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Music made for fun 

The California Honeydrops bring their good-time party sound to SLO

Voted the Best R&B/Soul Band by readers of SF Weekly and nominated by the Blues Foundation in Memphis for Best New Artist last year, the California Honeydrops are a rising-star party band that digs deep into the roots of American music.

Their joyous, can’t-stop-dancing sound includes New Orleans rhythm and blues, old-school soul, old-time Piedmont blues, zydeco, swamp pop, gospel, and traditional and modern jazz. Polish-born frontman Lech Wierzynski plays a mean trumpet, honing his craft in the Bay Area with Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, and Jackie Payne. Listen up for the funky rhythms of second line New Orleans jazz—it’s the weekend for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, after all—tied together with soulful vocal harmonies.

click to enlarge BOUNCY AND JOYOUS :  The California Honeydrops, voted Best R&B/Soul Band by SF Weekly readers, combine New Orleans funky horns with crossroad country blues on May 5 at Frog and Peach. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA HONEYDROPS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF CALIFORNIA HONEYDROPS
  • BOUNCY AND JOYOUS : The California Honeydrops, voted Best R&B/Soul Band by SF Weekly readers, combine New Orleans funky horns with crossroad country blues on May 5 at Frog and Peach.

Wear your dancing shoes to the Frog and Peach in downtown SLO for the California Honeydrops on Thursday, May 5, after Farmers Market.

East meets West

With a mesmerizing voice that weaves a captivating spell, Schweta Jhaveri is described as being to the raga for voice what Ravi Shankar is to the raga for sitar. Billboard says her music is “beyond beautiful … creative music-making of the highest order, not so much crossing musical and cultural borders as blurring them together.”

This is Hindustani music for global ears, delivered with a voice as sweet as her smile. Schweta Jhaveri has been studying Indian classical vocal music since age 6, and performs North Indian raga-based world music, khayals, and a variety of Indian classical vocal song forms featured on her latest album, Prabandh.

Fred Friedman and Pedro Arroyo, with public radio station KCBX, are presenting Shweta Jhaveri at the Monday Club (1815 Monterey St., SLO) on Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. Her band features some amazing cutting-edge musicians. Will Bernard is considered one of jazz music’s best-kept secrets, and is a headliner at this year’s Live Oak Music Festival. Viola player Eyvind Kang is featured on Bill Frisell’s latest release Beautiful Dreamers, and drummer Scott Amendola played with Charlie Hunter and T.J. Kirk.

“This is going to be a unique, creative, and outstanding concert. This is an unbelievable group,” Friedman says.

Tickets cost $20 advance (Boo Boo Records and brownpapertickets.com) and $25 at the door.

Show Mom some love

FIDDLIN’ AROUND :  Grammy-winning California fiddler and singer Laurie Lewis brings her stellar band the Right Hands to Painted Sky Studios in Cambria for a Mother’s Day concert on May 8. - PHOTO BY MIKE MELNYK
  • PHOTO BY MIKE MELNYK
  • FIDDLIN’ AROUND : Grammy-winning California fiddler and singer Laurie Lewis brings her stellar band the Right Hands to Painted Sky Studios in Cambria for a Mother’s Day concert on May 8.

Soft-spoken, sweet-singing California fiddler Laurie Lewis is one of the pre-eminent bluegrass and Americana artists of our time. Twice IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Grammy-winning Lewis sings straight from the heart. Her shows—which often feature her musical partner Tom Rozum on mandolin—are renowned for their musical virtuosity and front-porch friendliness, a perfect fit for Cambria’s Painted Sky Studio (4111 Bridge St.). Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands offer an intimate acoustic concert just right for Mother’s Day, on Sunday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20, available at the Business Center (1241 Knollwood in Cambria, 927-8880) and at the Yew Tree (734 Main St., Cambria, 927-0500), and at the door.

The Cuesta Chamber Singers are the only American choir invited to the prestigious Festival Choral International en Provence in France this summer, and these student singers along with Voce are working extra hard to polish their program before taking off for Europe. A Mother’s Day Musical Brunch featuring the Cuesta Chamber Singers and Voce is set for Sunday, May 8, at the United Methodist Church (1515 Frederick St., SLO). Brunch starts at 12:30 p.m., with a concert at 2 p.m. featuring music of America, including gospel, Broadway, folk, and jazz. Proceeds benefit the singers and Get On the Bus, a charity that takes children to visit their mothers and fathers in prison. All food, decorations, flowers, and even the venue have been donated. Tickets cost $25 for the brunch and concert (reservations required, 546-3195), or $10 for the concert only.

click to enlarge JAZZIN’ IT UP :  The Mark Pietri Trio provides the musical accompaniment for a Mother’s Day Jazz Brunch at Sustenance Cooking Studio on May 8. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK PIETRI
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK PIETRI
  • JAZZIN’ IT UP : The Mark Pietri Trio provides the musical accompaniment for a Mother’s Day Jazz Brunch at Sustenance Cooking Studio on May 8.

What is it about Mother’s Day and live music that makes such a perfect combination? Tasty treats of the auditory and gustatory variety are in store for you at Sustenance Cooking Studio on Santa Barbara Street in San Luis, with the Mark Pietri Trio performing for a special Mother’s Day Jazz Brunch on Sunday, May 8. Mark Pietri hails from the New York metropolitan area, where he’s performed in settings ranging from solo to trio to big bands, and studied and played with Charlie Mingus alumni Jackie MacLean and Jaki Byard. His trio includes bassist Fred Atwood, who’s recorded with Alan Broadbent, Art Pepper, and Supersax, and performed with Bill Evans, Mose Allison, and B.B. King. Percussionist Daryl Van Druff has been a mainstay in the S.F. Bay Area jazz scene. Tickets cost $35 at the door, including great live jazz, a scrumptious brunch, and mimosas. You can RSVP at 543-2186 to make sure you have a spot at the table.

Bring a picnic and your mom to Castoro Cellars for a free Mother’s Day concert featuring Tennessee Jimmy Harrell and the Driftwood Band on Sunday, May 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. “The Country Gentleman,” as Tennessee Jimmy Harrell is sometimes known, counts his influences as early country, bluegrass, Western swing, R&B, and classic rock. This outdoor Lazy Locals concert takes place at 1315 N. Bethel Road in Templeton, off Highway 46 West, where there’s plenty of “dam fine” wine available, too.

The beautiful Pacific Ocean provides a sparkling backdrop for a free outdoor concert featuring the Damon Castillo Band on Sunday, May 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Dinosaur Caves Park amphitheater. Sponsored by the City of Pismo Beach Recreation, this latest offering in the Pacific Breeze free concert series also features food, drinks, and goodies for sale. Find out more at pismobeach.org.

More music …

SLO Brew has a full slate of fine live music for our listening and dancing pleasure, and what would we do without them? First up, reggae/rock/dub band SOJA brings their Everything Changes tour to downtown San Luis. SOJA, from Washington, D.C., tells the roots story from America rather than Jamaica, with a sound their website says is dedicated to searching for answers to life, conflict, humanity, and love. SOJA, along with The Green and Chris Boomer, take the SLO Brew stage on Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m. for an all-ages show ($20 advance, $22 at the door, tickets at Boo Boo Records or ticketweb.com).

Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson is celebrating the band’s current hiatus with a project of his own, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Described as “psychedelic filling in a folk blues pie,” the band has been touring some of California’s musical hotspots for the last couple of months. The brotherhood consists of Neal Casal on guitar, Adam MacDougall on keyboards, George Sluppic on drums, and Mark “Muddy” Dutton on bass. Chris Robinson writes on his website, “We’ll be playing a bunch of new songs I’ve been working on and will be dipping deep into what is happening at that musical moment. Please come with your good vibes, feel free to trip along with the bouncing ball, or just float away. Keep it freaky!” Freaky, indeed. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood comes to SLO Brew on Friday, May 6, at 8 p.m. for a 21-and-older, $15 show.

Worry no more—there’s still time to see and hear New Times readers’ favorite local band Still Time, coming to SLO Brew to celebrate their album release party with their local fans. Their new five-song EP consists of genre-hopping tunes all written, recorded, and mastered by Still Time in their band house in San Luis Obispo. Here’s what one San Francisco music writer said: “With an earnest energy that brings to mind the Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, and the Counting Crows, Still Time could be on the verge of a huge breakthrough.” Hear, hear! Opening the show is ZuhG, a funk-reggae-rock-jam band from Sacramento. Truth About Seafood will also perform, all on Saturday, May 7, at 7 p.m. (all ages, $15 advance from Boo Boo’s or ticketweb.com, $17 at the door).

New Rock 107.3 presents a Battle of the Bands featuring The Beat Police and Wintersfear on Wednesday, May 11. The Beat Police is an alt-rock funk hip hop band that pumps out “a sound that even the most ignorant of haters can’t deny, and they’re coming for your ass next,” according to their press materials. Wintersfear is one of SLO’s few metal bands, with a style that’s a mix of American and Swedish metal. Bang those heads! There’s no cover charge for this all-ages, 8 p.m. show at SLO Brew (1110 Garden St., SLO).

Songwriters at Play features Santa Margarita’s own Chick Tuesday on Thursday, May 5, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Porch (22322 El Camino, Santa Margarita, 438-3376), with the lovely harmonies of self-described “sweet hippie girls” Sharon “Buffy” Doran, Sarah Jane Weiss, and Karen Wilkins. A showcase at Sculpterra Winery (5015 Linne Road in Paso Robles) presents award-winning performer Peggy Mann—voted entertainer of the year in Grand Lake, Colo.—on Sunday, May 8, at 1 p.m. Then it’s Texas-born, Nashville-based Jarrod Dickenson, a storytelling songwriter in the style of Jim Croce on Tuesday, May 10, at Kreuzberg (870 Monterey St., SLO) starting at 6:30 p.m. Each showcase includes other musicians playing four-song sets, all with no cover charge and a passing tip jar.

Have a side of live music with your ribs at the Thursday night Farmers Market in downtown SLO, when Soul Sauce performs on Thursday, May 5, at the corner of Higuera and Nipomo. Chet “CT” Hogeboom and Tommy Lee Nunes have teamed up with Bruce Sorensen and Keenan Michael Vallone to create Soul Sauce, which features covers and originals with four-part harmonies.

Trenchtown native and long-time SLO County resident Ras Danny is our very own connection to Jamaican reggae. His early Jamaican band Earth’s Disciples was managed by Bob Marley back in the day, and now he performs with Black Uhuru. On Friday, May 6, Ras Danny and the backing band for Black Uhuru will fire up Frog and Peach, before heading off on their Costa Rica tour.

Russian music is starting to catch on in SLO County, thanks to the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble. This quartet of classically trained singers was founded in 2003 under the leadership of Kirill Sokolov, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory whose goal is to widen the world audience for Russian music. The St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble performs on Friday, May 6, at 7 p.m. at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Los Osos (2220 Snowy Egret Lane, 528-0654), and on Monday, May 9, at 7 p.m. at the restored Old Mission San Miguel in the town of San Miguel (467-2131). A goodwill offering will help support the group. The first half of their performance features classical and church music, while the second half will consist of traditional Russian folk songs.

Feel like some dancing under the sky? Templeton’s A Day in the Shade celebration of the arts features groove-infused music by Funk 30 on Saturday, May 7, at the Templeton Community Park after Farmers Market. Shake your booty to some local tunes, buy some local art, offer gratitude to those lovely old trees, and you’ve got it made in the shade.

click to enlarge FIFTY YEARS OF SLO SYMPHONY :  More than 200 musicians and singers take the stage at the PAC on May 7 and 8 for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and a world premiere of Craig Russell’s new composition. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUL SAUCE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUL SAUCE
  • FIFTY YEARS OF SLO SYMPHONY : More than 200 musicians and singers take the stage at the PAC on May 7 and 8 for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and a world premiere of Craig Russell’s new composition.

The San Luis Obispo Symphony is closing out its 50th anniversary season with an “Ode to Joy,” a two-day concert celebration at the PAC featuring more than 200 performers. The Cuesta Master Chorale, the Cal Poly Choirs, and vocal soloists Julia Kierstine, Jacalyn Kreitzer, Jon Garrison, and Gary Aldrich will take the stage for Beethoven’s masterpiece, Ninth Symphony, which features singing during the final movement. The world premiere of local composer Craig H. Russell’s original work, Celebrations!, will be performed by the Youth Symphony Concert Orchestra and the SLO Symphony; it’s described as a joyful musical conversation between two generations. The performance takes place on Saturday, May 7, at 8 p.m., and again on Sunday, May 8, at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $17 to $68 (756-2787 or pacslo.org), with no free dress rehearsal. Bring donations of cash or non-perishable food to donate to the Food Bank Coalition of SLO County.

The life and music of bluesman Robert Johnson is in the spotlight at SLO Down Pub in Arroyo Grande. Tickets cost $10 for this show, which features the Karen Tyler Trio, Cliff “Crawdaddy” Stepp, Joey Five and Dimes, and more on Sunday, May 8, at 4 p.m.

With hints of Norah Jones, Feist, and Ani DiFranco, Beautiful Nowhere brings its “Everything but Bars Tour” to Linnaea’s on Sunday, May 8. Two musicians named Femke and Keppie make up Beautiful Nowhere, a warm, intimate duo just right for SLO’s famous café.

click to enlarge INDIE-POP HARMONIES :  Portland, Oregon-based Ezza Rose and her band come to Linnaea’s Café on May 9. - PHOTO COURTESY OF EZZA ROSE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF EZZA ROSE
  • INDIE-POP HARMONIES : Portland, Oregon-based Ezza Rose and her band come to Linnaea’s Café on May 9.

Portland, Ore., musician Ezza Rose pens folk and bluegrass tunes with an indie-pop feel. Born and raised in Julian, Calif., on the border of the Anza Borrego Desert, she’s been part of the thriving Portland music scene since 2007. Joining Ezza Rose at Linnaea’s Café on Monday, May 9, will be bandmates Aubrey Webber (cello, backup vocals), John Vecchiarelli on drums, Ashley King (violin, backup vocals), and Kyle Butz (banjo, ukulele, accordion).

Two “hyperfunkadelicsuperbadslappin’ dudes” from Austin comprise Achachay, promising to bring a ruckus to Frog and Peach on Monday, May 9. “This music is about feeling the groove. This music is about us pouring our hearts out to you, and you pouring ’em right back out to us,” says the band’s website.

click to enlarge LUSH IVORIES :  Warm and witty pianist Jim Brickman presents pop-style instrumentals and song stylings for “An Evening of Romance” at the PAC on May 10. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA WOSKE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA WOSKE
  • LUSH IVORIES : Warm and witty pianist Jim Brickman presents pop-style instrumentals and song stylings for “An Evening of Romance” at the PAC on May 10.

Romantic piano sound is just about synonymous with Jim Brickman, who revolutionized the sound of solo piano starting with his 1994 debut album No Words. Two Grammy nominations, 28 radio hits, a Gospel Music Association Dove Award, six Gold- and Platinum-selling albums later, Jim Brickman has received international acclaim as a concert performer who takes his popular shows to more than 125 cities each year—including San Luis Obispo. On Tuesday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center’s Cohan Center, Cal Poly Arts presents Jim Brickman in “An Evening of Romance.” Song stylist Anne Cochran will sing with Brickman at the PAC, an ongoing collaboration celebrated in the hit “After All These Years.” Tickets range from $16 to $42, available at the PAC ticket office, 756-2787 or at calpolyarts.org.

What do you get when you combine a guitar, a red trucker hat, folk songs, and an old Toyota wagon on an open road? Midwest Dilemma, the stage name for Justin Lamoureux and a revolving cast of musical collaborators. His debut album Timelines & Tragedies won Album of the Year in Omaha, Neb., with songs featured on PBS’s Roadtrip Nation. Midwest Dilemma was one of five U.S. bands selected to play the NXNE international music festival in Toronto, Canada, in 2009 and showcased at SXSW in Austin this year. Midwest Dilemma makes a solo appearance on Tuesday, May 10, at the Frog and Peach in downtown SLO. Check out some tunes at midwestdilemma.com.

And while you’re at it, take a moment to rejoice at all the top caliber live music on offer in SLO County!

Contributing Writer Kathy Johnston is filling in for Glen Starkey this week. Welcome Glen back at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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