The first time I heard about Digable Planets, it was from someone on LSD. So it’s no surprise that 17 years later the group’s Ishmael Butler, a.k.a. Butterfly, has started an elusive lysergic-leaning project called Shabazz Palaces. (You may have read about it recently at a certain M.I.A.-bashing indie site.) They—he, whatever—play tonight at Hopmonk’s Juke Joint, and for anyone into tripped-out hip-hop in the vein of Anticon, Edan or MF Doom, it’s a rare chance to catch Butler on some out-there levels.
I love this surreal pastiche video for “Belhaven Meridian,” shot in Watts:
And how scattershot are Shabazz Palaces’ song titles? Here’s the tracklist to the first EP:
1. kill white t, parable of the nigga who barrels stay hot, made by email@example.com
2. 4 shadows”noah mission as told by plcr dougie frum up the block from granny’s Subsonic custom crowns
3. 32 leaves dipped in blackness making clouds forming altered carbon
4. blastit at the homie rayzer’s charm lake plateau bbq july at outpalace pk
5. Capital 5, recorded after hrs at the gun ballad resource cntr on s Sweeper st.
6. my mac yawns i go on to make this darksparkles move call it: as the americans say, middle section made by plcr runner reg on his 30′ chromitar
7. a mess, the booth soaks in palacian musk, palaceer in vintage LRG, yes pure NS, uppowndet watermelon lips beat
I am not kidding.
Shabazz Palaces plays tonight, July 15, at the Hopmonk Tavern. 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol. 9pm. $15. 21+. 707.829.7300.
Treasure Island 2010: LCD Soudsystem, Belle & Sebastian, Broken Social Scene, Die Antwoord, Hella More
The lineup for this year’s wingding at Treasure Island has been announced. Lest I sound like a broken record, writing about previous year’s fests here and here and here and here and here and here and here, I think Treasure Island is really the perfect festival for people who hate festivals—it’s small, it’s manageable, it’s scenic as hell and the only corporate sponsor is Heineken. Historically, it’s also boasted a lineup usually way more impressive than other festivals, catching bands on the ascendant wax instead of the sad wane.
That’s mostly the case again in 2010. Here’s who’s playing:
Saturday, October 16
LCD Soundsystem, Deadmau5, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Miike Snow, !!!, Die Antwoord, Little Dragon, Four Tet, Holy Fuck, Phantogram, Jamaica, Wallpaper, Maus Haus
Sunday, October 17
Belle & Sebastian, The National, Broken Social Scene, She & Him, Superchunk, Rogue Wave, Surfer Blood, Ra Ra Riot, Monotonix, The Sea & Cake, Phosphorescent, Papercuts, The Mumlers
LCD Soundsystem has put out one of this year’s best records, so they’ll make a memorable headliner. Kruder & Dorfmeister, who are billed specifically as “Kruder & Dorfmeister (LIVE),” should probably just play all of K&D Sessions. Expect Jerry Fuchs shout-outs from !!!. Weirdly, Die Antwoord is way down on the schedule even though their show at the Rickshaw Stop was fetching $150 for tix; expect the stage to be mobbed.
I really feel like the bombastic, festival-perfect Broken Social Scene should be headlining Sunday instead of Belle & Sebastian. M. Ward makes a festival reappearance with She & Him, Monotonix is going to wind up banging on drums while hanging from the motherfucking Ferris wheel, and Superchunk really should have booked a club date instead of playing a truncated festival set, but what can you do?
Two-day tickets are available now for $120; single-day tickets go on sale on Friday, July 16. All da deets over at the offish fest site.
After 8 years in Penngrove of stiff drinks, open mics, “gutter nights,” live bands and a sea of bras stapled to the ceiling, the Black Cat is closing.
The lovable little lesbian-owned bar with one of the most diverse clienteles in Sonoma County has been sold to new owners from the 8-Ball in Cotati—which is also a lovable little bar but, let’s face it, it’s going to be hard to replicate the insanely unique feel of the Black Cat. “I don’t think it’s going to be quite the queer-friendly and freak-friendly place,” says owner Robin Pfefer, “so I’m sad to lose that space for the community. At the same time, it’s been 8 years, and I’ve had to simplify things.”
Pfefer, who also owns Gravenstones in Cotati and plays guitar and sings in Cheap Date 13, says selling the bar is a matter of scaling back for her family. Her 2 1/2-year-old son is learning to play drums, and Pfefer wants to start jamming with him. “They’re only this age once,” she says, eager to spend more time with him instead of handling the menial tasks at the bar. “Do I want to be with him, or do I want to be on the phone with the garbage company, or the towel company? I’m choosing my son.”
Look for the distinctive purple sign outside to change to the new name—at this point, it’ll be called Mac’s—sometime around September 1. No word on if the new owners plan to continue cramming bands into that tiny, tiny corner, but they apparently want the P.A., which is a good sign. Humble Pie, next door, will stay. Pfefer has already fielded opportunities to run her popular open mic at several other venues.
And as for the bras stapled to the ceiling? “The new owners have said they don’t want the bras,” Pfefer sighs, explaining that everyone on closing night will get to take one down as a memento of the end of an era.
Farewell parties with a gazillion bands are in the planning stages, so check the Black Cat website periodically as things wind down in August. And who knows? Maybe the 2 Live Crew will return to close the joint down. (Yes, they did play there!)
There’s something wonderfully classicist about this list of recordings to be inducted today for posterity into the Library of Congress—a routine harvest of select songs and albums, from the millions out there, chosen for their “cultural significance.” I mean, Tupac, Patti Smith and Willie Nelson alongside Morton Subotnick, King Creole and “When You Wish Upon a Star”? Bill Evans’ Complete Village Vanguard Recordings seals the deal—I feel like I’m flipping through the LoC’s record collection, going daaammnn. This is, like, the ultimate 20th-century mixtape.
Tupac’s getting the most attention here, whether from commenters who still think hip-hop is the ruin of society or East Coasters eager to revive the Biggie war. But if Tupac’s inclusion inspires even a couple hundred people to listen to “Dear Mama” for the first time, the world is already a better, more empathetic place.
Here’s Brett Zongker’s AP article explaining the selection process, and below is the complete, near-impeccable list.
• “Fon der Choope” (From the Wedding), Abe Elenkrig’s Yidishe Orchestra (1913)
• “Canal Street Blues,” King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (1923)
• Tristan und Isolde, Metropolitan Opera, featuring Kirsten Flagstad and Lauritz Melchior (NBC Broadcast of March 9, 1935)
• “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Cliff Edwards (recorded, 1938; released, 1940)
• “America’s Town Meeting of the Air: Should Our Ships Convoy Materials to England?”(May 8, 1941)
• The Library of Congress Marine Corps Combat Field Recording Collection, Second Battle of Guam (July 20 – August 11, 1944)
• “Evangeline Special” and “Love Bridge Waltz,” Iry LeJeune (1948)
• “The Little Engine That Could,” narrated by Paul Wing (1949)
• Leon Metcalf Collection of recordings of the First People of Western Washington State (1950-1954)
• “Tutti Frutti,” Little Richard (1955)
• “Smokestack Lightning,” Howlin’ Wolf (1956)
• Gypsy, original cast recording (1959)
• The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, Bill Evans Trio (June 25, 1961)
• “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two),” Max Mathews (1961)
• I Started Out As a Child, Bill Cosby (1964)
• Azucar Pa Ti, Eddie Palmieri (1965)
• Today!, Mississippi John Hurt (1966)
• Silver Apples of the Moon, Morton Subotnick (1967)
• Soul Folk in Action, The Staple Singers (1968)
• The Band, The Band (1969)
• Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn (1970)
• Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson (1975)
• Horses, Patti Smith (1975)
• “Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M. (1981)
• “Dear Mama,” Tupac Shakur (1995)
Tonight in Sebastopol, long-running noise-jam-garage-jazz ensemble Instagon plays. I hesitate to call it an “ensemble,” actually, since in the 538 shows that band has played, there have been 543 different members. One of Instagon’s primary tenets is that no show is to be played by the same group of people. This makes for truly improvised music, with no past history linking the musicians. The one constant is a familiar presence on the Northern California noise scene; he goes by the name of LOB.
If you’ve never seen Moira Scar, one of the openers, you’re in for a surprise. Prizehog, who all worked at the Haven Cafe in Santa Rosa until uprooting to San Francisco and all working at Amoeba, are fucking unbelievable, and Cerebral Roil kicks things off.
Also on the bill and organizing the thing is Cory Thrall and his band TROI. I played with Cory and Darph/Nader teammate Jared Butler a few years ago in a warehouse for a Bohemian article; it was unforgettable. For one of the area’s biggest champions of noise, Thrall maintains a low profile—but then again, noise itself has a pretty low profile. The show tonight is at a community square-dance hall built on the old city dump site on the outskirts of town, for example.
Instagon, Prizehog, Moira Scar, TROI and Cerebral Roil play tonight, June 19, at Wischemann Hall, 460 Eddie Ln., Sebastopol. 6pm. $5. Bring earplugs, if you’re one of those kinds of people.
Bad News from the Bad Economy Files: Russian River Chamber Music, which for 18 years has done an excellent job of presenting mostly free classical music concerts, is being forced to consider either canceling their upcoming 2010-2011 season or “significantly curtailing” their activities.
“I’ve got these artist contracts on my desk right now,” RRCM artistic director Gary McLaughlin said this morning, “but I’m unsure if I can sign them.”
I know times are tough for everybody, and every classical-music organization knows what McLaughlin is talking about. And yet when I first heard about Russian River Chamber Music by stumbling into a concert at the Raven Theater by Ethel, I knew they were a special case—all of their concerts were absolutely free to the public.
“It counters that old elitist image of chamber music,” McLaughlin told me for a Bohemian article in 2008 of their free admission policy. “It makes it so it’s not just for wealthy people or snooty people. With the economy going the way it is, it becomes even more attractive. We have wine and food receptions after every concert, and the artists come, and people can actually talk to the artists—and that’s all free, too! So, it’s a cheap date. No tickets, free wine. What’s not to like?”
I agree. Last year, the group experimented with charging admission, but found that ticket sales were “definitely in the ballpark” of the previous season’s donations. That’s a good sign there’s plenty of voluntary support for free chamber concerts from world-class traveling quartets visiting Sonoma County. In fact, McLaughlin says the five-member board is seriously considering making concerts free again, with the benefit of exposure to larger audiences who might not otherwise hear chamber music.
But some key backers have curtailed their financial support, and the future is uncertain.
“Everyone’s making very painful cuts, and for the next year or two, I don’t think things are going to change a lot,” McLaughlin says. “How do you weather this and stay in the game? Or do you just close your doors and call it quits? I’m not ready to do that. I didn’t put 18 years of my life into it just to see it do that.”
It’d be especially sad, since the upcoming season would focus on music and literature. Scheduled programs include a song cycle by three Bay Area composers based on the poetry of Gary Snyder, as well as the Cypress String Quartet’s performance of an author-approved composition based on Anne Patchett’s bestseller Bel Canto. As ever, the string quartets would visit area schools for free educational programs for kids—last year, the visiting groups from Shanghai, Paris and Tel Aviv all played to packed schoolrooms.
How can you help make it work? Right now, Russian River Chamber Music could use any support, whether in the form of financial donations or in the form of energetic souls who can offer fresh ideas and help “save the ship,” as McLaughlin says. You can email him here, or call 707.524.8700.
Believe me, it’s a ship worth saving.
I talked with jazz pianist Jason Moran a couple weeks ago for a feature on the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, and I gotta say, the guy’s really smart and down-to-earth—and a hell of a piano player. His soon-to-be-released album Ten is easily the best, most natural-sounding album he’s made, and he plays Sunday afternoon at Rodney Strong Vineyards with Bill Frisell. I urge you to check it out. How many jazz pianists can you name who are planning to record a duets album with Ghostface, MF Doom and Jay Electronica?
For those who missed out on Esperanza Spalding’s sold-out show last night at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, or who can’t make it to the Charlie Haden / Ravi Coltrane show tonight, be advised that Craig Handy is playing for free in the Hotel Healdsburg lobby tonight from 9-midnight with “special guests.” I’ve seen Craig Handy both chewed out by Sue Mingus for showing up late to a Mingus Big Band show and suffering behind an irascible Freddie Hubbard, so be nice to the guy, okay?
It’s not free, but this year’s Festival del Sole features a performance at Daryl Sattui’s crazy $30 million, 121,000–sq.-ft. Castello di Amorosa by 16-year-old Canadian singing sensation Nikki Yanofsky. You might have heard of Yanofsky through her involvement with the nutsy-cuckoo “We Are The World”-like re-recording of K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” to benefit Haiti, or for singing a laid-back version of the Canadian national anthem for the 2010 Olympics. But you should really just go to her MySpace page, ignore the goofy press photos that look like Blossom, and listen to her insane scat-scattered version of “I Got Rhythm.” Damn!
The Wells Fargo Center has announced their upcoming season, including the return of both Wynton Marsalis and Tony Bennett. Marsalis is playing with the full Lincoln Center Orchestra, and you’ve got time to plan your evening—the show’s next February, in 2011! Bennett slips in a little sooner, on September 21, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: at 83, the guy hasn’t lost an iota of his voice, talent, or showbiz class. I met him briefly at the then-Luther Burbank Center after a show about ten years ago; he was flanked by Mafia-looking bodyguards and incredibly kind to me, a then-young, googley-eyed fan. Go see him if, and while, you can.
No, it’s not a joke. The Ford Amphiteatre in Tampa, Fla. has actually, truly been renamed The 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. Good Lord.
As reported by Kim Wilmath and Sarah Hutchins at the St. Petersburg Times, the new name comes from the lowest pits of hell a three-year, $1.1 million deal between the Live Nation venue and a local injury lawyer referral hotline owned by Gary Kompothecras.
The reporters managed to find one person in Florida who was excited about what’s clearly the stupidest venue name in America. That’d be a “close friend” of Kompothecras who goes by Bubba The Love Sponge Clem, and man, when I look for advice on names, he’s the guy I consult.
The rest of the folks, including the venue manager himself, could only offer somber reminders about the economy and the venue’s financial straits, which is what every single venue says while forcing the music-loving fans of their community to utter words of complete shame when talking about going to concerts.
Let’s repeat it, just for effect. It’s called the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater. Say it out loud. I dare you. We out here in the Bay Area have had to live with AT&T Park, the Oracle Arena, the HP Pavilion, Network Associates Coliseum and plenty of other horrendous corporate names, but this is without a doubt the worst venue name in history.
To the people of Tampa, I send my deepest condolences. Really. I’m truly sorry for you. And your children. You don’t deserve this. The rest of the nation is laughing at you, and it’s not your fault.
So I have some advice.
Do like we do in California when this type of insulting malice is foisted upon the public and simply refuse to acknowledge it. Call the place The Amp. “Whatcha doin’ Friday night?” “Oh, going down to the Amp to see Rihanna.”
And if that doesn’t quell the resentment? I can’t officially recommend breaking laws of any kind, although I will point out that spray paint is cheap and venue signage is accessible. Do with this information what you will, Floridians.
This Just In: The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians has donated $500,000 to the Wells Fargo Center in order to renovate and remodel the performing arts center’s lobby. No, this doesn’t mean they’re planning on building a casino on the site. It just means that the lobby will be named the Lytton Rancheria Grand Lobby, which for a half million seems like a bargain, don’t you think?
On to you, press release:
In addition to seismic upgrades, some highlights of the lobby project include dimmable architectural and theatrical lighting to replace the chandeliers, acoustic and visual improvements to the walls and ceilings, new floor treatments and carpeting, new stainless steel cable railings, first floor men’s restroom renovation with improved accessibility and ultra low flow fixtures, and 8 to 12 new plasma televisions to simulcast performances and events from the theater into the lobby and to be used for organizational messaging.
Organizational messaging! The new lobby—artist’s rendering above—should be completed by the end of the summer. None of the center’s planned shows or events will be disrupted. Work on the new space starts today with the removal of the lobby’s large, much-maligned chandeliers. And for that particular bit of sad news, I shed a tear.
Ode to the Chandeliers
Poor, poor chandeliers
I loved you so
Gigantic and wrought-iron
You oversaw church services
You illuminated everything
Red wine in tiny cups
Synthetic fiber in grandpa’s toupee
The sea of black clothing when Morrissey played
They claim you are ugly
But you were there when I was 5
And you were there when I was 34
And today they tear you down and take you away
Don’t let the bastards win, chandeliers
Only I sense your true inner beauty
Come live at my house
You are as big as my house
But I know we can make it work, chandeliers
If there’s one good thing to come out of Conan O’Brien’s ordeal with NBC, it’s that Max Weinberg is coming to the Mystic Theatre on June 28. He’s playing as the “Max Weinberg Big Band“—a 15-piece jazz ensemble, larger than the Max Weinberg 7 and even larger than the E Street Band—and he aims to recreate the classic era of Gene Krupa, Count Basie, and of course, Tonight Show icon Doc Severinsen. I am having nerdy visions of him walking out on stage to the Conan O’Brien theme song, although a swing version of the intro to “Something In The Night” would do nicely, too. Tickets are $30.