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Tom Waits, Steve Martin, Affronti, Souls of Mischief and James P. Johnson

Posted by: on Oct 12, 2009 | Comments (0)

Tom Waits is releasing a live album, Glitter and Doom Live, on November 24, just in time for the Christmas season. It includes 17 songs from various shows on his tour last year. I saw two shows from the tour; one at the beginning when the players were still finding their footing and one at the end, which was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. The live album features a bonus disc in the CD version called “Tom Tales,” with 40 minutes of Waits’ trademark ruminations on “romantic spiders and injured vultures” (the bonus disc comes as a free mp3 download with the LP version). Here’s the track list:

Lucinda / Ain’t Goin Down (Birmingham – 07/03/08)
Singapore (Edinburgh – 07/28/08)
Get Behind The Mule (Tulsa – 06/25/08)
Fannin Street (Knoxville – 06/29/08)
Dirt In The Ground (Milan – 07/19/08)
Such A Scream (Milan – 07/18/08)
Live Circus (Jacksonville – 07/01/08)
Goin’ Out West (Tulsa – 06/25/08)
Falling Down (Paris – 07/25/08)
The Part You Throw Away (Edinburgh – 07/28/08)
Trampled Rose (Dublin – 08/01/08)
Metropolitan Glide (Knoxville – 6/29/08)
I’ll Shoot The Moon (Paris – 07/24/08)
Green Grass (Edinburgh – 07/27/08)
Make It Rain (Atlanta – 07/05/08)
Story (Columbus – 06/28/08)
Lucky Day (Atlanta – 07/05/08)

Steve Martin, comedian and banjoist extraordinaire, has been booked at the Napa Valley Opera House to play on Thursday, November 5. If you were stuck behind a tree or thousands of other people when he played in Golden Gate Park, there’s still a handful of seats left for the Napa Valley Opera House, which is comparatively the size of a shoebox. Click here for tickets, which run $110-$125 per person and are going very fast. Might I tangentially also recommend Martin’s very wry and funny memoir, Born Standing Up, if only for his fantastic story about running into Diane Arbus at Disneyland, or the passage on briefly dating Linda Ronstadt.

Healdsburg’s jazz scene was set to lose a fantastic outlet when the Palette Art Café was sold, but thankfully, the new owners of the just-opened Affronti have carried on the tradition of showcasing excellent small combos in their intimate environs every Thursday night from 7-10pm. Reports on the food are positive as well, and dinner reservations are the best way to get a good seat. Upcoming acts include Cat Austin (Oct. 15), Ken Cook and the Gravity Trio with Scott Peterson (Oct. 22) and the Adam Theis Mega-Quartet (Oct. 29). The location once played host to jazz bassist Henry Franklin, and might I tangentially recommend Henry Franklin’s The Skipper, a very good record that I wish I had discovered prior to his performance there this summer with Azar Lawrence and not, sadly, afterward.

Souls of Mischief, far from being past their ’93 prime, have a new album, Montezuma’s Revenge, out in early December. They are still one of the best live hip-hop groups in the Bay Area. Every time I see them open a show, I feel bad for the headliner, who bumbles through a set doomed to inadequacy. Next week at Slim’s, they hold to the fire the feet of Ghostface Killah, a great rapper currently on “miss” in his hit-and-miss catalog of albums. Parlay the temptation into instead seeing Rakim, a great rapper who hasn’t made an album period for a while but who never disappoints, at Slim’s on Oct. 25. Might I tangentially recommend Eric B. and Rakim’s Follow the Leader, an album packed with just as much genius as Paid In Full but not, you know, overplayed.

Here’s my favorite story of the week: Earlier this year, Scott Brown made a pilgrimage to the final resting place, in Queens, of stride master and jazz piano pioneer James P. Johnson—only to find an unmarked scattering of weeds. Shocked at the lack of respect for one of jazz piano’s inarguable giants, he called on some of New York’s stride aficionados, including Dick Hyman and the Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson, in order to raise money for a proper tombstone. You can read about the marathon nine-hour cutting session here, and rest assured that James P. Johnson will have his life and legacy properly marked.

Dickie Peterson, R.I.P.

Posted by: on Oct 12, 2009 | Comments (0)

Dickie Peterson, the bassist and singer of Blue Cheer who spent a lifetime oversaturating amplifiers in underrated glory, has died at age 61. There is no way to go back in time and listen to Blue Cheer devoid of their subsequent context—Black Sabbath, prominently; Sleep, the Melvins and Sunn 0))), less prominently—but it doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that Peterson and his trio were on some heavy shit way before the world was on some heavy shit.

Of course, Blue Cheer played extensively in the Bay Area, including the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in the 1960s right after Vincebus Eruptum came out, but had even more recent ties to this area. I met Peterson a few years ago when he was living in West Sonoma County, of all places, and playing the occasional blues show at the Forestville Club. He looked exactly like an unsung pioneer of heavy metal, with long hair, a denim jacket and imposing heft. I guess he didn’t stay here long—he died this morning in Germany, presumably of cancer. May he be remembered.

Heavy Mental Music

Posted by: on Sep 30, 2009 | Comments (4)

This week’s Bohemian feature is on Heavy Mental Music, a very amazing, strange record made in 1981 by David Petri and the developmentally disabled clients of the Manual Skills Training Center in Santa Rosa. Pictured above is the “deluxe edition,” with a T-shirt, two posters, three stickers, a photocopied booklet, a notepad and two copies of the record, all housed in a hand-designed box. According to Petri, only 50 of these “kits” were made (most copies of the record were sold alone, or given out to strangers on the bus), and at one point, what you see above actually sat on the desk in the Oval Office.

What strikes me most about this record is that it’s completely ahead of its time, both in concept and presentation. Colored-vinyl 7″s, stenciled T-shirts, photocopied lyric booklets and paper Kinko’s stickers didn’t start showing up en masse until around 1991, and the acceptance of incorporating the developmentally disabled into pop culture—the Kids of Widney High, or How’s Your News?—was years away.

The heartbreaking part of the story, for me, is Petri being accused of using the mentally retarded clients of the Manual Skills Training Center to advance his own agenda. In the time I spent with Petri, he seemed like a sincere, caring person who patiently taught the clients how to play drums and keyboards and who happened to be attracted to the aesthetic of artists like Todd Rundgren and Salvador Dalí. Shades of that aesthetic color Heavy Mental Music, and something tells me that if Petri had recorded campfire folk songs like “This Land is Your Land” instead, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s “Heavy Mental Music,” written by Jim Weber and performed by the developmentally disabled clients of the Manual Skills Training Center on Lomitas Ave. in Santa Rosa in 1981:

Click the second file above to hear the obscure but no less compelling B-side,”Tour.”

The Bruce Barclay Memorial Concert

Posted by: on Sep 22, 2009 | Comments (0)

“He wasn’t one of those people who were the center of attention, but was always one of those people others were drawn to. You know, talented, athletic, funny, compassionate,” says Allen Sudduth. “Bruce was always one of the best and the brightest.”

Sudduth would know. He first met Bruce Barclay in the mid ’60s at Santa Rosa Junior High, and with Sudduth on drums and Barclay on bass, the two locked in step with each other both as lifelong friends and musical partners. Both had known each other in junior symphony and other school programs, but through a series of garage bands with names like the Third Foundation and the Worthy Cause, the two played nonstop at school dances and local venues—even opening for the Buffalo Springfield in Santa Rosa at the Fairgrounds in 1967.

Sadly, Barclay died last year, the result of complications from an auto accident 15 years ago. This Friday, Sept. 25, people from all over the country are flying in—either alumni of Santa Rosa High School or those with a personal connection to Barclay—to participate in a special memorial concert for Bruce reflecting his dual love of classical and rock music, “from the sacred to the profane,” as Sudduth calls it. The first set is classical-oriented with works by Vivaldi, Schumann, Bellini, Grieg, and others; while the second set features songs by Jelly Roll Morton, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Jimi Hendrix, and yes, a few originals by Bruce Barclay.

“He was a phenomenal, phenomenal bass player,” says Sudduth. “We listen to these tapes that we did in the ’70s and ’80s and we’re just stunned at how good he played. And we kinda took it for granted, I guess. But he was always the rock. He was the guy you could always count on. He played better than anybody.”

The Bruce Barclay Memorial Concert is this Friday, Sept. 25, at Santa Rosa High School. 8pm. $20; all proceeds go to SRHS music programs. For more information, click here.

Putting a Price on It

Posted by: on Sep 20, 2009 | Comments (0)

The Boogie Room is for sale. Asking price: $595,000. Some of the old barns have been leveled, but the actual Boogie Room is still standing. “Bring your energy and imagination,” reads the MLS listing. More info and photos here.

Live Review: Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes at the Wells Fargo Center

Posted by: on Aug 23, 2009 | Comments (0)

Elvis Costello opened his show at the Wells Fargo Center in Santa Rosa Friday night with an absolutely rollicking version of “Mystery Train,” complete with a showbiz ending that had the short, bespectacled leader kicking his heels, pumping his arms and conducting his diesel-engine band to a chugging, smoke-spewing halt.

It was one of the evening’s highlights in a lopsided concert that included as many yawn-inducing patches as it did occasional resurrections of the idea that Elvis Costello is one of the universe’s most impressive performers.

Even with an all-acoustic band, featuring Jim Lauderdale, Mike Compton and Jerry Douglas, Costello acted the consummate rock star by strutting across the stage, thrusting the neck of his guitar into the air and posturing wildly at the end of his songs. He cracked wise with the crowd, told stories and brushed off requests between songs. He finished his four-song encore with “Alison,” left the stage, and indulged the crowd even into the second hour of the show with more songs.

The only problem—and this is kind of a big deal when they take up so much time—was the songs. Elvis Costello has something like 863 songs, and a sustainable percentage of them are so good it hurts. Friday night, he played barely any of them, pulling instead mostly from his dull new album and a bunch of cover material. This was expected, yes—although when Costello’s magic lies in providing the unexpected, the evening felt lazy and predictable (especially when contrasted against his powerhouse setlist the first time he appeared at the venue, with Steve Nieve, in 1999).

The night had its moments. Along with “Mystery Train,” a downright psychedelic “The Delivery Man” was one of the few treasures that actually showcased the spine-tingling dynamics of the band, complete with distorted fiddle and atmospheric stillness. The accordion pulled slowly, Costello’s 4-string guitar buzzed, and the tune wound down like a late-night AM station slowly fading out of range.

“Mystery Dance” and “Blame it on Cain” both rambled with accented minor-blues-thirds the original recordings always hinted at, and a honky-tonk reworking of “Everyday I Write the Book” made more sense that it should. And though a 3/4-time cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale” and an encore of the Rolling Stones’ “Happy” had people literally dancing in the aisles, Elvis Costello ambling through “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” for the zillionth time had them nearly asleep.

That’s the problem with this tour (one of them, at least). Elvis Costello has never been great at singing country music. He’s just as unconvincing singing “Americana,” and just because he calls together an amazing group of players and whips up some crowd-pleasing stuff like “Friend of the Devil” doesn’t mean that he’s on his game. He’s on someone else’s game, and for someone as singularly intelligent and talented as he, it doesn’t fit. Sure, he can be proud of writing a terrible song for Johnny Cash, or for hiring the finest dobro player in the universe and not giving him any space to stretch out and be showcased, and that’s fine, but why not listen to John Prine or Gillian Welch do the same thing with far more heart and soul? As for his new material, it’s not a good sign when Costello’s explanations of the songs are infinitely more entertaining than the songs themselves.

And yet just like he knows how to end a tune, Elvis Costello knows how to end a show. He brought the house down with his last encore, recalling the fire and joy of Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions tour, and closed the night with “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.”

Shouldn’t all shows end with that song? No matter how drab the interim, it forgives all.

Aggressive Marketing Campaign

Posted by: on Jul 1, 2009 | Comments (2)

2nd & D, Santa Rosa:

Weekend Photos

Posted by: on Jun 14, 2009 | Comments (1)

Joe’s Taco Lounge, Mill Valley.

 

Trash, Pt. Reyes Station.

 

K’naan, Harmony Festival.

 

Techno-Tribal, Grace Pavilion.

 

Vivona, on his shit.

 

Killah Priest, an unexpected highlight.

 

Eddy & Fillmore, San Francisco.

 

Sun Ra, the Magic City.

 

V.C. Johnson, no one like him.

Street Music, Santa Rosa, and the Renegade Art Revival

Posted by: on May 28, 2009 | Comments (1)

Some of you may already know about Aaron Milligan-Green, the dreadlocked musician who’s been collecting signatures to overturn an outdated and illogical city ordinance regarding street music and who often fills the nighttime quietude with his Jungle Love Orchestra (pictured above). My constituent John Beck has been covering the story on his Press Democrat blog, but since John’s currently honeymooning in Paris, I bring you the latest news.

Here’s Aaron’s announcement sent out today about the Renegade Art Revival, reprinted with permission:

My name’s Aaron MG (a.k.a. The Dreaded Jewbacca) and you might remember me from the Santa Rosa street music petition I’ve put together, the SRJC, or however else we’ve met. Nonetheless, this street music petition I mentioned is part of a campaign to overturn section 17-16.090(A) of the Santa Rosa city noise ordinance, an ordinance which allows the city to fine the people $246 for playing an instrument anywhere at anytime in public. This specific law is only the epitome of a larger issue.

As you’ve probably noticed, the streets of Santa Rosa are dead and have absolutely no character or life of their own, yet Santa Rosa is the largest city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. This lack of vitality is no mere coincidence, for there are a myriad of laws here to control “unsanctioned” free expression and social gatherings. Did you know it’s illegal to play with a ball or a frisbee, or even have your dog in Courthouse Square, the “Heart of Downtown Santa Rosa?” I’ve actually met people who have been given tickets for playing hacky-sack. It’s a community vs. commerce kind of mentality, masked by a facade of what’s primarily commercial art—and I’m sorry, but we have enough Snoopy sculptures already. By overturning section 17-16.090(A) we hope to put a crack in that facade.

But a mere crack will not do. The public learns by example and we want to blow that wall to rubble, so let’s give them a spectacle they won’t forget. We the people need to take to the streets that our tax dollars fund and reclaim them as our own again. THE RENEGADE ART REVIVAL is in full effect on August 8, 2009!! We will take over the downtown of Santa Rosa with street performers and artists of all types in hope of breathing a bit of color back into these beige-aggregate streets. This is all being under-the-radar grassroots organized and it will take every one of us to make it happen. We want at least 500-1,000 or more people out there, performers and supporters alike. And you don’t have to think of yourself as an “artist” or a “performer” per se to come out and participate; one way to take part, for example, is to be active in the costumed bicycle parade. Let’s get 200+ people to come out dressed up in their finest threads and Halloween costumes riding on bikes, while dancers, musicians, painters, jugglers, etc. are posted at every corner, nook, and cranny! Let’s actually use our First Amendment right of free expression and assembly. On August 8th we will meet in Railroad Square at 12 noon and march to Courthouse Square, then from there we will disperse and flood the entire downtown.

So spread the word!! There is a Myspace being used to network this whole escapade here, so check it out, sign on, and send others that direction. Forward this email to anyone who you think would be interested. We need everyone to chip in at least a smidgen or two. So on August 8th come one and all to THE RENEGADE ART REVIVAL!!!

– The Dreaded Jewbacca

New Christian Alternative Station In Town

Posted by: on May 21, 2009 | Comments (3)

We here at City Sound Inertia are pretty firm that people should be allowed to believe whatever kind of crazy bullshit they feel like believing in, so in the name of Jesus Christ, we bring you the news that there’s a new “Christian Alternative Rock” station in town, Broken FM, at 105.7 in Petaluma and 107.9 FM in Santa Rosa.

Guess what? They want money.