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Latin rhythms come alive 

Los Pinguos bring the sounds of Argentina to Castoro Cellars

Known as the Latin Beatles of the 21st century, Los Pinguos come to the Central Coast by way of Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a sizzling mix of Latin rhythms performed with Spanish guitars, a Cuba tres, Peruvian cajon (box-drum), and harmonizing vocals.

Edgy, eclectic, enthusiastic, and infectious, their lively sound

click to enlarge HOT AND COOL :  Argentinian musicians Los Pinguos will deliver a lively Latin mix at Castoro Cellars on Saturday, July 21. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOS PINGUOS
  • HOT AND COOL : Argentinian musicians Los Pinguos will deliver a lively Latin mix at Castoro Cellars on Saturday, July 21.
# earned a devoted fan base in their hometown, and in 2001 these hot musicians packed their bags and headed to California. They played at the Latin Lounge, the Knitting Factory, and other Los Angeles clubs, becoming so popular they were invited to perform at the end-of-season party for the hit Fox TV show Dharma & Greg. A talent scout urged them to audition for a new television show, The Next Big Star, hosted and produced by Ed McMahon of Star Search fame. The only Latin band to perform, Los Pinguos won the audience vote and claimed the grand prize.

Since then, they've signed a publishing deal with Latin music heavyweight Peermusic, recorded four albums, and appeared on two Putamayo world music compilations, Baila! and Radio Latino. Los Pinguos have performed with Paul Anka and Placido Domingo, and appeared at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival with Suzanne Vega. Their music has been featured in the Antonio Banderas and Emma Thompson film Imagining Argentina.

In a similar way to Latin performer Manu Chao, Los Pinguos have a catchy, unique style that appeals to much more than just a Spanish-speaking audience. While they draw a lot of inspiration from the traditional music of Argentina, they bring plenty of other influences into their music to make it stand on its own.

These Latin musicians take their name from a slang word for penguins. One of the guys is from Patagonia, where penguins live, and Pinguo is his nickname. Los Pinguos are Adrian Buono, Jose Agote, Juan Manzur, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, and Santiago Lee. Find out more during Sonnie Brown's live studio interview on the the KCBX FM90 Minstrel Song Show at 2:30 p.m. on July 21.

Los Pinguos will dish up their unique Latin smorgasbord of salsa, flamenco, samba, cumbia, reggae, and rock at a SLOFolks concert Saturday, July 21, outdoors at Castoro Cellars (Hwy. 46 West and Bethel Road, Templeton). Doors open at 6 p.m., with a catered dinner from 10th St. Grill available at additional cost, and the concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20, and you can get yours by calling Castoro at 238-0725. You can bring your own blanket or low-backed chairs for the outdoor show if you want to be close to these Argentinian musicians. Betcha can't sit down for this one!

She still loves rock 'n' roll
Face it, don't we all love rock 'n' roll, inspired in part by Joan Jett's famous 1982 hit? In fact, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" is considered the No. 28 song of all time in Billboard magazine's ranking. Where does it fit on your list?

click to enlarge PURE JETT :  Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will pump out the hits during a free performance at the Mid-State Fair on Thursday, July 26. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JOAN JETT
  • PURE JETT : Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will pump out the hits during a free performance at the Mid-State Fair on Thursday, July 26.

# Rebellious and cocky, singer/guitarist Joan Jett has grown more political over the years. Her musical career started when she was just 15, when she helped break down rock's gender barriers in the '70s by founding the all-girl band The Runaways in L.A., and today she's frequently cited as an archetype of the so-called Riot Grrrl movement of women-led bands.

As a headliner on last year's Van's Warped Tour, Jett and her guitar chops continue to wow the crowds. One of those all-too-rare female rock guitar virtuosos, Jett is considered one of Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Check out her weekend show on Little Steven's Sirius Satellite Radio's Underground Garage, "Joan Jett's Radio Revolution."

Her latest album, Sinner, is pure Jett, with chunky, kick-ass riffs, her signature robust vocals, and catchy hooks that restate her original punk roots. Its release marks the 25th anniversary for her own label, Blackheart Records.

She's been touring this year with Aerosmith (whose July 25 show at the Mid-State Fair is sold out), but SLO County music fans have the chance to see her take the stage for free. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts play the free Fort Frontier Stage at the Mid-State Fair on Thursday, July 26. Shows are set for 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. All together now: Put another dime in the juke box, baby!

Fair time always brings us some interesting performers, along with those characteristic triple-digit temperatures. Other free performances coming up at the Mid-State Fair include Elvin Bishop on July 27, original Santana lead singer Gregg Rolie on July 28, Jars of Clay on July 29, Collin Raye on July 30, Chubby Checker and the Wildcats on July 31, Foghat on Aug. 1, the Bangles on Aug. 2, California Transit Authority on Aug. 3, and Blood, Sweat and Tears on Aug. 4.

Learn more about these shows at Tickets for main grandstand arena shows are available at that website and all Vallitix locations, with a lineup including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Daughtry, Godsmack, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley & LeAnn Rimes, Rascall Flatts, Christ Botti, and Renee Olstead.

La Botz has soul
Jake La Botz, a Chicago bluesman with a second career as a Hollywood actor, returns to the North County on Friday, July 20, to headline an evening performance on the Tent City Stage in the historic Colony District of Atascadero.

click to enlarge WHAT A LIFE! :  Bluesman and Hollywood darling Jake La Botz headlines a show on the Tent City Stage in Atascadero's historic Colony District on Friday, July 20. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE LA BOTZ
  • WHAT A LIFE! : Bluesman and Hollywood darling Jake La Botz headlines a show on the Tent City Stage in Atascadero's historic Colony District on Friday, July 20.

# His music combines old-time country, blues, and gospel, with tinges of punk and rock 'n' roll, all wrapped up in a package he calls "soul folk."

La Botz grew up playing at Chicago's musically rich Maxwell Street Market with the likes of first generation bluesmen "Maxwell Street" Jimmy Davis and David "Honeyboy" Edwards. As a teenager, he left home to live the life of a bluesman, hoboing through America's backcountry with an occasional trip to Europe before arriving in L.A. in the mid-'90s. La Botz spent a few years singing in the choir at the Greater Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in South Central L.A., alongside his friend Willie Chambers of the Chambers Brothers.

A 1998 documentary, Honky, depicted La Botz and his direct link to Chicago's all-time musical greats, attracting the attention of Steve Buscemi and other directors who started casting La Botz in their films. He recently spent three months in Thailand acting in a role as a mercenary named Tombstone in Sylvester Stallone's upcoming John Rambo. As part of his role, La Botz sings two songs "Tiny" and "Wishing Well" from his most recent CD, Graveyard Jones.

La Botz's other film credits include Animal Factory with Willem Dafoe, and the cult favorite Ghost World, in which he plays the leader of a notoriously bad blues band.

His musical path nearly veered off in a different direction a few years ago, when rock guitarist Slash of Guns and Roses invited him to audition as the frontman for Velvet Revolver. La Botz lasted a few weeks into the tryout, but the spot eventually went to the lead vocalist of Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland.

The Tent City Stage is a grassy outdoor venue along Atascadero Creek across the street south of the Sunken Gardens. Friday's show is a family-friendly event, free for those 12 and under, $10 for everyone else. Singer/songwriter Tim Jackson and Atascadero's Richard Green share the stage for an opening set at 7 p.m. Cast members from the upcoming performance of Jesus Christ Superstar will take the stage to perform a couple of extracts.

Advance tickets are available at Wilkins Printing in Atascadero, Aardvark Music in Paso Robles, and Boo Boo Records in SLO. Doors for the show open at 6:30 p.m., and you're allowed to bring in ice chests, lawn chairs, and blankets. Find out more at or 551-4144.

Gerhard on guitar
Acoustic Guitar Magazine calls Ed Gerhard "one of the most exciting guitarist-composers," and local music fans agree. From sold-out tours of Japan to headlining festivals in Italy, Ed Gerhard's music has touched concert audiences all over the world. Gerhard stands out among instrumental performers for his ability to captivate audiences of any size with a combination of virtuosity, generosity, and humor distinctly his own. Known for his gorgeous tone and compositional depth, Gerhard can move a listener with a single note.

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Ed Gerhard returns to the intimate setting at Coalesce (845 Main St., Morro Bay, 772-2880) on Friday, July 20, for a 7 p.m. show. Tickets are $20.

click to enlarge EVERY NOTE COUNTS :  Grammy-winning guitarist and composer Ed Gerhard takes the stage at Coalesce in Morro Bay on Friday, July 20. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ED GERHARD
  • EVERY NOTE COUNTS : Grammy-winning guitarist and composer Ed Gerhard takes the stage at Coalesce in Morro Bay on Friday, July 20.

# He was recently awarded a Grammy for his arrangement and performance of "Moon River" on Henry Mancini's Pink Guitar. His music is featured in the Ken Burns documentary Mark Twain, and the Boston Globe Critics' Pick lists his recording as one of the Top Ten Albums of the Year.

Gerhard is celebrating the release of his blues CD Sunnyland, an homage to his blues heroes. Each track on this highly anticipated release resonates with crystal-clear perfection.

"For me, the blues has been a deep source of inspiration since I began playing the guitar as a kid. Guys like Blind Willie McTell, Tampa Red, and especially Mississippi John Hurt were my heroes. While I've always played blues, I've rarely recorded any of it. When James Jensen at Solid Air Records suggested this project to me, I jumped at the chance to revisit my old musical stomping grounds. This unexpected trip back to the well really inspired me, and I had a great time writing the music for this record," Gerhard says.

At his Coalesce concert, he'll also perform some of his concert favorites, on six-string, 12-string, slide guitar, and Hawaiian lap steel. What a great opportunity to see one of the country's finest players!

Laugh out loud
This may not involve music, but it does involve albums. One of the best ad-lib comics in the biz is Central Coast comedy fixture Bob Zany, who is proud to announce the opening of his newest venture, Bob Zany's Comedy Outlet at Embarcadero Grill on the waterfront in Morro Bay (772-0700). He's presenting two celebratory stand-up shows, Friday and Saturday, July 21 and 22, at 7 and 9 p.m., along with "Very Special Guest" Jon Borchers.

Highlights from Zany's busy year crammed between 45 weeks of national touring include two panel appearances on the nationally syndicated Comics Unleashed, a hilarious turn on CMT's Comedy Stage, the prestigious show-closing spot on Comedy Central's

click to enlarge GET A LEG UP :  The new lineup of the Mighty Croon Dogs is ready to come unleashed on Friday, July 20, at Bianchi Winery in Paso Robles. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MIGHTY CROON DOGS
  • GET A LEG UP : The new lineup of the Mighty Croon Dogs is ready to come unleashed on Friday, July 20, at Bianchi Winery in Paso Robles.
# Bob and Tom Radio: The Comedy Tour, a white-hot invitation to the HBO Comedy Festival, hosting duties for Comcast's Comedy Spotlight, and, for the sixth year in a row, the honor of co-hosting the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

Zany somehow found time to record four CDs: The Best of Der Bingle, Bay-bee! I'm a People Person, Bay-bee! I've Arrived, Bay-bee! and I Just Can't Win, Bay-bee!, available at and George Carlin's

A weekly Zany fix is available Tuesday mornings via The Zany Report, where the three-time American Comedy Award nominee offers his spin on current events and Buh-buh-buh Bing checks in with his version of classic jokes. The Zany Report is syndicated nationally on the Bob and Tom Radio Network, but there's nothing like his live show. The latest medical studies prove the value of regular laughing, so why not go along and take care of your health at the same time?

More music
Longtime local dance faves the Mighty Croon Dogs are ready to pump out some tail-waggin' tunes for one of the North County's newest concert series. Bianchi Winery is the setting for the Croon Dogs' lakeside concert for a warm summer evening, Friday, July 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. "There's an incredibly diverse mix of styles coming into the band now, so we can play absolutely everything," says bandleader "Guitar Wizard" Billy Foppiano. Singer Steve Mazzetta comes to the Croon Dogs from the East Coast, where he played with funk bands. Drummer Jerome Taylor played with blues bands in his native Chicago, and also toured with local rockabilly group the Cadillac Angels. Saxophonist Scott Wright has played everything from big band jazz to original R&B, and has created the horn section on many local recordings. Bassist "Fat Bottom" Frankie Paredes grew up in Salinas with Louie Ortega and Latin-influenced Tex-Mex music, before focusing on ballad singing. And guitarist Foppiano has been playing around the Central Coast for years, in all sorts of configurations. "Whatever you might think of covers bands, the fact is, people want to hear what's familiar," he says. "But we bring in so many different styles that every time it's different that's how we keep it fun!" Their repertoire continues to include an inspiring mix of familiar and accessible music, whether they're playing R&B, rock, Latin, jazz, country, reggae, funk, or whatever. You're invited to bring your own picnic, or enjoy the complimentary burger bar that's included in the $10 ticket (free for Lakeside Club members). Bianchi Winery (226-9922) is on Hwy. 46 East, across from Meridian.

click to enlarge IRISH STEW :  Celtic trio Banshee in the Kitchen brings the sounds of Ireland to Paso Robles City Park on Friday, July 20. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BANSHEE IN THE KITCHEN
  • IRISH STEW : Celtic trio Banshee in the Kitchen brings the sounds of Ireland to Paso Robles City Park on Friday, July 20.

# The oak-shaded downtown Paso Robles City Park comes alive with the sounds and smells of Celtic music and food on Friday, July 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. An upbeat Celtic trio Banshee in the Kitchen takes traditional Celtic tunes, finds the sweet spot between the old and new, then playfully stirs it all up in a process they call "banshee-fying." Crooked Kilt Pub and Grill will serve up some tasty grub, and J. Lohr wine, beer, water, and soda are also available for purchase, with proceeds going to support parks and recreation in Paso Robles. More info: 237-3988 or

Rock Sisters Productions, a new music production company based in the Five Cities, is taking an active role in bringing live music back to O'Reilly's Bar and Grill in Grover Beach. They're presenting local rock-surf-blues-funk trio Tres Gatos on Friday, July 20, at the popular hangout near the beach. Tres Gatos covers rock favorites from the '60s to the present, in addition to their pop-culture-influenced original tunes, which they describe as "B52s meet AC/DC meets Dick Dale, while jamming with Rick James." Bass player and vocalist Jules Vern fronts the band with her pink Fender and her characteristic humor. O'Reilly's was formerly a mecca for live music on the Central Coast, but previous owners allowed the venue's live music permit to lapse and brought in strictly DJ music. New owners Jeff and Barbara Wynn faced opposition from area businesses when they sought to reinstate the venue's live music permit, but recently won a hard-fought battle. "I can't tell you how excited I am to have the opportunity to participate in bringing live music back to O'Reilly's," says Leanne Phillips, one of the Rock Sisters, along with Nancy Dye and Melissa Wren. "I'm head over heels in love with the new owners' vision for live music at O'Reilly's."

Reggae fans are in luck! Florida reggae band Scholars Word is coming through SLO Town in celebration of their latest release, How Long. As Reggae Reviews notes, "Scholars Word continues to establish themselves as one of the more dependable reggae bands in the U.S. How Long is one of those albums you can throw on and not worry about hitting the fast-forward button. If anything, you might want to hit rewind." You can catch their show on Thursday, July 19, at Frog and Peach in downtown SLO, or on Friday, July 20, at Mongo's in Grover Beach.

Outlaw country band Red Eye Junction joins alternative country band Pennyjar to bring some twang and bang to Sweet Springs in Los Osos on Saturday, July 21. Both bands say they'll fight hard to represent what they've learned from the country masters like Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard. The bands will also be trying to outdrink each other, according to their release, which notes, "This will be a show that people will be talking about for some time to come." The cover is five bucks.

Grass Roots Tuesday at Downtown Brew brings the rock, funk, reggae, and hip-hop group Fish Out of Water to pour their heart and soul all over the stage on Tuesday, July 24. Funk mercenaries Just the Tips and Extrinsics start out the 8 p.m. show, which promises to be a dance marathon just perfect for a summer night. Don't forget those $1 pints all evening. "The Fish are adamant about bringing the people for this event," the group says. "'No-shows' will be put on a list and forced to watch Full House reruns. We are asking all music lovers to support this night and this venue, since Downtown Brew is bending over backwards to make this a success. Pump the funk and increase the peace!"

Canadian favorites Hot Hot Heat bring their exciting synth-pop dance punk to Downtown Brew on Wednesday, July 25. With Steve Bays on vocals and keyboards, Dustin Hawthorne on bass, and Paul Hawley on drums, their original sound has recently become more melodic and pop-influenced. Hot Hot Heat's album Make Up the Breakdown won "favorite album" in 2004's Canadian Independent Music Awards. It features their hit anti-war song "Bandages," which supposedly won the distinction of being removed from BBC Radio's play list because of its constant references to bandages. Hot Hot Heat opened for the Killers at Red Rocks Amphitheater in May, and they've been supporting Snow Patrol on a U.S. tour. Their 16-and-older Downtown Brew show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $16.50. Get hot!



Cd reviews

Justice (Cross)
Justice wants to make you dance. These French boys, Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Auge, owe as much allegiance to the dark, sexy synth sounds of Italian disco as they do to the robotic

click to enlarge 20070718220733_l.jpg
# electro drums of Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" or Cybotron's "Clear." But the accomplishment only arrives with the brazen attitude that surrounds the whole affair: the exercise of dicing a track apart, and applying snarling static and overblown guitar distortions as a fixing adhesive, without ever losing eye contact with what keeps the dance floor flooded. The big beat of "New Jack" is interrupted by a transformer with loose wiring, yet the repairing hand wiggles the defect perfectly in time to the beat. "Genesis" opens with the heavy thud of ominous bass drum, as a warning to villainous fun that lies ahead. The charmer is kids' choired sing-a-long "D.A.N.C.E." friendly enough for grandma, but still enough kick to get tired feet hustling to the middle of the floor.

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

St. Vincent-Marry Me
Besides lending her robed frame and skilled guitar hands to Polyphonic Spree's oversized ensemble, Annie Clark more resembles her other touring mate, Sufjan Stevens, with her richly

click to enlarge 20070718220953_l.jpg
# orchestrated debut album, recorded under her moniker, St. Vincent. A multi-instrumentalist and equipped with a voice that can sound as warm as Feist or as dangerous as Tori Amos, what she captures on record shifts continually. The French horns on "Human Racing" seduce with AM pop luster, where the brilliant indie-pop opener "Now Now" eventually explodes into a full noise collision of guitar shreds, an orchestration build-up, and a kid-like chorus. But this says nothing of her lyrical talent for composing brief poetic visuals that bite with humor or lilt with cryptic sincerity. "With a heart like a socket/that I can plug into at will./And will you guess, when I'll come around next/I hope your open sign is blinking still," she flirts on Marry Me, continuing slyly with "let's do what Mary and Joseph did, without the kid." ?

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

Freelance journalist Kathy Johnston may be reached at



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