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Keep It Moving

Posted by: on Feb 18, 2010 | Comments (1)

Spent a good deal of time dwelling on Dilla today for a quick piece on Good Hip Hop’s J. Dilla Tribute in Sebastopol next weekend. Then, drove to Petaluma with Like Water For Chocolate on the tape deck. The weird thing about Dilla is that as far as I remember (and I’m a little older than most people who seem to champion his genius between every meal), nobody—as in, not one solitary person I knew—liked Labcabincalifornia when it came out. Or The Love Movement. Or Amplified. All really, really reviled albums, they were.

Whether or not Dilla was ahead of his time is as pointless as wondering, as I did today, if there would eventually be someone else who decided to swap up the kick drum and offset the snare ever so slightly. That stumbling burble, his trademark—someone else surely would have thought it up, just like someone would have shook their hips and howled sexual innuendo on TV if Elvis hadn’t. Right?

All of this is to say that rap production is in some interesting hands right now, and those still worshipping Dilla should hopefully see that his spirit lives on in intrepid creativity if not outright aesthetic. Right around the time Dilla died, the Pack, from the Bay Area, had a left-field hyphy hit with “Vans,” which rode on a tiny snap beat, a tssst-tssst hi-hat and a synth sent from Mars. Its spirit owed slightly to the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)” before it, and birthed a YouTube craze with the New Boyz’ “You’re a Jerk” in its wake.

Young L from the Pack released this new video for “Young L-E-N” today, and I hope its production hits the ears of mainstream beatmakers like Just Blaze. Not at all into the useless verses, but that’s hip-hop in 2010—the illest beats beneath filler lyrics. Dilla was lucky to have visionary MCs in the best of both worlds.

SonomJaZZ+ Festival Lineup Announced

Posted by: on Feb 15, 2010 | Comments (0)

On Friday, May 21, Crosby Stills & Nash (anyone see their seemingly unrehearsed tour kickoff at the Wells Fargo Center two years ago?) headline the Sonoma Jazz Festival, or the Sonoma Jazz+ Festival, or, as it seems to be called now, SonomJaZZ+! Opening the show will be it’s-funny-that-we-need-to-point-out-that-she’s-a jazz singer Lizz Wright, who appeared with Herbie Hancock in Sonoma in 2008.

On Saturday, May 22, Earth, Wind and Fire will headline in the giant 3,800-capacity tent (will they play “Come on Feet” from Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song?), with the openers being “a Latin Jazz supergroup—we can’t give you their name yet.” (Malo? El Chicano? Azteca? War? Tierra? The Fania Allstars?)

As the Santa Rosa City Schools wrestle with budget cuts in music programs, maybe it’s time for them to think about hosting a quasi-jazz festival too—the Sonoma festival has so far raised $460,000 for Sonoma Valley schools in its first five years. (Come on, Mark Wardlaw! Book Rick Springfield and Joan Baez! Call it jazz, baby!)

Tickets to CS&N go on sale to the general public this Friday, Feb. 19, with a special locals-only deal on Thursday for those with a Sonoma mailing address. For more info, hit up the Sonoma Jazz+ Festival site.

Pinhead Gunpowder to play Gilman Friday, Feb. 12

Posted by: on Feb 12, 2010 | Comments (1)

Start lining up! As officially announced via Billie Joe earlier tonight, the great Pinhead Gunpowder returns to Gilman tomorrow night to play a benefit for Anandi Wonder, an old friend from Santa Rosa, longtime MRR shitworker and a wonderful person who’s been dealing with medical bills related to breast cancer.

Pinhead Gunpowder, Grass Widow and more play Friday, Feb. 12 at 924 Gilman in Berkeley. Starts at 7:30, $7-$10. All ages. Official confirmation here.

The last time Pinhead Gunpowder played Gilman, the first people got in line at 7:30am, and that was with the show being slightly hush-hush. This time around? There’s probably people camped out on the sidewalk right now.

UPDATE: Gilman is offering a complete free download of the show here.

Sonoma County Blues Festival Looking for Another Home

Posted by: on Feb 4, 2010 | Comments (4)

(Update: It’s saved! Scroll down for info…)
(Update again: It’s back at the fair. Scroll down…)

I just got off the phone with Bill Bowker, who’s been informed that the long-running Sonoma County Blues Festival will no longer be a part of the Sonoma County Fair’s entertainment schedule. Fair Events Coordinator Jane Engdahl cited current economic conditions and the Board’s decision to virtually eliminate all major shows in the Redwood Theater as the reason.

“It’s just another slice of left-of-mainstream music taken away in this area,” Bowker said. “I’m not alone—San Francisco lost their San Francisco Blues Festival too. It’s the usual plight of people trying to get into roots music.”

Bowker mentioned that there’s usually a spike in Fair attendance on the day of the Blues Festival, but this year, the Fair is looking to focus its energies on booking large acts in the Chris Beck Arena. That leaves a thirty-year tradition out in the cold.

The Sonoma County Blues Festival became a part of the Sonoma County Fair schedule in the late ’80s with blues musician Mark Naftalin producing the event.  Smith and Bowker Productions took over the production of the festival in 1991, and had since brought everyone from Junior Kimbrough to Magic Slim to Santa Rosa.

Want some more names from over the years? How about Shuggie Otis, Eddie “The Chief” Clearwater, Sonny Rhodes, Doyle Bramhall, Tracy Nelson, John Lee Hooker Jr., David Jacobs-Strain, Honeyboy Edwards… the list goes on and on. Not to mention all the local acts like Volker Strifler, Ron Thompson, Lydia Pense and Mark Hummel who were repeatedly given a stage with the larger names.

Bowker is looking into options for keeping the festival going. Those interested in offering a new location can call him at 707.588.0707.

UPDATE: The Festival has been moved to the Earle Baum Center on Occidental Road, a great open-field venue, on July 31. The KRSH itself has stepped in as producer. Hooray to both! Artists to be announced soon.

Bowker writes:

Along with being able to present a full on array of shapes and hues of the Blues throughout the years, I have also found the satisfaction of seeing what the Blues brings as far as the community is concerned.  The Blues is about struggle, despair, pain, but also about hope, respect and about whom we are.  It leaves it mark on all of us.  The Blues is the truth.”

Glad to see another struggle overcome, Bill, and another bit of hope dawning.

UPDATE AGAIN: The Sonoma County Fair realized their mistake, and “aggressively pursued” the KRSH to move the Blues Festival and its many supporters back to the fair. So for “practical purposes,” it’s back at the Redwood Theater on July 31 after all, now with a separate admission charge. (It sounds like the KRSH is still putting up the money for the Blues Festival’s artists—the fair’s budget having already been committed to paying cover bands like Wonderbread 5, Super Diamond, the Cheeseballs, AC/DShe, Double Funk Crunch and Bud E. Luv.) Some info. on fair entertainment here, and a note from Bill Bowker here.

Why Does Taylor Swift Win Awards?

Posted by: on Feb 1, 2010 | Comments (5)

Dad: “Maybe when you have time you can explain to me why Taylor Swift wins Grammy Awards.”

Me: “Yes, I can do that. As long as you explain to me why she still makes that patently fake ‘surprised’ look every time she wins, after a solid year of winning every award in sight.”

The short version is that the Grammys are run by horny old white men. Mostly.

The longer version involves some dissection of her appeal, which starts with the basics (pretty) and trickles down to the more esoteric (girl actually writes her own songs). No viewer alien to the nominees context last night would have heard Taylor’s flat singing and predicted her to win over Lady Gaga, who stole the show, but I’ll bet there’s a substantial handful of Grammy voters who know she writes her own tunes.

It’s a big deal in country music, writing your own songs. Country music is the last popular music in America that relies heavily on a concentrated Brill-Building-style stable of songwriters, which is why much of it is predictable and sounds like “hit” material. (I sometimes wish rappers used songwriters, just as an experiment. I also wish rappers did covers of other rapper’s songs. Will explore this sometime in the future.) So for Taylor Swift to come out and write her own songs rocks that tradition and brings it back to a purer, more authentic Nashville that the average Grammy voter wishes once existed.

“Authenticity” is big up on Taylor Swift’s requirements—check the reaction again: the blank stare, the open mouth, the cupping palm—and she makes sure that all the hella fake-ass things about her don’t overshadow it. Plus, universal appeal, duh. Her songs are the kinds of songs that old people wish their kids would write, and that kinds of songs that make young people think, I could have written that. They are not shitty songs, keep in mind.

Does that explain it?

I can get behind Taylor Swift and all—there’s far worse role models for teenage girls to have, and far lousier pop music—but my vision is always stained by the Young Girls in Nashville Who Write Their Own Songs War of 2006. Pretty much it was Taylor Swift vs. Miranda Lambert, and Taylor won because she’s skinnier and younger and skinnier and blonder and skinnier and writes pop-country songs instead of country-country songs. (“Famous in a Small Town.” Watch that shit!) With silver medal in tow, Miranda Lambert has laid low, opening for Kenny Chesney and recording John Prine and friggin’ Fred Eaglesmith songs. (“Time to Get a Gun.” Watch that shit!) Still regret missing her headline the small indoor theater at Konocti.

Early Kate Wolf Festival 2010 Lineup Announced

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

Those who make the annual drive up to Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville for the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival won’t be disappointed by the early acts confirmed for this year’s fest. Scheduled to appear so far are the Neville Brothers, Ani Di Franco, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Greg Brown, the Waifs, the David Grisman, Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Baka Beyond, Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, John McCutcheon, Po’ Girl, Poor Man’s Whiskey, and “more to name in the near future,” writes Cloud Moss, the event’s longtime coordinator.

Update: Carrie Rodriguez, Charlie Musselwhite, Hot Buttered Rum, John McCutcheon, Rosalie Sorrels and Blame Sally added! But, the Neville Brothers canceled. Little Feat have taken their place!

Presale tickets are on sale now; the official festival website is here.

John Prine to play the Wells Fargo Center on April 11

Posted by: on Jan 25, 2010 | Comments (0)

John Prine, the lovable songwriter who deserves every laurel thrown at his feet, is coming back to Santa Rosa to play the Wells Fargo Center on April 11, 2010.

Presale tickets are available now by clicking here, although take note of the strange rules if you pursue this option: “Seats will be assigned at random on the day of the show, and the location of your seats will not be known until tickets are picked up at will call.”

For those who want the peace of mind of knowing where they’re sitting, tickets to the general public go on sale this Friday, Jan. 29, at noon.

The last time John Prine played in Santa Rosa, it was September 8, 2001. The twin towers still stood, as did the feeling of optimism and confidence in the economy. The venue was still called the Luther Burbank Center. We had the luxury of being able to laugh at his songs then; something tells me those same songs might cause a tinge of sadness now. He played for over two hours that night, just song after brilliant song, ending with an encore of “Paradise” joined onstage by Todd Snider. “Lake Marie” brought the house down, and he made beautiful chestnuts like “Souvenirs,” “Sam Stone” and “You Got Gold” sound shiny and new after all these years. I talked to him afterwards; he was all rosy cheeks, in a great mood, and told me the crowd was as great and responsive as any he’d played for. It was a hell of a show.

If you’ve never seen John Prine, you’re missing out on a genuine national treasure. The standing-room deal is $19.50, with tickets going up to $39.50 and $49.50 for seats. It’ll sell out easily. For more info., call 707.546.3600 or visit the Wells Fargo Center site.

The Radiohead Haiti Auction is a Vision of a Hellish Future

Posted by: on Jan 22, 2010 | Comments (3)

Most people will view this Ticketmaster auction for tickets to Radiohead’s just-announced Haiti Benefit in Los Angeles this Sunday at the Henry Fonda Theater as a unique, outside-the-model way to raise money for earthquake victims.

Look at it again. Look at it. You are looking at the future of ticketing: a straight-up auction model.

It’s especially terrifying because it makes perfect sense. Instead of short-changing their profits with fixed prices and watching tickets to sold-out shows sell for four or five times face value on the scalper’s auction market, Ticketmaster has actually developed a platform to sell tickets to the highest bidder while stunting the middlemen down the line.

This might be no big obstacle if you want to go see some low-level act like, I dunno, Matisyahu. But what if you’re a 12-year-old girl from a low-income family and you’re dying to see Beyoncé?

Already, we’ve seen VIP tickets and “Fan Experience” tickets for more in-demand arena shows sold by Ticketmaster for inflated prices. During Beyoncé’s last tour, for example, front-row tickets sold at face value for $500—roughly what could be expected from the second-hand market. (Meeting Beyoncé in person, after the show, cost $1,000.) Those hoping to luck out with an affordable ticket for a good seat still had hope.

I hope I’m wrong, but staring at this auction page feels like looking into a crystal ball of plutocracy for the future of ticket sales.

I know Radiohead is doing a charitable thing with this ticket auction, and I know that people are going to be talking about the “Radiohead model” with this ticket sale. But unlike their pay-what-you-will approach to albums, which humbled the recording industry into submission, this pay-what-you-will approach to tickets is a valuable springboard for the ticket industry, and it’s only going to put a lot more power and money into their greedy, uncaring hands.

Buddy, Buddy, Buddy All Up In Your Face

Posted by: on Jan 21, 2010 | Comments (1)

Every time these guys get together on stage the world is blessed. A Tribe Called Quest, unannounced reunion, at the Knitting Factory last night:

I caught “Award Tour” at Outside Lands in SF where the festival crowd was subdued, but this is insane. Phife has heavy medical bills from diabetes, and the show was a benefit for him, but feel the joy in the room and try to deny the gift to the fans.

Leave it in the 00s

Posted by: on Dec 31, 2009 | Comments (0)

#leaveitinthe00s Lil Wayne featured on EVERY SONG

taylor swift really can’t sing live.. at all =| nor can justin bieber. both should just.. #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s southern music period

#leaveitinthe00s rappers makin “comebacks” after a 2 year stint…thats not a comeback

ATTENTION URBAN YOUTH MALES: as we move into the nex decade umm those Skinny Jeans #leaveitinthe00s please jus let em go

The word swagg, lil wayne, haters, violence, drama, fakeness #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s a rappers entourage~aint it? Shit, cause most the time they getU n more trouble thanUwould….!

#leaveitinthe00s Ray J, Bobby Valentino, Slim 112, etc… These good whisperers can’t sing. Stick to ghost writing

Sayin ‘No Homo’ after every single statement #Leaveitinthe00s

hoes calling other hoes, “hoes” cuz they’re “hoes” but legit hoes themselves.

#leaveitinthe00s saying lil Wayne is the best rapper…. Just Stop! He’s done

#leaveitinthe00s dance dance revolution, guitar hero

DMX………………… #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s: skinny jeans, they were out when NWA broke up learn ya history

#leaveitinthe00s singers with no talent who are only on cuz of auto tune and other voice editing techniques

#leaveitinthe00s pretending to be tough..take Rihanna for example if u can’t think of someone lol

#leaveitinthe00s Oh, also, The Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber.

#LeaveItInThe00s lil John and the eastside boys

#leaveitinthe00s Souljaboys FL Studio drumkit.. who the fuck came up with that should be shot.

seriously, we don’t need more gangsta-pop duets! #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s: LMAO Shaq’s raps or wack, lol (shit that rhyme is better then all the raps he wrote)

#leaveitinthe00s MySpace…just keep myspace music here and we’re good

#leaveitinthe00s : myspace, gangsta rap, wannabes, disney sluts- i mean, stars.

#leaveitinthe00s, Mystikal’s career

#leaveitinthe00s Britney Wanna F*k Me Vids on twitter. This shit is really buggin me.

wavy, aow, fresh, dope, fly, crunk, hyphy, etc #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s soulja boy. please.

#leaveitinthe00s bow wow his decade has expired…

#leaveitinthe00s emo kids

#leaveitinthe00s Limp Bizkit Fans

Britney spears meltdown, Jonas Brothers, hannah montana @rihanna #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s crank dat songs. Die if you still crank anything except a car.

#leaveitinthe00s all ur B2K CDs

#leaveitinthe00s ppl that dnt like tupac kuzz Biggie ain’t like him.. vise versa

#leaveitinthe00s The downfall of music. Please bring the good stuff back.

Screamo, Scene kids, Straight edge, 9/11, Lady gaga’s penis #LeaveItInThe00s

Any name for a musical genre that ends in “mo” or “core”… Emo, Screamo, Mathcore… @johncmayer #LeaveItInThe00s

#leaveitinthe00s prejudice, homophobia, racism, bullying, war, crocs, T Romo, crochet uggs, unhygienic tendencies, screamo …

#leaveitinthe00s emo rock, soulja boy, coldplay.

#leaveitinthe00s the Obama worship, nickelback, emo and the red sox bandwagon.

#leaveitinthe00s Talent. Apparently you don’t need it these days.

If you see a cd with Coo Coo Cal on it #eaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s re-released dead rapper extended albums wit ‘hidden tracks’

#leaveitinthe00s justin beaver! He is ugly as hell and he can’t sing either. He needs to go away. He’s not all that.

skinny jeans, flip phones, twilight, jerking, swagger, mily cyrus #leaveitinthe00s

You can not be a pop star in a season American Idol #leaveitinthe00s

The nu B.E.T. #leaveitinthe00s what ever happen to the old shit when they ain’t do nothin but show videos all day

rihanna albums & miley cryus’ career #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s Jonas Bros. We can do better, America.

#leaveitinthe00s that ghetto ass piercing by your lip, you know that one Lil Wayne got. SMH and in the eye brow

#leaveitinthe00s anything with the suffix -izzle. I.e. Shizzle nizzle dizzle. Just leave it.

#leaveitinthe00s swag this & swag that….try demeanor or something lol

#leaveitinthe00s down south dances we ALL have had enough superman,stanky legs etc whatever dumb shit u country bumkins come up w/ next too

fat joe rapping……give it up dnt make us suffer lol #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s soulja boy song “she got a donk”

#leaveitinthe00s one hit wonders

#leaveitinthe00s takin 1 jay-z line an turn’n it into a whole song WHERE’S THA CREATIVITY?

#leaveitinthe00s the new r&b group pretty ricky.

#leaveitinthe00s the celebrities that sound great in the studio, but SUCK live! #omgfacts

rappers that was poppin when we was kids tryna make a comeback #leaveitinthe00s

#leaveitinthe00s Iliteracy