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Expands your mind with Public Defendaz

click to enlarge THEY GOT YOUR BACK :  Local hip-hop collective Public Defendaz drops their debut album on June 11 during a free album release party at Cheap Thrills. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PUBLIC DEFENDAZ
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PUBLIC DEFENDAZ
  • THEY GOT YOUR BACK : Local hip-hop collective Public Defendaz drops their debut album on June 11 during a free album release party at Cheap Thrills.

When you think “SLO County,” hip-hop doesn’t exactly spring to mind. We’re not very urban. We’re not especially diverse. And we don’t have the kind of strife and blight that frequently inspire hip-hop music. That’s why I’m always surprised to see local hip-hop acts, and even more surprised to find exceptionally good ones.

I’m no hip-hop expert, but Public Defendaz sounds like the real deal to me. The diverse collection of talented musicians formed in 2006 with the purpose of bringing audiences music that directly reflects “the word of the people.” Mixing lyrical wordplay and versatile productions, these five MCs—Oktapu$, Royal, J4RD, Taktical, and IyayI—have dropped one helluva album in Tampered Evidence, which they’re releasing to the public during a free CD release party at Cheap Thrills on Thursday, June 11 at 7 p.m.

The production values are mind-blowing, with the various members taking turns producing the record’s 20 tracks while they collaborate on the vocals. Sometimes they remind me of Fun Lovin’ Criminals, other times Digable Planets, other times Snoop or Dr. Dre. The raps are smooth, the lyrics clever, and the samples well chosen. If you’re a hip-hop fan, check out Tampered Evidence.

Sounds like “Nudie”

Okay, SLO County musicians, you’re going to rue the day if you don’t submit an entry for the first ever Newtie Awards, aka the New Times Music Awards, whose deadline for entry is Monday, June 15 at 5 p.m. The countywide competition will present awards for Best Band, Best Solo Artist, Best Song, and just added, Readers Choice Award.

Just fill out the entry form (see page 27), enclose a CD with up to five original songs, pay the $10 per song entry fee, and drop it off. Five judges will do a blind listen and choose the winners. Entries will also be placed on our website to let readers pick their favorite.

Cash and other prizes will be awarded, and winners, runners up, and honorable mentions will be compiled on the New Times Music Awards CD.

The competition culminates with a concert and award ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 8 at Downtown Brew. Don’t rue! Be a winner!

click to enlarge BETTER LATE THAN NEVER :  (Left to right) Dan Ernst, Jon Scholl, Doug Groshart, and Dave LaCaro are The JD Project. See them June 11 at Farmers market and June 12 at Concerts in the Plaza, where they’ll release their nine-years-in-the-making CD Past Due. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JD PROJECT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JD PROJECT
  • BETTER LATE THAN NEVER : (Left to right) Dan Ernst, Jon Scholl, Doug Groshart, and Dave LaCaro are The JD Project. See them June 11 at Farmers market and June 12 at Concerts in the Plaza, where they’ll release their nine-years-in-the-making CD Past Due.
Project awesome!

He’s not chubby, old, prone to fashion disasters, or gay, but other that that, Doug Groshart is definitely Elton John. He can rip on the piano and he’s got an amazing voice, no doubt. That’s good news for The JD Project, the quartet Groshart fronts. The bad news is they’re a bunch of losers!

“In case you haven’t heard, we lost our semifinal battle of the bands (by 10 votes!) to Sad Lisa,” wrote Groshart to JD Project fans. “Congrats to them. They wound up winning the whole thing!”

OK, so second place isn’t exactly losing. In any case, they’re not slinking away in shame. In fact, they’re fixing to bust a move by releasing their first studio album, Past Due (appropriately titled since it was nearly nine years in the making!), and playing a string of shows:

Groshart will be doing some solo stuff on Thursday, June 11 at Arroyo Grande’s SLO Down Pub (with Rocky Logue and Loren Radis) starting at 5 p.m., then he’s going to race to SLO to join the band and play from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Farmers Market at the corner of Garden and Higuera from about 6:30 to 9. Then on Friday, June 12, you can hear the band on Coast 101.3FM during The Coast Lounge at 8:20 a.m. Hosts Bill and Amy will be discussing the new CD and upcoming shows with the boys, who may also play a few tunes live. That evening they play Concerts in the Plaza in Mission Plaza from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

As for Past Due, Groshart claims it’s the greatest!

“It’s got 10 great original songs that we know you’re all going to love as much as we do.”

I do love it! It moves from funk, to rock, to reggae, to country—all fronted by Elton John! Almost.

click to enlarge SING IT! :  Sebatian Luna (left) and Jody Mulgrew are The Johnny Starlings, playing June 12 at The Clark Center. - PHOTO BY AMANDA GRILL
  • PHOTO BY AMANDA GRILL
  • SING IT! : Sebatian Luna (left) and Jody Mulgrew are The Johnny Starlings, playing June 12 at The Clark Center.
School’s out!

The Johnny Starlings hit the Clark Center on Friday, June 12, no doubt celebrating because educator and frontman Jody Mulgrew is done with school for the summer! Mulgrew (Mr. M. to his students) has been honing his craft in elementary schools all over the county, sharing his love of Sam Cooke, ukuleles, and old records.

“Kids are much hipper than we usually give them credit for,” he said. “You can’t B.S. them when it comes to music. They can smell the ‘phony’ and ‘cheesy’ stuff from a mile away, and making and talking about music with a crowd like that keeps me sharp and on my toes.”

See The Johnny Starlings at the Studio Theatre of the Clark Center at 8 p.m. Tickets (489-9444) are $15 general admission, $12 for students/seniors, or $5 for any current or former students of Mr. M. A portion of the proceeds go to benefit the South County Education Foundation.

Six-pack of Brew

Downtown Brew is going to exhaust you with a series of don’t-miss shows again. “Damn you, Downtown Brew,” I said, furiously shaking my fist at the sky.

Kick off your weekend with the ska-tastic Mad Caddies on Friday, June 12 (7:30 p.m.; all-ages; $10). With phat horns and a punk sensibility, they’ve taken up the mantle passed from their forefathers The Clash, The Police, and Sublime.

Celebrate graduation with hip-hop comedy artist Mike Relm on Saturday, June 13 (10 p.m.; 21-and-older; $3 at the door). Let’s let his bio do the talking: “The dexterity of the turntablist. The sixth sense of the party rocker. The music palette of the obsessed record collector. The presence of the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The couture of a Reservoir Dog. Mike Relm.” With two turntables and a microphone, Relm will blast you into another, funnier, dimension.

You don’t feel sad enough, friends. But Dance Gavin Dance will help you on Sunday, June 14 (7:30 p.m.; all-ages; $12). The emo band was formed from the ashes of Farewell Unknown, Ghost Runner on Third, and Atherton.

After your crying jag, you’ll want to thrash to metalheads Unearth on Monday, June 15 (7:30 p.m.; all-ages; $15, with opening act Lazarus AD). Combining hardcore, thrash, and extreme metal, Unearth promises to brutalize your ears.

click to enlarge EASY DOES IT :  Reggae meets Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when the Easy Star All-Stars hit Downtown Brew on June 17. - PHOTO COURTESY OF EASY STAR ALL-STARS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF EASY STAR ALL-STARS
  • EASY DOES IT : Reggae meets Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when the Easy Star All-Stars hit Downtown Brew on June 17.
Reggae meets Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when the Easy Star All-Stars take the stage on Wednesday, June 17 (8 p.m.; all-ages; $18 presale or $20 at the door). They’ve re-imagined Sgt. Pepper’s for their new album, which debuted No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Reggae Chart, No. 2 on the Top Heatseekers Chart, and No. 117 on the Top 200—the first reggae album to do so in two years.

Finally, surf rock guitar legend Dick Dale plays on Thursday, June 18 (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $25). This is a guy who has to have his guitar strings made special—extra thick—because he bends and stretches those babies like nobody’s business. His sound is heavier than a dump truck full of lead.

- NOT JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM EAST LA :  Los Lobos plays June 14 at the Avila Beach Resort. -  - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOS LOBOS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LOS LOBOS
  • NOT JUST ANOTHER BAND FROM EAST LA : Los Lobos plays June 14 at the Avila Beach Resort.
How will the wolf survive? Very nicely, thank you!

About 35 years ago, Los Lobos burst onto the scene, reminding music lovers norteño, blues, country, Tex-Mex, ballads, and folk all fit nicely under the rock’n’roll umbrella. They’re a band who’s continually explored American biculturalism and its rich musical possibilities, and they put on one of the best live shows you’ll ever see.

Los Lobos displays an eclecticism few bands can match. From the rocking sounds of How Will the Wolf Survive? to the traditional La Pistola y el Corazón to the mystical sounds of Kiko, this quintet has a wealth of materials from which to draw.

On Sunday, June 14, Los Lobos plays the Avila Beach Resort with opening acts Los Lonely Boys and Dave Mason, and they’re billing their concert series the “Brotherhood Tour.” Latin rock doesn’t get much better than this! Tickets are $35 to $60. Call 595-4000 for more info.

click to enlarge GOOD AND WEIRD! :  3 Leg Torso brings their amazing souped-up chamber music to Stacked Stone Cellars on June 14. - PHOTO COURTESY OF 3 LEG TORSO
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF 3 LEG TORSO
  • GOOD AND WEIRD! : 3 Leg Torso brings their amazing souped-up chamber music to Stacked Stone Cellars on June 14.
What “weird” sounds like

It’s a mouthful to say, but magic to’ the ears. On Sunday, June 14 marks the beginning of “The Hoot Road Show Summer Concerts on the Lawn and Under the Ancient Oaks at Stacked Stone Cellars” concert series with 3 Leg Torso and special guests The Red Skunk Jipzee Swing Band (3 p.m.; call 546-2857 for $15 tickets).

If you’ve sadly never heard 3 Leg Torso, you’ve got to GOT TO go to this show. With a cello, violin, accordion and more, they’ve made chamber music fun again!

Bring a low-back lawn chair for best seating. Carpool if at all possible. Bring the kids! They’ll love it too.

Back with a vengeance!

One of the first big shows Mother’s did when it changed hands and returned to live music was to book Low vs. Diamond. It’s only been about two and half months since that gig, but apparently you liked ’em, because Mom’s is bringing ’em back on Wednesday, June 17.

This is a band Rolling Stone named one of six “artists to watch” in 2008, saying they’re a “West Coast quintet [that] crafts widescreen rock anthems built for stadium sing-a-longs.” They’ve played both David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel’s shows, and listening to their immediately hooky songs, it’s no wonder Third Eye Blind tapped them as their opening act for a tour this summer. But that’s not all! L.A.-based rockers Wake Up Lucid will open the show.

Wake Up Lucid features cousins Ryan Baca (guitars/vocals) and Ian Baca (bass), and drummer Dan Hodge, who officially launched their new band this past March with a gig at the 24K club.

They’re in the process of recording an EP, and this will be their first show on the Central Coast. I have faith these guys will show up. They’re definitely a “the show must go on” kind of band.

“At our second show, we were about to get on stage when our drummer gets a phone call that his house just burned down,” said guitarist Ryan Baca. “We ended up playing the show—I mean, it was already burned to the ground.”

That’s a little something I like to call commitment!

More music…

Derek Senn of the Wedding Industrial Complex takes to the stage solo to sing personal songs about the horrors of married life, fatherhood, and reproductive surgery at Mother’s Tavern on Thursday, June 11, from about 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. “It will be my first outing since I played Downtown Brew at Christmas time,” noted Senn. “Anyways, I’ll be debuting my new song called ‘The Vasectomy Waltz.’” The horror! The horror!

click to enlarge LIKE WILLIAM BURROUGHS LEADING A CAMPFIRE SING-A-LONG :  Crosby Tyler plays Last Stage West on June 11and the SLO Down Pub on June 12. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CROSBY TYLER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF CROSBY TYLER
  • LIKE WILLIAM BURROUGHS LEADING A CAMPFIRE SING-A-LONG : Crosby Tyler plays Last Stage West on June 11and the SLO Down Pub on June 12.
Balladeer Crosby Tyler continues his “10 Songs of America Today Tour,” named after his album of the same name, which was produced by Peter Case. The traveling troubadour sings narrative songs with a rich cast of characters including “clowns, drunkards, war veterans, fugitives, refugees, hobos” and more. See him at Last Stage West on Thursday, June 11 (461-1393) or the SLO Down Pub on Friday, June 12 (481-4067). There are two rare opportunities to see what Peter Case described as “William Burroughs leading a camp-fire sing-a-long.”

Matt Gerovac & the Babylon Saints bring their unique blend of soulful, authentic reggae and rock to the Frog and Peach on Friday, June 12 at 10:30 p.m. The L.A.-based act draws on the roots of reggae, soca, and calypso rhythms, but there’s a definite rock and jazz influence too.

click to enlarge IS THAT YOU, DJANGO? :  The Django Reinhardt-inspired John Jorgenson Quintet performs June 13 at Castoro Cellars. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JOHN JORGENSEN QUINTET
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JOHN JORGENSEN QUINTET
  • IS THAT YOU, DJANGO? : The Django Reinhardt-inspired John Jorgenson Quintet performs June 13 at Castoro Cellars.
John Jorgenson—a former member of the award-winning Desert Rose Band, The Hellecasters, and Elton John’s band—seems to have finally found his niche as frontman for the Django Reinhardt-inspired John Jorgenson Quintet. Jorgenson was tapped to recreate the famed Gypsy jazz guitarist’s sound for the feature films Gattica and Head in the Clouds, where he portrayed Django. Hear Jorgenson’s quintet on Saturday, June 13 at Castoro Cellars at 7 p.m. Arrive at 6 to enjoy a catered dinner by Giuseppe’s. Tickets are $22 at Boo Boo’s or by calling 238-0725.

On Sunday, June 14, famed jazz saxophonist Lanny Morgan (he of Maynard Ferguson, Bill Holman, and Supersax fame) is the next attraction at the Famous Jazz Artists Series at the Hamlet. Morgan will be joined by Luther Hughes (bass) and Paul Kreibich (drums), as well as series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (piano/vibraphone and vocals respectively). See him at 4 p.m. for $15 or 7:15 for $12. See both shows for $20. Call 927-0567 for reservations.

On Monday, June 15, A-Town is going to rock! That’s when local act PK hosts The Swine Thief, The Sequence, The Doppler Effect, and Hope for AM during a $5, 6 p.m. show at the Pavilion by the lake in Atascadero. SLO Town-based The Swan Thief plays ambient rock. The Sequence, hailing from Cypress, CA, plays rock and pop punk. From New Hartford, NY, The Doppler Effect plays pop punk, rock’n’roll. San Francisco’s Hope for AM play happy pop punk. “All three out-of-town bands are currently on nationwide tours,” said PK’s Travis Hawley. “This should be a huge show.”

The Yew Tree and Painted Sky Studio is bringing award-winning singer-songwriters Cosy Sheridan and Joyce Woodson to the Cambria-based recording studio on Monday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. ($18; 927-0500).  Sheridan’s songs have been showcased everywhere from Carnegie Hall to The Dr. Demento Show. She burst onto the American folk scene in 1992, winning the songwriting contests at both the Kerrville Folk Festival and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival that year. Woodson is known for her crystal clear voice and solid guitar, which helped her win the songwriting contest at the Tucson Folk Festival. In 2008, the Will Rogers Academy of Western Artists named her Best Female Performer of the Year.

Glen Starkey is getting in shape for loincloth season, then he’s grabbing a cudgel and going
speed dating. Give him directions to your cave at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

 

CD Reviews

Starkey-cd-king_khan.jpg
King Khan & the Shrines—What Is?!
It’s easy to think that if you’ve heard one King Khan album then you’ve heard them all. They mine the underground garage sound with such authentic lo-fi enthusiasm you could easily mistake it for an outtake from Nuggets collections that archived ‘60s American garage rock heritage. And listening to the What Is?!—their 2007 album that gets a state-side reissuing by Vice Records—you wouldn’t be wrong in feeling a sense of familiarity. Three of the first four tracks appeared on their 2008 collection The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines. You may feel instantly duped in picking up this album, but the ten remaining tracks offer enough boisterous intensity and marvelous revisionism of rock’n’roll that you may finally give your Eric Burdon records a rest. Synthesizing the rambunctious energy of Stooges and James Brown with the caterwauling instrumental freedom of Sun Ra, King Khan strikes gold in the noisy psychedelic wailing on “Cosmic Serenade,” the frantic French-sung “Le Fils De Jacques Dutronc,” and the sophomoric sleaze of the Velvet Underground-esque “Ballad of Lady Godiva.”

Starkey-cd-mike_farris.jpg

Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Revue—Shout! Live
Mike Farris found his Jesus. Battling alcohol and drug addiction since he was 11, the endless touring he did for ‘90s blues act the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, as well as singing for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s old rhythm section Double Trouble kept him circulating in bar culture, a temptation that continually pulled him under. Salvation came when he attended a friend’s funeral, deciding to conquer his chemical dependence by testifying. Shout! Live translates the Southern blues gospel of his 2007 album Salvation in Lights to a live setting, turning in an electrifying performance that would clear every pew of idle sitting. With a full horn ensemble as well as being accompanied with sweet harmonies and sizzling tambourine by the McCrary Sisters, Farris delivers an adrenalized performance worthy of any Baptist church. His version of “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” is fueled with a brassy New Orleans reading, and the McCrary Sisters turn an a cappella, hand-clapping performance of “Dig a Little Deeper”—a song from borrowed from their father’s legendary gospel quartet The Fairfield Four. Quite possibly the best live album of the year.

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

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