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Unite on the dance floor! 

Get in the mood for love with the B-Side Players

Ah, Valentine's Day! Is it some cheesy corporate holiday designed to peddle red teddy bears, chocolates, cards, flowers, lingerie, and nipple clamps? (Hey, just seeing if you're awake!) Or is it rooted in history? Good question!

I looked it up on the Internet, and there's some blather about

click to enlarge FOR YOUR LOVE :  The B-Side Players will provide the soundtrack for your love affair on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, at 11 a.m. at Cal Poly's U.U., and 8 p.m. in Downtown Brew. - PHOTO BY DEVIN DEHAVEN
  • PHOTO BY DEVIN DEHAVEN
  • FOR YOUR LOVE : The B-Side Players will provide the soundtrack for your love affair on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, at 11 a.m. at Cal Poly's U.U., and 8 p.m. in Downtown Brew.
# Christian and ancient Roman traditions. The one legend I liked said that Valentine was a priest serving in third century Rome, and when Emperor Claudius II decided that single men were better soldiers than those married, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

All we know for sure is that whatever it was, it's now pretty sappy. I mean, when Farmers' Market gets in on the act well, come on! So you're ready to show your sweetie how much you care, but don't feel like springing for dozens of roses, chocolates, and lingerie? What better way to profess your deep abiding love than by dragging him/her around a smoke-filled street while being jostled by droves of unsupervised teens? Yes, I'm talking about heavily promoted "Sweethearts Night" at Farmers' Market, set for Thursday, Feb. 14. That's right! From 6 to 8:30 p.m., you can buy a flower from a street vendor, grab a few greasy ribs, listen to street musicians such as Pitch & Rhythm, and let Cupid's arrow fly!

"Oh baby, let me lick that barbecue sauce off your face! M'wah! Now let's go home and put these locally grown vegetables to the test!"

Okay, go ahead and do "Sweethearts Night," but then maybe check out the extra-groovy B-Side Players--an ensemble known for its positive-vibin'-we're-one-big-tribe live set where they mix Latin, dub, and funk. They play Cal Poly during the day and Downtown Brew at night.

So if you're kicking around Cal Poly in the morning, skipping classes or stalking co-eds (hey, everybody needs a date--it's Valentine's Day), head to the University Union to see the band at 11 a.m. (By the way, I saw a poster on campus saying they're selling chocolate vaginas in the U.U. for V-Day I kid you not. It's a dry campus, but you can buy chocolate vaginas!)

The B-Side Players appear again in Downtown Brew for an 18-and-older, $11.50 advance ($12 at the door), 8 p.m. show. If you get advanced tickets, you can also get two-for-one dinners, which shows that special someone you care enough to be so frugal that you can one day retire together in the lap of luxury.

The band is touring in support of Fire in the Youth, their seventh album that's been getting some glowing reviews. They keep on spelunking the depths of Latin American and the Caribbean sounds, incorporating rhythms from Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, and Brazil with funk, rock, jazz, and hip-hop inflections. Local act Calinambe will open.

Chocolate vaginas, two-for-one dinners, and hot music--it all totally says I love you!

Help us be even hipper hippies!

Remember the Partridge Family? They had that cool bus, played those groovy songs, and lived in the 'burbs? Maybe that's who the Suburbanoid Fatties have been fashioning themselves after, or maybe that's who they're mocking! The New Orleans-based duo has been touring the West Coast for the last six months in their fully converted biodiesel bus "Rocket," playing music that varies from "popish ambience to full on rock."

click to enlarge HEY RED STATES, YOU SUCK! :  HopeDance presents left-leaning (Leaning? Hell, he's fallen over) political satirist Roy Zimmerman in concert at the SLO Library on Feb. 15. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ROY ZIMMERMAN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF ROY ZIMMERMAN
  • HEY RED STATES, YOU SUCK! : HopeDance presents left-leaning (Leaning? Hell, he's fallen over) political satirist Roy Zimmerman in concert at the SLO Library on Feb. 15.

# "We incorporate visual projections behind us, creating a more movie-esque vibe," Jim and Bettie Sqi said on the duo's website. "That's what sets us apart from the regular music and art world. The videos are abstract, but molded to speak a definitive message loud and clear, but not preaching. The themes tend to range from environmental and social concerns, reflections on the storm that sent us packing, animal rights, and to the state of our current food systems. Spreading a musical/visual message of kindness, to our planet and to others, is but one side of us.

"We are currently seeking donations and support to help transform our bus into a fully sustainable home."

Whoa, whoa, whoa! You two guys are driving around the West Coast in a pollution-spewing school bus that could fit 40 kids, and you want us to help you do it in even more luxury? How about we help you sell Rocket and get you a nice 1980 Volkswagen Vanagon?

"We are planning recycled veggie oil systems, solar/wind power, and hydroponic gardening, just to name a few."

Okay, so why should we pay for it?

"Final plans are to use Rocket as an educational tool to tour schools and festivals to promote sustainability as the new future. Considered controversial by some and censored by others, the Fatties welcome you to look around and make up your own mind."

There you have it, friends: The Suburbanoid Fatties will perform at 6:30 and 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, at the San Luis Obispo Art Center. A $5 donation is requested. Pictures of Rocket can be found at www.suburbanoidfatties.com/rocket.htm. Check it and see if you want to donate more. You can e-mail info@suburbanoidfatties.com to reserve tickets.

 

Happy birthday, Bob!

Groundation's a little late, since Bob Marley's birthday is Feb. 6--but better late than never, right? The band's "A Tribute to Bob Marley" returns to Downtown Brew on Friday, Feb. 15, for an 8 p.m. one-love fest.

click to enlarge HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REGGAE STYLE :  Groundation plays an annual Bob Marley birthday bash on Feb. 15 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF GROUNDATION
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF GROUNDATION
  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY, REGGAE STYLE : Groundation plays an annual Bob Marley birthday bash on Feb. 15 at Downtown Brew.

# According to the band's promotional materials, "The name 'Groundation' came from trying to get everyone on the same level so people can talk and feel free to educate each other and learn from each other, and not come from a hierarchy or some type of leveled class situation."

Founded in the fall of 1998 by three long-time musicians--Marcus Urani, Ryan Newman, and Harrison Stafford--Groundation was later completed in 2000 by San Francisco based jazz trumpeter David Chachere and the North Bay's Kelsey Howard on trombone. Drummer Paul Spina (Les Claypool, Will Bernard's Mother Bug) has been with the group since 2001. Stafford taught one of the only university courses on the history of reggae music at Sonoma State University from 1999 to 2001.



Advance general admission tickets for this 18-and-older show are $17.50 or $20 at the door, available at all Vallitix locations, including Boo Boo Records in San Luis Obispo, the Mustang Ticket Office on the Cal Poly campus, and at the California MidState Fair Box Office in Paso Robles. Charge by phone at 1-888-825-5484. Order online at www.vallitix.com.


What's in a name?

Like Marshall Tucker and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Houston Jones is one of those bands that sounds like it's somebody's name, but it ain't--at least not exactly. It's two somebodies, namely guitarists/vocalists Glenn Houston and Travis Jones who front this self-described "high-octane Americana" quintet.

click to enlarge RED, WHITE, AND BLUEGRASS :  "High-octane Americana" quintet Houston Jones plays Feb. 15 at Coalesce Bookstore and Feb. 16 at Castoro Cellars. - PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSTON JONES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSTON JONES
  • RED, WHITE, AND BLUEGRASS : "High-octane Americana" quintet Houston Jones plays Feb. 15 at Coalesce Bookstore and Feb. 16 at Castoro Cellars.

# Now the folks at SLOFolks are hosting the Bay Area band, along with Chojo Jacques (fiddle, mandolin, and vocals) as Houston Jones' guest performer, on Friday, Feb. 15, at Coalesce Bookstore (7 p.m. $20 772-2880) and Saturday, Feb. 16, at Castoro Cellars (7:30 p.m. $20 238-0725). Sonnie Brown will be interviewing Houston Jones on Saturday during her KCBX "Minstrel Song Show" that runs from 2 to 4 p.m.

To get an idea of the range of these musicians, Doc Watson, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Doobie Brothers, Bo Diddley, Ricky Lee Jones, Al Cooper, Warren Zevon, Jerry Garcia, Lyle Lovett, Los Lobos, Bela Fleck, J.J. Cale, and Merle Haggard are but a few names that the members of Houston Jones have--in various incarnations--performed with.

What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

On Faulty Intelligence, Roy Zimmerman's clever new novelty record, he kicks off with an Elvis Presley-style crooning ballad called "Hello, NSA"--and damn if he doesn't deliver a killer Elvis Presley impression when he sings "Hello NSA/ I just called you to say/ I love you because you really listen/ Now when I'm on the phone/ I never feel alone/ because you're out there, with your headphones/ and you really listen."

On the very next song, "Chickenhawk," he's clucking like a chicken. A couple of songs later, he's mocking "That's the War on Terror." Then there's "Creation Science 101," "Defenders of Marriage," "Intelligent Design"--you starting to see a trend here, people? Zimmerman aims his jaundiced eye at the giant target that is the rightwing conservative base, and he doesn't miss.

Just think! You thought there wasn't anything funny about war, poverty, ignorance, bigotry, neo-conservatism, homophobia, greed, lust, and fear! Find out there is when HopeDance presents Roy Zimmerman in concert on Saturday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m. in the SLO Library Community Room. A $15 donation for this all-ages concert is requested at the door. Lompoc-based trio, Le Petit Protest, will open the show.

click to enlarge SING US A SONG, PIANOMAN :  Song stylist and raconteur Michael Feinstein returns to the PAC for an encore performance Feb. 21. Get your tickets quick! - PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL FEINSTEIN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL FEINSTEIN
  • SING US A SONG, PIANOMAN : Song stylist and raconteur Michael Feinstein returns to the PAC for an encore performance Feb. 21. Get your tickets quick!
# One fine Feinstein

Think back to one of those 1940s mannered comedy films, the ones where there's eventually a scene in a tony ballroom with nattily dressed sophisticates gathered around a piano where some charming entertainer has everyone in stitches with his marvelous songs and witty stories. Michael Feinstein is that guy!

Considered to be the premiere interpreter of American popular song, Feinstein returns to the Cohan Center in an elegant encore Cal Poly Arts performance on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. at the Cohan Center.

Promotional materials say to expect "stylish standards, present-day pop, and beloved Broadway, laced with engaging anecdotes, sentimental moments, and fun facts on the musical background of audience favorites."

Tickets range from $42 to $54, with student discounts available on all seats. Get them at the PAC Ticket Office or by calling 756-2787.

 

More music

How about spending Valentine's Day at the Central Coast Green Ball, "a green-friendly community event featuring two of the most

click to enlarge SUPER GUEST STAR! :  Mark Graham is the super guest star on Feb. 16 when The Red Barn Community Music Series presents the old-time bluegrass music of Tom and Patrick Sauber (not pictured) at the Red Barn in Los Osos. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK GRAHAM
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK GRAHAM
  • SUPER GUEST STAR! : Mark Graham is the super guest star on Feb. 16 when The Red Barn Community Music Series presents the old-time bluegrass music of Tom and Patrick Sauber (not pictured) at the Red Barn in Los Osos.
# exciting national touring bands on the independent jam circuit," according to promoters. Izabella opens, playing rootsy and soulful dance music, followed by Blue Turtle Seduction and their "high altitude, high-energy jamgrass." The all-ages event--held Thursday, Feb. 14, beginning at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7) in the old Pier 1 building at 848 Monterey Street--is sponsored by The San Luis Bay Surfriders Foundation, Santa Lucia Sierra Club, and SLO Green. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students).

Sweethearts Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion play The Steynberg Gallery: Coffee & Tea Room on Friday, Feb. 15. The husband-and-wife team--she's the daughter of Arlo--go together like peas and carrots, folk and rock, kibbles and bits. Gary Louris of The Jayhawks said of the duo's new album The Valentines, "As I listen to the new album by Johnny Irion, I say, 'Boy, you better get to work 'cause this guy is kicking you in the behind!' Ambitious is the word that comes to mind. Genre-bending material with mind-blowing arrangements that twist and turn into unexpected musical alleyways but never a dead end--a must-have for lovers of pop, roots, and all-around great music. Count me a fan for life." The show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $15 (reserve by phone at 546-2857).

Primitive Radio Gods return to Downtown Brew on Saturday, Feb. 16. The band has about the weirdest pedigree ever. Chris O'Conner had a band called I-Rails that started but never finished a recording, so he quit, became an air traffic controller, later found a copy of the unfinished recording, and decided to finish it himself, sold it to a label, and had to scramble to put a band together, called them Primitive Radio Gods, the album went out. One song, "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand" (which features the unlikely sample of B.B. King doing the Leonard Feather chestnut "How Blue Can You Get"), went big. Trippy! See them with Silver Griffin and The Shamblers at 7:30 p.m. The 18-and-older show costs $7 advance or $8 at the door.

The Red Barn Community Music Series presents the old-time bluegrass music of Tom and Patrick Sauber with Mark Graham on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Red Barn in Los Osos. Multi-instrumentalist Tom Sauber plays banjo, fiddle, guitar, and mandolin in a wide variety of styles. He's devoted a lifetime to playing traditional music, and he holds a master's degree in folklore. Mark Graham (formerly of Hurricane Ridge Runners in the '70s and Boston's Chicken Chokers in the '80s) has been playing the diatonic harmonica for more than 35 years. Patrick Sauber is only in his early 20s, but he's a veteran performer in old-time, bluegrass, folk, western, and other musical genres--gifted on the Cajun accordion, mandolin, guitar, and banjo. The show begins at 7 p.m. with a 6 p.m. potluck supper. A $10 donation is requested.

click to enlarge HAVE A GREEN VALENTINE'S DAY :  The Central Coast Green Ball features Izabella (with SLO native Lucas Carlton, far right) on Feb. 14 in the old Pier One building on Monterey Street. - PHOTO COURTESY OF IZABELLA
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF IZABELLA
  • HAVE A GREEN VALENTINE'S DAY : The Central Coast Green Ball features Izabella (with SLO native Lucas Carlton, far right) on Feb. 14 in the old Pier One building on Monterey Street.

# Gypsy-influenced Russian folkies BigRock Balalaikas play the Morro Bay Brewing Company from 3:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16. This local troupe dresses in traditional Russian garb and delivers a killer live show that's fun and infectious. You'll be dancing like a drunken Russian in no time.

The thankfully now-ended writers' strike may have taken the funny out of Jay Leno's mouth, but it didn't take the talent out of Kye Palmer's trumpet. Palmer, currently featured as a member of Leno's Tonight Show Band, is the next attraction at the Famous Jazz Artist Series at the Hamlet in Cambria on Sunday, Feb. 17 (4 p.m. for $15 7:15 p.m. for $12 or both shows for $20 call 927-0567 for reservations). Palmer, who was also featured with the orchestras of Woody Herman and Poncho Sanchez prior to his joining the Tonight Show, will be joined by pianist Joe Bagg, bassist Darek Oles, drummer Tim Pleasant, and concert co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake.

When Levator came to town last October, I said, and I quote myself, "Levator is a Seattle band featuring breathy lyrics and atmospheric melodies that are sweeter than a lullaby. This is indie pop at its most lilting, with trance-inducing guitars and lush vocals--completely arresting, thoroughly fascinating." I stand by my opinion. See them on Monday, Feb. 18, at the Frog and Peach (10 p.m., 21-and-older, totally free!).

Is Pinback made up of movie geeks? The band's name references a character from John Carpenter's Dark Star (played by Dan O'Bannon, who also co-wrote the film), and samples from this film were used frequently in the band's early works. So yes, they're geeks. But they're cool geeks. The San Diego duo features Armistead Burwell "Zach" Smith IV and Rob Crow, and they started as a part-time endeavor back in 1998 when Zach's band Three Mile Pilot went on an extended hiatus and Rob found time away from his other musical interests (mainly Thingy and Heavy Vegetable). MC Chris opens on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 8 p.m., 16-and-older $15 show at Downtown Brew.

click to enlarge MOVIE GEEKS! :  Pinback, named after a character in John Carpenter's Dark Star, plays Feb. 19 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PINBACK
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF PINBACK
  • MOVIE GEEKS! : Pinback, named after a character in John Carpenter's Dark Star, plays Feb. 19 at Downtown Brew.

# Mark your calendars for the return of Fishbone on Thursday, Feb. 21, at Downtown Brew. The progenitors of the funk, ska, punk, reggae, metal mash-up that became so popular in the '90s did it first, forming in 1979 in South Central L.A. and recording through the '80s. This 21-and-older show costs $16.50 in advance, at Boo Boo's and the venue.

What's going on at the Mid-State Fair? Some early listings for entertainment have been announced, and here it is. On the Budweiser Fort Frontier Free Stage: July 26: Raul Malo July 29: The Spinners Aug. 3: Ozomatli.

In the Main Grandstand Arena: July 24: Toby Keith July 27: Alan Jackson Aug. 2: country rodeo finals with Sawyer Brown Aug. 3: professional bull riders.

 

 

CD Reviews


Bippp--French Synth Wave 1979-1985

click to enlarge 20080214065523_l.jpg

# Really? The 8-bit sound of sparse French synthesized music that is half a century old? Could there be anything more obscure? Just like a miner sifting through an abandoned quarry, the prospect of gold will have you digging in the dustiest of settings, and sometimes pulling out an unearthed gem. Bippp, compiled by Parisian indie label Bad Boy, scores points on its amazing selection. You may be a little lost with the lyrics, but the songs are contagious enough to be enjoyed as purely musical. Despite their age, each track seems remarkably fresh, even familiar. Vox Dei harnesses the brooding vocal passion and angular bounce of Joy Division with their track "Terroriste," and CKC's "20H25" two-finger Casio style and propulsive energized beat feels as if the Knight Rider theme song was updated for an aerobic workout. For '80s freaks looking for something in the style of early OMD or the synthesized appeal of Gary Numan, this will be your new best friend.

 

 

Sound Affects--Brazil

click to enlarge 20080214065534_l.jpg

# Is it too early to enjoy the summery green-and-gold spirit of Brazil? Whether it's the percussive vibe of Samba or the guitar-based tropicalism of Jorge Ben, there's an immediate appeal to the international sounds imported from Buenos Aires. With its second release in the series (Sound Affects--Africa being the first), international world groove label Mr. Bongo collaborates with the nonprofit agency Bottletop to fundraise for sexual education worldwide (UK, Rwanda, Brazil, Uganda) as well as shake a few tail feathers. The formula is simple: One disc features the original version of assorted styles--bossa jazz, samba, funk carioca--by performers known and unknown. The second disc offers remixes of the first by an A-team of electronic superstars--Fat Boy Slim, Bonobo, MJ Cole, and more--who put the high-octane bounce of drum and bass to each track. While the remixes vary, every original track is an absolute sure-fire selection. Easily recommended for the international music lover.

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


Glen Starkey thinks he'll only live once, but he figures that if he does it right, once is enough. Remind him about reincarnation at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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