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Smoke 'em if ya smoke' em 

Or just say no like Nancy Reagan

April 20 is National Marijuana Day, and in honor of this safe, therapeutic, non-addictive substance, the federal government is suspending sales tax on all weed sales for the entire day, even though this means a loss of tens of thousands of tax dollars.

click to enlarge THE COOLEST :  Of the four great bands playing April 20 at Downtown Brew, Canadas Bedouin Soundclash is the coolest. Do not miss these guys! - PHOTO COURTESY OF BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BEDOUIN SOUNDCLASH
  • THE COOLEST : Of the four great bands playing April 20 at Downtown Brew, Canadas Bedouin Soundclash is the coolest. Do not miss these guys!

# President Bush issued a statement: "I'm a decider, see? I decide things, and one of the things I decided was to end prohibition of this stuff that I may or may not have partaken in back when I was a cokehead. Can't remember, see, 'cause I was high, which is fun. I'm a funner, see? So, now that we've pulled our collective heads out of our collective asses and realized the prohibitioning and vilificationizing of marijuana has been a grossly misplaced policy driven by fear and ignorance, and now that its legalization has destroyed a vast underground criminal enterprise, and now that marijuana tax has improved the federal deficit, and now that we've saved millions of dollars in law enforcement, judicial, and incarceration costs, let's party!"

Yeah, yeah. I know. I must be high as a kite dreaming like that. The best we can hope for on 4/20 is to furtively sneak a little alleyway toke before going to one of the reggae concerts scheduled at The Graduate and Downtown Brew. Here's the rub: If you don't have tickets to the Stephen Marley concert at The Grad, you're going to have a hard time getting 'em now. It's been sold out for two months. More on that later. For now, let's concentrate on the good news.

Tickets remain for Downtown Brew's 4/20 show with The Oohlah, Men Women and Children, Bedouin Soundclash, and Lyrics Born ($15 advance at Boo Boo's and ticketweb.com $16 at the door). Here's the basic rundown: The Oohlah is an alterna-power-pop-psychedelic act out of L.A. Men Women and Children are funkadelicish, new wavey, bootylicious dance pop Bedouin Soundclash is killer street reggae from Canada and Lyrics Born is fresh, funky positive hip hop out of Berkeley.

That's some serious variety, but I gotta tell you, even though Lyrics Born is headlining, I'm most excited about Bedouin Soundclash, a stripped-down trio consisting of vocalist Jay Malinowski, bassist Eon Sinclair, and drummer Pat Pengelly. They can sound liltingly Hawaiian (think Izzy), Bobby McFerrin-like, or even like Ladysmith Black Mambazo (if it only had a couple of voices instead of a dozen). The title track of their newest CD, 12:59 Lullaby, is gorgeous. Check them out at www.myspace.com/bedouin.

Okay, let's say you're real, real ambitious and you really want to see Stephen Marley and Junior Gong (aka Damian Marley).

click to enlarge THE FRESHEST :  Berkeley hip hop royalty Lyrics Born returns to Downtown Brew on April 20 (aka National Marijuana Day!). - PHOTO COURTESY OF LYRICS BORN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LYRICS BORN
  • THE FRESHEST : Berkeley hip hop royalty Lyrics Born returns to Downtown Brew on April 20 (aka National Marijuana Day!).
# Supposedly promoter Bruce Howard has held back 100 tickets for sale at the door, which opens at 8 p.m. Because the show has been sold out for so long and demand will no doubt be high (pun intended!), you'll probably need to get there really early if you hope to get a first-come-first-serve at-the-door ticket.

Okay, now here's some more news, but it's secret, so come closer. It's sounds impossible, but Stephen Marley's birthday is April 20, so after the show (which will probably end around 11 p.m., same as the Downtown Brew concert), Stephen and Damian will be hosting an after-show birthday party. As I understand it, The Grad will kick everyone out as they remove the sound system, and those wishing to stay for the party can mill around on the patio. They'll let people back in around midnight for the party, which costs an extra $5 if you were at the Marley concert or $10 if you weren't. Don't hold me on the prices (call The Grad at 541-0969 for confirmation). Again, it's first come, first serve. Word on the street is Stephen and Damian will be busting out some acoustic tunes on guitar together. Partying with the Marleys? That sounds all right.

click to enlarge THE MOST RETRO :  Men Women and Children has one foot in the 80s and one foot on the dance floor. Do the hokey pokey with them at Downtown Brew on 4/20. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MEN WOMEN AND CHILDREN
  • THE MOST RETRO : Men Women and Children has one foot in the 80s and one foot on the dance floor. Do the hokey pokey with them at Downtown Brew on 4/20.

Defoliate your ears

Agent Orange, one of the great SoCal punk acts that combined metal and surf rock into an ear-bleeding melange of moshing ecstasy, delivers its payload on Sunday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Downtown Brew for a 16-and-older show ($13.50 advance at Boo Boo's).

The band's 1981 debut proved the then-newcomers as one of the best skate-punk bands in the area, but like a lot of the acts that sprang up in Orange County, their recording record was spotty at best. After a couple EPs and the 1986 album This Is the Voice, they didn't put out anything else until 1990's live record. They disbanded, but have since resurrected, delivering the 1996 album Virtually Indestructible. In 2000, they re-recorded some classic tracks with new members as well as three new songs on Greatest and Latest, which was re-issued in 2004 under the title Blood Stained Hitz.


If you want your punk raw, real, and monstrously kickass, check it, gomer.

Return of the expatriate

click to enlarge PUNK ROCK CIRCUS :  Orange County punk rock legends Agent Orange play April 22 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AGENT ORANGE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF AGENT ORANGE
  • PUNK ROCK CIRCUS : Orange County punk rock legends Agent Orange play April 22 at Downtown Brew.

# Usually people are trying to get out of Cuba not in so Pablo Menendez is a rare case indeed. He went to Cuba from Oakland in 1966 at the age of 14, to study music, and has lived there ever since. That makes him the only musician from the United States to be living and working in Cuba.

On Wednesday, April 25, Menendez will present "Walking in Two Worlds Music and Culture in Today's Cuba," a lecture with video and music by Menendez (7 p.m. at Cuesta College's choir room 7104 in the Music and Performing Arts Building).

The evening will provide a rare opportunity to learn about life today in Cuba. See footage illustrating the diversity of Cuban music, including jazz, rock, hip-hop, Cuban "new song," and political singer/songwriters, as well as current dance styles, including Cuban salsa. Some of the bands shown are virtually unknown here in spite of being hugely popular with 11 million people who live only 90 miles from Florida.

Menendez, a Grammy nominee and founder/director of the band Mezcla, is providing the lecture for free, but donations are welcome to help offset expenses. For more information, call 528-2784.

More music

click to enlarge FROM CUBA, WITH LOVE :  On April 25, Pablo Menendez will present "Walking in Two Worlds Music and Culture in Todays Cuba," a lecture with video and music at Cuesta College. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PABLO MENNDEZ
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PABLO MENNDEZ
  • FROM CUBA, WITH LOVE : On April 25, Pablo Menendez will present "Walking in Two Worlds Music and Culture in Todays Cuba," a lecture with video and music at Cuesta College.

# SLOFolks brings Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel to the Coalesce Bookstore on Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m. and toÜCastoro Cellars on Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. (each show costs $15). The Grammy-winning collaborators Tingstad on American finger-style guitar and Rumbel on obo and ocarina play beautiful acoustic folk, which will also be featured on Sonnie Brown's KCBX 90.1FM "Minstrel Song Show" at 1 p.m. on Saturday (she'll interview the duo and play some music beginning around 2).

North Coast's Aqua Girl (aka Cindy Leighton) is organizing a music-filled fundraiser to celebrate the Cayucos Skate Park. "I'm planning an event to celebrate the revamping of the Cayucos Skate Park," she wrote. "Last year I donated some funds to repair/rebuild the park. With the support of the Lions Club and our local skate boarders, we united together with labor and hard work to make the park like new! The skaters love it! Now we're having a 'Celebration of Community' on Saturday, April 21, from 2 p.m. until sunset, with two live bands, food, beer, and giveaways." Red Armor and Ragg will play the celebration.

Local rock heroes Soulprint are tearing the roof off Hoovers on Saturday, April 21, at 9 p.m. The rock/metal act is also bringing DC Hotel, and Soulprint member Tim Thurston explained, "We try to get crowds into other bands they haven't heard about. DC Hotel is a great band of very talented guys." The cover's $3.

On Saturday, April 21, at the Ethel Pope Auditorium at Santa Maria High School, Son de Madera plays a fundraiser for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, an event sponsored by New Times and the Santa Maria Sun. The show, which also features the Santa Maria High School Ballet Folklorico, begins at 8 p.m. and costs $15 for adults, $10 for kids 12 and younger.

Jazz vocalist Kimberly Ford, who recently finished a new CD, Songs in the Key of Sea, returns to the area on Saturday, April 21, for two shows at Wine Cottage Bistro in Orcutt ($7, with shows at 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. reservations only: 934-4546).

click to enlarge GRAM-A-RAMA! :  Grammy Award winners Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel play Coalesce Bookstore on April 20 and Castoro Cellars on April 21. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TINGSTAD & RUMBEL
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF TINGSTAD & RUMBEL
  • GRAM-A-RAMA! : Grammy Award winners Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumbel play Coalesce Bookstore on April 20 and Castoro Cellars on April 21.

# Hot for Teacher, the Van Halen tribute band, returns to the Central Coast on Saturday, April 21, with a 9 p.m. show at Mongo's. Formed in 1999 to showcase Van Halen's David Lee Roth-era hits, the band is a high-energy rock'n'roll circus (insert blazing scissors kick!).

Three Cal Poly music ensembles will perform music from movie soundtracks at this year's Open House Concert on Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m. in Harman Hall in the Performing Arts Center. Expect to hear Howard Shore's "The Aviator" and John Williams' "Star Wars." Tickets are $8 to $19, available at the PAC Ticket Office or by calling 756-2787.

Performances by the All-State Festival Wind Orchestra, the Festival Symphony Orchestra, and the Festival Jazz Band will help conclude Cal Poly's Open House festivities at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, in the Christopher Cohan Center's Harman Hall. Tickets are $8 to $19, available at the PAC Ticket Office or by calling 756-2787.


Also on Sunday, April 22, the San Luis County Jazz Federation presents the 24th Annual Piano Showcase at Unity Concert Hall in SLO. Larry Arone, Jim Barnett, Bob Harway, Rod Keif, Paul Rinzler, and Gary Ryan will provide the evening's ivory tickling. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for Jazz Fed members, or $5 for students. Proceeds fund the Fed's youth scholarships for 2008.

Juni Fisher, Western Music's Female VocalistÜof the Year, will play on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in Paso Robles' Divine Appointment Guitars. I caught Fisher either last summer or the

click to enlarge SMOKE AND MIRRORS :  Hard rocking Soulprint plays Hoovers on April 21 with DC Hotel. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SOULPRINT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SOULPRINT
  • SMOKE AND MIRRORS : Hard rocking Soulprint plays Hoovers on April 21 with DC Hotel.
# one before (who can remember?), and she put on a terrific evening of great western narrative song. Tickets are $15 (call 237-0054 for reservations).ÜThere'll also be a wine tasting courtesy of Greymark Vineyards.ÜNot only that, but Divine Appointment, in honor of Juni's love for colorfulÜcowboy boots, hats, scarves, and all things cowboy and cowgirl, is awarding a special prize to the guest who arrives with the most colorful western attire.

The University of Redlands Chapel Singers return to St. Benedict's Episcopal Church on Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. A free will offering is requested to help offset costs of the touring student group. "This choir is the 'creme de la crÀme' of choirs,'" said organizer Carol Marble. The 28-voice ensemble will perform a choral concert ranging from the simplicity of ancient plainsong to the complexity of a contemporary eight-part motet, rollicking spirituals, anthems, and a barbershop quartet. For more info, call 528-0654.

A couple of reminders

There're some pretty big shows on the horizon, so you may want to trot down to Boo Boo's and score some tickets. Here are a few of the highlights: Saturday, April 28, Sean Lennon at Downtown Brew ($16.50) Sunday, April 29, Slightly Stoopid at Pozo Saloon ($28) Thursday, May 10, The Blasters at Downtown Brew ($13.50) Friday, May 18, Ziggy Marley at Avila Beach Resort ($34) Saturday, May 19, Guitars & Saxes at Martin & Weyrich Winery Amphitheater ($48.50) Sunday, May 27, the Avila Beach Blues Festival featuring Dave Alvin & The Guilty Men, Los Lobos, and Kenny Wayne Sheppard at the Avila Beach Resort ($38 to $63).

 

Performers, start your engines

click to enlarge COLORFUL COWGAL :  Juni Fisher, Western Musics Female Vocalist of the Year, will play on April 25 in Paso Robles Divine Appointment Guitars. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNI FISHER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF JUNI FISHER
  • COLORFUL COWGAL : Juni Fisher, Western Musics Female Vocalist of the Year, will play on April 25 in Paso Robles Divine Appointment Guitars.

# The Winery Music Awards, the competition that helped break Threes and Nines by getting them free recording time and a record deal returns this summer and is taking band applications.

"We would be honored to have you and your original music entered into the 2007 Winery Music Awards competition among unsigned, original music artists. Our 2007 web site will be up by April 15 and contain all the information you need, if you decide to enter," said organizer Kathy Kelly.

"You may be interested to know that entry to this year's Winery Music Awards earns you a prize automatically. By completing your application to enter the 2007 Winery Music Awards competition and submitting your music with the $25 entry fee, you will automatically get one year free with SNOCAP, the first end-to-end provider of digital licensing and copyright management services for the digital music marketplace."

Check it out at www.winerymusicawards.com.

 

CD REVIEWS

Grinderman Grinderman

If rock'n'roll is to be effective (i.e. disruptive to the elderly and cultural elite), it should feed off of the same dense emotion that erupts wildly in puberty, with no concern for Billboard status or MySpace listens. Nick Cave shoved it in our faces with his '80s Australian outfit Birthday Party, a noisy, aggressive, free-form collaboration whose inhospitable sound even today remains modern. Twenty-five-plus years later, Cave returns to this twisted explosion of American blues and avant punk with a fraction of his Bad Seeds (Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey, and Jim Sclavunos) keeping time. Luckily his frustration has never abated, as in the sexually devoid "No Pussy Blues," and neither has his blistering guitar that slashes all over "Depth Charge Ethel." This is a return to the punch, though a couple harrow hell dirges remain ("Man In The Moon") to satisfy the moody Bad Seed fan. Defiantly, Cave enters 50 years with irascible and volcanic form.

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

 

The Berg Sans Nipple Along The Quai

Instrumental rock should have its own splinter cell under the over-reaching awning of indie rock. Where a band like Tortoise rattles at the edges of an electronic post-jazz world, groups like Godspeed You Black Emperor adapt instrumental rock as their medium for found art, evoking emotional responses rather than head-banging hedonism. Enter the duo of Lori Sean Berg (a Frenchie) and Shane Aspegren (Nebraskan), who conjoin as The Berg Sans Nipple to present their own take on voice-minimal recordings. With a percussive heavy center, The Berg Sans Nipple wrap their inventions with a veneer that can imply the dub undertones of a hazed-out Lee Scratch Perry to the polyrhythmic synthesizer of Afrobeat. From an array of bells, keyboards, drums, and drum machines, Berg Sans Nipple craft an album of electronic pop that positions their tentacles across a musical map, encompassing yet never a replica. A true treat.

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

Glen Starkey's thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free. Put him through the spin cycle at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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