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THIS WEEK'S RAR
Listen by clicking on the links or covers below.
Yours truly is offering up a little
Jazz-Pop confection, with all admiration for the ancient Greeks, who
knew a thing or two about winging it philosophically.
Use this link or click on
poor Democritus below to hear "A Simple Explanation".
Oh perversity at the county fair! I'm
sure involvement with the Future Farmers of America has ruined more than
a few young boys, what with all the glamour and all, and the exposure to
link or click on the good people below to hear another in a nauseating
string of RAR originals - "(You Do) That Thing That Sets Me Free".
Yours truly has been all about myself of
late, which is why I am behind on record reviews and most everything
else, but I do have a new batch of recordings, starting with
"Betty from Memphis", a tribute to stable types such as
my actual Aunt Betty (Olita) in Memphis (not shown here), as well as to
all those weary road warriors out there playing the soundtracks to
everybody else's movies.
"creative destruction", like Mitt Romney does.
Walty's Dead" is a cowboy yarn about a villain -
personified by the late and wonderful Warren Oates (below) - who
has left an unfortunate legacy for himself (see chorus...). Walty is my
metaphor for early 21st Century predatory capitalism, a force that must
be dealt with so that honest souls can carry on.
Glory be unto Angie Omaha, whoever
she is, pictured below on the cover to my next- generation version of
of Your Dark Eyes", introduced several years back
as a tune about "the dark side of loving a dark soul". Our girl Angie
may not let me exploit her in this way for long, but as long as she does
isn't she perfect? I mean, for this song?
Minutes" comes from a few years back, and from the same
box as "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes", but the versions provided below
come much closer to my ambitions for this story of a booze-fueled
cuckold speeding toward a crime of passion and revenge. The song is
almost entirely played around the single chord of E, with occasional
transitions through A-B, for those keeping score. The "psycho" version
was the original inspiration, but the Nashville chicken-pickin' version
has some nice qualities. Unfortunately it also shows that as a guitar
player I am no Randy Barker, though I hope to be when I grow up.
(Randy Barker played with Michael Woody and
the Too High Band, which in the end gave him way too little
exposure, but those who heard him play remember it even 30 years later
as something special.)
IN THIS EDITION
New Releases on
Leonard Cohen; "Sweetbread"
Mobile Disco and "Keep You"
off the Chronicle movie
"Goodbye to Love" from
October Dawn; Trouble in Mind 2011
Black Box Revelation Live on
Minnesota Public Radio;
Apteka "Striking Violet";
Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get
Along"; Dana deChaby's
|"The Musical Meccas of the World"
Compositions and Select Covers
►Fiction and Non-Fiction
FRANCISCO BAY AREA
New $12 Million Home
41-Year Old Freight & Salvage
entire four-decade existence, Berkeley's legendary Freight &
Salvage acoustic music venue has been a small, intimate
setting that has been a springboard for some of the world's
top music talent. As San Francisco Chronicle music writer
Joel Selvin reports, "Alison Krauss played there when she
was still in high school. Nickel Creek appeared at the club
when its members were all still teens. Linda Ronstadt joined
her old pals Carol McComb and Kathy Larisch a few years ago.
Over the years, everybody in the acoustic music world has
come to know Berkeley's Freight & Salvage and, although the
club was famous for its hospitality, it could lack for
something in creature comforts for performers." That list of
well-known talent has included: Ralph Stanley, Dar Williams,
Shawn Colvin, Alasdair Fraser, Dan Bern, Ricky Skaggs,
Cheryl Wheeler, Odetta, R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit
Serenaders, Ani DiFranco, Brownie McGhee, Mike Marshall,
Savoy-Doucet, Cajun Band, David Lindley, Utah Phillips, Kate
Wolf, Norton Buffalo, David Grisman, Kaki King, Vienna, Teng,
Bill Kirchen, Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss, Edgar Meyers and
Mike Marshall, Tin Hat Trio, Greg Brown, Country Joe
McDonald, and many more. Top level talent will be a great
deal more comfortable now that a new Freight & Salvage has
opened at 2020 Addison in Berkeley, just up the street from
the original location. The old building is shown above left,
while an artists rendering more or less depicts what the new
club looks like at its new location at 2020 Addison.
Joel Selvin, San
Francisco Chronicle Senior Pop Music Correspondent, wrote
the following piece on the new location of the Freight &
Salvage, which for the past 41 years has been one of
Berkeley, California's and the nation's top venues for
The aged, reclaimed wood that covers the walls of the room
comes from the old garage originally in the space, lending
the room the look of a weathered barn, the perfect note to
strike for the magnificent new home of Freight & Salvage,
the 41-year-old acoustic music emporium set to open its new
$12 million headquarters next week in Berkeley.
The new Freight will take its
place, across the street from the Berkeley Repertory Theater
in the culture gulch in downtown Berkeley, as a major arts
institution, riding a rising tide of interest in acoustic
music driven in part by the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Festival presented by financier and aficionado Warren
Hellman, who also happens to be chairman of the Freight's
fundraising campaign and a keystone donor himself. "There's
a much broader audience, not a mass-market audience, but a
much broader audience than we've been getting at 1111
Addison," said Steve Baker, a former attorney who has been
running the Freight since 1983.
to read Joel Selvin's article.
Nuts for the
Michael Winger, left,
identifies himself as "Bass, Keyboard, Vocals, B Movie Actor"
(read more about him at
www.michaelwinger.com), while Jake Wood, right,
identifies himself as "Drums, Keyboard, Vocals, Failed Comedian"
(read more at www.jakewood.net).
Together they are the Super Adventure Club and, for RAR's
money (as if) one of the most entertaining duos anywhere on the
planet. If you stop reading now and
here, you will go to the duo's MySpace site where you can
listen to some of the silliest stuff you are likely to hear this
month. Not sure why I picked "this month," other than that these
dudes may top themselves next. I absolutely love what they do,
as exemplified by their goofy tribute "Former Ladies of the Cold
War" (i.e., "Ukranian girls, Estonian girls, Lithuanian girls,
Latvian girls...I like to see them on the Internets...to see
which one I maybe gets..."). It is the rare act that makes fun
of its audience at all, and even rarer to find one that does it
with such respect. They are smart and they assume you are too.
Super Adventure Club
MySpace for show dates.
& THE HEATHENS
& the Heathens are a six-piece punk soul band from Oakland,
California. "We combine the sounds of New Orleans Brass Bands with funk,
jazz, Detroit garage rock, Motown and the styles of Tom Waits and Morphine
to create what we call horn-fueled Oakland grit."
their MySpace) - Converting an abandoned meat locker into a rehearsal
space, Damon and the Heathens hashed out their gritty sound over many late
nights. Drawing from New Orleans Brass Bands and Detroit garage rock, they
formed a horn-fueled soul punk sound all their own. They soon began
hitting stages and taking names. Known for a raucous live show and a tight
sound, the Heathens came into their own. The only thing holding them back
is their bar tab.
S Grant, Silicon Valley Metro, writes - "This six-piece
punk-band-with-a-horn section out of Oakland sounds like a modern-day
interpretation of Cab Calloway and early Tom Waits, complete with
call-and-response bridges and tales of a seedy urban underbelly and the
crimes committed, often by the narrator, therein. They're also hip to the
funky blues of, say, the Chicago Transit Authority, but much like the
Mighty Mighty Bosstones did with Ska, Damon and the Heathens mix it up
with thrashes of punk rock."
& THE HEATHENS
Go to Damon
& the Heathen's MySpace
page to hear tracks.
Damon Gallagher (vocals, piano, pocket trumpet), Chris Larson (baritone
sax, cello), Tom Kyrimis ( trombone), Gary Moskowitz (trumpet), Kenny
Annis (upright and electric bass), and Andrew Ryan (drums)
is a seven-piece Afro-jazz band that is the inspiration of Oakland
percussionist, composer and singer Fiaindratovo Manavihare (pictured
right), known as "Mimy." Mimy is a native of Madagascar who
plays music inspired by traditional Atandrov culture from the southern
reaches of the island nation. The band specializes in mixing jazz
harmonies with improvisation, all within the traditional framework.
learned his craft playing in traditional bands in his home country, but a
scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, from which he
received a bachelors in performance art in 2003, helped establish him
stateside. He was honored with the
Roy Haynes Award from Zildiian Company, which honors innovation in jazz.
(Haynes, who is 82 years old and still performing, is one of the most
recorded drummers in jazz history, having worked with Gary Burton, Miles
Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Henry Grimes, Christian McBride, Jackie McLean,
Pat Metheny, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Art Pepper, Horace Tapscott
and many others).
bandleader Mimy resides in Oakland, the majority of Fikira's band members
are based in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mimy returns to Madagascar to work with
other native musicians, including trio work with Nicolas Vatomanaga
(sax) and Ghomi (piano).
Fikira released their debut CD BEKO
in 2007. Go to Fikira's MySpace
page to hear tracks.
There are several videos available on
home page and on Fikira's
Manavihare, Fiaindratovo (mimy): leader, voc, perc, arr, comp/ Uziel
Colon: Piano, arr, comp/ Joe Albano: Saxo/ Chris Gagne: Trombone/ Matt
Owens: trumpet/ Sebastien Jasinski: Bass (on Beko mp3) Daniel Day: Bass
(live performances and recording) Freddie Burgos: Drums./ George: the Cute
originally known as "The
Locals", were formed in 1997 by Justin San Souci, Matt
Whalen, Matt Esposito, and Shawn Harris. At the time, all four were in
high school at Bishop O'Dowd. Matt Esposito then left the band (sometime
between 2000 and 2002) to enroll in the US Naval Academy, and was replaced
by Jon Devoto as a guitarist. In those early years, the band played what
could be characterized as ska-influenced punk, creating songs like
"People on the Block", "Studio 5866", and others.
These songs can now be found in The Matches' Song Vault.
Gradually, their style started shifting
towards alternative rock. Their influences included fellow East Bay
punk/pop-punk bands like Green Day and Rancid, as well as more mainstream
bands and musicians like Elvis Costello, David Bowie, The Who and Joe
Jackson. The name "The Locals" soon led to copyright
infringement complications when Yvonne Doll, the frontwoman for the
Chicago indie rock band also called "The Locals", contacted the
band and asked that they change their name.
The band gained notoriety for "commo-promo",
or commotion promotion, in which they would bring their acoustic guitars
and play outside of various Bay Area venues as concerts for larger acts
were letting out. In conjunction with Oakland's (now defunct) iMusicast
venue, the band started producing their own shows called L3 (Live, Loud
& Local), which became a launchpad for many other Bay Area bands, as
well as attracting such headlining acts as Link 80, Sugarcult, and
Eventually, under the new name "The
Matches", they self-released their debut album, E. Von Dahl Killed
the Locals (this was assumed as an effort to publicly resent Yvonne
Doll while avoiding libel). Then soon after landed a record deal on Brett
Gurewitz's Epitaph Records, although they had already previously released
the album E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals without a recording
contract, Epitaph Records re-released it. The version released by Epitaph
lacks the song "Superman", but adds the songs "Borderline
Creep" and "More Than Local Boys", instead. As well as
slight changes to lyrics on "The Jack Slap Cheer", and the last
untitled track (often referred to as "Track 11", "Abraham's
Song", or "Scratched Out"). "Audio Blood" was
featured in the video game Burnout 3: Takedown.
They have shared the stage with likes of
Lit, Yellowcard, Matchbook Romance, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish,
Starting Line, MXPX, Motion City Soundtrack, +44 and many others, as well
as playing on the Vans Warped Tour. The Matches have quickly made a name
for themselves in the pop punk scenes throughout the United States and
Europe.The band has also worked with rapper MC Lars on the song "Hot
Topic is Not Punk Rock", as well as Zebrahead and the A.K.A's
The Matches' second album, Decomposer,
was released on September 12, 2006. The album features work by nine
producers, including Tim Armstrong, Nick Hexum, Mark Hoppus, and John
Feldmann, among other punk rock mainstays. The albums also marks a change
to more experimental alternative rock sound, as opposed to the pop punk
sound of their first album. The Matches were on the Vans Warped Tour 2007
supporting the album. The Matches will be playing the entire AP tour 2008.
The San Francisco Chronicle ran an
article on March 26 entitled "A Svengali tends the
Matches' flame," which detailed the impact that manager Miles Hurwitz
(right) has had on the band. The 53-year old Hurwitz, 30 years the senior
of the boys in The Matches, is a former Bay Area Music (BAM) Magazine
a co-founder of MicroTimes, which has since been sold. Hurwitz directs
every aspect of The Match's career, even co-writing all of its songs with
Shawn Harris (red socks in the photo above), the group's prime
driver. Of the boys, who Hurwitz was turned onto by his 8-year old
son while the band members were still in high school, says of The Match -
"I saw a spark - talent, vocal charm, hook-tinged material, musical
accomplishment and much potential..." He has now been their manager
for eight years.
The Matches will be one of the many bands
who will be playing on the Soundwave tour in Australia late February and
early march in 2008.-Wikipedia
The Matches in production of the "Salty Eyes" music
video, which can be seen on YouTube (click
Matches released Decomposer (left) in 2006, and this March released
A Band in Hope. Tracks can be heard at their MySpace
aren't they? Don't be deceived, PANDA(s)
bite just a little. (This self-description from their MySpace page -
"Who is Panda? Bla Waka Chubaka Mutha Fucka Rocka music. Is
what we play. Yes, Rocka music love ta use it abuse it and con-muthafuckin-fuse
it wit' dat Jazz slash Blues shit. Oooo Shit. That's that fuckiin goood
shit.") They also
play some of the most infectious tunes you will hear coming out of the Bay
is an Oakland band that is advanced way beyond their years. Petros
(guitar/vocals), Jonny (guitar/vocals), Joey (piano/organ), Garet (bass)
and Louie (drums) are gifted players, their vocals are top-knotch pop, and
their songs are endlessly clever.
as a guy who often decries what sounds to me like a lack of solid musical
grounding in young bands, Panda is the solid exception. Their version of
"Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland" pays homage to the classic
tune, along with The Beatles, any number of punk units, and also the jazz
masters who have gone before. Their tune "Chinatown" is one of
the finest bits of radio friendly hit-sounding pop rock I've heard in a
Panda may need to rethink their cuddly name, if they manage their way on
to the international scene, where two other big bands from Australia and
Mexico have already laid claim to the name. Something tells me they'll
work it out, because these are talented boys. - RAR
has tracks that can be heard at their MySpace
Bart Davenport, the vocalist of HONEYCUT,
has been prominent on the San Francisco music scene since the 1990s, known
for fronting bands "The Loved Ones" and "The
Kinetics." He and his present band are all associated with Berkeley's
Quannum Project, a web-based recording/production company and
Davenport is a Berkeley native, whose performance flair resides
somewhere in the sensitive regions between Mick Jagger and Bryan Ferry,
and he is a great "face" for the first track
("Shadows") on the KFOG Local Scene 4 CD; in fact, as a representative of the
Bay Area. He is an appealing guy. As a vocalist he is a pro along the
lines of Train's Pat Monahan, though both are odd register
Whatever, Davenport's range is right for Paris-born composer RV
Salters, who before moving to Berkeley did session work for Nigerian
beatmaster Femi Kuti and French hip-hop star DJ
Mehdi (who has a tremendously entertaining video on Youtube
for his tune "I Am Somebody" - click here).
Salters moved to Berkeley in 1999 and started working with Quannum, on the
LPs of their stable of artists (Blackalicious, Lifesavas, Maroons) and on his
own solo project General Elektriks (Cliquety Kliqk), which Quannum
released in 2005.
In 2003 Salters was brought together with Davenport and Santa Barbara
drummer Tony Sevener, a veteran of mid-90s alt-rock group
Summercamp. He has become a drum programmer in recent years and gained
attention for doing nifty live work in live performances supporting
Salters' solo LP.
The stew of these three musical contributors comes across as a form of
modern funk. The KFOG selection "Shadows" is a way-competent, if
somewhat pedestrian, confection that vocally sounds like L.A.'s Jane Doe's on
stimulants. Davenport seems to share Doe's singer Andy Tubman's penchant
for acid drop inflections in his nuances.
ABOVE: Bart Davenport (left) and RV
Salters of Honeycut. The band has an ardent group of supporters, some of
whom liken their electronica to that of Gnarls Barkley.
MP3s can be heard at their MySpace
2006 LP The Day I Turned to Glass is available an Amazon, at The
Giant Peach site, and through Quannam, among other outlets.
KID" teaser video
by Arno Salters.
live on 'FEARLESS MUSIC TV'
Finding Mercury is the alternative rock
synthesis of four musicians. Their influences range from mainlanders like
Switchfoot to Brit-Rock phenoms like Cold Play, Muse, and Delirious. FM's
music is highly electric, emotionally profound, and full of hooks.
Mercury makes a matchless contribution to their genre because of their
unique yet complementary backgrounds in rock, pop/punk, fusion, classical
and funk. When someone said, "Finding Mercury is a musical
band," it was in appreciation of the artists' individual
contributions to the group sound.
Finding Mercury is currently packing its
schedule with promotional events to get their music out to the people. For
starters, Finding Mercury is aggressively touring Northern California
where they have been building a local fan base from Santa Rosa to San
Francisco to Sacramento and Reno. One can find this tight-knit band
playing with internationally acclaimed groups such as Lava/Atlantic
Records artist Skillet, Word Records artist Building 429 and with local
rising stars - An Opiate for Angels. Additionally, FM's promotional work
includes the release of first, a self titled EP in May of '05 with L.A.
producers--Chris Julian (Billy Idol, Queen Latifah) and Robert Vaughn
(Mint and Sister Gypsy) and then, the release of their Debut Album titled
Vehicle with Transitmusic's Ken Abellon; this new album is an inspiring
example for listeners of their prolific sound.
Finding Mercury vowed to
let nothing divert energy from their driving passion to create live music
that blows unsullied creativity back into the mind of each listener. Jesse
Garcia of Building 429 says, "After sharing the stage with these
guys, I was blown away by the many colorings in the music and it
translates amazingly well on their new album Vehicle."
Mercury is a must see live performance. Their music exudes vulnerability
while being an emotional and electric experience for all!
from April 2008 edition Artist News page
NOTE: Clicking on the above graphic should take you to the SFSU
site for donations. The site is slow to load and if you have trouble try
into your browser. Arlic
Dromgoole's MySpace site is not linked to the above graphic. Paste www.myspace.com/thearlic
into your browser to reach his MySpace site.
and Lucas Ohio Pattie
Follow this link:
http://www.jonclaxton.com/blog/ or click on the Jon Claxton
has been around since the 1990s and it is not going away - at least
not for voters in The Bay Area
Guardian's "Best of The Bay 2006 Readers Poll," who voted
the band their favorite hip-hop act.
which is a radically anti-capitalism/pro-communism rap duo from Oakland,
gained notoriety in 2001 when a CD cover they prepared for their Party
Music release just prior to the September 11 attack on the World Trade
Center seemed to presage the actual event. The cover was quickly replaced
with something less incendiary, and much to the surprise of many Coup was
not cast into commercial purgatory, but rather was recognized for their
talents. Tracks such as "5 Million Ways to Kill A C.E.O." stood
in stark temperamental contrast to almost everything else marketed during
America's period of post 9-11 trauma. The Coup remained righteous and
adamant; things aren't right in the U.S., some people are getting tougher
breaks than others, and others are profiting way too much.
Music was, in itself, a coup. It's list of awards is extraordinary:
Hip Hop Artist" - Rolling Stone
40 Albums of The Year" - Rolling Stone
Album of the Year" - Spin
Album of the Year" - Washington Post
Albums of the Year"- Los Angeles Times
Album of the Year" - Time Out New York
Album of the Year" - San Francisco Chronicle
Year In Pop, 3 out of 4 Critics Choices" - Village Voice
Albums" - Denver Post
Album of the Year" - Philadelphia Inquirer
Greatest Album of 2001" -- Blender
album was re-released by Epitaph Records in 2004.
Producer Boots Riley, from East
Oakland's "Funktown" neighborhood,
put together Coup and was later joined by Pam the Funkstress, who
was the rare female star among the competitive Bay Area turntable scene.
Coup's brand of rap/funk has been compared to "dirty mind" era
As radical as they may be politically,
Boots Riley has been feted by some of the most noteworthy civil rights and
union groups in the country, and there is a long list of press releases on
the Coup's site telling of honors such as the AFL-CIO's Arts and
Activism Award. Boots is active on the lecture circuit, speaking out
constantly for universal health care, minimum wage reform, and proper
Pam the Funkstress is one of the great
deejay stories in the Bay Area. She was featured in a recent San Francisco
Chronicle story on her surviving and dominating in the competitive Bay
Area turntable culture. You can check out some of her stuff at her MySpace
site at www.myspace.com/pamthefunkstress.
There is more
information on her at www.true-skool.org/artists.php?contid=00091
and an article about her at the Shout Magazine site at
MP3s can be heard from their myspace site at www.myspace.com/thecoupmusic.
The Coup released Pick A Bigger
Weapon in 2006, and then toured in support of the album. The album
featured a stellar band of Audioslave's Tom Morello, Dwayne Wiggins,
and veterans of Parliament-Funkadelic, the Gap Band, Toni! Tony! Toné!,
Jesse Johnson, and Frankie Beverly and Maze.
Vulcan Hosts Arts
California - About 25 years ago, arts-supportive San
Francisco became a place too pricey for most artists to afford,
and so there was a great diaspora from the warehouse and loft
communities of the South of Market (SOMA) area clear down to
Hunter's Point. Loft dwellers looked for less expensive digs in
the East Bay and found them in the Oakland warehouse district
that threads along the Nimitz Freeway northeast of Alameda
Island. Developers began buying up old industrial properties and
converting them into funky apartment and loft units, and since
then the "warehouse scene" in Oakland has become a vital part of
the Bay Area's creative community, providing production,
performance and exhibit space for fine artists, dance groups,
film makers, musicians, and performance artists.
One such place is Vulcan Studios,
at 4401 San Leandro Street in Oakland, which was developed as
live-work studios in 1986. Sixty units cluster around a series
of open-air courtyards which function as exhibit space, garden
patch and community meeting ground. This 103,000 square foot
project boasts the "Vulcan Cafe." A Bay Area real estate site
describes Vulcan Studios this way: "This is one of the several
somewhat legendary warehouse studios in Fruitvale. Most
residents are professional artists, and there is a community
group, SOFA, the South Of Fruitvale Artists, which puts on
monthly gallery shows and parties. Many of Oakland's most
significant artists have live/work studios in the neighborhood."
scored "Best Indie Band" in the Bay Area Guardian's "Best
of The Bay 2006 Readers Poll." The
electronica duo are Scott Blonde and Lisa Light, whose story is
that they were
kicked out of a rock band for making out during practice."
So, "the Lovemakers" was conceived.
Lovemakers first appearances were on the underground Oakland warehouse music scene.
(The San Francisco Links this edition seem all about alternative music
venues. See the Drew Pearson "House Concerts" feature below.-
RAR). They mix the violin, bass and vocal talents of the
Stanford-educated Ms. Light (Marine Biology). Her resume includes time
spent as a "circus violinist," which sounds dangerous. I suppose
after that, playing Oakland warehouses must've seemed nothing. She and
singer-guitarist Scott, described on their site as a "Vermont-raised pop
prodigy," found something really powerful. It wasn't
their mutual attraction, which was short-lived, but instead
was their musical connection. One is really tempted to say The
Lovemakers make great fucking music! But that's not the RARWRITER way.
with drummer Ken Hard - is that real? - and
keyboard/guitarist Brandon Arnovick (Lovage, Head
Automatica), Blonde-Light are making an appealing
confection of "jangle technotica" that amply demonstrates the
strength of the two lead voices. This stuff is fresh and getting noticed.
Their tune "Prepare For the Fight," which you can hear on their
MySpace site, was endorsed by Blender Magazine as a top download. Their
2005 album Times of Romance made SF progressive rock station Live
105's list of favorite records.
Lovemakers have a sound, Lisa Light's stuff mostly, that brings to mind
the Swedish rock acts that have swept onto the east coast, particularly in
recent years. (There will be a feature on this in an upcoming edition
of the Links on RARWRITER.) ABBA even comes to mind,
but this is often more Cardigans-like. Scott Blonde's stuff sounds a bit
to me like Thompson Twins. It is all dance pop, sometimes funky
("Shake That Ass"), and often sexy; maybe a little juvenile.
ABOVE: Scott Blonde and Lisa Light
Blonde is an amazing singer, particularly adept at falsetto, and Lisa
Lovemakers MP3s can be heard at their myspace site at http://www.myspace.com/thelovemakers .
to MALDROID, the Oakland-based band (which Aaron Axelson, music
director of San Francisco radio station Live 105, calls "New
Wave") that has played only one gig but used YouTube to create
school dropout Ryan Divine (pictured left) hand drew panels for a
music video some have likened to the '80s band a-ha's breakthrough MTV
video for their tune "Take On Me." Before he even completed the
arduous process, which he had spent months developing, Divine noticed a
competition on YouTube for independent band videos and submitted his
unfinished work. He won! And within a short time the winning entry had
racked up over one-half million views, prompting an invitation to appear
on "Good Morning America," not to perform but to talk about
their use of the popular video hosting service to launch a music career.
That, to date, is Maldroid's story, summed up in the Chronicle headline
"Oakland Band Shows How To Make It In YouTube Age." The band has
followed up their competition winner with two more low budget videos.
band's song "He Said, She Said," the subject of their first
video, has made a few appearances on the Live 105 playlist and MD Axelson
reports that the station has fielded calls from "labels" who are
interested in Divine and company.
From the Maldoid website, the band's debut performance, in December 2006
at Blake's in Berkeley. Is it just me or do the ties and sportcoats (untucked
shirts and grubby facial growth aside) make them look a little like a
modern church band? They retooled their look for a subsequent
post-Mac World show in San Francisco at the Rickshaw Stop. Are they a
YouTube fluke or an actually talented band? Time will tell, and to date
time has moved rather briskly for these guys.
MP3s can be heard from their myspace site at www.myspace.com/maldroid.
to the talented Mr. Divine - this graphic doesn't show well here - but he
has created this marvelously whimsical animated logo for Maldroid, a sort
of malfunctioning robot coat of arms. Divine's future may well lie with
his fine arts endeavors, which seem to me to be somewhat ahead of his
development as a songwriter, but be your own judge.
Divine - Vocals, Johnny Genius - Guitar, Mike O'Million
- Drums, Todd Brown - Guitar, Sean "The Talented Mr."
Shippley - Bass, Prince J - Keys and Sample, and AJ Riot
- Keytar and Synths.
RAR NOTE: Maldroid
the Internet phenomenon is truly special, but is Maldroid the band any
good? Ryan Divine's vocals put me to mind of those of the Fairbrass
brothers (Right Said Fred), which are kitschy, funny, partially annoying.
Divine and Genius are quoted as saying "He Said, She Said" is
their one "great" song, but that strikes me as gross hyperbole
and not especially promising. Still, talent in the general sense has put
this band on the map quickly and momentum does tend to procreate.
Whatever, hats off to some creative guys.
You can go to www.youtube.com/maldroidtv
to view the video that, to this point, is Maldroid's career.
consisting primarily of Chris Campbell - or Chris C as he is known these
days - has been around the San Francisco club music scene for several
years. He showed up first in 2003, with the release of party music CD etoc.
It featured a techno-beat sound that put some to mind of Erasure, or even
Depoche Mode. In 2004, Chris issued a second CD, Fuitpacifist,
which musically continued in the vein of his freshman release, and
Subimage - the term may refer to options available in a multi-resolution
image, or in radio waves - developed a small core following of techno
played locally and toured a bit nationally, but the band was way behind a
wave that crested years earlier, and Chris C's band eventually ran out of
steam and lost some players.
year the band was reformed with the addition of bassist Greg M,
drummer Joe M (no relation), and the
irrepressible Ruba F. Tuesday, previously guitarist for the The
Zodiac Killers, Dead Vanity and Barbee Killed Kenn. Ruba's addition to the
band seemed to herald a new democracy in the unit's creative direction
that has clearly changed the sound of the band. (Click
here to read Ruba's own description of her rock band
experience to date, including the work with Subimage.) The new Subimage
has become more of a geek-rock band with a sound and approach falling
somewhere between that of They Might Be Giants and the Violent Femmes.
There is a little Talking Heads in there, too, but Chris Campbell's synth
sounds don't take this in the direction of funk so much as experimental
garage rock dominated by the sound of Ruba's guitars.
and Ruba's soundscapes often shadow one another as musical
counter-programming, Ruba leaning into the bottom end power chords, as
seems her natural inclination, and showing surprising facility with
pop-funk textures, which she adds with vigor. Chris works over the top of
this sound chassis with clever little musical statements that sometimes
bring to mind the canoodling of Radiohead.
F. takes an upfront role on the band's tune "Maple Lane,"
available for listening from the Subimage MySpace site. That song
represents quite a
Subimage playing San
Francisco's Red Devil Lounge in December 2006.
departure from the Chris C tracks. Under Ruba's firm
control, the new Subimage seems to become remarkably more polished. Ruba
is not a power singer by any stretch, but she's smooth and pleasing to the
ear; certainly a far cry from Chris C's antic intonating.
Chris and Ruba are making some interesting
sounds, each bringing strengths to the collaboration. When you hear a song
that takes a tack different from the band's previous inclinations, you
wonder if its a bridge to a new sound, or a Dead End. It will be
interesting to see if this clash of music philosophies has legs.
released etoc (above) in 2003 and Fruitpacifist (right) in 2004. In
2006 they released Bernal Hill (below).
Subimage MP3s can be heard at www.myspace.com/subimage9
LEFT: Ruba F. ABOVE: Bernal
Hill CD cover. RIGHT: Chris Campbell.
DAVE RUDE BAND
Dave's myspace site - "I sing and play guitar. I've got my
own band. We play rock'n'roll music. We like melody. We like cool lyrics.
We like chord progressions that make a chill run up your spine. We like
riffs. We like solos. We like you, so check out our songs. Also, I'm lucky
enough to play guitar in one of my favorite bands, TESLA."
I think that's some cool writing, which I'm sure Dave did himself. I love
the short form humility leading to the big-name kicker. TESLA, if you
haven't heard, is a metal oriented blues-rock band that originated in
Sacramento in mid-'80s and had a string of hits ("Signs" (1990)
is the best-known of Tesla's hits, which also includes "Gettin'
Better", "Modern Day Cowboy", the Ph.D.
cover "Little Suzi", "Edison's Medicine" and
"Love Song"..."Love Song" still receives much airplay
on rock stations..."-Wikipedia.) Dave replaced the band's
original guitarist Tommy Skeoch. How
that happened is a myspace story; see the sidebar "Living The
Dream..." (right), and the quote below.
in his own words (from email) - "Before
I started my own band and singing lead, I played guitar in The
We played classic style hard rock originals around the Bay Area.
Put out two self-released CDs that did pretty well. After I left that band, I decided to start my own thing, which
I’ve been doing since.
We’ve done lots of local shows as well as doing an East Coast
Right now we’re working on songs for a new CD to be released in
the new year.
"The SF Bay Area doesn’t have the best live music scene, so
you’ve really gotta have a great recording that people can hear first to
get ‘em to the shows.
Very few people go out to shows unless they know the band or
already like them.
From what I’ve heard, it was quite the opposite in the eighties,
when many clubs had a built-in audience every weekend.
Live music in general is much more popular in other areas I’ve
played in, like Seattle, NYC, and Austin.
But the Bay Area does have a large community of talented musicians,
so go figure.
"I’m also lucky enough to play guitar in the classic rock band,
They found me on my band’s myspace profile
in the spring of ’06.
I did their US summer tour, and I’m currently recording a new
album of classic cover tunes with the guys.
It’s been a great experience to be involved with such a great
band and crew.
And it’s opened up my music to a lot of new people throughout the
Goes to show that good things happen when you stick to your guns
and play what you love, regardless of trends."
DAVE RUDE of The Dave Rude Band
and TESLA. Dave's got the hair, the looks, the licks.
Check out the Dave Rude band MP3s below,
which have old school groove to them.
RUDE BAND MP3s:
© 2006-2007 Dave Rude Band, all rights reserved
The Dream...Like Mark
was rocking right along with The Servants, and then doing his own thing,
and then suddenly got a contact from one of his favorite bands, Tesla.
They got to know Dave through his myspace site, needed a guitar player,
and Dave was ready to roll. "Crazy, huh?" he says. "Lots
of people have said it's like the Mark Wahlberg movie, Rockstar.
It's a trip, and I'm lovin' it."
There is an interview with Dave
available on line. Click on
on www.rockinmetalrevival.com Mon,Dec4"
space on the Links has been devoted to the
talents of songwriters Miss Dian and Athena. They surfaced
in the Bay Area a music generation back as the driving force behind BARBEE
KILLED KENN (click
the link to read an archived piece on BKK). Now they are back
with a new unit, THE UNPROFESSIONALS.
name is disingenuous to say the least, because Dian and Athena are not
amateurs by any stretch. They are experienced performers and accomplished songwriters who have found
a vehicle in Dian's uber-appealing voice, and the territory they stake out
with this new band is not terribly different from what they owned with BKK.
The edge is a little softer, because gone is guitarist Ruba
F. Tuesday (now with Subimage, profiled above) who added dirt to the
band's sound. Mr. Larry, the guitarist they work with now, is a more than
competent replacement, but the songs have mellowed just a little. The
Unprofessionals seem rangier than did BKK, more mature while employing the
same tricks. Mr. Steve joins The Unprofessionals on drums, and like
Mr. Larry he is solid in the pop rock pocket, probably moreso than
checking out The Unprofessionals, you might also check out bassist
Athena's MySpace music site at http://www.myspace.com/athenabass.
If you are anything like me, you will be
struck by how different she sounds from her work with bosom buddy Dian.
She does a much more deep groove blues-rock than the effervescent pop they
do as a duo, and she sings that style convincingly.
|THE UNPROFESSIONALS MP3S:
The Unprofessionals have MP3s on their
Unprofessionals Are: Miss Dian~Vocals, Miss Athena~Bass/Vocals, Mr.
Larry~Guitar, Mr. Steve~Drums.
CROOKS is an intriguing singer/songwriter who surfaced in the San
Francisco area in 2003 when Roberta
Deborah's first album, 5 Acres. An edgy folk-rocker who counts Lucinda
Williams among her influences, Deborah is an accomplished songwriter;
in fact, an accomplished all around writer, "widely published as an
essayist, journalist and poet..." as her MySpace profile
2005, Deborah's track "You Are Home," a collaboration with B.Z.
Lewis, profiled below, was featured on the compilation CD Java
with Javalyn. Javelyn,
featured on the L.A. Links,
is a Los
indie artist and actress who is a den mother to the folk-rock scene there,
hosting a weekly showcase in Santa Monica and issuing her compilation CDs.
has some organizational interests in common with Javelyn. She is a San Francisco area coordinator of SongsAlive!, a national membership
organization that helps songwriter/performers arrange performance
opportunities at venues across the country. (She created a link with
another Links participant recently when she graciously reached out to Elke
was exploring Bay Area venues.)
Deborah Crook MP3s can be heard at her
MySpace site at www.myspace.com/deborahcrooks .
songs range from acoustic folk to hard charging rock. She brings a great
deal of passion to her work, in some respects reminiscent of another San
Francisco woman rocker, Producer/Singer/Songwriter Linda Perry.
Lewis, referenced above in the Deborah Crooks profile, has
become one of San Francisco's more potent musical forces. As the
proprieter of Studio 132, a downtown San Francisco recording and
production facility designed "from the ground up with the help of Chips
Davis, who is famous for designing Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch" (from
the studio's website), B.Z. has developed a gestation chamber for an
astonishing array of musical types. Studio 132, fueled by B.Z.'s
songwriting abilities, has churned out songs for television series,
national commercials, indie films, video games, and a significant number
of talented artists. The Studio 132 site has a multitude of MP3s available
for download that demonstrate B.Z.'s talents as a writer,
multi-instrumentalist, producer and recording engineer.
was literally born to the recording studio, having been exposed to the
small studio his father kept in the family's west Texas home. As a child
he assisted his father with the chores required for the production of his
daily radio show "The Sound of Texas." B.Z. picked up
piano and guitar, then (from the website) "...attended an
audio engineering school in Texas, then received his B.A. in music with an
emphasis on classical guitar from the University of Texas at Austin, where
he was honored as one of the best guitarists in the state of Texas by
Texas Beat Magazine." He got an opportunity to work on a film, so in
1993 moved to California, where his career has grown steadily.
of the more intriguing aspects of the B.Z. Lewis story is his association
with TAXI, the paid-membership independent A&R group that solicits
songs for specific projects or artists, provides reviews of submittals,
and occasionally hooks a songwriter up with a sale. B.Z. has been the
poster boy for TAXI songwriting success, placing numerous songs through
the agency. His success as a commercial songwriter allowed him to make his
living in the music business and build Studio 132 from a home-based
concern to a facility nestled among San Francisco's pricey office and
entertainment complexes. B.Z. also serves as a spokesperson for TAXI,
authoring articles and speaking at conferences on the ins and outs of
using the A&R service.
Currently B.Z. is an ASCAP member writer
and publisher, a voting member of the Grammys, and a guy enjoying an
artist's publishing deal with Media Creature Music in L.A.
seems like every music community has its perennial - the band that stays
around forever, remains popular and becomes iconic on the local scene. In
San Francisco, it is the Tommy
Castro Band. Not that Tommy's range doesn't extend far beyond
the Bay, it's just that the Bay Area is his home turf and he is bedrock in
this music community. His career has built slowly but steadily from bar
cover band to big local venue band to major festivals and national tours
with B.B. King. Tommy has been putting out LPs since 1993 and he
shows up on the radio more and more of late, particularly on San
Francisco's venerable KFOG, which prides itself on supporting top players
from the local community while playing tunes from '60s classic rock to
present album-oriented adult alternative.
Castro Band MP3s:
Give Love A Try
Long Must I Cry
© Tommy Castro, all rights reserved
You know, I love this guy. He is not at all
precious about sharing his tunes. He has a great selection of live
recordings that can be downloaded for free at http://www.tommycastro.com/mp3s.htm
ABOVE LEFT: Tommy at the mic; the band on stage at a Greeley, Colorado blues
festival; Tommy on stage with Bo Diddley; Tommy Castro Band on stage at
the San Francisco Blues Festival; John Hiatt, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and
Tommy Castro on stage at the B.B. King Blues Festival
PEARCE - HOUSE CONCERTS
the Links at RARWRITER solicited suggestions on the staging of songwriter
showcases, and among the people to answer the call was Drew
has a had a lot of experience in this area. He is host to one of the Bay
Area's more endearing traditions, the house concert. Drew regularly stages
in-home performances featuring artists from around the world playing for
small, intimate groups of music lovers, numbering in the dozens. (See the
profiles of Kyler
Cooper and Jana
of the artists Drew presents.)
"I think I went to
my first house concert back in 1995 at Tom Meshishnek's series called
"Mo's Melody Mansion" in San Francisco," Drew wrote
recently. "I've heard that the
concept of the
house concert goes way, way back to parlor music in...Victorian times?
Something like that.
"Anyway, I decided to start hosting my own series after having a few
informal musical parties at my cottage in Sonoma in 2001. Then I wrote an
article called "How to host a house concert" for Acoustic Guitar
magazine, where I'm a contributing writer. That inspired me to try to host
something more formal with featured performances as well as an open mic.
Right from the start, there was so much appreciation and encouragement
from the audience and the musicians that I decided to do it on a regular
basis. So I designed a web site to promote the shows, and just kept
expanding our circle of friends who come to the parties.
I meet new people at every show and get introduced to a lot of new music
this way. So that's how I've stay energized for it, I suppose.
"It's all very low tech. There are no microphones or PAs or amps. Part of
the appeal, I think, is hearing the music acoustically."
Drew's motivations are
similar to those that fuel this site. "As a contributing writer for Acoustic
Guitar magazine, I get to hear a lot of new music that I might
otherwise overlook. In the past few years, the CDs I've received from the
magazine have introduced me to a lot of inspired work that somehow stays
below the radar. So my goal is to change the radar and tune into new music
that gets missed by commercial radio" (from his website). And
he further invites artists to take part in his program - "So if
you've got something I should hear, send a link and I'll try to spread the
word here and at the house concerts."
- In response to my inquiries into hosting "jam" sessions, Drew
provided the following - "All I can say is not to wait for the ideal
format or location. Just get started. You're organizing something more
band-oriented, yes? Maybe you could all meet at rehearsal studio like
Lennon Studios or Hyde Street Studios, and have
all the participants split the rental fee, bring their own instruments,
food, etc. I think you're wise to have everyone agree on a set list first.
Maybe you could split the jams into smaller groups of 5-7 based on who
likes to play what."
conferred with a suggestion from Sean
Lightholder, another Bay Area open mic expert, regarding an
East Bay spot that is already the scene of an ongoing jam. I second that emotion about
Red House in Walnut
Creek. It seems like a great location for a jam. I've only seen the
site so far, but this Friday, I'm going to check out the songwriter's
cafe that's sort of a round robin run by Bill Spooner of The
hosted L.A. singer/songwriter KYLER ENGLAND recently, and here is what he
wrote promoting her appearance - "I heard Paul Schreiber raving about: Kyler
England. Paul's hype was justified. Kyler writes impeccable pop songs,
sings them with soul, and makes it look easy. If you're a fan of Patty
Griffin, Sheryl Crow and Jonatha Brooke, I'm sure you will dig what Kyler
does. With Los Angeles as a home base, she's touring extensively across
the country, and has shared the stage with Sting, Melissa Etheridge, Gavin
DeGraw and Annie Lennox among many others."
Cooper worked for 11 months, 15 days
and 8 hours as a corporate attorney, carrying his guitar to work each day,
practicing at any opportunity, and was one of
few attorneys who was planning his exit from law before he ever started
working as a lawyer (from his website).
Nate is a fingerstyle player who has
studied with Bay Area specialists Peppino D'Agostino ("Venus over
Venice" CD) and Duck Baker, as well as San Francisco jazz player
Massanari and young classical guitarist/composer phenom Gyan Riley. While
these 4 guitarist inspired and helped Nate learn to play and compose
music, artists such as Nick Drake and Greg Brown inspired Nate to write
songs. His debut CD is Stories Between the Strings.
her website - "After a much needed hiatus, she's back!
Departing from the avante garde stylings of her theatrical past, Jana's
debut album Bittersweet is full of bursting with guitar-based,
soulful pop songs. Possessing both a clean purity and the fullness and
attitude that is Rock and Roll, her voice has been described as 'soul-wrenching' and her performance as
'multi-layered and charismatic.' With her new CD and growing radio airplay across the
Northeast, this small town Pennsylvania farm girl and former Broadway
starlet is currently moving audiences everywhere with a full repertoire of
"As a self proclaimed, 'recovering
music school dropout', Jana has spent the last two years working on Bittersweet. With friend
Dave Uosikinnen (The Hooters, Cyndi
Lauper, Patty Smyth, Taj Mahal, Alice Cooper) on drums, Charlie Shew (Samite
of Uganda) on percussion, and collaborator Melanie Peters on guitar, she
is proud to be back in her hometown of Lawrenceville, PA after years of
"A soft-spoken vigilante, and a soulful
communicator, Jana is a fan of everything natural. She is currently
working on a way to tour without the use of fossil fuels, supports a
non-violent lifestyle, and plans to one day establish her own Permaculture
community. Jana hopes to use her music, web site, and touring performances
to support and spread the word about these causes she so deeply believes
LIGHTHOLDER AND KERBSIDE
LIGHTHOLDER is a singer/songwriter (from his website) - "born to Irish parents in the San
Francisco Bay Area and has spearheaded the annual Songwriter Showcase in
Athlone for the last two years (see
www.songwriter.ie). He freely admits to an obsession with black tea,
is a certified cerevesiaphile and maintains an online calendar of SF-area
open mics at www.bayareaopenmics.com."
latter is how he came into the RARWRITER sphere, contacted for information
on his extraordinary website devoted to listing every open mic opportunity
in the Bay Area.
Writes Seán - "I suppose we're all products of our environment, so my
musical inclinations probably bow to an adolescence spent listening to The
Beatles on my parents' stereo, admiring the counter-culture older
kids around me who were filling their ears with REM and the
Cure and puzzling over the sweatsuit-clad younger generation who were
just abandoning grunge rock for ska and hip hop.
"It should be noted that I love vocal
harmony possibly more than anything else in music (explaining a quirky
penchant I have for old barbershop quartets and medieval choral pieces).
After high school I learned that playing music wasn't necessarily about
the songs you knew or wrote. I fell into jamming (an art I still have much
to learn about) by hanging out with musicians far better than I ever will
be, who filled my head with the blues, freestyle improvisation and the
primal joy of simple accoustic rythms."
his wife Kim perform as a duo called Kerbside.
"Nowadays Kim and I play out a few times a
week as kerbside and spend a
lot of time hanging out and sharing music with other musicians in our
area. We've just released our first CD . . . it's a real living room
recording job (literally), but, for the first time, I have a real sense of
contentment about this recording. Currently, we're touring around Ireland
and the UK with it. Check it out by
You can hear the
Lightholders' MP3s by visiting their site at
Knight is a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter whose vocals
caught the attention of India Arie, who is quoted as saying "I
love great voices and when I heard Jill sing it stopped me in my tracks,
and I had to listen."
Knight does have a quality that is genuine, accessible, and easy on the
ears. Hers sounds like a voice familiar from radio exposure; she is like a
talent gold standard, a measure of what one must have to make a radio
sing. She has that ease of delivery that rings authentic, inspires trust,
and makes you stay with it. Isn't that at the very heart of the idea of
being "radio friendly?" You don't punch the station finder with
songwriting talents are equally assured. She was "a finalist in the
Telluride Troubadour competition, the National Academy of Songwriters
'songwriter of the year' competition, in Billboard magazines 'best
unsigned band' contest, a regional best seller in Album Network magazine
for her album Future Perfect, and voted as one of the best DIY
albums in Performing Songwriter Magazine." This all comes from her
MySpace site and it goes on and on. "...Honorable mention NSAI
songwriting competition, Finalist in the Acoustic Live songwriter
has toured as an opening act for India Arie, and has shared stages with
Shawn Colvin, David Wilcox, Michael Hedges, Phoebe Snow, Richard Thompson,
Little Feat, and others.
The shot above shows Jill in her solo
performer role, doing her acoustic- based indie folk-rock. She also has a
70's funk and soul cover band TAB, with Dawn Richardson on
drums, Julie Wolf on keyboard and vocals, Pam Delgado on
percussion and vocals, Jeri Jones on lead guitar and vocals and Paul
Olguin on bass. They play private and corporate functions.
JILL KNIGHT CDS: Don't these below
strike you as beautiful covers? Songs from Jill's 1999 release Future
Perfect (below left) were featured in the motion picture Stranger
than Fiction, and also on the Oxygen Network.
Knight MP3s can be heard at her
myspace site at www.myspace.com/jillknight.
They include an interesting live cover of "Little Wing."
See the Passion
Star News item
below for information on Jill's upcoming show in Marin.
and KAT is
an electronica act well-known to west coast, and particularly San Francisco dance clubbers, and to
attendees of the annual Burning Man Festival. They were voted "Best
Electronic Music Act" in The Bay Area Guardian's, San
Francisco's weekly alternative newspaper, "Best
of The Bay 2006 Readers Poll."
couple have become a dance club staple over the past five years. It is a
collaboration between the DJ beats of Kepi and the DJ/songwriting/ vocal
adventures of Kat. They have a musical relationship similar to another
collaboration featured on this site, that of L.A. songstress Renfey
and her technotic producer Kor.
Kepi and Kat have made inroads onto the playlists at Thump and XM
Satellite Radio. Kepi does a monthly show on XM Satellite’s CH 80 “The
Move" during the "Thump Funk" radio program.
and Kat (which must be one of the "cutest" names this side of
children's television) - let's call them "K&K" for our purposes
here, released their EP Limelight in 2005. That featured remixes of
bigtime San Francisco DJs (Kepi & Teapot, Tyler Stone, B. Smiley,
is a Minneapolis native and it was there, in the early '90s, she
first made her name on the DJ circuit. She was known as "Katwoman."
She went from being a spinner to a singer upon her relocation to
As a singer/songwriter, Kat will
stylistically remind some (me) of Madonna. She is smoothe, not
inclined to get outside of herself, but rather to purr in a
glassy, sensual manner. Somehow listening to her, absorbing her
energy, it is not hard to imagine her as an aerobics instructor or
a "winter guard" choreographer. Kat still does club DJ work herself, "performing downtempo sets of her own at many of
the Bay Area’s hottest nightclubs and on San Francisco’s 'Below Zero'
on Energy 92.7FM" (from her website).
Self described "electronic music
(real name Jeff Steinmetz) was a keyboardist/guitarist playing around
Minneapolis and doing
engineering at area studios before discovering himself as a DJ. He
moved to San Francisco after a decade of spinning on the
Minneapolis scene, and since has worked in San Francisco's top
clubs as well as at festival venues such as Ibiza, Spain and LA’s cult
favorite Moontribe as well as at Burning Man.
ABOVE: K&K addressing the adoring masses
at San Francisco's 2005 Love Parade, where they opened for Chrystal
his website - "Kepi continues to be an influential artist on the West
performing with many notable producers and artists that span many
music styles and geographies, including such acts as Hybrid, Steve
Porter, Luke Fair, Grandmaster Flash, Infected Mushroom, Shpongle,
Cosmosis, Shakta, Astral Projection, Crystal Method, Hybrid, D:Fuse,
Hyper, Trendroid, Fine-Cut Bodies, Freq Nasty, Jeno and many more."
"Kepi’s long time involvement in studio engineering and
sound production has led to the build-up of a pro grade
project studio which is the breeding ground for his original
style of dance music: a fusion of house, progressive, breaks
and trance. It is not uncommon for Kepi to create one off
custom tracks and dubs for his sets before a show. Look for
releases by Kepi, Kat, Amani and Teapot under their
production title 'Desert
Somehow this photo looks so familiar,
like we've seen it before in someone else's press archive.
AND KAT MP3s:
and Kat MP3s can be heard from their MySpace site at www.myspace.com/kepiandkat.
Kepi and Kat tunes are available from iTunes.
ABOVE: They are a good
looking couple, aren't they? Doesn't this shot have a kind of Guy
Ritchie/Madonna thing going on?
we have looked to San Francisco and the East Bay, and now we move across the
Golden Gate over to Marin County to the Dan Hicks contingent, the Passion Star
Studio people, and more. I lived and worked in San Anselmo, San Rafael and Mill
Valley for years. People there have rich blood, rich pockets, rich lifestyles.
And, as you'll see here, there are some rich musical veins running through those
rich hills. - RAR
Winters is a top of the line jazz-pop
songwriter/singer/guitarist whose talents were captured live for a CD she
released a couple years back - deborah winters
"live in session". The 12-song collection of original
material was performed with some of the Bay Area's finest jazz players,
and it sounds great, but the standout player is Deborah's voice, which is
a rare mixture of muscular soulfulness and spot-on control.
grew up in the Bay Area, where her mother was a professional ballet dancer
for the Oakland Metropolitan Ballet Company. Deborah has done some ballet
herself, appearing as a child in the Nutcracker Suite. She was an
acting/theatre major in college, developed a talent for songwriting, and
launched her music career at an open mic night at the Sweetwater in Mill
an apprenticeship as a soloist, Deborah put together a quartet and started
playing the San Francisco clubs, with a sound influenced by Joni Mitchell
and Rickie Lee Jones. In doing that she met acclaimed
producer/pianist/arranger Frank Martin, a Bay Area legend whose
career has included collaborations with Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder,
Whitney Houston, and Sting. Deborah and Martin have been collaborating ever
since. She states on her website that Martin has "constantly encouraged her to experiment with ideas that lie outside of her
DEBORAH WINTERS at the CD
release party for deborah winters
"live in session".
Deborah Winters has MP3s
clips available for listening from the CD page of her site.
Deborah Winters released deborah winters
"live in session" in 2004.
STAR, the Marin-based recording label, publishing and licensing
company, got exciting news recently when two of their acts were placed
into consideration for Grammy nominations.
Edo Castro is under consideration in the Best Contemporary Jazz
his Passion Star-produced CD Phoenix. And pianist/composer in
residence Ray Cooper is under Grammy nomination consideration in the Best New
Age category for his CD Tabernacle (original compositions for
piano as performed and recorded at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Vancouver
B.C.). Both releases were produced by Ray, who is having a pretty amazing
Star is the brainchild of former LucasArts Entertainment Company executive
Lisa Star, who for many years was International Business and
Operations Manager for George Lucas' videogames division. Besides providing the
brains for the business organization of Passion Star, Lisa is also a
singer/songwriter and part of her own company's artist stable.
Cooper, who has his own studio, CoStar, is
an Emmy-winning composer, arranger, engineer and producer for albums,
television and film. From his EPK - "Ray has a special talent
for grasping an artist’s vision, which enables the songwriters/musicians
he works with to realize and even exceed their project vision. His focus
is always one of forward motion and expansion. This brings a very unique
and positive flow to all of the projects he is involved with."
Grammy nominated Bassist/Composer Edo
Castro in the studio listening back to tracks with Lisa Star during the
recording of his Phoenix LP.
Castro is a SF Bay Area Native who grew up in the
Haight-Ashbury during the 60’s. “ I was influenced by Sly Stone, Tower
of Power, Cold Blood and Santana. There was so much music going on, it was
practically oozing out into the neighborhood. You couldn’t help not
being affected," Castro recalls.
He initially was a self-taught bassist but later attended the American
Conservatory of Music in Chicago. “ My Teachers were not only schooling
me, they’d recommend me for gigs," Castro marveled. During his stay
in Chicago he played with some of the finest young bloods of the music
scene at that time, Jim Trumpeter, Fareed Haque, Mark Walker and Hassan
Khan. Of course there were the jazz icons, Miles Davis Guitarist Pete
Cosey and drummer Roy Haynes that Edo was fortunate enough to
play with. Edo recalls, "After playing a set with Roy Haynes, there
was a bunch of us standing around talking to him and out of the blue, Roy
handed me his card and said, ‘Man when you’re ready, come to New York
and give me a call.' That was the greatest stamp of approval in front of
all my peers. I’ve yet to get to New York and collect on that call.”
Edo says of his LP - “The name Phoenix is not only a beautiful
name, it's also the mythical representation of change or transformation.
Phoenix is about transforming personal moments."
Edo released his first solo effort, Edo,
was released in 2003.
Edo Castro has performed with David Amram,
Mark Walker, Hassan Kahn, Pete Cosey, Roy Haynes, Fareed Haque, David
Onderdonk, Nick Kitsos, Ed Thigpen, Johnny Griffin, Joel Harrison, Jim
Trumpeter, Ian Doogle, Deborah Winters, Jill Knight, Eva Jay Fortune, Paul
Van Wageningen, Drew Youngs, Caroline Aiken, Dan Zinn, Bethany Pickins,
Michael La Macchia, Armando Peraza, Caren Armstrong, Percy Howard, Mike
Molenda, Deborah Pardes, Joe Sonnefeldt, Stu Greenspan, David Sobel, Stu
Hamm, Lorn Leber, George Brooks and many others.
Ray Cooper and Edo Castro
MP3s can be heard from the Passion Star site at http://www.passionstarmusic.com/music.html.
The recordings of the Passion Star stable,
including Edo and Ray, plus Deborah Winters, Daria, and Roberta
Donnay, all profiled on this page, are available for download on
iTunes, Rhapsody, Emusic and other on line stores.
Feb. 9, 2007 -
Lisa Star and Ray
were headed off to the
Grammys this week, and Lisa promised to be my "girl on the
ground" for the telecast and after-awards party they are attending.
It's a nice, if somewhat visually disturbing offer; the best I could
extract. I had suggested that I would love to go with. Keep an eye on the
Passion Star site for her Grammy report. Lisa does a good job of updating
her site with company news, of which there has been a lot in the past
Passion Star artist Edo
Castro was playing the Larkspur Cafe Theater this week with
acclaimed folk songwriter Jill
will join Knight's band, which includes Jill
Knight (acoustic guitar and lead vocals), Jeri Jones (lead
guitar), Pam Delgado (percussion and vocals), Edo on
fretless bass, and Dawn Richardson (drums). Jill Knight has
achieved something of a cult following as the touring partner of
singer/songwriter India Arie, who has featured Jill as her opening
act. Jones and Delgado come to Jill Knight's band from their own, Blame
Sally, who are celebrating their own CD release this month.
Brian Gore -
Speaking of spectacular acoustic
guitarists, modern classicist Brian Gore is one everyone should
know. You can get a quick dose by visiting his site at
and watching his videos, which are also available on YouTube.
You can also listen to his tunes at
From his MySpace - "I have a gift
for melody that for a long time was bewildering to me.
Fortunately, I've had many mentors; Peppino D'Agostino and Alex
de Grassi on the 'steel string' side, Andrew York and many
others on the 'nylon string' side. As time has gone by, through
the help and inspiration of my mentors and guitar idols, I've
managed to develop a decent craft for songwriting on guitar. One
thing I've done which has really helped, is to put words to the
melodies. I have songs with words that I perform in shows, but
primarily, I choose to frame my songs as 'guitarpoems.' That's
why I call myself a 'guitarpoet.' I now have a small cadre of
students myself who are following in my footsteps, and a book on
fingerstyle guitar, called "Fingerstyle Guitar, Technique and
ROBINSON is a versatile Bay Area
guitarist/singer/songwriter/ producer and more. He is currently working
with six bands, including Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, the Bayside Jazz
Group (another Dan Hicks project), and his own Paul Robinson. Sometimes
compared to Eric Clapton for his dexterous blues guitar work and
warm vocals, his resume includes work with virtuoso saxophonist David
Sanborn, bassist Benny Rietveld (Carlos Santana), Dan Hicks, Al Stewart
and drummer Prairie Prince (Jefferson Starship, Todd Rundgren, The Tubes).
Of late he has been playing around the Bay Area with singer/songwriter
(and John Wesley Harding collaborator) Chris von Sneidern.
Paul is a pro player who has worked his way up the ranks, starting with
song transcriptions for publishing houses in the early '90s, landing MTV
network ID spots and a spot on the MTV show "Liquid TV," and
then touring nationally and internationally as a lead guitarist with pop
icon Al Stewart ("Year of the Cat"), Romeo Void's
Debora Iyall, the Gypsy Jazz Band, and the Hot Club of San
Francisco. Paul has added his signature guitar sound to a dozen albums
ranging from pop and rock to jazz and beyond. He has shared the stage with
Don Was, Bob Weir, David Sanborn, and Steve Winwood and has
opened for such greats as Joni Mitchell, Joan Osborne, Dave Mason and
Paul Robinson on stage with Bayside Jazz at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley.
co-produced Sweet with Steve Savage, with him he worked on
the production of Jill Carole's The Easter Bunny, Sex &
Santa Clause LP. Paul did the arrangements for his LP, for which he
also played most of the instruments, and he wrote arrangements for Jill
Carole's CD. For a time he was working as a performer and arranger with The
Hesla/Robinson Big Band, a 16-piece unit.
All Rights Reserved
Paul Robinson released Sweet in
2000. After years of performing with jazz bands, the LP, comprised of
Paul's original compositions, surprised a lot of people with its pop/rock
continues to make waves in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. The
alt-pop singing songwriter/producer/painter turned jazz singer is a protégé of sorts of 83-year old jazz
producer Orrin Keepnews, whose
50-plus year career has produced albums by Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans, Lee
Tyner, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery,
Cannonball Adderley, Bobby Hutcherson, Abbey Lincoln, Mark Murphy, Flora
Purim, Wesla Whitfieldand and many other jazz luminaries. Keepnews founded
Riverside Records, Milestone Records, and Landmark Records (now Muse
Records) and worked as the jazz producer at Fantasy Records in Berkeley.
He is old school jazz – his son Peter Keepnews is a jazz critic for the
New York Times – and having him in her corner says some great things
about the talented Ms. Donnay. Keepnews brought in some jazz heavyweights
for Roberta’s recordings, including pianist Eric
Reed, drummer Mark Taylor, bassist Gerald
Cannon, and tenor sax man Dave
Ellis, another Keepnews protégé.
Roberta was doing just fine even before she started keeping
company with Orrin Keepnews. She was a member of the board of governors of
the San Francisco Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and
Sciences. (This is where she met Keepnews, who was also a board member.)
She was working out of her Mill Valley home and producing recordings
throughout the Bay Area for a variety of artists. She had experienced
success as a pop singer and had a number of film and TV credits. Her
website includes numerous examples of her acid jazz-electronica, pop,
blues-rock, alt-rock, alt-pop, country-crossover and latin stylings. This
girl covers the waterfront!
Here is how the Marin Independent Journal describes
Roberta’s music career and persona: “A
performer with a social conscience and a devout Buddhist practice, Donnay
has enjoyed an eclectic career, winning local and national success as an
award-winning and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who led the way for
many women in the indie artist
Her songs and vocals have been featured on television ("The
Young and the Restless," "Days of Our Lives," "One
Life to Live," "Nash Bridges," "The Unit") as
well as in feature films ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind,"
"Reservoirs of Strength").
“A 2001 single,
"Crack in the Sidewalk" was a hit on college and public radio,
receiving rotation on 80 stations nationwide. Her song "One
World" has been performed on five continents as an anthem for world
peace and was adopted for the United Nations' 50th anniversary celebration
in 1995. She has toured the country with The
Black Crowes, Eddie Money, Dan Fogelberg, Neil Young and Huey Lewis, and is touring with another Marin-based legend of
Americana swing music, Dan Hicks.”
Your Story LP has been well-received by the critics. She recently
performed at the Mill Valley Film
Festival where she was joined on stage by former “Saturday Night
Live” band leader/guitarist G.E.
Smith, The Flying Other Brothers, bassist
Rob Wasserman, former Grateful Dead leader
Bob Weir, Vernon Black (Mariah Carey’s band),
and even comedian Dana Carvey.
Roberta is also a talented painter whose paintings are
featured in San Francisco galleries.
Donnay fits right in with the Links on RARWRITER
peacenik element. (See the politically oriented tracks from Steve Conn and
Jim Mason, among other on this site.) Her current jazz LP features covers
of classics with one exception – her self-written diatribe against the
Bush administration titled “Stop This Train!”
FROM TOP LEFT: What's Your Story, Back Before the Why, Bohemian,
One World, and Soul Reverse.
mixed-media collage paintings are displayed in San Francisco art gallerys.
This view doesn't do them justice. Go to her site to see these and
others in expanded size.
shot, lifted from the Dan Hicks site (http://www.danhicks.net
) shows the current incarnation of one of the San Francisco Bay Area's most
enduring and endearing acts. There has been a long line of "Lickettes,"
the band's female backup singers, and the current two are Roberta
Donnay and Daria, both featured on the San
along with Roberta Donnay (featured above) is one of Dan Hicks and The Hot
Licks' "Lickettes," which is credit enough, but she is her own
artist as well.
records with top Bay Area jazz players and
her notable circuit of venues includes Yoshi's, Mr. E's (Pete Escovedo's nightclub), Noe
Valley Ministry, Pearl's, Empire Plush Room, Sweetwater, 142 Throckmorton
Theatre, The Vic For Jazz (L.A.) concerts sponsored by Jazz In Flight and
the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Union Street Fair, San Anselmo Fair and
numerous wineries. She plays internationally at clubs in Nagoya, Brussels
and Berlin. She tours extensively as a Lickette, but when she's home in
Marin she does studio work as a backup singer and a radio commercial
voice-over performer and she is part of the female a cappella trio, Dangerous Divas.
She is also a voice teacher who provides private instruction, as well as
workshops that cover aspects of performing all the way to packaging and
promoting your own CD.
was recently honored for 15 years of service as a performer for the Bread and Roses charitable organization.
"Daria has all the equipment to propel
her into the top ranks of contemporary Jazz vocalists. A well endowed
voice, extensive range, diction--an unerring sense of dynamics and
- Jazz Now Magazine
DARIA, "Feel the Rhythm"
2005, Jazz 'm Up Records, Produced by Wayne Wallace and Frank Martin
"Center of the Rhyme" 2003 Lisa B, Piece of Pie Records
"And a Songbird in a Pear Tree, Six Songs of Christmas" 2001,
Compilation, Flying Weasel Enterprises
"Jazz Improv, Volume 1, Number 2" 1999, Compilation CD
"Voices for a Millennium" The Stroud Project, DSVS Records
"If You Believe" The Stroud Project, 1999, DSVS Records
DARIA, "Just the Beginning" 1998, Jazz 'm Up Records, Produced
by Ian Dogole
"The Sky Could Send You" Sherri Roberts, Due January 2006, Blue
House Records, Produced by Harvie S.
reports that her CD Feel
the Rhythm, which is available at www.dariajazz.com,
www.amazon.com is also now
available for downloading on iTunes.
Daria will be
onstage at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA on Saturday,
February 17, as a member of Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks. They will
be doing their "4th Annual
World Premiere Extravaganza - "A Tribute to the
Folk Years," which features the band
performing the music of The Limeliters, The Weavers, Peter Paul &
Mary, The Kingston Trio, Buffy Sainte-Marie, The Rooftop Singers...others.
SIMEONE is a Marin County,
native and someone worth keeping in mind. Along the lines of other songwriters on this page (Michael Woody, Gretchen
Peters), Kenny has been recognized in songwriting competitions, most
notably by the judges for the annual VH1 Song of the Year competition, who
voted him a talent to watch. Kenny ventured to Nashville in October and
December to prepare marketing materials, including demos.
has been playing around the Bay Area for some time with long-time friend
Sony recording artist Dan Thompson, formerly of Protein. He lists
Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Radiohead, Terence Trent Darby, B.B. king, Al
Green, BluesTraveler, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Led Zeppelin as
influences. So why Nashville, you may ask. Well, because he has
been recruited by Paramount's Nashville group.
a guy whose
focus has switched from being a blues-rock lead guitarist to an acoustic
based songwriter, and songwriters listening to his MP3s below will feel the
sculptor and the clay. Kenny
is playing every instrument and doing all the vocals, and he tends toward
the ambitious. His songs range from down to earth indie-sounding country-rock to
more orchestral space-rock ala Pink Floyd. I may find him better in the latter
mode, but the former may have greater commercial songwriter portability.
is a young guy with experience, having opened or shared a stage with the likes
of Little Feat, 2005 Rock'n
Roll Hall of Fame inductee Buddy Guy, Quicksilver Messenger, Merl
Saunders, Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers), Martin Fiero (occasional sax man
for the Grateful Dead), and Bay Area guitar knight Neil Schon
ABOVEand BELOW: Kenny
Simeone at his video shoot on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in
© 2007 Kenny Simeone, All Rights Reserved
AND SOUTH BAYS
now on to Sonoma and Solano counties to the north, and Santa Clara to the
KILLS is a quintet of hard rockers from the Benicia/Vallejo area, and
they appear on the Links courtesy of my daughter, who brought them to my
attention. Listen to the MP3s on their myspace site and I think you'll
agree that these guys are just great. They have an amazingly mature and
radio friendly pop-rock sound that is filled with nuance and edge,
delivered with really fine musicianship, and produced with sophistication.
These guys could blow up huge.
Kills' front man is Matty
P (Trools Svenhard), a Benicia High School grad. Let me take a moment
to brag about my adopted home town. Benicia has a tremendous school
system, among the best in a state that once had the best school's in the
country, but has let things slip. Not in Benicia, however, where you have
a concentration of really bright people, and clearly young Matty P is one
of them. Go to his personal myspace at www.myspace.com/ghostofthepast
and read his profile, which ends with "I am looking for the Isolde
to my Tristan." And look at this kid! He has rock star
written all over him. And listen to this band, with his right-on-the-money
Kills has their first CD out, One for the Saints Two for the Sinners.
You can hear tracks and purchase the CD at http://www.musicisp.com/FeaturedArtists/HopeKills/tabid/602/Default.aspx.
Kills is Matt
(Guitar/ Vocals), Jeremy
(Drums), and Will
(Guitar). You can click on these links to go to their personal myspace
Kills MP3s can be heard at their myspace
site. Go there! They are worth
Kills recently released their first CD, One for the Saints Two for the
HIP-HIP ARTIST TOPKAT
familiar with Vallejo, California, the much-maligned North Bay city of
120,000 that produced Sly and the Family Stone
and, more recently, the tragically slain rapper Mac
Dre, may enjoy this video from Topkat for his track "Here
to Stay." The video is well done and pays touching tribute
to the places in a hometown that some consider dingy, but for which others
feel a fond affection. Even "the Cow" - a drive through
shoppette topped with a large plastic bovine, a Vallejo landmark -
gets a cameo! RAR and family lived in Vallejo for many years and at
least recognize most of the visited sites, though they tend toward the
subterranean. We all love the video and particularly appreciate Topkat
pride in his home town, a place in which he is apparently committed to
staying. This video is now playing on Brightcove.com.
California native ROBBEN
FORD has come a long way - in fact, you might say he has gone
every where - since giving up the saxophone as a teenager and focusing his
interests on the guitar. Robben shot to fame in the mid-'70s when he was discovered by saxophonist
Tom Scott, whose progressive
fusion group L.A. Express teamed up with Joni Mitchell to support
her Court and Spark tour and play on two of her albums (1974’s Miles
of Isles and 1975’s The Hissing of Summer Lawn). Since then
Robben has churned out one great jazz-blues CD after the next.
his L.A. Express experience, Robben Ford came to Boulder so study Bhuddism
at Naropa Institute and play with the Michael Martin Murphy Band.
That brought Robben in touch with guitarist Sam Broussard, who
recently sent his recollections of their shared experience:
(Robben) played with Michael Martin Murphy's band before I joined it. The
band at that time was Harry Wilkinson on drums, who had played with
Larry Coryell in New York and is now teaching in Nashville, Michael
McKinney on bass, who went on to L.A. later and did something with
Michael Jackson around his Off The Wall period, and the late Jack
Murphey on keys, who later died mysteriously or not, depending on who
you talk to – and who also recorded the first New Age album as far as
I'm concerned, a solo piano record up at Guercio's place. These guys were
tailor-made for Robben's smart and ferocious brand of jazz-infused blues
and they did gigs around Boulder and at the Little Bear in Evergreen.
joined Murphy at that time, replacing the talented Sonny Landreth
who for a short time replaced the talented Richard Dean until
Sonny's then-wife, a sickly young woman, needed him around more often. Jack
and the guys were really, really nice to me. One day at a rehearsal they
invited me on their jazzoid gigs, and I said, "I'm not good enough to
play with you guys." I knew how to play Spain by Chick Corea, and I
knew what was going on with the simplified jazz tunes in their repertoire
– mostly jam tunes that weren't too difficult, 'fusion' was the word –
but I knew I couldn't hang with their level of soloing. I hadn't done that
thing yet, just rock, however adventurous.
I did it, had some good and bad nights, but I'll tell you, one of the
reasons I don't get nervous anymore is because way too often I had to
follow one of Robben's solos, and after you've taken some dives off that
high board you can do anything in front of anybody. You ever had a dream
where you're walking around downtown and you look down and you're only in
your underwear? These days that's okay, of course, but back then the
average person would have woken from such a dream feeling shame and
embarrassment. Playing with Robben was sort of like that, only I got to
hear those guys solo their asses off.
is a force. He had just come out of Tom Scott's LA Express, and could do
anything. He built his solos to peaks of madness and he would sway, bowing
up and down from the hips and strange noises would come out of his open
mouth, and if his eyes had been open we would have probably just seen the
that wasn't enough, it sometimes felt like there was an invisible force
field emanating from him at those moments, pushing everything away from
him. Of course, that could have just been my desire to leave the stage ...
remember once we were playing some song in Bb, and Robben started going
Outside as he built his solo. It got crazier and crazier and beautiful as
hell, until at his peak he was playing standard blues licks in F# – over
Bb! – but his progress toward that moment made it all make sense.
seen some great guitar players in my time. Robben didn't just play the
guitar. He ate it."
to Your Daughter
to Paul Butterfield - 2001
- The Early Years - 2001
Ford & The Robben Ford Band
Ford Brothers playing to
Volker Strifler's fans - in Germany, 2005
STRIFLER...is a guy you would never suspect to be the German-born
blues rocker he is. His sound is more Chicago Blues, his vocal style
similar to Eric Clapton's. The 44-year old guitarist got a late start on
his instrument (by guitar player standards - he was in his later teens),
played in some uninspiring cover bands and, in California, found himself
working construction jobs to make ends meet and not even in a band. He was
exiled from music for seven long years before working his way back in and
building a reputation that eventually got him a long-standing gig in the Robben
Ford Band, with whom he still plays. Leading up to that he made a lot
of Volker Strifler converts - and left a lot of people wondering why on
earth he wasn't fronting his own band.
started doing that a couple years ago, when he also stepped up his focus
on songwriting. The result was his first LP The Volker Strifler Band.
Volker recently released his second LP, The Dance Goes On, which
was recorded at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, California.
is an interview with the articulate Volker Strifler on his site at http://www.volkerstrifler.com/volker_strifler_online.htm
that is well worth reading. I was taken by his response to a question
about who inspired him the most when he started learning the guitar.
Clapton? Hendrix? Nope - the guys at the local music store: "I’d
actually have to say, to start with, as far as the approach to the guitar,
there’s still a local guy in Heidelberg where I grew up. I still
remember some of the things he told me or that I observed with him that
I’m still coming back to this day. His name was Roland Kastl.
He was part owner of a music store where I would hang out as a kid, just
getting on their nerves playing for hours at a time. Anyway…he
taught me some things, whether deliberately or inadvertently, that are
still with me to this day. Like how to pick a note, what’s important,
and all that...
least I think he pointed me in the direction I ultimately went into.
It was him and his partner too. His name is Uli Rohde.
I still go to see him when I go back to Germany. It’s funny how
much that sticks with you. Whatever they had or did was attractive
to me and that’s why I tried emulating them. Then of course
there’s a whole array of guitar players they listened to. Peter
Green was certainly my biggest influence early on as far as the blues
playing. He just sounded so good. I liked everything he did.
The way he approached everything he did. I would sit there for hours
learning his solos note for note."
Volker Strifler (nearest the camera) on
stage with the Robben Ford Blues Band for a Paul Butterfield tribute at
the 2006 San Francisco Blues Festival
from The Volker Strifler Band's new album The Dance Goes On can be
heard at the VSB MySpace site at
STRIFLER BAND: Volker
Strifler - Guitar/Vocals, Don
Bassey - Bass/Vocals, Gary
Silva - Drums, David
Schrader - Saxophone,
Bowers - Trombone, Chip
Roland - Keyboards
Francisco Bay Area bassist DON
BASSEY grew up
in Michigan where he played in a band with his friend Mark
profiled on this page. Writes Don - "I had a blast running into some
folks on your links page that I've met over the years. One of my dearest
friends in the world is Mark Hallman. He and I played in a band together
in our home state of Michigan in the late Sixties/early Seventies. When he
relocated to Boulder, I used to visit and hang with him and the
rest of guys in Navarro. More recently (2003), I met Bradley
Kopp while visiting Mark at his Congress House studio in Austin. I've
also reconnected with ex-Navarro members James Tuttle and Robert
McEntee via my studio monitor biz, NHT Pro Audio. I was also reminded
of a memorable Magic Music show that Mark took me and my new bride
to back in 1975. It was up in Evergreen, upstairs (can't remember the name
of the place). Mark introduced us to Dan Fogelberg there, and we
all ended up at Mark and Rob Galloway's place. Acoustic guitars,
harmonies - you know the rest."
is planning on recording his own LP at Congress House and I will keep you
posted on that. In the meantime, he is celebrating the release of the Volker
Strifler Band's second LP, The Dance Goes On.
has been in the Bay Area a long time and is one of the area's most
in-demand bassists. Check
out his excellent site for information on his long career.
Click here to
go to Doug Strobel's review of Tia Carroll's recent show at
Armando's in Martinez.
BANGs is a group of San Jose State students who more or less play old
school punk fronted by their singer Nicole who sounds part Poly Styrene, part Cindi
Lauper, but all entertaining.
their myspace site they describe themselves this way: "For those of us
(sic) who don't know us already, we are a new band out of the Bay Area. We have
an Avante Garde, Post 80's punk sound, with heavy/hard rock ties."
like their sound and their tunes, but mostly I am curious about their marketing
approach. Is this just frat boy stuff? A riff on the XXX marketplace? A serious
attempt at career building? Who knows? The Dirty Bangs' publicity apparatus is
more concept than response, but I hope to have more on them soon.
ABOVE: The provocative name, the
faux-nasty talk in the blogs, the trashy chic graphic of the website
mixing sex and weapons, may lead one to believe a group of pole dancers
decided to form a band. The music is the real thing, it's the name and
porn image that's the put on. BELOW: Dirty Bangs.
|The Bangs had an
urgent call out on their myspace site for a bassist. They were cancelling
gigs because of the lineup problem and were sort of bent out of shape
with a Gun
Copyright © Dirty Bangs,
all rights reserved
Bay Area favorite ROY ROGERS' latest
stop on his extended tour with
The Delta Rhythm Kings has been in Poland
for the Rawa Blues Festival, then in November it will be dates in Denmark.
Rogers crew reports in their SlideZone newsletter - "Best
news of all, of course, is that Billy Lewis, our fantastic drummer is
well and playing with the band again and he is kickin' up the dust!
"Roy has done his fair share of flying around the globe since last spring,
touring six countries besides the U.S.—performing in Australia, Norway (three
times!), Italy, Spain, and this fall they are off to Poland (October) and
Denmark (November). We had a fantastic gig in Italy in June with our good friend
and excellent blues guitarist Paolo Bonfonte for his event Blues in Casale near
Milan. On the books already for next year are Italy (June/July 2007) and Brazil
(August 2007). (Want to come? Stay tuned!)"
Roy takes a solo on another Marin rocker's hit - Sammy Hagar's "Sam
I Am." That song, off Hagar's Livin' It Up LP - man, is that a Sammy
Hagar title? - is doing well on the
rock charts. Roy is also in the studio with The Doors Ray Manzarek
working on an instrumental record that will include renditions of Doors tunes,
plus other original material.
Roy Rogers connection is through my wife and her friends, who all grew up
together in Vallejo, California - home, I might add, of Sly and the Family Stone
and now a big-time hip-hop scene. Roy and another player
featured on this site, Doug Strobel, took up
the guitar about the same time and were notable local nerds of that calling.
Both are still at it, Roy in a high profile way; Roy veering more toward Delta
Blues, Doug toward Ragtime.
multiple Grammy nominee fronts The Delta Rhythm Kings and hosts his own radio show. He has
produced John Lee Hooker and Ramblin' Jack Elliott, played with Bonnie Raitt,
Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, Norton Buffalo, former Metallica bassist Jason
and many others.
NOTE: Roy's website offers an exclusive on line opportunity to
hear Roy Rogers recorded live at the Sierra Nevada Brewery Big Room. Also, Roy's
manager-wife Ganell just announced on their very fine The Slide Zone
newsletter that Roy and the Delta Rhythm Kings will be featured on PBS this
season. Ganell writes - "We are happy to report the re-launch of 'Sierra
Center Stage' is happening this October with new programs including shows
with Marcia Ball, Bela Fleck, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark with Ramblin' Jack
Elliott and much more. Now a full 13 week series! This has taken the
producers, The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company many many months of hard work.
"Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings with Special Guests Phil Aaberg,
Norton Buffalo, Shana Morrison and Tom Rigney - with interviews from Bonnie
Raitt and Sammy Hagar - will be 5th up in the series."
|ABOVE: Roy with
another pretty potent slide player - Bonnie Raitt. BELOW: Roy and the
Rhythm Kings on the beach in Barcelona, Spain with Promoter Oriol
Carbonell. FURTHER BELOW: At issue - How
many legendary players can you squeeze into one frame? If you can identify
all the musicians in this picture send me $100.
think I mentioned in an email update that soon after Doug
Strobel appeared on the Links at RARWRITER who was offered an
opportunity to play live in the studio of a San Francisco Bay Area radio
station. He did a two hour show. He also landed some other lucrative
opportunities after directing people to this site, so he's a poster boy
for power of exposure.
has been a musician in the San Francisco Bay Area for 40 years
and he's an uncommonly bright and interesting guy - sort of musicologist
in the same way that are Joe McLerran and Washboard Chaz Leary.
Doug has played every kind of popular music but his specialty is writing
solo guitar arrangements for American classics, which he plays on a 1920
3/4 scale Washburn steel string acoustic fitted with a Fishman pickup. He
embellishes the old standards with clever runs, active bass lines, and
fluid chordal transitions.
is well known in the North Bay for having hosted a weekly Sunday jam
session at a club in Benicia that introduced a lot of players to the local
community, bassist Don Bassey (featured above)
honed his skills alongside his good friend Roy Rogers; he of the Delta Rhythm
Kings and another Vallejo area native, who is a master of the slide techniques
that typified legendary delta bluesman Robert Johnson. I see a lot of Roy in
Doug Strobel, most especially a hypersensitivity to the melodic lines of classic
American compositions. They are both into Americana, in that way.
has played in a lot music configurations. The MP3s he provided below are
from a CD he recorded live at the Solano County Fair as part of the Doug
& Dave duo, and from "Hope Castle," a CD he produced
with marvelous Bay Area singer Megan Johnson.
DOUG & DAVE
|Doug & Dave MP3s: Recorded
live at the Solano County Fair
Been A Good Wagon
Gates to the City
© Doug & Dave, All Rights Reserved
Johnson/Doug Strobel MP3s
An Old Cowhand
to a Kiss
© Megan Johnson and Doug Strobel, All Rights Reserved
|RAR NOTE: I
played informally with Doug recently - an experience that brought to mind
that lyric from Nashville Cats: "Yeah, there's thirteen hundred and
fifty two Guitar cases in Nashville - And any one that unpacks his guitar
could play Twice as better than I will..."
Check out these Doug Strobel MP3s. I'm sure
you'll enjoy them. His live explanations of these old blues classics are nearly as entertaining as the songs, which are richly performed.
Doug can be reached via email at DStrobel3@aol.com.
seems to be a Bay Area female trio backed by an efficient male rock band (which
includes guitarist Rich Flynn, see below). The guiding force is
songwriter/singer/ guitarist Chris Snyder, who is influenced by the energy
of the Wilson sister, Ann and Nancy (Heart). It comes across in their sound,
which alternates between ballsy acoustic and medium-hard edged rock. Finding
Stella released their LP Twitch in 2004 and sold out the entire
inventory. Rich Flynn suggests that Chris Snyder's newest stuff is even
early 2007 Finding Stella will be leaving on a three week tour of Australia.
© Finding Stella, All Rights Reserved
Stella MP3s can also be heard from their myspace site at www.myspace.com/findingstella
Chris Synder was a contestant on
last season's "reality TV" show "Rock Star INXS." The
syndicated show "Extra" featured Chris in its segment on the
show. Click on the link below to take a look:
guitarist Rich Flynn reports "Finding Stella just got back from
Australia; we had a VERY strong gig, and we sold about 400 CD's to total
strangers at an all-women's festival... Got radio and TV interviews,
some radio airplay. And they pulled 500 people to their last CD
release party, about 4 years ago... now the sound is better, and the group
is (I think...) more well known now than
before. We're doing a CD release party on Feb 24 at the Hard Rock in
San Francisco, and the girls think there will be 500+ attending."
Rich Flynn is a Bay Area guitarist
(and fellow Benician) who plays
with rockers Finding Stella, Public Eye, The Primates, as well as in an acoustic
duo with Marcy Avery.
pictures pretty much demonstrate Rich's musical range and interests. Rich just
likes music. He is as
enthusiastic about acoustic duo work as he is about rock.
his acoustic sets regularly at the bistros of Benicia and the surrounding area.
the other hand, the 6'4" guy there on the right, in front of the Marshall
stack and shoulder-to-shoulder with the Hawaiian "Road Warrior"
bassist, is equally comfortable with shredding rock.
That's Rich playing
the cool guitar parts in the Finding Stella MP3s above.
MUSICIANS! DOES THIS SOUND LIKE
Flynn has a lot of natural entertainer in him and he usually has something
entertaining to say. He and I used to see each other on the job during the day,
as for a time we were both slaves to the same Man, and he would drop by
my cubicle and tell me musician's stories.
told me once that he can be found sleeping in his car, somewhere in the Bay
Area, virtually any early Saturday morning of the year. It turns out he had a
near death experience, flying his van off an embankment one night, falling
asleep at the wheel while driving home to Benicia from a late night gig. As much
as it scared him - he received nary a scratch - it more infuriated him that he
had, for all practical purposes, demolished his gig transport when such a
travesty could have been avoided. He made a plan that would prevent future calamities.
can't do what most of us would - take a stimulant of some kind - because he is a
clean liver (or has a clean liver), so his options are limited. And he
isn't about to give up gigging. So, he identified safe zones along his
usual routes around the Bay Area, like areas near fire stations, where a
guy can sleep in his car with reasonable assurance of not being assaulted in the
dead hours. He says the police have occasionally tapped on his window, but when
they listen to his logic they let him be. He sleeps for a few hours and recovers
his energies until it is safe for him to drive on home. It makes for a long
night, but he gets home safe.-
Rich Flynn's Mom gifted him recently with this
reminder of misspent youth: The In Like Flynn Band
ready to compete in a Battle of the Bands at the Solano County
Fairgrounds. No word on how they did. The band members (from left): Lono
Hirakawa, Rich Flynn, Duane Cray and Doug Riddle (who was only half there that
in this Internet age, you run upon some
shiny object out there in the virtual world, and upon further examination
you learn that you've actually stumbled upon something worth finding. This
is how I feel about Halley
Millaine, a Sacramento girl who probably doesn't belong on this
page, but as we have no Central Valley Links as yet I put her here. She is
"temperamentally" closer to San Francisco than anyplace else,
though that could change. She is on a course previously taken by Renfey,
one of my favorite artists on the Links, who migrated from the Sierras
through SF on her way to LA. Renfey and Halley have much in common, both
being romantic sirens who pulsate with modernity while cleaving toward the
baroque. Halley is a little less "Kate Bush" than is Renfey, but
the shared inclinations are clear.
comparison is also interesting because Renfey and Halley are at different
stages of artistic development. Halley seems to be self-produced, which is
no criticism. She has a vision for what she wants the music to be, which
is atmospheric and melodic over a deep groove augmented by a swimming
chorus of voices. Halley sings beautifully and is a developing songwriter. She is also a pianist, violinist and recording engineer. As
good as she is, one imagines where collaboration with a producer like Kor,
who has been so important to Renfey, might take her.
Millaine has two covers on her MySpace
Gleason's Wasted Days
GLEASON is a Ventura guy whose heart belongs to Bakersfield (with
the late Buck Owens and the boys) and Nashville (with any number of
underground cowboys). It is difficult to really place him on the San
Francisco scene - though he is reputed to hang out in the poster lounge at
the Fillmore - and sort of a mystery as to how he ended up on a
The band has been around since 2000 and the
current line-up includes Mike Therieau (bass, vocals), Pat Johnson
(guitars, vocals), John Kent (drums) and Gleason on lead vocals and
guitar. Gleason compares his band to The Paladins, The Jayhawks and Marty Stuart's Fabulous
Superlatives. Gleason's Just Fall To Pieces CD featured
guest appearances from legendary Nashville guitarist Albert Lee and San
Francisco's Jim Campilongo, along with Red
Meat's Michael Montalto, pedal steel whiz Joe Goldmark, keyboardist Dan
Eisenberg (Tift Merritt), and Thom Moore of The Moore Brothers. This is
traveling in good company.
Gleason's Wasted Days Just Fall to Pieces album is available at Amazon and
through CD Universe, and elsewhere.
they know what's goin' on
out there in Cal-uh-forn-ya..."
Kilmer as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's "The Doors"
on our roughly east-to-west journey across the American musical landscape we have
finally reached California. So many of us have lived here, and still do. One out
of every nine Americans is a resident of the state, which has the seventh
largest economy in the world.
means that whatever you've got anywhere else, you've got nine of them here -
except that is extended where musicians are concerned, because those types flock
to the western shores like pilgrims to Mecca. Maybe the ratios for songwriters
and talented players are more like 25 to 1, maybe higher. You tend to taste the
exists on so many levels. To transplants like myself, it represents a hope of
promise that we picked up from watching TV shows and movies, so many of which
reflect the look and feel of the Golden State. It lets us down because it is a
chimera that we have chased , and many return to those places from which we
came. For those of us who stick it out - sometimes for no reason other than
that there is just no further place west to go - it lifts us up in
unexpected ways because the reality of California is so immense. It is as if
everything that one can think to include in a region is represented in this one
magnificent strip of real estate. You will do things here you would have never
thought you would, in all ways that are good and bad. You will discover yourself
and eventually just be who you are. That's what makes California seem so
those who are native, California is the place that no place else is better
than. They explore other parts of the country, where life isn't so
expensive and the pressures not so extreme, but they come home to the coast
because it is just cool here.
have a keen sense for what is available in life, on whatever level you wish to
look, from the sublime to the superficial. No matter what socio-economic class
they come from, the people of the San Francisco Bay Area rank among the most
discriminating consumers you'll find anywhere in the world.
natives are the smoothest, the least likely to put on airs, the most likely to
express themselves freely. They have the easy knowledge that they were to the
manor born - the rock manor, the country, the jazz, the blues.
music coming out of California is phenomenally diverse, the music from San
Francisco incredibly great.
James' website states - "James Warner is a
San Francisco writer of British extraction. He has a philosophy degree from
Oxford and is a certified Java programmer, but is currently most in demand as a
Captain Hook impersonator." Amazingly, that doesn't say all there is to say
about James. As well as being a sly fictionist, he is a clever songwriter and a
classically trained musician. He played synthesizer on Republican, a demo
of which is available on this site. He produces the InsideStoryTime reading
series at a San Francisco club and publishes his work on McSweeney's Internet
Tendency, Eclectica, Monkey Bicycle and other online literary sites. He
read in LITQUAKE '06 (San Francisco Literary Festival).
ARE ON A SAN FRANCISCO LINKS ARCHIVES
Alan Rice (RAR),