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Straight outta South Central 

Meet the rap, ska, metal, punk progenitors

I remember the first time I saw Fishbone in the mid-'80s, and nothing I knew about music prepared me for their hyperkinetic energy, pounding rhythms, and eclectic blend of genres pouring from the stage.

click to enlarge SOMETHING'S FISHY IN A GOOD WAY :  Long before Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Sublime, or any of the other reggae/ska/punk/funk/metal hybrids, there was Fishbone (formed in 1979!), which hits Downtown Brew on Feb. 21. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FISHBONE
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF FISHBONE
  • SOMETHING'S FISHY IN A GOOD WAY : Long before Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Sublime, or any of the other reggae/ska/punk/funk/metal hybrids, there was Fishbone (formed in 1979!), which hits Downtown Brew on Feb. 21.

# Formed on the mean streets of South Central in 1979--an already creatively explosive time in music--Fishbone set the bar even higher by mixing heretofore unblended sounds and creating songs with socially charged themes like racism, nuclear war, poverty, and oppression.

Like many bands, however, success came at a price, most famously when founding member Kendall Jones--just before embarking on the 1993 Lollapalooza tour--left the band to join a religious cult. Co-founder John Norwood Fisher tracked him down and tried to bring him back, but Jones kicked off legal proceedings and charges against Fisher that ultimately never coalesced into anything solid.

The group has sort of come and gone over the years, but recently they've been back in the spotlight after appearing as the house band in Outkast's fun period film romp Idlewild, not to mention an appearance in a Christina Aguilera video. Fishbone also found its way into David Arquette's directorial debut, The Tripper.

 

The band's current line-up features founders Norwood Fisher and Angelo Moore, as well as John Steward, Dre Gipson, Rocky George, Curtis Story, and John McKnight, who recorded Fishbone's eighth album--Still Stuck in Your Throat--last year.

According to Moore, the band's new direction is "jazzy/ska/gospel/punk-rock/reggae," which is best understood under the aegis of a live performance--where Fishbone always shines brightest. Learn more at www.fishbone.com or www.myspace.com/fishboneisredhot.

See Fishbone on Thursday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m., at Downtown Brew. This 21-and-older show costs $16.50 advance at Boo Boo's and the venue.

 

Dare to dream

The daringly modern, thoroughly elegant, genre-hopping, Eastern folk and world music chamber pop act 3 Leg Torso returns to the Central Coast to unleash another of their mesmerizing concerts.

click to enlarge SHEER MUSICAL GENIUS :  The daringly modern, thoroughly elegant, genre-hopping, Eastern folk and world music chamber pop act 3 Leg Torso returns Feb. 24 in SLO's Odd Fellows Hall. - PHOTO BY EUGENIA VASQUEZ
  • PHOTO BY EUGENIA VASQUEZ
  • SHEER MUSICAL GENIUS : The daringly modern, thoroughly elegant, genre-hopping, Eastern folk and world music chamber pop act 3 Leg Torso returns Feb. 24 in SLO's Odd Fellows Hall.

# Got tango influences? Check. Got a cosmopolitan style full of wit and humor? Check. Got delightfully arranged, always surprising compositions sure to transport listeners to another world? Check!

Formed 10 years ago during spontaneous street performances, the ensemble has appeared on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and in our own beloved San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival. They toured both coasts, released four albums, composed and recorded film and documentary scores, wrote new evening-length works commissioned by the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, and performed their original music with several symphony orchestras.

See founding members and principal composers Bela Balogh (violin, trumpet) and Courtney Von Drehle (accordion) when they're joined by percussionists/mallet players Gary Irvine and TJ Arko, with Michael Papillo on double bass, on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. in SLO's Odd Fellows Hall. This $15 concert is open to all ages.

 

Three amigas

click to enlarge TANGO-TASTIC! :  Grammy Award-winning violinist Kathleen Lenski, violinist Brynn Albanese, and pianist Lynne Garrett (pictured) join forces in a recital of dance-inspired music during two special shows: Feb. 24 in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of SLO and March 2 in First United Methodist Church of Santa Maria. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LYNNE GARRETT
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LYNNE GARRETT
  • TANGO-TASTIC! : Grammy Award-winning violinist Kathleen Lenski, violinist Brynn Albanese, and pianist Lynne Garrett (pictured) join forces in a recital of dance-inspired music during two special shows: Feb. 24 in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of SLO and March 2 in First United Methodist Church of Santa Maria.

# Grammy Award-winning violinist Kathleen Lenski, violinist Brynn Albanese (from Cafe Musicque), and pianist Lynne Garrett join forces in a recital of dance-inspired music during two special shows: Sunday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of SLO and Sunday, March 2, at 4 p.m. in First United Methodist Church at 311 S. Broadway, Santa Maria.

Expect spicy tangos and milongas of Piazzolla, a delightful rumba by Lincoln Mayorga, and much more from this talented trio, of whom Garrett is probably least known. So let me tell you about her. Though relatively new to Santa Maria, she's made her presence known through several local performances, but her passion for chamber music has led to collaborations with musicians all over the United States.

She's co-founder and director of a contemporary chamber music ensemble called Colloquy, whose promotion of new works has brought them several commissions--the most recent premiered in London in the spring of 2007. She can also be found in the violin section of the Santa Maria Philharmonic.

A $15 donation is requested at the door of each concert.

 

A touch of the Irish

Atlan has been called "one of finest traditional Irish combos working today," and for good reason. The sextet moves effortlessly between touching old Irish ballads and rip-roaring reels and jigs.

Audiences from Donegal to Tokyo to Seattle have been floored by these talented performers, who concentrate on music of Irish traditionalists: the Donegal fiddlers and singers.

They signed with Virgin Records in 1996, making them the first Irish band of their kind to be signed to a major label. Gold and platinum albums in Ireland followed, as well as tours of large venues throughout the world, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States.

On Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. in the Cohan Center, Cal Poly Arts presents the popular Celtic ensemble (in quartet form) in a special return engagement. Tickets are $32 and $38. Visit the PAC Ticket Office or call 756-2787.

 

More music

Get ready for back-to-back Pennyjar shows beginning Thursday, Feb. 21, when the countrified band returns to their beloved Frog and Peach Pub with (former Pennyjar and current Red Eye Junction guitarist) Jon Clarke doing an acoustic opening set. Then, on Friday, Feb. 22, Red Eye Junction will join Pennyjar at O'Reilly's in Grover. "We'll be debuting some new stuff at both of the shows and there is always the possibility of unplanned guests and detours," said Pennyjar frontman Patrick Hayes.

I've had the pleasure of sitting around a campfire with Still Time's frontman Dan Curcio, listening to him bust out covers by Ben Harper, as well as his own songs. Joe Koenig was there, too, playing his Southern soul. I've also heard The Playbacks' frontman Sam Sharp--guitar in hand--spin out soulful acoustic tracks. Now these performers will play a special acoustic evening when Still Time Unplugged, Joe Koenig, and Sam Sharp share a triple bill on Friday, Feb. 22, at Downtown Brew for a 21-and-older, 8 p.m., $10 advance ($12 at the door) show. "We're going to have the full band, but all acoustic--stand up bass, violin, acoustic guitars, etc.," Curcio said. "Also, we'll have couches on stage, candles, and plants on stage for a real living room concert vibe."

Altered, a SoCal-based trio known for its original musical performances, plays Cuesta College on Friday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m. in room 7160. The trio will also host a free clinic in room 7160 at 10:30 a.m. the same day. For ticket ($7 to $10) reservations, call 546-3198. Tickets aren't required to attend the clinic.

One of San Francisco's premier bluegrass bands, The Earl Brothers, will play SLO's The Clubhouse on Friday, Feb. 22, at 8:30 p.m. ($15 at the door). If you want to hear what a ripping good time you'll have, check out some tunes at www.myspace.com/earlbrothers.

Piano-driven pop ballads and a warm and inviting tenor voice await you at Linnaea's Cafe on Friday, Feb. 22, when Nathan Temby plays an 8 p.m. concert with Amber Gougis. Temby's AAA radio-ready sound, soaring vocals, and dashing good looks have made him a favorite of Sacramento's Gay Pride and Rainbow Festivals, not to mention a fav at San Francisco's The Cannery (with more than 15 return engagements). If you're looking for some heartfelt acoustic songs, Temby's your man.

click to enlarge BERRY FUNNY :  You can hear the original and humorous folk songs of Lou and Peter Berryman on Feb. 24 at The Clubhouse. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LOU & PETER BERRYMAN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LOU & PETER BERRYMAN
  • BERRY FUNNY : You can hear the original and humorous folk songs of Lou and Peter Berryman on Feb. 24 at The Clubhouse.

# The Cal Poly Music Department will present "An Evening of American Song" at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, in the Pavilion of the Performing Arts Center on campus. Katherine Arthur, soprano, and Susan Azaret Davies, piano, will perform Aaron Copland's "Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson" and Samuel Barber's "Knoxville: Summer of 1915." Songs composed by Cal Poly faculty member Kenneth S. Habib, set to poems by E.E. Cummings, will also be performed. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for seniors and students.

Cambria's Annual Western Dance Jamboree will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Cambria Vets Hall. This event offers 18 different classes and features 10 world-class dance instructors. Workshops are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by a 7 to 11 p.m. dance. The workshop and dance are $45, or just come to the dance for $10. Registration forms are available at the Cambria Chamber of Commerce or by calling 927-3624.

Local Celtic trio Three Sheets to the Wind plays a $10, 7 p.m. show on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Coalesce Bookstore. Join Sidney Willson Young, Chrisanne Wollett, and Jack Beardwood as they perform drinking songs, ballads, sea shanties, and songs of good times run amok.

One-man blues band Steve White (not related to Steve "White Dog" White, SLO Town's famed street fighter) comes to Paso Robles on Saturday, Feb. 23, when he plays Matt's Music, Stage & School at 7 p.m. ($15 call 237-0054 for reservations). Known for his expressive and highly percussive style, White plays a blend of guitar-driven originals and traditionals, with a slide on his pinky, a harmonica on a neck rack, and clog-shod feet playing a footboard of his own design. Eat your heart out, Dick Van Dyke.

Jay-Rock, J-Neal Enterprises, and County Star Entertainment proudly present what's being billed as "The First Annual Local Celebrity Allstar Showcase" on Saturday, Feb. 23, at The Graduate in SLO. The evening (doors open at 9 p.m.) will be hosted by DJ Sol and Lady G of Wild 106.1FM, and performers include Public Defendaz, 40 Oz. Freaks, Pac Nashun, and many more.

The Red Barn Community Music Series presents a return engagement of Cascada de Flores on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Red Barn in the South Bay Community Park, Los Osos. The ensemble is dedicated to the exploration, preservation, and dissemination of Mexican and Cuban regional music and dance. The show begins at 7 p.m. with potluck supper and music by a local opening band beginning at 6. A $10 donation is requested at the door.

Clark--a stripped-down band that that defines itself on simplicity and sparseness, drawing upon such influences as Nick Drake, Mark Kozelek, and Elliott Smith--returns to Linnaea's Cafe with some friends from San Francisco: Nathan Moomaw and Dusty DiMercurio. Check out this cutting-edge indie rock on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m.

click to enlarge PIANOMAN :  Alternative singer-songwriter Sacha Sacket returns Feb. 27 to Linnaea's Cafe . - PHOTO COURTESY OF SACHA SACKET
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SACHA SACKET
  • PIANOMAN : Alternative singer-songwriter Sacha Sacket returns Feb. 27 to Linnaea's Cafe .

# America, people! It's worth singing about, and that's what the Vocal Arts Ensemble is going to do when the group discovers the soul of America through the music of its people during two concerts: Saturday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m., both in Arroyo Grande's Grace Bible Church. You can order $15 to $35 tickets online at VocalArts.org or by calling 541-6797.

Local folk rocker Ben Justus left SLO Town about nine months ago to play some East Coast shows and decided on the way back to stop by his hometown of Indianapolis to visit family, where he hooked up with some musician friends and busted out a new 10-track recording of his songs. Come April, Justus will be taking his new band--Ben Justus and the Trespassers--on a West Coast tour, but before that you can catch him solo at Frog and Peach on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 8:30 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 25, at 10 p.m.

You can hear the original and humorous folk songs of Lou & Peter Berryman, along with an opening set by Morro Bay's The Johnny Starlings, on Sunday, Feb. 24, during an 8 p.m. concert at SLO's The Clubhouse. Tickets to see these Wisconsin folksingers, heard often on Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," are $15 at the door. Frequent comparisons to Will Rogers and Dorothy Parker, and Burns and Allen notwithstanding, these two performers are originals, melding Midwestern culture with street smart savvy. This is an all-ages show!

The fifth annual "Save the Music In Our Schools" concert will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center. The benefit concert will feature instrumental and vocal groups from Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo high schools. If you'd like to be a sponsor or make a donation of any amount, contact Ed Harris at edoasis@aol.com or call 550-5387. Donations can be mailed to Sharon Jeskey, band director at San Luis High School, 1499 San Luis Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-2952.

Alternative singer-songwriter Sacha Sacket returns to SLO Town with a Wednesday, Feb. 27, show at Linnaea's Cafe. He recently released a new album on Golden Sphinx Records "with an MTV-ready music video for his first single 'Judy,' an aggressive national press, radio, and viral marketing campaign," according to press materials. The show is free and starts at 8 p.m.

 

CD Reviews


Bon Iver--For Emma, Forever Ago

click to enlarge 20080222145443_l.jpg

# After holing up for a Wisconsin winter, alone in a remote cabin, Justin Vernon re-emerged with an album shaded with poetic emotional examinations and blanketed in rich ambient texture that move it beyond the simple acoustic folk realm. Taking the name Bon Iver (a deliberate twisting on the French word "bin hiver" meaning good winter), Vernon's sweeping falsetto adds an extra sonic dimension to this sparsely arranged album. Granted, he does get a little assistance from friends. For Emma gains from the warm trumpet and trombone tenor, but everything else seems to be self-managed remarkable. After half the track has expired with Vernon's slow strumming and double-tracked voice, "The Wolves (Act I and II)" pace quickens, loudening to a crescendo of disheveled clamor, until it wanes back into a gentle finale. Bon Iver puts a natural soulfulness into his introspective songs, catching you off guard--but in the best possible way--with this terrific debut.

 

Melvin Jackson--Funky Skull

click to enlarge 20080222145544_l.jpg

# Prior to college radio and indie rock, jazz was the genre that thought outside the boundaries, scrambling the notion of contemporary and cutting edge. Its heroes were iconic: the cool bitchiness of Miles Davis, Coltrane's spiritual transcendentalism, the persnickety genius of Mingus. Though often relegated to the position of sidemen, the backing rhythm section often held musicians with equal talent, who shined when their name was given marquee status. Melvin Jackson spent much of his career as the bassist behind the experimental horn of Eddie Harris, but thanks to Chicago record store/archivist Dusty Groove, his lone hard-to-find solo album gets the limelight it deserves. Filled with a sound that combined psychedelic exploration with the head-nodding groove of funk, Funky Skull can resemble the synthesized outer space of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi era or the street corner symphony of Fat Albert's Junkyard Band. With help from underground jazz legends like Pete Cosey, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, and Phil Upchurch, you can't lose.

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


Glen Starkey keeps getting caught with his pants down. Tell him a smart man covers his ass, but a wise man leaves his pants on at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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