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We rock so hard 

A new compilation CD explores SLO's music underbelly

Word on the street is SLO County’s music scene sucks. Apparently there aren’t many awesome bands doing awesome things. Not only that, but SLO’s music lovers lack passion. They’re too willing to accept mediocre music and act like it’s pure genius. So. Damn. Sad.

Also, totally not true!

Sure, touring bands get most of the ink, and admittedly, there aren’t enough smaller venues in SLO Town to heat up the scene for the up-and-coming bands, but SLO’s music scene is vibrant and varied, and proof positive is the new 15-track compilation CD The Cause and The Cure, released May 31 and being promoted by two shows this week.

The brainchild of Haley Thomas of Swap! Zine and Twang N Bang concert series founder Patrick Hayes, these two shows represent the depth and talent of our local scene, which is alive and well, thank you very much.

This month’s issue of Swap! Zine features a download card for the album and interviews with the featured musicians out as of this printing, Thursday, May 31. The free, monthly, self-published ’zine celebrates local art, music, and “underground shenanigans.” Creator Hayley Thomas plays in a trio of local bands—Hayburner, The Tarweed Two, and Magazine Dirty—and she “aims to unleash fresh, underground sounds and stories on unsuspecting readers. Weird art, yo momma jokes, drunk band interviews, and misinformed rants are always welcome at and”

Twang N Bang started as a series of shows, but since then Patrick Hayes has created a record label. The shows mixed local bluegrass, new grass, honky-tonk, folk,, hard blues, and cow punk. Then a few of those bands wanted to do a record, so Twang N Bang Records put them out and the label was accidentally born. The Cause and The Cure will be the third release from Twang N Bang Records following a 7-inch split single from the Cross Brothers and the Dead Volts released October 2011 and the debut EP from American Dirt slated for this month. For more info, check out

“Unlike some other comps out there, this project is created by and for local musicians,” explained Thomas and Hayes in press info. “Largely recorded in local studios (and bedrooms alike), the album was mastered by Kirk MacLane of Atascadero, manufactured by Kufala Recordings of Paso Robles, with art design by graphic artist Mark Folkrod of San Luis Obispo. It’s truly a local product through and through.”

The Thursday, May 31, show at SLO Brew features young, fiery string band Hayburner, The Cross Brothers (who sing about “women and whiskey … mostly whiskey”), “wild garage rock outfit” Bad Jeans, twangy rock act Dead Volts, and honky-tonk heroes Red Eye Junction (7 p.m.; 21-and-older; $7 presale or $8 at the door).

The Friday, June 1, show at The Z Club (8 p.m.; 21-and-older; $5) features bluegrass harmony cats The Mother Corn Shuckers, snot rockers Han Solo’s Baby, garage country act American Dirt, sex-up raw rockers Magazine Dirty, swaggering rockers Nassty, and “funky ragtime gypsy blues-rock” act St. James Infirmary.

No good local music? P’shaw!


On the Case!

This just in! Los Angeles icon Peter Case will play on Monday, June 4, at the Steynberg Gallery (8 p.m.; $15). Perhaps best known for his work as front man of The Plimsouls, the Grammy-nominated musician is an eclectic and fascinating performer and raconteur.

“I tell people now I play folk-rock, and they seem to understand, but the whole truth is more complex: I’m a singer-songwriter that uses all the American styles to get my stories across: blues, rock’n’roll, country, soul, R&B, and folk, plus some rhythmic influences from around the world,” Case explained in press materials. “I’m trying to forge my own style out of those inherited materials. I’ve always been into dynamic, emotionally charged music you could use to tell a story or paint a picture.”

His most recent CD is The Case Files, an outtakes compilation he released last year. The year before he released Wig! This is a guy who, after the lofty success of the Plimsouls, has continued to quietly go about creating amazing music for the few.


SLO Brew for you

After Thursday’s Swap! N Bang show, the club will keep the music coming with a show by White Buffalo on Friday, June 1 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $15). White Buffalo is an incredibly emotive performer with a big, husky voice that matching his imposing presence. If you’ve never had a chance to catch this dude’s heartfelt performance, time’s a-wastin’!

On Saturday, June 2, check out Hellogoodbye (7 p.m.; all ages; $15), a group of quirky emo rockers who don’t take themselves too seriously and seem to take as much inspiration from modern pop-punk as they do from circa 1980s Nintendo sound bleeps. Yeah, they go there.

Then on Wednesday, June 6, catch Carl Verheyen (7:30 p.m.; 21-and-older; $15 presale or $17 at the door), with local guitar ripper Travis Larson opening. Verheyen is a monster guitarist, called “One of the top 10 guitar players in the world” by Guitar Magazine, and named “One of the top 100 guitarists of all time” by Classic Rock Magazine.


Songwriters at Play

Luis Oliart will be the featured performer at Steve Key’s Songwriters at Play showcase on Thursday, May 31, at The Porch (6:30 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). The bluesman will play selections from his newest CD, Broken Chains, and he’s been known to play everything from bottleneck slide to flamenco.

On Sunday, June 3, head to Sculpterra to see Sharine & the Hot ‘n’ Swirl Ensemble (1 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). The vocalist-flautist leads an ensemble that includes guitarist-producer Ron Hagadone, Steve Gastelum on percussion, and Grant Chase on cello, playing everything from Celtic to Gypsy.

Singer-songwriter Kiki Ebsen plays Kreuzberg on Tuesday, June 5 (6:30 p.m.; all ages; pass the hat). She’s known for backing up the likes of Christopher Cross, Wilson Phillips, Boz Scaggs, Tracy Chapman, and others. Her most recent solo effort, The Beauty Inside, is a personal collection of songs about love and family that “was made more special by the addition of background vocals by her dear friend Kenny Edwards, who passed away only three weeks after the recording session,” according to concert organizers.

As usual, all concerts feature several other performers doing short four-song sets.


More music …

Crosby Tyler is returning to town for a 7:30 p.m. show at Frog and Peach on Thursday, May 31. This is a guy about whom Peter Case said, “It’s like William Burroughs leading a campfire sing-a-long.” If you like songs about social misfits, addicts, outlaws, circus clowns, and truckers delivered in back porch bluegrass and Delta blues styles, Tyler’s your guy.

It must be summer because the Downtown Association’s Concerts in the Plaza series starts on Friday, June 1, with a show by Nada Rasta. Grab a beer and see your neighbors between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

The St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble presents its last concert on the Central Coast on Friday, June 1, at 7 p.m. in the Nipomo Community Presbyterian Church. This will be your last chance to hear the magnificent voices of this popular a cappella quartet singing Russian Orthodox sacred music, Russian poems set to music, and Russian folk songs. A goodwill offering will be accepted.

Cal Poly’s Arab Music Ensemble performs traditional and contemporary music and dance from the Eastern Mediterranean and larger Middle East region at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1, in the Spanos Theatre on campus. A special feature will be the recitation of classic Arabic and Persian poems by Khalil Gibran and Jalal ad-Din Rumi, which will be incorporated into a musical suite displaying the interconnection of music and poetry. Tickets are $10 for the public and $8 for seniors and students (756-2787).

Unfinished Business will deliver a heapin’ helpin’ of ’60s rock hits on Friday, June 1, at D’Anbino’s tasting room from 8 to 10 p.m. Hear classic covers of songs by The Animals to The Zombies, including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and various soul artists. Said front man Ed Miller, “The show will open with a set of hits from the 1960s by artists such as Buffalo Springfield, Sam and Dave, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Wilson Pickett, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and the Moody Blues. The second set will be all Beatles, with a selection of hits from ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ to ‘Let It Be.’” Tickets are $10 (or $5 for Record Club members).

The Morro Bay Music Festival features four local bands (The Mighty Croon Dogs at 11 a.m., Nightly Irie at 1:30 p.m.; Soundhouse at 3:30 p.m., Bootsie Merango at 5:30 p.m.), dancing, food, arts and crafts booths, and more on Saturday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the Embarcadero (right across from Rose’s Landing). Proceeds of the free family fun event go to the upcoming 31st annual Morro Bay Harbor Festival (Oct. 6 to 7), which in turn donates some of its proceeds to local nonprofit organizations.

“Winds of Change: Music of the 21st Century,” Cal Poly’s spring band concert, starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, in Harman Hall of the Performing Arts Center’s Christopher Cohan Center. Featuring the university’s 55-member Wind Ensemble and 65-member Wind Orchestra, concertgoers will hear Michael Daugherty’s “Red Cape Tango,” the final movement of his “Metropolis” symphony depicting the climactic battle between Superman and Bizarro, as well as Julie Giroux’s “Culloden,” a three-movement piece about Scotland’s Jacobite Rebellion. Other works on the program include Nathan Daughtrey’s “Imagining World,” Yosuke Fukda’s “Symphonic Dances,” Frank Ticheli’s “Rest,” and James Syler’s “Tattoo.” Tickets are $12 and $14 for general admission, $10 and $12 for seniors and $8 and $10 for students (756-2787).

Contemporary local jazz act Zzah will bring its melodic West Coast sensibilities with an East Coast approach to soloing to D’Anbino’s tasting room on Saturday, June 2, from 8 to 10 p.m. Their tracks have been programmed on more than 260 radio stations throughout North America and they’ve appeared with the likes of George Benson, Billy Preston, Spyro Gyra, and more. Tickets are $10 (or $5 for Record Club members).

On Saturday, June 2, Anne Walsh will perform in the Steynberg Gallery at 8 p.m. ($15). The vocal instructor will be joined by her pianist husband Tom Zink. She’s toured the world and received a Grammy nomination for her 2009 album, Pretty World. Her next soon-to-be-released CD will feature an eclectic soundscape of contemporary and Brazilian jazz influences, with originals as well as a new take on the classic Wayne Shorter tune “Go.”

Strange Habits brings their rock, punk, hip-hop, and reggae-inspired rhythms to the Frog and Peach on Saturday, June 2, delivering a show they promise will provide “lots of laughs, a few tears, and an all around good time.”

The Vocal Arts Ensemble of San Luis Obispo has three more upcoming shows for you starting on Saturday, June 2, at 8 p.m. in the Mission with a concert called “A Musical Journey: The Vocal Arts Ensemble Prepare For Tour” (Tickets are $15 to $30; or 541-6797). They’ll repeat the show on Sunday, June 3, at 3 p.m. in Cambria Community Presbyterian Church ($20 to $25); and on Saturday, June 16, at 8 p.m. in Mission San Miguel ($15). The group will soon embark on a tour of Scandinavia.

Even if you’re not a motorcyclist, jump in your car and head out to Pozo Saloon on Sunday, June 3, at noon, when bikers should be pulling in from the Pismo-2-Pozo ride to benefit Special Olympics. The saloon will be cooking up a Santa Maria-style barbecue, and music will be provided by the Mean Gene Band, who’ll also be on the Jeff and Jeremy show on 93.3FM KZOZ at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 1, to promote the event.

The Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series at Ramona Garden Park kicks off on Sunday, June 3, with a 3 to 6 p.m. show by The JD Project. Listen to some great rock’n’roll and soul, and enjoy the farmers market and family atmosphere.

On Sunday, June 3, Ted Nash, star tenor saxophone soloist with Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Orchestra, plays the next Famous Jazz Artist Series concert at the D’Anbino Wine Tasting Room in Paso Robles. Nash, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, has in the past two decades achieved international jazz stardom in N.Y.C., winning Grammy awards, jazz polls, and receiving glowing critical reviews from all over the world. He’ll be joined by Luther Hughes on bass and Dick Weller on drums, as well as series co-producers Charlie and Sandi Shoemake. (piano-vibraphone and vocals). There’s a 4 p.m. matinee and a 7:15 p.m. show, $15 each, or attend both for $20.

On Tuesday, June 5, at 8 p.m., Ian McFeron will play a free show in Frog and Peach. His lyrics have been compared to Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, and David Gray, and according to press materials, he “weaves together a variety of roots-Americana traditions to create his own unique form of roots-oriented American music.” Said McFeron, “2011 was a big year for us. We recorded the new album in Nashville with some of our heroes, toured the United States from coast to coast twice, and played our first international tour.” He continues to tour in support of his sixth album, Summer Nights. He’ll be joined by long-time musical partner and accompanist Alisa Milner, a Texas-style fiddler and harmony vocalist.

Keep up with Glen Starkey via twitter at, friend him at or, or contact him at

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