Recorded last Valentine’s Day and released last month, the five-song “Killer” EP from Santa Rosa singer-songwriter Katie Phillips is strong. From the easy, muted strumming to Phillips’ fearless voice, this largely acoustic Americana rock offering is potent with stirring melodies and memorable hooks.
One third of local band the Bootleg Honeys (who perform this weekend at the American Roots Music Festival), Phillips says she takes influence from Karen Carpenter and Led Zeppelin, though on this new collection there’s plenty of other artists that come to mind, like John Mellencamp and Fiona Apple. Joining Phillips on the record is drummer and producer Mark Tarlton, who also provided the studio space in his Sonoma location.
For me, the best track is “Baby Blue,” which builds with a driving rhythm and features a powerful conclusion. “Hobo” is also an interesting turn, finding Phillips singing nearly a capella while Tarlton’s drums underscore her vocals like a roots rock chant, or a chain gang hymn. In fact, each track on the EP is a solid, confident outing that encourages repeat listens. Sample the EP below and see Phillips and Tarlton play as the Katie Phillips Duo on Friday, Sept 18, at Pub Republic, 3120 Lakeville Hwy, Petaluma.
Since moving to Oakland, songwriter Ezra Furman has become a popular, though often enigmatic figure, in the Bay Area. As the leader of Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, or any of the many other collaborations the artist engages in, Furman delights with great songs and heartfelt delivery.
With a new album, Perpetual Motion People, released two months back on Bella Union, Furman today unveils a cover of the song “Androgynous” by the Replacements, one of five cover songs recorded for a special edition of the album that’s due out later this year.
Since Furman personally identities as gender-fluid, this new take on the classic 80s song written by Paul Westerberg speaks volumes about finding happiness any way you can. Listen to the track below, a simple shot of guitars and vocals that absolutely nails the emotion of the original.
After a two-year hiatus, indie alternative rockers Fruit Bats are back together and back on the road. The band is fronted by Eric D Johnson, known best here in the North Bay as one of the founders and organizers of the Huichica Music Festival at Gun Bun Winery in Sonoma. Next month, Fruit Bats’ current tour will take them to Gun Bun’s historic Redwood Barn on Friday, Oct 9.
Supposedly, the band called it quits back in 2013, with Johnson continuing to play under his own name. Earlier this year, Johnson wrote that after years of having to write (Fruit Bats) in parenthesis after his own name, Johnson decided to start doing Fruit Bats again, “full steam ahead.”
Johnson also announced that Fruit Bats would be releasing a new album in 2016 and hitting the road this fall for a full US tour. That tour kicked off yesterday in Chapel Hill, NC. Fruit Bats will be making their way to the North Bay on Friday, Oct 9, at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St, Sonoma. 7pm. $28. fruitbatsmusic.com.
I’m a big fan of the podcast “Onstage with Jim & Tom,” hosted by Phoenix Theater music promoter Jim Agius and founder Tom Gaffey. Each week, the two sit down with a North Bay band or musician of note and chat about everything from tours and relationships to record collections and scary movies. It’s always a great conversation, especially when music veteran and wordsmith Gaffey heaps praise upon the guests in lovingly extended passages.
This time around, Jim and Tom welcome to the show Santa Rosa shoegaze outfit the Down House. The band talks about what it’s like having two couples in a band and the state of the North Bay hardcore scene before plugging in and performing a couple of tunes.
The Down House is made up of Casey Colby (Spirits of Leo), Cody Sullivan (Sabertooth Zombie), Sarah Sullivan, Sarah Davis and Chloe Connaughton. Gaffey calls them evocative right off the bat and the band proves why by the end, playing their dark and stylish Joy Division-inspired post-punk.
Listen to the episode below, and catch the Down House when they play the Phoenix Theater on Sunday, Sept 27, alongside State Faults, Lil Dowager and SPELLS.
Arizona psychedelic rockers Destruction Unit are a no-holds-barred head trip through post-rock walls of sound. After two years of relative quiet, the pummeling five-piece outfit is back with the their most experimental brain melter of a record yet, Negative Feedback Resistor, due out Sept 18 on Sacred Bones.
In anticipation of the new album, Destruction Unit has released a few tracks via the world wide web, including this absolute scorcher of a song, “The Upper Hand.” In fact, this thing sound more like a punk rock cherry bomb, set off in the midst of a tornado, eclipsed by a tsunami swell of noise that washes over the whole thing by the end. It’s a monster, and it’s one of the band’s best ever. Listen here, if you dare.
The group is slated to hit European shores the same day the new record drops for a month-long tour, but before they embark, Destruction Unit is playing three dates in California, including a show hosted by the Pizza Punx on Thursday, Sept 3, at the Arlene Francis Center.
Also on the bill are Gag and White Wards, both Olympia, WA, bands that know how to thrash. Southern California weirdo punks the Coltranes and Seattle noisemakers Health Problems open the show.
Destruction Unit headline on Sept 3 at the Arlene Francis Center, 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10.
Bauhaus bassist and Love and Rockets founder David J has spent a lifetime touring the globe and rocking venues from Belfast to Beijing, selling out stadiums and small clubs alike and perfecting a moody repertoire of indie, goth and new wave tunes. With a recent memoir and appearances in the North Bay, David J has been on our radar lately, and now the iconic songwriter is playing a special solo sh0w in his most intimate setting yet, a living room in Petaluma on Friday, September 11.
Yes, the living room show has become an increasingly popular alternative for touring indie bands and artists over the last decade. Usually, its an event suited for underground acts who have a core audience in any given city but can’t muster the numbers to convince a bar to host them.
Recently, David J has gotten into the movement, buoyed by the positive experience that cuts out the middleman and connects his music directly to the fans. For this show, David J will be bringing his acoustic guitar to an undisclosed house in Petaluma (addresses are provided upon purchasing tickets) and performing his wide array of hits, both from his days in Bauhaus and Love and Rockets as well as his solo material. Grab tickets here, and get a taste of what’s in store by watching the video below.
Scottish-born and London-based, KT Tunstall has achieved a swell of success across the pond with emotional folk rock songwriting and a strong, sonorous delivery that rocketed her to the top of the charts. While this may the point where a lesser talent hits cruise control, Tunstall two years ago did the opposite, putting her musical pedal to the metal and roaring headlong out of the dreary, cloudy skies of England straight for the hot, dry deserts of Arizona.
The result of her sojourn was the critically-lauded album Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon. Tunstall is a gem of a songwriter, lyrically raw while poetically sublime. Her deft guitar melodies and her ethereal voice, with just a slight Scottish brogue popping up every so often, is one of the sweetest in this or any hemisphere.
Tonight and tomorrow, Tuntall brings her globe-trotting style to Napa for two nights of dusty, shimmering indie folk rock before she joins pianist and bandleader Jools Holland back in the United Kingdom. Check out the music video for her single “Feel It All” below and pop on over to City Winery to catch Tunstall before she skips town.
The wildest variety show this side of the Golden Gate Bridge, the North Bay Cabaret usually hosts their monthly events at Santa Rosa’s Whiskey Tip, but this month the bands and burlesque dancers are storming another castle of sorts, when North Bay Cabaret comes to the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square for their “Hot August Knights” show tonight.
Organizer and host Jake Ward once again gathers a troupe of belly dancers, artists, spoken word and standup performers as well as live bands and DJs in the lounge. This month’s theme incorporates all the RenFair goodness of medieval days, with just enough Monty Python thrown in for fun.
New this time, besides the location of course, is a lower age limit (18 and over) and high-flying aerial acts performed by Amanda Grace and Katie Nicole. They join Gypsy jazz troublemakers Hot Club Beelzebub and DJs Aspect McCarthy and True Justice along with others, soundtracking a night that also includes local poets like Susanne Dugan, William Lyon and even the AFC’s own Bruce Alan Rhodes.
There’s much more to be had at “Hot August Knights” tonight, so head on down and show Jake Ward, who just had his laptop stolen (boo!), some much needed love. Arlene Francis Center is located at 99 Sixth St, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $10.
Still not convinced? Check out the awesome trailer that Donald Husman put together.
Hopmonk Tavern in Sebastopol is consistently one of the best live music venues around, showcasing local talents and traveling bands alike in the intimate space of the tavern’s Abbey and outdoor courtyard. One of the highlights of the venue’s schedule is always the “Songwriters-in-the-Round” series, happening the last Thursday every month, and always featuring a bevy of North Bay musicians performing solo, original songs.
This month is no different, as songwriter Jon Gonzales hosts a night of folk, rock and throwback pop music presented by four players, Jeremy McCarten, Jen Tucker, Ken Risling and Georgia Ruth, rotating on stage for an eclectic night. If you’re not familiar with these songwriters, click on the videos below to preview what’s sure to be an engaging show.
First up is Jeremy McCarten, best known as the front man of Sonoma County indie rockers Manzanita Falls, a singer with deep emotional reservoirs and a magnetic stage presence.
He’s got a baby face, but there’s nothing infantile about blues guitarist Jules Leyhe, except maybe his band name. Along with the Family Jules Band, Oakland’s own Leyhe is blazing a trail of true blues music in the vein of legends like Buddy Guy, who he has already shared stages with in his young career.
This summer, Leyhe released his latest album, “Juicebox.” The title track and album single has got a kickin’ rock and roll rhythm and funky organ under Leyhe’s stinging guitars and rowdy sing-along chorus. Named one of Guitar Player Magazine’s 12 Players of Christmas in 2014 as well as the Bay Area Blues Foundation’s All Stars in 2015, Leyhe is a sight to be seen and heard, and your next chance comes tonight, when he plays Silo’s in Napa. James Regan from the Deadlies opens the show.
Listen to “Juicebox” below.
Jules Leyhe & the Family Jules Band gets down and bluesy at Silo’s, 530 Main St, Napa. 7pm. 707.251.5833.