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Weird is good 

Camper Van Beethoven wants to weird you out

The ’80s were weird. Punk was morphing into New Wave, classic rock and disco were dead, metal hair bands were on the rise, everyone was doing drugs and sporting bad haircuts, and everybody wanted to have sex real, real bad, but free love was a memory in the wake of first herpes and later AIDs. It was a weird time that called for a weird band, and Camper Van Beethoven heeded that call!

click to enlarge CAMPOUT WITH CAMPER :  The sheer genius of Camper Van Beethoven will be on display at Downtown Brew on June 25. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN
  • CAMPOUT WITH CAMPER : The sheer genius of Camper Van Beethoven will be on display at Downtown Brew on June 25.
Formed in Nor-Cal in 1983, they rose out of the punk scene, but seemed to relish confusing their punk rock audiences by playing punk cover songs in a country style before launching into a ska instrumental with Gypsy and Mexican influences. They were a freaking punk band with a violinist, for heck’s sake! Nobody knew what they hell they were up to, but a lot of us liked it.

I was a college radio DJ on KCPR when their campy Frank Zappaesque novelty tunes like “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and “Good Guys and Bad Guys” became huge college radio hits. They were indie rock darlings before anyone coined the term indie rock.

 

Camper Van eventually disbanded, with some members forming Cracker, which itself eventually sort of petered out. Then in 2000, some ex-members regrouped to release Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead. Long Live Camper Van Beethoven, a compiled rarities collection. In 2002, they released Tusk, which the band said was recorded in 1987. It had all the same tracks as the Fleetwood Mac album of the same name, with a parody of Fleetwood Mac’s cover art. Later, the band revealed they’d recorded the album in 2001 to test whether they could work together in the studio again. Psych! Camper Van didn’t leave their weirdness in the ’80s, see?

The last time they played SLO was just a year or so ago when they were on tour with Cracker (which makes sense since they share band members). It was an awesome show—old tunes, new tunes, hilarious covers!

On Wednesday, June 25, Camper Van Beethoven returns to Downtown Brew to play an 8 p.m. show with Derek Senn of the Wedding Industrial Complex opening. I don’t know how much tickets are. It’s a secret.



click to enlarge MY, WHAT A NICE YOUNG MAN :  Damon Castillo gives it away for free on June 21 on the Promenade at Avila Beach. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAMON CASTILLO
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF DAMON CASTILLO
  • MY, WHAT A NICE YOUNG MAN : Damon Castillo gives it away for free on June 21 on the Promenade at Avila Beach.
Listen to your mother!
It’s official: The weekly Saturday Afternoons in Avila concerts are a real mizvah! People have been turning out in droves to hear some music, nosh a bite, have a nice drink on Mr. Rick’s patio (not too much! You know what happened to your uncle Lenny), soak up the sun (use your sunscreen!), and listen to a totally free (who doesn’t like free?) outdoor concert, courtesy of Downtown Brew (DTB).

Why is DTB doing this, you may ask? Because DTB loves music, and you, so much that she wanted to get you two together. Think of Downtown Brew as your over-concerned mother. She just wants you to be happy. She thought you’d hit if off, you know? You make a lovely match! Really!

So come down and meet some music, get to know it, flirt with it a little. Who knows? Maybe you’ll hit it off? Don’t think of it as a blind date. On Saturday, June 21, from 1 to 5 p.m., the JD Project and Damon Castillo will be there. They’re not doctors, DTB knows, but you could do worse, eh?



Superstar under the stars

click to enlarge SOLO FLIGHT :  Former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber plays with his combo Guitar Noir on June 21 at Castoro Cellars Winery. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURENCE JUBER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURENCE JUBER
  • SOLO FLIGHT : Former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber plays with his combo Guitar Noir on June 21 at Castoro Cellars Winery.
Imagine you’re a young working musician in London, England, in the 1970s, toiling away and waiting for your big break. Then along comes ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, who taps you to become his new band Wings’ lead guitarist. Pretty sweet!

Laurence Juber spent three years recording and touring with the band, winning his first of two Grammys for Best Rock Instrumental for the track “Rockestra” from Wings’ album Back To The Egg.

After Wings, firmly established as a world-class player, Juber continued his career as a studio and touring musician working with the likes of George Harrison, Al Stewart, Air Supply, Paul Williams, and The Monkees. His skillful and emotionally potent guitar work has been heard on soundtracks from such films as Dirty Dancing, The Big Chill, Men in Black II, and Good Will Hunting.

Now SLO Folks has brought legendary fingerstyle artist Laurence Juber and Guitar Noir to Castoro Cellars Winery for Saturday, June 21, at 7 p.m. (call 238-0725 for tickets). The gates open at 6 p.m. and a catered dinner from Phoenix Fine Catering is available for an additional cost.



Born in the barn but finally let into the house

click to enlarge FIDDLE-RRIFIC:  The Red Barn Community Music Series is coming out of the barn and into a house for the music of New England fiddler/singer Lissa Schneckenburger and her trio on June 22 at a special house concert in Los Osos. - PHOTO COURTESY OF LISSA SCHNECKENBURGER
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF LISSA SCHNECKENBURGER
  • FIDDLE-RRIFIC: The Red Barn Community Music Series is coming out of the barn and into a house for the music of New England fiddler/singer Lissa Schneckenburger and her trio on June 22 at a special house concert in Los Osos.
The Red Barn Community Music Series is coming out of the barn and into a house for the music of New England fiddler/singer Lissa Schneckenburger and her trio on Sunday, June 22, at a special house concert in Los Osos.

Schneckenburger, not yet 30, already has seven critically acclaimed albums to her credit, She’ll be joined by Dave Cory on guitar and tenor banjo, and Corey DiMario on bass to perform a concert of traditional New England songs, fiddle music, and original tunes.

“There is currently a lot of focus on traditional American music from the South,” Schneckenburger explained, “and many bands are exploring and recording that repertoire, but no one is getting to hear the amazing repertoire of traditional music from the North. This is my first attempt at getting some of that music out there for people to enjoy.”

The 7 p.m. show costs $15 at the door, and you’ll need reservations to attend: 534-9021. Directions will be given by phone.

 



Small is the new big

click to enlarge TRIO OF MYSTERY:  See The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band on June 24 at Downtown Brew. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE REVEREND PEYTON'S BIG DAMN BAND
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE REVEREND PEYTON'S BIG DAMN BAND
  • TRIO OF MYSTERY: See The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band on June 24 at Downtown Brew.
Gotta love a band called The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. They just sound fun, don’t they? Juxtapose the religious connotations of “reverend” with “damn,” call yourself a “big” band when you’re just a trio—it’s irony, people.

Add to that the fact that they play old-time blues—traditionally a southern black idiom—but they’re young, white, and hail from the Midwest, and the irony deepens. And instead of being slow and mournful blues, they’re high energy, yet steeped in classic blues tradition.

An acoustic guitar (and the occasional dobro), a minimal drum kit, and the always reliable washboard are all these three need to deliver a sound that “might come out of that secret meth lab nestled deep in the backwaters of the Mississippi delta,” according to the band.

I’ve yet to hear these guys because I missed it when they played a few months ago, but according to DTB’s Korie Newman, “People went so nuts over Reverend Peyton when they opened for The Devil Makes Three a couple months back that we are offering them a show of their own.”

See The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band with Ha Ha Tonka and Tombstone Rockers opening on Tuesday, June 24, at 8 p.m. for an 18-and-older show. Advance tickets cost $8 (at Boo Boo’s and the venue) or $10 at the door.



More music …
Money grubbing bastards! What? No, not you. Not even the band I’m about to tell you about. I’m talking about certain unnamed unscrupulous manager exploiting copyright laws. On Friday, June 20, “David LaFlamme with the music of It’s a Beautiful Day” will play the free Concerts in the Plaza show from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. And even though David LaFlamme is the band founder and chief songwriter, he can’t even call his own band It’s a Beautiful Day. Sucky! The band’s guitarist, Rob Espinosa, recently moved to the area, which is why this too-big-for-a-free-concert band is playing on Friday. I still remember the band’s famous album cover of a beautiful girl in a hat and summer dress against a cloud-flecked blue sky. Remember “White Bird?”

click to enlarge IT USED TO BE CALLED IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY :  On June 20, “David LaFlamme with the music of It’s a Beautiful Day” will play the free Concerts in the Plaza show. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID LAFLAMME
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID LAFLAMME
  • IT USED TO BE CALLED IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY : On June 20, “David LaFlamme with the music of It’s a Beautiful Day” will play the free Concerts in the Plaza show.
  Smooth jazz recording artist Bryan Savage has played sax and flute on more than 20 albums, including ones by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Steve Martin’s King Tut, among others. In 1992, his solo career blossomed and was soon known as one of the “saxiest” blowers in the business. On Friday, June 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Savage will play the City Park in downtown Paso Robles for free.

L.A. vocalist Judy Wexler joins the Mike Raynor Group on Friday, June 20, at the Inn at Morro Bay, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. for the next installment of the City Nights concert series. Wexler is admired for her warm voice and nuanced approach to melody and lyrics, called “one of the most focused, unpretentious, no-nonsense, bop-oriented jazz singers around,” according to JazzTimes.

Seven Jacks Music presents the Mid-State Indie Showcase featuring 100 FT. Snowman, Francis & the Absolute, His Orchestra, and Morgan Enos on Friday, June 20, at 8 p.m. in Hoovers Live. It’s only three clams, friends. Mmm … that’s the smell of indie rock.

Strike Fire Productions is putting on another pop/punk/rock show at Mongo’s on Friday, June 20. Local boys 2 $ Pistol will be opening up for two Professional So-Cal punk rockers, Free Confusion and Sic Waiting. The 9 p.m., $2, 21-and-older show will rock your freakin’ socks off.

You can get down with your bad self (shake it, don’t break it!) at the Soul Jam for Africa Benefit Concert on Saturday, June 21, at the Cambria Vet’s Hall from 6 to 9 p.m. The evening features the Higher Movement dance troupe, as well as drummers and other dancers, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own drum and join the fun. The event aims to raise awareness and funding to build the children of a poverty-stricken northern Zambia school. Advanced tickets cost $25, available online at souljam.org, by calling 909-9674, or in Cambria at Amethyst Healing Center. Remaining tickets will be sold for $35 at the door.

The Johnny Starlings will make a quick stop at the Steynberg Gallery on Saturday, June 21, between this weekend’s gigs in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Free Folk Festival. Organizers of the SFFFF seem to perfectly understand the group’s shtick: “Here is a group dedicated to the art of producing classy bouncy songs that bear no resemblance whatsoever to the song styles of today. These songs are so charming and guileless that, if they were human, you’d want to pinch their cheeks and ruffle their hair.” Cute! Emily Wryn, a Lompoc native who recently became a darling of KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” show with her song “Head on Straight,” will join the fun at Steynberg. Advance $12 tickets are available at the venue for the 8 p.m. show.

click to enlarge SAVAGE MUSIC:  Smooth jazz artist Bryan Savage will bring his saxy sounds to the City Park in downtown Paso Robles on June 20. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF PASO ROBLES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF PASO ROBLES
  • SAVAGE MUSIC: Smooth jazz artist Bryan Savage will bring his saxy sounds to the City Park in downtown Paso Robles on June 20.
Prog-rock trio the Travis Larson Band is playing Hoovers Live Saturday, June 21, at 9 p.m., their last local show before they hit the road for the “World’s Largest Music Festival,” Summerfest, in Milwaukee, Wis., from June 26 to July 1. There, Larson will be sharing the stage with folks like Rush, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Stone Temple Pilots, Steve Miller Band, and many more. Then the band will spend the rest of the summer touring the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast

The 3rd Annual Village Summer Concert Series continues this Sunday, June 22, at the Rotary Bandstand on the Village Green in the Historic Village of Arroyo Grande. This 1 p.m. concert features the amazing Cuesta Chamber Singers and VOCE. These two Cuesta College choirs will present the show as part of their “Europe Send-off Concert” series, performing gospel, Broadway, American folk, jazz, and music of classical American composers like Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and Eric Whitacre. This show is free.

Breezy Cali-pop act Still Time brings bouncy tunes to The Cliffs resort on Sunday, June 22, at 3 p.m., for one of the few free live music concerts the Shell Beach resort is hosting this summer. Relive the memories, sun worshippers.

The John Jorgenson Quintet kicks off Matt’s Music Summer Concert Series at Stacked Stone Cellars on Sunday, June 22, at 4 p.m. (gates at 3; tickets cost $20; call 237-0054). Dinner provided by Dining with Andre is also available for another $15. Jorgenson is a founding member of the Desert Rose Band, the Hellecasters, and a six-year member of Elton John’s band!

On Wednesday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m., Atascadero Lake Pavilion plays host to a four-band indie rock show starring Candle, Almost There, Cottleston Pie, and “It’s Happening In Soledad!” I haven’t heard the other bands, but Candle is pretty awesome! They recently played Live Oak and they’re about to head out on a 46-show national tour, so I’m not the only one who thinks they’re worthy. At this first show, Candle is asking for San Luis Obispo County’s help. It’s a small cover charge ($5) to get into a great show, but the band will also be asking (begging?) for donations to cover the estimated $5,000 in gas they’ll be spending on their tour. Every little bit is appreciated!

Arizona-based jazz pianist and composer Jacob Koller plays the Frog and Peach on Wednesday, June 25, with his all original jazz/indie/rock trio called Music for Bowlers. Spunky tunes delivered to your ears begin at 10 p.m.





CD Reviews



Ponytail—Ice Cream Spiritual!

click to enlarge starkey_ponytail.jpg
No one may be sleeping in Maryland, as Baltimore adds another spastic blitzkrieg of over-agitated musicians to its growing musical scene. A city that has given birth to the electronic day-glo frenetic sound of Dan Deacon, as well as the hyper kinetic stutter of its officially titled “Bmore” hip-hop scene, now tosses out the revved up noise punk four-piece that is Ponytail. Built around the motivating caterwauling of vocalist Molly Siegel, the band can equally punish you with pummeling drums and wild guitar onslaughts that peak toward the flashiness of ‘70s Prog, but apexes into the hysteria of avant-garde bands like the Boredoms. And this is where the band escapes the presumption that this is all barrage with little insight. Sure, it may all sound like a pure over-stimulated sugar rush, but the twin guitars attack like a muscled up brigade, with might and equally with precision. The drums never miss a beat. It’s a glorious noise-fest that will leave you anxious to see this live.

 





No Age—Nouns

click to enlarge starkey_no_age.jpg
Los Angeles’ No Age make a sizable amount of lo-fi magic with just an electric guitar and drums. And maybe lo-fi is a little too generous. The drums sound primitively destroyed, as if the cymbals were rescued from the tops of trashcans. The microphone wears one too many dents, capturing vocals with the same fidelity as a camera phone. With drums bullied and guitar thrashing, the sound can seem unrelenting. But another side is also exhibited. All this frazzled noise is balanced with exceptional songs, like hearing the beauty of Jesus & Mary Chain divorced from the sheets of drone and distortion. After the animal-style drum bashing of “Cappo,” “Keechie” saunters in, sounding like an ambient movement scored in front of a tinfoil mic, shimmering in layers of tinny guitar distortion. What’s captured here is raw, unrefined energy, undiluted by further production, and buzzing with unbridled rock’n’roll.

—Malik Miko Thorne, of Boo Boo Records and KCBX’s “Night Train.”



Glen Starkey is running out of self-deprecating insults. Send him some suggestions at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

 

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