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The message album 

Siko's new CD is filled with advice & some of it good

Siko's Paint the Town opens with an avant-garde jazz sound explosion, quickly establishing that the local band pulled out all the stops for its sophomore album. After the opening sounds, it seems like anything could happen, but the band soon settles into its funk-based rock'n'roll on tracks like Take it SLO, a tribute to the band members' stomping grounds: Where we come from we're told to take it SLO/ Fast lane driving surely takes its toll/ sometimes we gain momentum in the wrong direction/ So we step back, remember where we came from and take it SLO.

click to enlarge PORTRAIT OF THE ARTISTS AS YOUNG TAGGERS:  SLO quartet Siko releases their sophomore effort, Paint the Town, on Feb. 29 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SIKO
  • PORTRAIT OF THE ARTISTS AS YOUNG TAGGERS: SLO quartet Siko releases their sophomore effort, Paint the Town, on Feb. 29 at Downtown Brew.

# While Take it SLO is a cautionary tale, most of the songs focus on having a ripping good time.

I approached this album originally with several ideas for ways to have fun, said frontman Ephraim Sommers. For instance, a song like The Show on Saturday' is about the anticipation one feels when traveling with a bunch of friends to see your favorite arena rock band.

Those lyrics: On the road, goin' to the show, it's just me and the boys/ Shooting booze, controls set to cruise, cops we can avoid/ There it is, the fuckin' place is big/ quick find the parking lot/ This shit is live/ it's Saturday night, the band better set it off.

The majority of the lyrics are written by Sommers, though backing vocalist and co-guitarist Pakes (one name, like Liberace!) also shares credit on a few tracks.

In some cases, what Sommers intends a song to mean and how most will interpret it may be at odds, especially on the album's title track, which sounds like a tagger's anthem: This mischief mission is a definite go/ A quartet of artists is ready to roll/ It'll be a fun ride till sunrise/ We gonna tag up every spot/ We ain't worried about getting caught/ Because a good time is not a bad crime.

Hmm. I'm not sure most businesses would agree, but locally owned businesses may be safe: Mom and pop shops we leave 'em be/ We deface all corporate property.

Look out, Starbucks!

The song ends with the refrain, Why not try to take it all the way? Any form of action? Why not try to take it all the way? Some form of action?

According to Sommers, the song uses the metaphor of four kids going around town in a van painting the town. That song represents my band as four artists attempting to shun societal norms and trying to make a difference with their art. I'm challenging the listener to look beyond the fact that they feel powerless in a big corporate world and do something with their talent.

Many songs also encourage listeners to party hardy or to tap into their inner child, though Sommers offers a caveat: I'm not advocating getting fucked up all the time. The song Take it SLO,' in which Pakes wrote the chorus and I wrote the versus, represents that kind of caution and how a life spent downtown [partying] can quickly and easily remove one from his/her art.

Tracks like Be Cool traverse a hip-hop terrain, while the closing track Get It While It's Hot sounds like Oingo Boingo meets Jamaican toasting meets Spencer the Gardner meets anthem rock (You've gotta to hear it to know what I mean!). Though a lot of the songs sound a bit too much alike to me, the band clearly has a few tricks up its sleeves.

Check out Siko on Friday, Feb. 29, at Downtown Brew. Presale tickets are $6 at the venue and Boo Boo's, or $8 at the door. Criticnue opens the show, and doors open at 8 p.m.

Album release party part deux!

This must be album release party weekend, because local blues powerhouse The Jerome Washington Express is also scheduled to debut its new live recording to the public on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. in the Frog and Peach.

click to enlarge RIP ROARING BLUES :  The Jerome Washington Express releases its new album Live at the SLO Vets Hall on Feb. 28 at Frog and Peach. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE JEROME WASHINGTON EXPRESS
  • RIP ROARING BLUES : The Jerome Washington Express releases its new album Live at the SLO Vets Hall on Feb. 28 at Frog and Peach.

# Titled Live at the SLO Vets Hall, the 10-track disc was recorded Sept. 15 of last year (at the 197th SLO Blues Society's show!), and the sound is stellar!

The trio is fronted by Drew Arnold, an accomplished and eclectic blues guitarist/vocalist who can freakin' rip in several blues styles, from the swampy sounds of Long, Tall & Fine to the Texas blues of Traveler's Song to the soft Delta rhythms of River Song to the breezy Motown riffin' of Take My Blues Away to the driving Chicago blues of All I Need and Layin' On the Sidewalk (Smokin' My Last Cigarette) Arnold, who penned all the tracks save one, can do it all.

Other band members include inveterate players Tyler Mitchell (bass) and Jim Stromberg (drums), which may lead some readers to wonder who Jerome Washington is.

Everybody has influences or key points in their lives where one can look back at life's road and see the change that took place, Arnold wrote in the album's liner notes. Jerome Washington was a hardworking, broad smiling, 60-year-old father of seven who loved God, his family, and his blues. As an 11-year-old from a broken home that had just moved into the neighborhood and was learning guitar, his encouragement of my playing and the joy we shared for music inspired me to value my own music in the same way throughout my life. Jerome has long since passed away, but I hope that his spirit will always live through our music for years to come.

Amen, brother Arnold.

Album release party part trois!

The hits just keep on coming, people. Get ready for some girl pop when Chloe Andresen releases Only Everyone on Friday, Feb. 29, at 7 p.m. in Vertext (941 N. Oak Park in Pismo Beach). Though her voice isn't as high, I was reminded of Kate Bush you know, lilting lovely songs infused with contradictory emotions such as hope, melancholy, and joy, as well as wisdom.

Her new album was produced by Steve Hilstein (DrumSchool 101 and previous Drum Circuit owner), who heard Chloe perform at church one evening in late 2004 and offered to record her at his recording studio known as Zebedee Studio.

I didn't even know she played guitar! said Hilstein, who intended to record only one song but was so impressed with this Joni Mitchell-Sarah Mclaughlin style performer and songwriter that he couldn't resist the opportunity to collaborate.

Haunting may be an overused adjective when describing chick rock, but what can I say, this album is filled with haunting tracks. Hilstein plays drums, percussion, and, on many tracks, bass guitar. Other musicians include Toby Willett (bass), Loren Radis (guitar), Gary Guiliasi (synth guitar), Tonye Holyde (sax, tambour) and Nancy Smee (flute). Chloe's twin sister Monica (a singer/songwriter as well) adds vocals to I Still Wait.

The theme of this project, Chloe said, came out of my personal experiences, searching for what I believe in and why.

The album release party is free.

The greatest live show on Earth!

Okay, seeing the Cuesta Ridge Mountain Boys (who have officially changed their name to Cuesta Ridge, CR henceforth in this column) may not be the greatest live show on Earth, but these five guys (and one gal) put on a super tight, super fun, continually surprising live concert. I'm not even a big bluegrass fan, but CR stretches the genre way beyond expectations.

click to enlarge MOUNTAIN BOYS NO LONGER :  Cuesta Ridge (sans Mountain Boys please note their new fiddler Lillian Thomasson, who is clearly not a boy!) may release its new album (if they get the copies in time) at their Red Barn Concert in Los Osos on March 1. CDs or not, the show must go on. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CUESTA RIDGE
  • MOUNTAIN BOYS NO LONGER : Cuesta Ridge (sans Mountain Boys please note their new fiddler Lillian Thomasson, who is clearly not a boy!) may release its new album (if they get the copies in time) at their Red Barn Concert in Los Osos on March 1. CDs or not, the show must go on.

# I haven't actually seen them since they added a new bass player (Matt Reeder) and female fiddler (Lillian Thomasson the impetus for dropping the Mountain Boys part of their name), but knowing Toan Chau (guitar/vocals), Patrick Pearson (guitar/vocals), Dan Keller (mandolin/vocals), and Brent Vander Weide (percussion/vocals), they didn't add a couple of low-rent slouches to the mix.

According to Vander Weide, Lillian plays on select tunes at select gigs and the band is expanding her role. The band has also welcomed Matt Reeder into the tribe and are astounded by his assimilation, calling him the perfect fit.'

CR is in the process of pressing a new, live CD from last year's Concerts in the Plaza show, which they hope to have available when they appear on Saturday, March 1, at The Red Barn located at the South Bay Community Center in Los Osos. What's this? Yet another new local album? The show begins at 7 p.m., with potluck supper and old-time jam at 6. A $10 donation will be requested at the door.


Three chicks

Check out Chick Tuesday on Sunday, March 2, at Pozo Saloon, from 1 to 5 p.m. According to New Times freelancer Kathy

click to enlarge THERE'S A NEW SHARON IN TOWN :  Chick Tuesday, a lush female vocal trio fronted by Sharon Buffy Doran (with two token males along for the ride), debuts at Pozo Saloon on March 2. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CHICK TUESDAY
  • THERE'S A NEW SHARON IN TOWN : Chick Tuesday, a lush female vocal trio fronted by Sharon Buffy Doran (with two token males along for the ride), debuts at Pozo Saloon on March 2.
# Johnston, Chick Tuesday is where it's at: If you adore vocal harmonies that positively ooze with dripping sweetness, you're in luck. SLO County's queen of the dulcet tones, Sharon Buffy Doran, has finally started up her own band, featuring three women singing in honeylike three-part harmony.

We rejuvenate some tunes that have been just longing to be heard. Every song is about love, either the best of love or the bittersweet part, Doran said. Chick Tuesday has a Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon' sweet hippie girl feel. We're just sweet, music-loving hippie girls! When we started singing together, oh my god, it was so sweet, we all just looked at each other and said, Wow!'

Chick Tuesday features Sharon Buffy Doran on vocals and guitar Sarah Jane Weiss on vocals, flute, and guitar and Karen Wilkins on vocals and percussion and two non-chicks. Frank Duncan plays a soulful slide guitar that he built himself, and Geert de Lange takes upright bass.


More music

New Times CD reviewer extraordinaire, Malik Miko Thorne esq., has booked a kickass evening of indie rock and urban DJ coolness for Thursday, Feb. 28 at Downtown Brew, when The Black Shirts, The Bloody Heads, and The Its play from 8 until 11 p.m., followed by DJ Malik I Missed My Deadline Again Thorne (my name for him) and DJ Dwayne spinning tunes starting at 11 p.m. The interesting thing about The Its is they play songs with the word it in the title, like Beat It. This one'll set you back $5 at the door.

L.A.-based jazz vocalist Kathleen Grace is the next featured

click to enlarge IT'S THE ITS! :  The Its, which sings songs with the word it in the title, is one of three bands playing Downtown Brew on Feb. 28. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ITS
  • IT'S THE ITS! : The Its, which sings songs with the word it in the title, is one of three bands playing Downtown Brew on Feb. 28.
# artist in the Friday, Feb. 29, City Nights Jazz Concert with the Mike Raynor Group at the Inn at Morro Bay. Grace's press materials ask, What happens when an artist fuses the harmonic beauty of jazz with the lyrical power of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell? The answer is found in the music of Kathleen Grace. Hailed as one of the most exciting newcomers on the scene today, Grace is blessed with a sound as pure as a bell ringing. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and all ages are welcome.

You can celebrate Leap Year when Conductor Bill Johnson and the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra present two Made in America concerts featuring Guest Conductor Chungsam Doh, trumpeter Ted Hamm, the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra Saxophone Quartet, and the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra Brass Quintet. They perform on Friday, Feb. 29, at 8 p.m. in The Pavilion, Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center ($13) and Sunday, March 2, at 3 p.m. in Los Osos' Trinity United Methodist Church ($10). Tickets are available at the door, online (, or through the Performing Arts Center ticket office ( or 756-2787).

The SLO Blues Society presents the acid-laced blues of Eddie Turner on Saturday, March 1, with The Mighty Croon Dogs opening the 8 p.m. SLO Vets Hall show. Tickets are $17 for Blues Society members and $20 for the general public. Born in Cuba and raised in Chicago, Turner's sound is firmly rooted in the blues he won a 2006 Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist but he also melds other elements into his sound.

Some current incarnation of Jefferson Starship it features founding members Paul Kantner and David Freiberg (also co-founder of Quicksilver Messenger Service), plays Saturday, March 1, at 8:30 p.m. in Grover Beach (21-and-older $33 and $53 tickets available at the venue and Vallitix). According to press materials, In addition to Jefferson Airplane hits featured for the first time in an acoustic format the band will also highlight the classic early- to mid-'70s period of the band's lengthy and acclaimed recording career.

San Francisco-based quintet New Monsoon plays an 8 p.m. show at the Downtown Brew on Saturday, March 1. According to press materials, Their exhilarating marriage of acoustic and electric instruments comes together in an irresistible blend of sophisticated songcraft, inventive musical exploration, and down home rock n'roll. Tickets are $10 in advance at the venue or Boo Boo's or $12 at the door.

Attention, hipsters! Eddy Burgos of Numbskull Productions is, like, totally freaking out at his latest booking score: Über hip band alert! The Weather Underground, aptly named after the direct action '60s activists group, will make their SLO debut on Sunday, March 2, at Downtown Brew, 7 p.m., 21-and-over, for $8. They've been burning up the Silverlake and Hollywood club scene as of late. The powerful Creative Artists Agency (who represent everyone from Madonna to Weezer) smelt a winner and quickly snatched 'em up. Let the masses know and they can chime about seeing 'em first! Consider it done, amigo. I checked out the band's MySpace page, and they're indeed cool sounding Jack Kerouac meets Bob Dylan meets The Cure (Hey, it could happen!) meets some blues shouter meets new wave/punk. Yeah!

Dr. Danger playing a mix of blues, rockabilly, and classic rock, along with a few originals hits the operating table, er, stage, at Mongo's on Sunday, March 2, from 2 to 6 p.m. This is an all-ages show with no cover and barbecue and beverages available.

Pianist Bill Cunliffe and his trio will be the next attraction at the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet in Cambria on Sunday, March 2. Cunliffe, who started his career with drum legend Buddy Rich, has in recent years been a Grammy nominee both as a performer and as an arranger. His trio will include guitarist John Chiodini (Natalie Cole) and bassist Tom Warrington (Buddy Rich). Concert co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake (vibraphone and vocals) will also be on hand. See him at 4 p.m. for $15, 7:15 p.m. for $12, or both shows for $20. Call 927-0567 for reservations.

Texas prog-metal-folksters Fair to Midland hit the Downtown Brew stage on Wednesday, March 5, to promote their debut album Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, which entered Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart at No. 2 this past June and includes their current hit single Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes and the modern rock hit Dance of the Manatee. The 16-and-older show costs $12 advance ay Boo Boo's and the venue."


CD Reviews


The Dirtbombs We Have You Surrounded

click to enlarge 20080228072041_l.jpg

# Ever since the dual bombastic sonic explosion of the MC5 and the Stooges, the raunchy and overblown amplification of garage rock always seems a little more authentic when arriving from Michigan than elsewhere. The late '80s saw a revival of Detroit rock, and the arrival of the Gories, who pounded out a combustible concoction of garage punk and Motor City soul with two guitars, one drummer, and no bassist. Upon their demise, Mick Collins reformulated the equation now doubling up on the drums and bass, keeping his lone fingers on the guitar birthing the Dirtbombs. We Have You Surrounded works most of the time. By turning every volume knob completely clockwise, they put thunderous intensity to their familiar influences (lo-fi garage rock, frantic punk, skronky rhythm and blues) into surprising diverse-yet-thunderous creations. Despite some minor missteps (the frustrating noise of Race to the Bottom and generic melodies and lyrics of Pretty Princess Day), We Have You Surrounded is a salute to Iggy Pop's brand of rock and roll.


Beach House Devotion

click to enlarge 20080228072119_l.jpg

# If only Beach House's sophomore album, Devotion, arrived a month earlier, when the gray moodiness of constant rain and cold evenings could have used a little mellow warmth. Recalling the slow-burning dreaminess of Mazzy Star, but haunted with the more plaintive wispy voice of Victoria Legrand, Beach House is built around an atmospheric density thickened with slow clopping beats from drum machines, the wavering of a pedal steel, and organ melodies that sway gently like innocent ghosts. Filled with waltzes and torch songs, Beach House is engaging as much as it is hypnotic. With elegant instrumentation, Alex Scally weaves the Baroque implications of harpsichord within Auburn and Ivory to balance the crying slide of pedal steel. It implies a Gothic turn without feeling the slightest shiver of fright. Barely crossing the half hour mark, Devotion seems to vaporize away just as you were still receiving its welcome. Hit play again, sit back, and enjoy its serene dark comfort.

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

Glen Starkey doesn't have to go home, but he can't stay here. Offer him your couch at



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