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Navel gazing 

Belly dancers descend on SLO Town

I should be excited to see sexy, bikini-clad women dancing to world music, but I’m actually a little worried. First, I’m sort of a Johnny-come-lately to this weekend’s Tribal Fusion Faire, now in its fifth year. Second, I’ve heard most of the attendees are female, and when women outnumber me, I become a scared little bunny. And finally, I don’t “get” belly dancing—a major focus of the event. 

BELLY WHO?:   Black Sheep Belly Dance is one of many troupes who will perform over the two day Tribal Fusion Faire on Dec. 13 and 14 at the SLO Vets Hall, which also features ethnic foods and vendors selling exotic apparel - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK SHEEP BELLY DANCE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK SHEEP BELLY DANCE
  • BELLY WHO?: Black Sheep Belly Dance is one of many troupes who will perform over the two day Tribal Fusion Faire on Dec. 13 and 14 at the SLO Vets Hall, which also features ethnic foods and vendors selling exotic apparel

My belly-dancer expertise extends to the vague notion that Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie was dressed like one. I’ve seen, perhaps thrice, an actual live belly dancing performance—not counting movies. To be completely honest, I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to be doing. Am I perving out, witnessing a special female bonding ritual, or distracting myself from the taste of lamb? (Yeah, most of my belly dancing experiences happened in restaurants.)

I had to go to the source: the lovely and spiritual Wendy Oliver, owner of Bali Isle, and the force behind the Tribal Fusion Faire, and ask her, “Wendy, what up? This is a lot of work! Why do you do it?”

“You know, I just wanted to bring the dancers together. [Four years ago], I started to bring local dancers together, but it’s outgrown that. I have dancers coming from the U.K., Poland … there’re people flying in from all over the world to take workshops. There are world-class performers, teachers, and vendors—don’t forget the vendors! It’ll be great for shopping, last minute gifts, like a giant bazaar, and underline ‘bizarre’ because some vendors sell everything from cuffs, to whips and chains, to renaissance clothing.”

For two days this weekend—Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14—the SLO Vets Hall will be transformed into an estrogen-fueled, artistic breeding ground! I’m talking lots of belly dancing performances, lots of delicious foods, and a bunch of unusual vendors including original designers working in goth, tribal, and Egyptian styles. There will also be a henna artist and workshops in everything from dancing to tantric moves.

“I really just want to share what I do with everybody, show them how much fun it is at the fairs and festivals I travel to,” said Wendy. “It’s really a big holiday party to bring people together. I hope to bring more local people to the show ...  so they can see how dedicated these performers are. Believe me, these women wouldn’t be driving and flying hundreds of miles unless they’re really into it.”

In the last four years, the Tribal Fusion Faire—driven by the increasing popularity of belly dancing and neo-tribalism—has become one of the biggest on the West Coast, and Wendy expects over a thousand people to attend over the two days.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK SHEEP BELLY DANCE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BLACK SHEEP BELLY DANCE

  “It’s unbelievable! It’s huge, so huge,” gushed Wendy. “I have an eBay store that sells tribal and belly dance stuff, and it’s become such a phenomenon. Belly dance isn’t just about exercise: It’s about sisterhood. You know how when guys play music, they develop a closeness? It’s like that for women with belly dance. It teaches them to love each other, not in a lesbian way but in a sisterhood way. The energy in coming together is good for the whole scene. You know, there’re over 10 troupes in the area! I originally thought, ‘I’m going to start a festival to bring everyone together,’ but it’s really outgrown that. I mean, we have one of the premier teachers here in Patty Harsh. She’s the grand dame of all the dancers here, and I acknowledge her. I gave her an award last year because she’s not just the best teacher, she’s also the most loving. At the end of each class she gets the dancers to hold each other’s hands. It’s very spiritual.”

Come celebrate women’s empowerment and experience the belly dance community: mothers and daughters, sisters, crones, goddesses, pixies, and fairies all. Tickets are either $10 at the door, or pay $8 in advance at Bali Isle. Visit www.meddevi.com/tribalfusionfaire for more info and a complete schedule of performances, which run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and local reggae super star Ras Danny plays Saturday evening (evening show is $10) after more dance performances beginning at 8 p.m. Performances run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

   “We’re one world, one tribe, and we’re one love, coming together as one in the holiday time,” said Wendy. “This is a celebration of new beginnings. We have a new administration coming in, and we’re rebuilding and regenerating ourselves like a phoenix coming out of the ashes, so I want people to come and be entertained, celebrate, and see how other people live.”

Cowabunga!

   Surfer/shaper/painter/rocker/renaissance man Shane Stoneman is hosting the first ever “Surfboard Symposium” this Thursday, Dec. 11 at Downtown Brew beginning at 7 p.m. with a “informational seminar, the shaping design forum, aimed to educate people interested in surfing about the shaping process and help them understand how to order or purchase their perfect surfboard.”

RENAISSANCE MAN :  Surfer, shaper, painter, and musician Shane Stoneman hosts a “Surfboard Symposium” on Dec. 11 at Downtown Brew, which includes a presentation about surfboard design, a screening of the locally made surf film Lost in the Middle, and a concert with Ston - PHOTO COURTESY OF SHANE STONEMAN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SHANE STONEMAN
  • RENAISSANCE MAN : Surfer, shaper, painter, and musician Shane Stoneman hosts a “Surfboard Symposium” on Dec. 11 at Downtown Brew, which includes a presentation about surfboard design, a screening of the locally made surf film Lost in the Middle, and a concert with Ston

Stoneman will demonstrate the relationship between “a surfer’s unique surfing style and the elements of surfboard design.” Also expect guest appearances by local surfers and industry leaders, who will provide concrete examples of how the principles discussed in the forum relate to real-life surfing.   

“I wanna see these local surfers get their money’s worth,” said Stoneman. “I always hear about these people in the surf shops, just pointing at boards, not knowing what they’re buying or why they’re buying it. I hope to educate them about how to analyze their surf style and relate that to surfboard design principles. At the end of the day, everyone will know how to order their magic board.” 

The evening will also include a screening of the locally made surf film Lost in the Middle, plus music by Shane Stoneman and Friends. There will also be giveaways from local businesses and a raffle for a free custom-shaped surfboard. Advance tickets are $8 at Boo Boo Records, the Downtown Brew box office, or online at Ticketweb.com. The event costs $10 at the door.

 

Kickin’ it

Even though their name sounds like it belongs to a ’80s New Wave band, The Kicks are actually a rootsy reggae act with a potent female lead singer (and guitarist) named Reese Galido ... and a new EP to promote.

click to enlarge REGGAE REUNION:   On Dec. 12, reggae act The Kicks (pictured) play an album release party at Downtown Brew with special guests Resination, Selecta Shaggy, Ras Danny, and The Ark Roots Band. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KICKS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KICKS
  • REGGAE REUNION: On Dec. 12, reggae act The Kicks (pictured) play an album release party at Downtown Brew with special guests Resination, Selecta Shaggy, Ras Danny, and The Ark Roots Band.

The sextet’s self-titled six-track recording features a collection of socially conscious, wholly positive songs with enough diversity to appeal to non-reggae fans. As bassist Michael Jimenez said, “I think this album will please everyone, even those who aren’t into the monotonous drone of roots reggae!”

“In the last five years, we’ve gone from playing living rooms all across SLO County to actually opening for The Original Wailers,” added Galido. “We’ve come so far and yet it has taken all this time to get our act together and our sound recorded. With the help of Kip Stork over at Avalon Studios, we’re happy to announce the release of our first-ever CD.”

My favorite song is the EP closer, “ii-V-I (Leavin’),” which features Galido at her most expressive, not to mention some excellent work from alto saxophonist Mike Galtress and lead guitarist Mike Clair. The chorus is also extra hooky. And I just realized there are three “Mikes” in the band.

This Friday, Dec. 12, The Kicks play an album release party with special guests Resination, Selecta Shaggy, Ras Danny, and The Ark Roots Band. You have to be 21-and-older to attend this 7 p.m. Downtown Brew show ($10 presale/$12 at the door).

 

Mollycoddled!

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Okay, the bad news is SLO Folks’ Molly’s Revenge concert scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 13 at Castoro Cellars is sold out. See? You should have gotten off your keister and bought tickets sooner. I know, I know. You’re busy with the holidays, blah, blah, blah. Okay, here’s the good news, Molly’s Revenge is also playing a Sunday, Dec. 21 show at 4 p.m. in Los Osos’ South Bay Community Center, and there are still tickets left.

KCBX and Live Oak Music Festival are the masterminds behind next week’s show, hailed as a “Celtic Christmas Celebration” that includes Molly’s Revenge with Moira Smiley and special guest Inga Swearingen.

“We’ve been practicing with Inga and it’s been great,” said Molly’s fiddler Stuart Mason, “and Moira and Inga are friends from way back, so they’re going to be singing some harmony stuff together.”

Smiley is an internationally known composer/vocalist/accordionist who has traveled the world as a performer and appeared at the Lincoln Center and other prestigious fine arts and folk venues in the U.S., Canada and Europe. She’s also a student of Irish sean nós (old-style) singing and has won the Western USA branch of the All Ireland Singing Championships.

Swearingen has appeared multiple times on the live NPR broadcast  of “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor, and she won the Shure Jazz Voice competition at the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Expect Christmas songs both old and new with a Celtic twist as well as music from the new Molly’s Revenge CD The Western Shore. YuleDance, a CD featuring music from the show, will be available at the concerts, and $5 from the sale of each YuleDance CD will be donated to two worthy charities: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International.

Tickets are $18 in advance (available at the South Bay Community Center, Boo Boo Records, or at mollysrevenge.com) or $20 at the door.  And fans of fiddle music should also check out Stuart Mason’s new blog, fiddlefreak.com.

 

Noise, noise, noise!

Quiet is over-rated. At least, that’s the idea behind the four-band show at Hoovers Live at 8 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 13. That’s when Blowupnihilist (Seattle), Sunken Landscapes (Long Beach), Black Sheep Wall (San Francisco), and SLO’s own Partially Hydrogenated Pig Semen can be seen for a paltry $5.

click to enlarge NOISE-TASTIC!:   One-man noise band Blowupnihilist (pictured) plays Dec. 13 at Hoovers Live with Sunken Landscapes, Black Sheep Wall, and Partially Hydrogenated Pig Semen. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BLOWUPNIHILIST
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BLOWUPNIHILIST
  • NOISE-TASTIC!: One-man noise band Blowupnihilist (pictured) plays Dec. 13 at Hoovers Live with Sunken Landscapes, Black Sheep Wall, and Partially Hydrogenated Pig Semen.

  According to promoter Dustin Pace, “Blowupnihilist is an industrial/grindcore-like sounding one-man-band. Sunken Landscapes creates sonic sculptures of sound. Black Sheep Wall is a down tempo/grindcore act that oozes slow noise. Partially Hydrogenated Pig Semen is one part electronic beats and one part manic improvised mad drummer filling in all over the place. This duo proclaims that they do not do the same sound twice. Whatcha see is truly whatcha get. These four bands represent four different directions where noise and art collide.”

Stretch your boundaries, open your ears, and soak in the noise. Experience aural ecstasy. 

 

More music...

Dust off your dancing shoes for the Usonia Jazz Band playing Saturday, Dec. 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Paso Robles’ only speakeasy, Level 4, a venue with a real piano, full menu and bar, and room for dancing. Reservations are recommended for dinner; request one of the cozy booths close to the stage (227-0336).

If you’re tired of the usual Christmas tunes like “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells,” may I suggest something a bit more exotic? This year, Coalesce Bookstore’s annual Yuletide concert features Brocelïande, a Celtic and early music quartet that plays “music from the British Isles and the Mediaeval and Renaissance music of the European courts and countrysides, with an emphasis on music inspired by or traditionally performed during each of the four seasons.” We’re talking about a group that performs music steeped in 500 years of Western European tradition. The $15 concert takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13. Call 772-2880 for reservations.

World music phenom Calinambe will serve up its entrancing mix of original music that perfectly exemplifies the essence of the term “World Fusion.” With influences from Africa, South America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, India, and more, this is a group that sounds at once familiar and foreign. Featuring multi-instrumentalist and singer Timo Beckwith, who seems to channel a language from another time and place, the group also includes world-class players Johnee Gange, Andrew Wise, and Dylan Johnson. Check ’em out on Saturday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. in the Steynberg Gallery. Tickets are $10 at the door. Don Lampson performs solo this Saturday, Dec. 13 beginning at 8 p.m. in Linnaea’s Cafe. Expect an evening of songs and stories chronicling the hardscrabble lives of the working man—songs about hard times, failed romances, and train wrecks, and ballads filled with “kissin’ and killin’,” as Don would say. As usual at a Lampson concert, the evening closes with a sing-along to “Goodnight Irene” at 9:45 sharp! There is no cover charge, but all “love offerings” will be accepted for Don’s “missionary work” at the local bars.

Unity Church of San Luis Obispo invites all to enjoy an afternoon concert celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14. The event features the Unity Community Choir under the direction of Stephen Tosh, plus performances by Leona Evans and other soloists and ensembles.


Glen Starkey knows hard work pays off in the future, but he also knows laziness pays off now! Wake him from his slumber at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

 

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