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Traveling through time and space 

Festival Mozaic brings you 500 years of world roots

click to enlarge YOO AT THE HELM :  Festival Mozaic Music Director Scott Yoo has an amazing selection of concerts for you between July 16 and 26. - PHOTO COURTESY OF FESTIVAL MOZAIC
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF FESTIVAL MOZAIC
  • YOO AT THE HELM : Festival Mozaic Music Director Scott Yoo has an amazing selection of concerts for you between July 16 and 26.

A few decades ago, the Mozart Festival began in SLO County, and with it came an expanding tradition of lush classical music concerts. The past few years, however, the festival began to morph into something well beyond what most of us traditionally think of as classical music, and so it re-branded itself Festival Mozaic and broke itself into seasonal offerings. Lucky you! Now it’s time for the Festival Mozaic Summer Music Series, which runs from Thursday, July 16 through 26, and will focus on “world roots” and the musical influences of diverse cultures.

To be frank, there’s much more to these concerts than I have space to explore, so for a full schedule of events you should visit festivalmozaic.com.

What you can expect this summer is a series of concerts exploring five centuries of “the world’s greatest and evolving classical music, and how different global locations influenced the music that grew out of diverse cultures.”

Under the guidance of Music Director Scott Yoo, who travels the world performing as a conductor and violinist, this summer’s festival will help listeners make connections between composers and how their locales influenced them.

“A specific place can have a profound influence on the music that comes out of it. Vienna influenced Mozart, and Bach is as inseparable from Leipzig as Copland is from our imagination of the American West and Bernstein is to Broadway,” said Yoo.

Visit the Festival Mozaic website today to peruse its list of more than a dozen concerts at various venues around the county, and order your tickets before they sell out!

Newties!

It wasn’t easy, but the five New Times Music Awards judges managed to cull through 286 entries to pick the top three bands, top three solo artists, three best songs, and 20 best overall tracks for the CD we’re releasing in conjunction with the awards ceremony and concert on Saturday, Aug. 8 at Downtown Brew, when the Newtie Award winners will be officially announced.

In no particular order are the top three bands: Truth About Seafood, Damon Castillo, Red Eye Junction. Here are the soloists: Chase McBride, KO & Capriss, Joe Koenig. All but Koenig, who will be touring in Europe, have agreed to play the awards ceremony, which will cost $6 presale and $8 at the door. Everyone who attends gets a free copy of the NTMA Top Twenty CD.

The top three best songs include tracks from the Tipsy Gypsies, Red Eye Junction, and Loren Radis. All eight of the aforementioned artists appear on the CD along with the following: The JD Project, Stuart Mason, Don Lampson, Natalie Haskins, Kauzafex, Tropo, Cuesta Ridge, The Hot & Cool Orchestra, CS & Lewis, Richard Green Band, Brian Bosen, and Jody Mulgrew. Beginning Thursday, July 16, you can vote for the Readers Choice award from the 20 artists included on the CD, and that award will also be presented at the awards ceremony on Aug. 8, when the CD will be officially released.

Thanks to all who entered! Amazingly, there were no clunkers in this collection of 286 tracks. The judges struggled over many days to come to a consensus.

Next year we’re planning on separating the competition into categories such as blues and folk, hip-hop and rap, rock and punk, and jazz and funk, since the hardest part was comparing various genres with one another. In the end, we created a CD with rock, folk, hip-hop, rap, bluegrass, blues, country, swing, and tango.

We hope you like it as much as we do!

Rat-a-tat-tat!

It looks like Tuesday is going to be the only night of rest for music fans since Downtown Brew has its week booked solid otherwise.

Thursday, July 9, former Cal Poly band turned Myspace darlings Sherwood return to their old stomping grounds for an all-ages, 7 p.m. show ($14 advance or $15 at the door). Started in 2002, Sherwood quickly tackled the college indie rock scene with an infectious blend of classic rock sensibilities and breezy Cali-pop affectation. The Vans Warped Tour followed, and they were among the first bands to sign to Myspace Records. This fall they embark on their first European tour! Pink Spiders, Barcelona, and Reign of Kindo will open the show.

You can let your freak flag fly (or watch somebody else’s freak flag flap around) on Friday, July 10 when Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen play a 21-and-older, 7 p.m. show ($20) in conjunction with SLO Pride 2009 (visit slopride.com for tickets to this and other SLO Pride events). The Chicago-based duo blends cabaret-style musical numbers with comedy so funny you may blow your cocktail out your nose, which I understand is excellent for your sinuses.

Reggae fever? No problem! Mystic Roots Band has just the thing for you on Saturday, July 11 during a 7:30 p.m., all-ages show ($6 presale or $8 at the door). This is the band that won Best Pop/Reggae Album at the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2005, but they go way beyond reggae. Fans describe their style as a combination of No Doubt, Sublime, The Police, Sean Paul, The Fugees, and Cypre. Top Shelf opens the show.

Shift into folk/pop/bluegrass gear on Sunday, July 12 when Sara Watkins of the Grammy-winning trio Nickel Creek performs songs from her new solo release during an all-ages, 7 p.m. show ($16 presale or $18 at the door). The 27-year-old singer-songwriter and fiddler got Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones to produce her debut solo recording, which includes an impressively wide range of backing players: alt-country duo Gillian Welch and Dave Rawling, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, as well as fellow travelers from the bluegrass world like Tim O’Brien, Chris Eldridge, Ronnie McCoury, and Rayna Gellert; and her Nickel Creek bandmates.

click to enlarge LIKE VIKINGS BUT MEANER :  Ears will bleed, brains will melt, and heads will bang on July 13 when metal/thrash band Skeletonwitch plays Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SKELETONWITCH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF SKELETONWITCH
  • LIKE VIKINGS BUT MEANER : Ears will bleed, brains will melt, and heads will bang on July 13 when metal/thrash band Skeletonwitch plays Downtown Brew.
Ears will bleed, brains will melt, and heads will bang on Monday, July 13 when metal/thrash band Skeletonwitch plays a 7:30 p.m., all-ages show ($10). Formed in 2003, Athens, Ohio’s Skeletonwitch finds inspiration in the music of two decades ago: Bay Area thrash, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and, to a lesser degree, death, black, and Viking metal.

OK, enjoy a night of rest.

click to enlarge FROM SWEDEN WITH LOVE :  What do you call four Swedish folk babes? Abalone Dots! They play Downtown Brew on July 15. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ABALONE DOTS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ABALONE DOTS
  • FROM SWEDEN WITH LOVE : What do you call four Swedish folk babes? Abalone Dots! They play Downtown Brew on July 15.
Then on Wednesday, July 15, check out acoustic folk/bluegrass charmers Abalone Dots during an 18-and-older, 7 p.m. show ($8 presale or $10 at the door). I’ve never heard of the Abalone Dots, but then I’m not from Sweden. Let’s let their bio do the talking: “Abalone Dots come from a small town in Sweden called Vastervik on the outskirts of Stockholm. The talented musicians—Rebecka Hjukström (age 22), Louise Holmer (age 25), Elin Mörk (age 24), and Sophia Hogman (age 24)—have played together for six years and have already become a top-selling artist on RCA Sweden since releasing their debut album in 2007, From a Safe Distance. The album immediately entered at the top of the Swedish charts, allowing the foursome to cultivate a rapidly-growing audience in the Scandinavian countries. Their current single, ‘Solo,’ from their sophomore release, Traveler, continues to garner attention including a Grammy Award (Swedish Grammis), multiple performances on major TV shows in Europe, and a cover story in Scanorama—instantly branding the Abalone Dots as media darlings.” Cuesta Ridge will open the show.

click to enlarge PRETTY AS A PICTURE :  On July 11, amazing folk duo The Indigo Girls play the Performing Arts Center as part of SLO Pride 2009. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INDIGO GIRLS
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INDIGO GIRLS
  • PRETTY AS A PICTURE : On July 11, amazing folk duo The Indigo Girls play the Performing Arts Center as part of SLO Pride 2009.
Gay (or gay friendly) and proud, say it loud!

Downtown Brew’s Friday show is just one stop on the parade of awesome Gay Pride events scheduled this week for SLO Pride 2009 (visit slopride.com for a complete list). On Saturday, July 11, for instance, amazing folk duo The Indigo Girls play the Performing Arts Center. Formed way back in 1980, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers blended powerful vocal harmonies and amazing melodies into hooky pop songs about everything from environmentalism to feminism. This all-ages show starts at 8 p.m., with tickets from $32 to $48. Call 756-2878 to buy yours.

A few years ago I watched RuPaul decimate a standing-room-only crowd at the SLO Mission. Talk about charisma! Whoa! I may be even more excited to see 1980s pop darling Tiffany, who headlines the 13th Annual Pride in the Plaza from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 12. The incredibly cute Tiffany was just 16 when her two bubblegum pop singles—“Could’ve Been” and “I Think We’re Alone Now”—and shopping mall appearances shot her to the top of the charts. Sugar Daddy Swing Kings and Josh Zuckerman will also appear during this free, all-ages event. 

More music…

See Cuesta Ridge when they play Mother’s Tavern on Thursday, July 9, from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. during Farmers Market. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. they’ll play the Friday, July 10 Concerts in the Plaza show. Going from bluegrass and beyond, this is a band whose live show is simply spectacular.

Smooth jazz artist Bryan Savage returns to Paso Robles on Friday, July 10 for the next Concerts in the Park, a favorite of the concert series. This guy’s played sax and flute on more than 20 albums for acts such as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Martin’s King Tut, and many more. He’s been called the “saxiest” blower in the business. Check him out from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the City Park.

Grammy-winning Guitarist Ed Gerhard returns to Coalesce Bookstore for, like, the gazillionth time, which means you like him, you really like him! Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe said it better than I ever could when he wrote, “Gerhard does not write instrumentals. He writes songs only a guitar can sing.” On Friday, July 10, at 7 p.m. ($20; call 772-2880), see this master guitarist and thoroughly charming entertainer.

SNAFU, a “semi-normal American funk unit,” will bring its four-part vocal harmonies singing do-wop to rock to Otter Rock Café on Saturday, July 11 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. They’ll have you up and dancing, people.

click to enlarge LADY IN WHITE :  Jazz Chanteuse Inga Swearingen plays July 12 for the next Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series show. - PHOTO BY BARRY GOYETTE
  • PHOTO BY BARRY GOYETTE
  • LADY IN WHITE : Jazz Chanteuse Inga Swearingen plays July 12 for the next Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series show.
Two local favorites—guitar master Guy Budd and jazz chanteuse Inga Swearingen—take the stage on Sunday, July 12 for the next Arroyo Grande Village Summer Concert Series show at 1 p.m. at the Rotary Bandstand. Expect an eclectic mix of jazz, blues, rock, and more from these two inveterate performers.

On Sunday, July 12, Funk 30 plays the next Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series show from 3 to 6 p.m. during the Grover Beach Farmers’ Market at Ramona Garden Park. The band bills itself as “North SLO County’s premier groove machine, laying down only the best funk, R&B, blues, and rock for your dancing and partying pleasure.” Guess you better bring those dancin’ shoes!

click to enlarge BLOW, BRUCE, BLOW :  On July 12, Los Angeles saxophonist Bruce Eskovitz plays the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BRUCE ESKOVITZ
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF BRUCE ESKOVITZ
  • BLOW, BRUCE, BLOW : On July 12, Los Angeles saxophonist Bruce Eskovitz plays the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet.
On Sunday, July 12, Los Angeles saxophonist Bruce Eskovitz plays the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet. The prolific recording artist is regarded as one of the top West Coast tenor players. His recording dedicated to jazz icon Sonny Rollins, One For Newk, won a Grammy nomination. Bassist Luther Hughes, drummer Paul Kreibich, and series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake will join him at 4 p.m. ($15) and 7:15 ($12). See both shows for $20. Call 927-0567 for reservations.

Alt-Americana act The Popravinas hit the Frog and Peach on Sunday, July 12 at 10 p.m. To get an idea of these Santa Monica-based janglers, think the Replacements, the Rolling Stones, Faces, Wilco, Cheap Trick, Ryan Adams, Old 97s, Teenage Fanclub, the Plimsouls, and the Pretenders.

Soul, blues, and Americana singer-songwriter Will Scott plays The Clubhouse on Tuesday, July 14 in support of his new recording Gnawbone. This show, part of the weekly 6:30 p.m. songwriter showcase, comes hot on the heels of his successful UK tour that included a debut performance at the Glastonbury Festival. He returns to The Clubhouse at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15 for Hump Night Jam.

San Diego-based band Ded Pigeons label their sound “healing and easy listening garage pop” on their Myspace page. They make a funny! I listened to two of their tracks and I’m not healed, not at all. I did have some sort of psychedelic flashback and lost, like, 12 minutes of my life of which I have no memory. They like Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads, Animal Collective, and Velvet Underground, which helps explain everything. See them Wednesday, July 15 at Frog and Peach.

Glen Starkey doesn’t care if you take your marbles and go home. Go ahead, act like a big, fat baby at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

 

 

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Those Darlins—Those Darlins

Three feisty ladies from Nashville revive the cow-punk of Wanda Jackson with more feedback and enough rambunctious energy and sizzling sexuality to steal the hearts of your boyfriend and father. Kelly Darlin, Nikki Darlin, and Jessie Darlin spill out confessional tales of booze-laden nights, respect for their mamas, and sassy free-spiriting that’s wrapped up in their infectious mixture of twangy bar-room rock’n’roll. They call you out right away on “Wild One”: “If you don’t want a wild one, quit hanging ‘round with me/ You knew right from the start that’s my personality.” Whether they’re gobbling up a whole chicken in a post-drunken binge on “The Whole Damn Thing” or covering the Carter Family with their punked-up version of “Who’s That Knockin’ at My Window” or gunning out a ramshackle comical prison ditty on “DUI or Die,” their debut album is so rollickingly upbeat that it would make Johnny Cash or Kathleen Hanna giddy.

 

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The World Is Shaking:  Cubanismo From The Congo 1954-55

After the second World War, the split colonial nation of the Congo soon had factories in full production, offering steady employment to the locals, and eventually a night life to the laborers and performers. With the arrival of imported Latin American 78s, the Congolese musicians heard echoes of their native music that had been exported in the slave trade. Combining these rhythms with the various new imported guitars and horns, musicians began to reinterpret their sound for the nightlife jazz club and backyard parties. With the newly installed studios in Kinshasa, recordings became a possibility, but demanded more group structure to fit on the three-and-half minute platters than their usual informal meanderings. The World Is Shaking documents this cross-pollination as African music started its golden age; its Congolese “rumba”, vamping violins, and impressive guitar melodies would be heard on dance floors for the next couple of decades.

—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and mikovision.blogspot.com, where you’ll find archived reviews and soundclips.

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