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Miranda Lambert to Headline Sonoma County Fair

Posted by: on Apr 23, 2010 | Comments (0)

Aw, hell yeah: the announcement is in, and Miranda Lambert is headlining the Chris Beck Arena at the Sonoma County Fair on Monday, August 2!

I’ve gushed a bit about Miranda Lambert before—she’s a young Nashville singer who actually writes her own songs. When she decides to do covers, she chooses John Prine (“That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round“) and Fred Eaglesmith (“Time to Get a Gun“). For anyone who’s grown up in a small town—and let’s face it, sometimes Santa Rosa feels like Mayberry—she’s also got “Famous In a Small Town.”

It’s hard to write about Lambert without mentioning Taylor Swift, but judging by the results of the Academy of Country Music Awards this past Sunday night, Lambert could be surpassing Swift; she took home Album of the Year, Video of the Year and Top Female Vocalist honors. (Swift ain’t even in the results at all.)

Tickets are $25 for the grandstand and $40 for the floor. They go on sale at the Fairgrounds box office with no service charge on Saturday, May 15. Online sales don’t start until May 17! “A lot of people like to purchase their tickets in person,” says Fair publicist Marlina Harrison, “or as incredible as it seems, don’t have access to a computer.” Right on!

Harrison also says they’re working on booking another rock headliner for the Chris Beck Arena, but can’t reveal any names right now. Stay tuned.

The Rum Diary to Release Retrospective

Posted by: on Apr 20, 2010 | Comments (0)

Long boozy nights at the Tradewinds during the Bush era will come flying back to Sonoma County residents past and present next month, when now-defunct local favorites the Rum Diary release Retrospective 2000-2007. The collection totals 17 songs from the Cotati Sound Machine’s prolific output, including some unreleased and vinyl-only tracks, and if you pre-order the thing now you’ll get three, count ‘em, three CDs for free: the Rum Diary’s Poisons That Save Lives and We’re Afraid of Heights Tonight, and Shuteye Unison’s S/T.

We may be able to definitively say that the Rum Diary was Cotati’s greatest indie-rock export, adored by a wide swath of the population—from SSU stoners to dive-bar denizens to serious music fans. A retrospective is more than fitting (and I’m not saying that just because they were the first band I ever wrote about for the Bohemian).

All of this comes courtesy of Parks and Records, the label run by the Rum Diary’s John Fee. If you’re wondering what he, Daniel McKenzie and other Diarians are up to, check out their output so far—including former Santa Rosan Cory Gray’s excellent Carcrashlander—over ’round about right here.

Lauryn Hill to Headline Harmony Festival

Posted by: on Mar 25, 2010 | Comments (1)

It’s official: Lauryn Hill is the headliner at this year’s Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa.

The former Fugee who struck out on her own with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill rarely performs live; the Harmony Festival is her only planned summer festival appearance.

The lineup also includes Steel Pulse, Galactic, Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, the Expendables, Dweezil Zappa, Jai Uttal, Fishbone and 7 Walkers, led by the Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann.

Chali 2na and Lyrics Born are performers at the annual Techo-Tribal Dance, along with DJs Tipper, Ott, Beats Antique, Lynx & Janover and Galactic.

This year also marks the return of the Harmony Fetsival’s skate area with a public skateboard course, numerous speakers including Dr. Bruce Lipton, mycologist Paul Stamets, acivist Caroline Casey, author Dan Millman, peak oil theorist Mike Ruppert, healer Nicki Scully, political satirist Swami Beyondananda and “world-renowned saint and divine guide” Pujya Swami Chidanandji.

For more information, see the festival website.

Jack Attack

Posted by: on Mar 17, 2010 | Comments (6)

This week’s music column is on Jack Springs, a 25-year-old high-functioning mentally retarded metal musician who sings about how he’s been mistreated in life. I didn’t know Jack was mentally retarded when I met him; he offered the information unsolicited, just like he freely shared his stories about having his head shoved into the toilet in school, or getting his ass kicked by bullies after being coerced into smoking marijuana.

The more I talked with Jack, the more I appreciated the raw honesty in his songs. Just like the sketchy handwriting in a junior high love note render feelings on the notebook page more real, the jagged delivery and lateral combination of lyrics in Jack’s songs tilt at the true turmoil that he lives with each day as a developmentally disabled man in a judgmental world.

Here’s some of the songs discussed in the article. There’s talk already amongst local musicians about forming a backing band so he can play live:

1. “My Rights Were Violated.” The first song Jack recorded. His statement of purpose. The theme to a million revenge stories boiled down to eight simple words. Click here to listen.

2. “The Jack Tracks.” A unique selection among Jack’s songs in that he addresses portions of it to himself. Near the end, he dedicates it to James, “a role model.” I had assumed he’s referring to James Hetfield, but it’s actually his father James, who’s passed away. Click here to listen.

3. “Violated Nights.” The incredible transformation of Jack the avant-beat songwriter with an out-of-tune electric guitar into Jack the hardcore larynx shredder with a score to settle. Chills. Click here to listen.

4. “Violated Days.” The CD-R that I received lists this song as “All of My Rights Were Broken to Pieces and Now I Am Going to Take All My Rights Back From You and Then Your Heart Will Stop Beating,” which, as you’ll hear, are the song’s complete lyrics. Jack’s since informed me that the song is called “Violated Days.” Either way, it’s amazing. Click here to listen.

Incidentally, to prepare for the interview, Jack brought me a list of his influences, written on a napkin. He tells me Metallica’s too commercial now that they get played on the radio all the time. (He also credits Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” as the thematic inspiration for writing songs about his rights.) You’ll see a band at the top of the list, Torn Back, which is Jack’s brother’s band, and Intangled, another local metal band who are friends with Jack—proof that the metal community can provide support to outcasts when no one else will.

What's the Buzz?

Posted by: on Mar 16, 2010 | Comments (1)

Jazz lovers can pick their jaws off the floor with the announcement of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival (June 4–13), which delivers a rich lineup of vibrant jazz talent. Charlie Haden leads a group with Ravi Coltrane and Geri Allen; Jason Moran plays with Bill Frisell; and red-hot sensation Esperanza Spalding returns. Other names include George Cables, Dafnis Prieto, Pete Apfelbaum and more.

This year’s Sonoma Jazz+ Festival (May 21–23) features headliners Crosby, Stills & Nash, Earth, Wind & Fire and Elvis Costello & the Sugarcanes. Openers Lizz Wright, Poncho Sanchez and the Neville Brothers also appear. Hope for jazz springs obligatory when Costello will doubtless sing Charles Mingus’ “Weird Nightmare.” . . . The Kate Wolf Festival (June 25–27) has Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen, Greg Brown, Little Feat, David Grisman, the Waifs and many more up at Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville. . . . The Harmony Festival (June 11–13) has confirmed some initial performers, including Steel Pulse, Galactic, Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Dweezil Zappa, Jai Uttal, the Jazz Mafia, the Expendables and Fishbone. A “very special headliner” will be announced this week.

While the Santa Rosa Symphony hosts Ute Lemper singing Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins (May 8–10), the Wells Fargo Center bounces back from recent personnel shakeups with John Prine (April 11), David Spade (May 20), the Barenaked Ladies (May 25) and the still-fantastic Smokey Robinson (May 28). The cozy Napa Valley Opera House brings Elvis Costello playing a solo evening (April 8th) as well as jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny (April 25) performing with an ensemble of animatronic instruments controlled by Metheny’s guitar. Crazy!

The Sonoma County Blues Festival, long a staple of the Sonoma County Fair, moves to the Earle Baum Center (July 31), which already has headliners Dave Alvin and James McMurtry confirmed for its EarleFest in September. . . . Resurrected local favorites Victims Family play a free in-store to celebrate the re-release of White Bread Blues at the Last Record Store for Record Store Day (April 17). . . . Fret-tapping phenomenon Kaki King plays the Mystic Theatre (May 20) and Joan Jett rides the popularity wave of The Runaways starring Kristen Stewart by playing at the Sonoma-Marin Fair (June 25).

Lagunitas Releases 'Wilco Tango Foxtrot' Beer

Posted by: on Mar 12, 2010 | Comments (0)

I am a Petaluman Aquarium Drinker! This month, Lagunitas Brewing Co. offers a limited-release beer called ‘Wilco Tango Foxtrot,’ no doubt inspired by Jeff Tweddy & Co. Check it out:

But wait! This in, from Pitchfork:

According to a spokeswoman, the title is derived from the same shortwave radio recording that originally inspired Wilco to call their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as well as the phrase “WTF.”

Alas, if the beer were truly inspired by “WTF” in the NATO alphabet, the beer would be called “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” yes? Obviously they’re just keeping on the safe side after the Zappa family pulled the plug on their wonderful, harmless series of Zappa-album-themed ales.

‘Wilco Tango Foxtrot’ is out sometime in March and according to Lagunitas is “a big ol’ Imperial Brown Ale to help you with your slipperly slide on into springtime. Rich, smooth, dangerous & chocolatey.” And. . .  7.83% alcohol! Passenger side, indeed!

When You Can't See Who's Cutting In Line

Posted by: on Mar 1, 2010 | Comments (2)

With the “advance” of online ticket sales, we all went from standing in line outside the Wherehouse on a Sunday morning to standing together in a dark room with our hands outstretched, blindfolded, hoping that when the tickets fell from the ceiling we might catch one. Today’s news confirms what we all suspected: someone snuck in a vacuum.

This just in from New Jersey, via the Star-Ledger:

Federal authorities in New Jersey today charged four men with hacking into websites of online ticket sellers and illegally buying tickets to Hannah Montana, Bruce Springsteen and other shows around the nation.

The massive conspiracy virtually hijacked the online ticketing systems and prevented average consumers from buying prime seats.

The men, who ran a Nevada-based company called Wiseguy Tickets Inc., employed a computer programmer in Bulgaria who crafted software to swarm the websites of Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Major League Baseball and other companies, according to a 60-page indictment unsealed in Newark.

In essence, the company was able to cut in front of thousands of fans and buy the best seats in the house, authorities said. Wiseguys allegedly sold the tickets at a steep mark-up to brokers, who in turn sold them at an even steeper price to fans, according to the 60-page indictment. The firm bought more than 1.5 million tickets and grossed more than $25 million in profit between 2002 and 2009, according to the indictment. Wiseguy bought at least 11,700 tickets to Springsteen shows alone between September and December 2007, authorities said.

Goes without saying, but may these guys burn in hell. May we also further discover ways in which technology has actually made things worse, says the weirdo who just typed a postcard on a typewriter to send through the United States Postal Service.

What’s especially maddening is that these can’t be the only people hacking the Ticketmaster system. Nor will they be the last.

On Tap: Bettye LaVette's 'Interpretations: The British Songbook'

Posted by: on Feb 26, 2010 | Comments (0)

Check out this track listing for Bettye LaVette’s upcoming album of all British rock songs, due out May 25. Traffic, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elton John. It’s kinda weird, but in a good way. Who decides to cover the Beatles, and picks “The Word”? Or covers the Stones, and picks “Salt of the Earth”?

At least she’s finally properly releasing her version of “Love, Reign O’er Me,” the show-stopper from The Who’s Kennedy Center tribute that was requested so many times from some dude in the front row when I saw her live that she had to kiss the guy on the lips to shut him up.

 

1.    The Word (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
2.    No Time To Live (James Capaldi/Stephen Winwood)
3.    Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Bennie Benjamin/Gloria Caldwell/Sol Marcus)
4.    All My Love (John Baldwin/Robert Plant)
5.    Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison)
6.    Wish You Were Here (David Gilmour/Roger Waters)
7.    It Don’t Come Easy (Richard Starkey)
8.    Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
9.    Salt Of The Earth (Michael Jagger/Keith Richards)
10.  Nights In White Satin (David Hayward)
11.  Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock)
12.  Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John/Bernard Taupin)
13.  Love Reign O’er Me (Peter Townshend) [BONUS TRACK]

Turntablists Invade the Jazz Club

Posted by: on Feb 23, 2010 | Comments (0)

From the garages and bedrooms of the Bay Area to the swank jazz lounge! Saturday kicks off the Dan-the-Automator-curated Audio Alchemy series at Yoshi’s, giving you a chance to strap on your rumpled suit you haven’t worn since high school prom and check out all the dudes you loved in Scratch. This weekend brings jaw-dropping innovator DJ Q-Bert performing with fellow Invisibl Skratch Pikl DJ Shortkut, collaborating with Adam Theis and the Jazz Mafia All-Stars with MARS-1. (Feb 27; Starts at 10:30; $20.) And get this—it’s not in the concert venue. It’s in the restaurant and cocktail bar!

Ten years ago and half a mile mile away, most of these DJs made a name for themselves at the Justice League on Divisadero, a no-frills smelly hard-drinking and smoking place that’s now the Independent. So it might feel a little weird to be witnessing the don’t-give-a-fuck style on the faders in the snazzy environs of Yoshi’s, sure. But several years ago, Kid Koala somehow convinced the hip-hop heads to sit down and be polite for his dinner theater performances, so maybe it’s not that strange after all.

Even more to the point: Hip-hop is basically the new jazz, and it’s awesome that Yoshi’s has been hosting a ton of hip-hop shows lately. De La Soul, Talib Kweli, Foreign Exchange, the Pharcyde, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mos Def. Some early birders have complained that the shows start too late—midnight, in some cases—but in my experience, that’s when most hip-hop headliners go on anyway. Cut out the local DJ amateurishly blending “Peter Piper” breaks into “Ballroom Blitz” for way too long and get to the meat, I say.

Oh! Right, the series. Audio Alchemy sees the likes of DJ Q-Bert (Feb. 27), Dan the Automator (Mar. 13), Kid Koala (Mar. 27), Mixmaster Mike (Apr. 10) and Chief Xcel (Apr. 24). More info here. In related news, Wave Twisters is still the greatest scratch album of all time.

Sasha Grey to Release Full-Length Album

Posted by: on Feb 22, 2010 | Comments (0)

Sasha Grey, the 21-year-old porn star with avant-garde tastes—she reportedly digs Throbbing Gristle, Werner Herzog, Faust and Jean-Luc Godard—is set to release her first full-length album.

Grey’s experimental noise project aTelecine released their aVigillant Carpark 7″ last year on Pendu Sound (I wrote about it here), which was limited to 300, sold out quickly in preorders and then started selling for way too much on eBay.

In April, Pendu Sound will release the debut full-length LP by aTelecine called A Cassette Tape Culture, limited to 500 copies. Based on the mp3 sample, it’s actually pretty rad, believe it or not. Pre-orders are being taken now. (No word yet on the cassette version, which is limited to 23.)

The best part about this is all the horny old men who’ll be listening to abrasive clatter just because it’s made by Sasha Grey. How the hell can the most famous porn star in the world also be putting out noise cassettes? Ah, what a world we live in.

In other news, the Yellow Swans‘ new and final album Going Places is totally amazing. It might not be for everybody, but it matches my brain waves right now. You can stream it for free, on the Type Records site, here.