album, Miles and Miles and Miles, released to the public on March 27 at Downtown Brew.

# Clearly a ton of work was poured into this album, and it paid off with a startlingly solid recording that displays production and musicianship that's worthy of Coons' frequently brilliant and always heartfelt lyricism: "You're a beautiful girl with the wind in your hair/ and the tears in your eyes and the weight of the air/ when you're looking for something or someone to lift up your head// When I'm right at your door with my hands in my pockets/ in a suit that I stole from my father's closet/ patiently pacing until you say 'come in.'"

Don't miss Candle's album release party on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at Downtown Brew. Opening acts include Threes and Nines, Almost There, and Cottleston Pie. This all-ages show costs $7 at the door.

 

 

More music

If you were going to see Matt Costa at the Graduate on

click to enlarge DRUMS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING DRUMS!:  Drummerless trio The Devil Makes Three brings their rockabilly, ragtime, folk, and country sounds to Downtown Brew on March 22. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DEVIL MAKES THREE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF DEVIL MAKES THREE
  • DRUMS? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING DRUMS!: Drummerless trio The Devil Makes Three brings their rockabilly, ragtime, folk, and country sounds to Downtown Brew on March 22.
# Thursday, March 20, because I wrote that he was coming last week, don't, because he totally sucks! Just kidding! Actually, I totally suck. The extra cool skate rat-turned-singer-songwriter plays May 20, not March 20, proving once again that I can't read and am a total idiot. But I'm your idiot, right? Right?

Don't forget about Spain's hardest-working flamenco company, Noche Flamenca, playing Thursday, March 20, at 8 p.m. in the Cohan Center. The combined artistry of director/choreographer and co-founder Martin Santangelo and leading lady Soledad Barrio has created an award-winning combination that's gathered rave reviews from the likes of Newsday and the New York Times, who said, "Soledad Barrio can make a believer out of the most jaded spectator. If you assume that flamenco is all phony histrionics, you've probably never seen Ms. Barrio in action. Her performances start with a quiet, silky grace, but by the end she is more creature than human." Tickets are $32 to $44. Call 756-2787 to get yours.

The Devil Makes Three returns to Downtown Brew on Saturday, March 22, due to popular demand. The K-PIG favorite has quickly developed a loyal following among SLO Town's rockabillarati, who come greased, jeaned, and ready to rock. The drummerless trio also makes forays into ragtime, old time, folk, and country music. According to the band's tongue-in-cheek bio, The Devil Makes Three hails from the "dark depths" of Vermont: "Orphan siblings from Manitoba--Cooper, Lucia, and Pete were taken in by a family of marmot farmers in Southern VT. Weary of the marmot farming life, the tight-knit trio began singing songs of life in the old country, and eventually ran away to join a traveling medicine show. The group honed their technical skills for eight years, until in 2002 they decided to quit the traveling show and strike out on their own. They rose to fame rapidly in Scandinavia where they were treated as gods, but their longing for chicken noodle soup and fine lederhosen soon brought them to California where they have lived in a cave for the past three years." Poor Man's Whisky opens the 8 p.m., 21-and-older, $10 advance/$12-at-the-door show.

click to enlarge DIFRANCO JUNIOR? :  Folk-rock singer-songwriter Julie Loyd will perform her Ani DiFranco-esque original songs on March 26 at The Clubhouse at This Old House. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIE LOYD
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF JULIE LOYD
  • DIFRANCO JUNIOR? : Folk-rock singer-songwriter Julie Loyd will perform her Ani DiFranco-esque original songs on March 26 at The Clubhouse at This Old House.

# Recently deceased punk rock stalwart Carl Backensten is the impetus for a five-band punk extravaganza scheduled for Wednesday, March 26, at Downtown Brew (18-and-older $10 at the door). Five of Carl's favorites--Wimpy Dicks, Crisis Point, Coked Out Crack Whores, The Kilz, and Bedpan--are playing the benefit show, which also features a raffle. Some of the bands are reuniting specifically for this show, so come out and show your love.

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Julie Loyd will perform her original songs on Wednesday, March 26, at 8:30 p.m., at The Clubhouse at This Old House. Oft compared to Ani DiFranco, Loyd percussively strums, stomps, and sings her way through 170 shows every year. "The performing is really what makes the touring worthwhile," she said, "getting in front of a crowd of riled-up acoustic-rock-lovin' people and seeing how many strings I can break in one show." The cover charge for this all-ages show is $10.

He's a ripe tomato!

click to enlarge BIG STAR, LITTLE RICHARD :  Proto rocker Little Richard is the headliner for the Avila Beach Blues Festival on May 25, and tickets go on sale April 5. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LITTLE RICHARD
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LITTLE RICHARD
  • BIG STAR, LITTLE RICHARD : Proto rocker Little Richard is the headliner for the Avila Beach Blues Festival on May 25, and tickets go on sale April 5.

# Bruce Howard of Otter Productions, Inc. has just announced this year's Avila Blues Festival headliner, and he's got a real killer coming. Little Richard, the ripest, juiciest tomato to ever be plucked from the rock'n'roll vine, will splatter audiences with his audacious presence on Sunday, May 25! Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 5, at 11 a.m. at all VALLITIX outlets, online at www.vallitix.com, or by phone at 1-888-825-5484.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CD Reviews

 

Funky Nassau--The Compass Point Story: 1980-1986

click to enlarge 20080320072838_l.jpg

# Within the mix of rock'n'roll lore and history, the impact of the recording studio should get its own chapter. As cherished as the Beatles' Abbey Road recording facility or as identifiable as Funk Brother James Jamersons' bass lines recorded in Motown's Studio A, the room itself has an often under-acknowledged hand in defining the recordings we hear. In the late '70s, Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Music, decided to create his own idyllic recording institution, Compass Point, on a Bahaman island. Funky Nassau, laid out over 13 tracks, is a glimpse at a stunning, fun-filled discography that synthesized meticulous engineering and artistic spontaneity. With an available house band that included reggae legends Sly & Robbie, the studio popped out worldly amalgamations of funk, disco, reggae, and no/new wave for dance floor diva Grace Jones, crafted Tom Tom Club's "Genius Of Love," as well as provided the influence for two significant Talking Heads albums and Ian Dury's notorious "Spasticus Autisticus." This is a great compilation and fascinating bit of history.

 

 

 

Del the Funky Homosapien--Eleventh Hour

click to enlarge 20080320072907_l.jpg

# Coming out of Oakland, Del and his Hieroglyphics posse altered the art of rhyme in the early '90s, earning respectability from a hip-hop culture so closely associated with the East Coast--though not at first. Del's humorous and bouncy rhyming meter resembled nothing of his cousin Ice Cube's gangsterism, instead suggesting a 19-year-old with a skewed take on day-to-day living. Fast-forward to the modern day, and Del is an indie-rap superstar, earning much of his reputation with the left-field conceptual album Deltron 3030 and as a rapping cartoon character courtesy of Damon Albarn's Gorillaz. With his latest record, Eleventh Hour, Del pulls his head out of the clouds and offers a release more in tune with his early records: heavy on the bottom-thick funk and over-fascinated with braggadocio. It's still a thrill to hear his rubbery cadence paint absurd vision of being Del, and while not as intriguing as previous albums, a B grade from Del still sets the curve everyone strives to attain.

-Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX's "Night Train."


Glen Starkey keeps his words soft and sweet, just in case he has to eat them. Hand him a lobster bib at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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