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Live Review: Jessie Ware at the Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco

Posted by on Jan 26, 2013

At the start of her packed show Thursday night in San Francisco, Jessie Ware’s token platitudes for the city of San Francisco started out as just that—expected banter from a touring musician, repeated hundreds of times over. By the end of the show, though, after constant affection showered upon the breakout UK star from an adoring crowd, her city-crush on San Francisco rose to fever pitch. Then, when someone handed her a bouquet of roses, Ware completely lost it.

“Oh my Gooooooodddddd!!” she wailed, in thick British accent. “This really is our favorite city!”

Ware’s full-length album Devotion still hasn’t been officially been released in the United States, whatever that means in the year 2013; everyone at the Rickshaw Stop seemed to know nearly every song. Opening with the title track, Ware and her rock-solid band emitted a slow pulse, built it to a climax and, as Ware sang loudly away from the mic, pushed the song into transcendence. It was a formula that would be repeated throughout the night, but never felt, well, formulaic. (more…)

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2013 Healdsburg Jazz Festival Lineup Announced!

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013

It’s gonna be a Charlie Haden kind of weekend opening the Healdsburg Jazz Festival this year, with big names like Ravi Coltrane, Lee Konitz, Jason Moran, Charles Lloyd, Fred Hersch, Bill Frisell and many, many more performing at the best little jazz festival in the world running May 31–June 9.

Haden, who made his name with Ornette Coleman‘s famed quartet, will be the subject of a two-day tribute on June 1-2 featuring his Liberation Music Orchestra with Carla Bley and his Quartet West with Ravi Coltrane. Who else is playing the opening weekend? Try atmospheric guitar phenom Bill Frisell, invigorating pianist Geri Allen, saxophone legend Lee Konitz, Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubacalba and more.

The second weekend sees Healdsburg favorite Charles Lloyd teaming up with personal fave Jason Moran in a duo setting, the Fred Hersch Trio, the Marcus Selby Orchestra with the HJF Freedom Jazz Choir and others.

Many of the headliners this year have played in Healdsburg before and are returning to the festival, but one name’s new: Lee Konitz, who made his name with Lennie Tristano and pioneered much of the “cool” jazz sound that would go on to revolutionize the music. He conducted a student workshop at SSU in 2010, and though it was a little bit unusual, his tone and conception were as good as ever.

For more info. and ticket information as it comes along, see the festival website.

 

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Here Is Basically Every Text Being Sent Right Now

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013

Yes, it’s true: there will be a hasty but spectacular reunion of Destiny’s Child crammed somewhere in the middle of Beyoncé’s Superbowl halftime show.

Bonobo Plays Juke Joint at Hopmonk, Sebastopol

Posted by on Jan 9, 2013

It is a talented artist who can transport listeners from sitting poolside under a warm Barcelona sky to wandering a mystical forest in northern England, all in span of one album. Welcome to the auditory intricacies of Bonobo.

Simon Green, better known as Bonobo, is steadily perfecting his aptitude for transference. Emerging from Britain in the early 2000’s, the trip hop DJ, producer and composer is known as one of UK’s downtempo pioneers, melding ambient electronica with hyper modified instrumentals and beautifully soulful vocalists.

Building on an early digital background, Bonobo has embraced the electronica live-band movement. He is creating a personalized style that is both experimental and selected with care. At times, his band consists of up to 9 members, bringing studio-quality tracks to life on stage. While some of the instrumentation is easily recognizable, other parts are harder to pick out. Harp and bells on “Noctuary” from the album Dial ‘M’ for Monkey build an ambient, almost ethereal soundscape. Though one might be hard-pressed to notice the nylon guitar and ukulele on Black Sands’ “Stay the Same”. Speaking to NPR about his methods, Bonobo says: “I want to try and be as representative of the process as I can. Rather than just playing back samples and sounds from a laptop, I try and break it down to the original parts that went into the process.”

Bonobo’s sophomore record, Dial ‘M’ for Monkey (2003), is a full-bodied journey into electronic soul music. Upbeat tempos keep pace on funky dance tracks like “D-Song”, adding in keys and heavy snare. “Change Down” comes across with a jazzier flavor. All this sauce lasts about a third of the way into the tracks, changing up in linear fashion towards a more liquid flow as the song progresses. “Nothing Owed” is the real gem of the album, a sonic assemblage of Latin beats and graceful horns; it is a mellow serenade with a feel that’s Pink Floyd meets Federico Aubele. If you appreciate complex, overlapping genres spun into “chill out”, you’ll love the entire album.

Bonobo released Black Sands in the spring of 2010. It is a tighter, more break-beat driving project, and heavy on samples from the different world music traditions. Mixing Asian string melodies with synth keys on “Kiara”, he switches up with undeniable American soul on “The Keeper”. Bonobo has a strong talent for blending house beats, complex bass lines, and classic rhythms. His selection of vocalists is equally brilliant, namely Andreya Triana a London-born gospel funktress who adds sexy sophistication to the live band. A favorite is the hip hop remix of “Eyesdown” with Andreya and DELS off 2012’s Black Sands Remixed album. The downbeat, lounge nature of this album is closer to drum and bass, looped and layered, abstract and emotional.

Delve into Bonobo’s visionary soundscapes at Juke Joint, this Thursday, January 10th @ 9pm, $5-$25 at Hopmonk, 230 Petaluma Avenue, Sebastopol, (707) 829-7300

Depravity and Despair at the Marin Symphony

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013

Tchaikovsky’s six symphony, the “Pathétique,” is one of those pieces of music that makes you cherish every single second you are afforded breath on this life-giving planet.

Plunging to the depths of despair, like a junkie experiencing his first hit of self-realization, the piece at times makes it difficult to keep listening. Though harmonious, the music takes dark turn after dark turn. It holds you against the wall while you watch everything you love burn before your eyes, with no way to help or even turn away. It’s really heavy stuff.

But Tchaikovsky’s symphony somehow flutters out of this terror, and shows that there is beauty in the world. Life is still worth living, and you leave feeling empowered because you’ve been through the worst life can give and still came out on top. It’s one of my desert island pieces of music. It’s referred to as “pathétique” not because it’s deserving of pity, but because it is compassionate and moving.

To hear this live would be great, but to hear this with the Marin Symphony and guest violinist Nigel Armstrong is going to be awesome. I saw this local kid play with the American Philharmonic (or was it the Cotati Philharmonic at that time?) in his teens and was amazed. He was young but had an evident understanding of the music, to say nothing of his technical ability. To see him now that he’s 21 would certainly be something special.

The Marin Symphony plays Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3pm and Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 to $70. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. www.marinsymphony.org.

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Furthur’s Fax-In Ticket Lottery for the Sweetwater Music Hall

Posted by on Jan 4, 2013

Furthur, the Grateful Dead offshoot band featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, has announced four nights at Weir’s teeny-tiny Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley on Jan. 16, 17, 18 and 19. In keeping with recent Weir/Lesh price points in Marin County, general admission tickets are $150; VIP tickets, including dinner, a “full hour of free beer and wine” and a signed poster, are $300. Think of the four-night stand as a swanky afterglow to the band’s packed three-night run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium last week.

Here’s the thing: tickets go on sale today… by fax. Yes, you read that right. In order to be entered into the lottery for the chance to buy tickets, hopeful fans need to fill out this page online and then click “submit form”… uh, print it out, I guess, and fax it to (415) 868-9819.

By fax? This is weird. I mean, is it so there’s an analog trail of ticket requests instead of a more easily hackable digital trail? I’ve always thought it was great that the Dead ran a mailorder lottery for their NYE shows back in the day; honestly, I think it’d be easier for fans to address an envelope and put a stamp on it in the year 2013 than it would be to drag a clunky piece of dead technology out of the closet, dust it off, plug it in and send a fax.

Send your own theories to me by fax at (707) 527-1288.

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SF Noise Pop 2013 Lineup Announced

Posted by on Jan 3, 2013

Noise Pop is now in its 20s, reflecting on life and starting to set some serious goals for itself in the coming decade. PBR is still the beer of choice, but maybe mix in a classic cocktail every now and again. The lineup was announced this week for the San Francisco indie music festival, which takes place Feb. 26–March 3 in venues large and small all over San Francisco.

Highlights include Amon Tobin at Public Works, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy in a solo show at Brick and Mortar Music Hall, Toro Y Moi at the Independent (twice!), Ceremony at the Rickshaw Stop and !!! at the Great American Music Hall. The cool thing about this festival are the badges, which allow city-savvy music lovers to hop around and check out shows happening on the same night as well as shows on successive evenings. The documentaries and happy hours throughout the city are also cool. Check the schedule here.

Here is a complete list of all current confirmed Noise Pop 2013 bands: (more…)

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Watch Patti Page in 2010 Singing “Tennessee Waltz” at a Senior Expo

Posted by on Jan 3, 2013

The great Patti Page died today at age 85. She was a singer I loved, whose albums on Mercury are mainstays in my easy listening, and whose song “Let Me Go, Lover” changed my life one night on 960-KABL AM while driving back from San Francisco at 1:45 in the morning.

So it warmed my heart tonight, while searching YouTube for later-era live performances, to find this footage of Patti Page singing “Tennessee Waltz” for a group of seniors in 2010. (It appears to be her latest-uploaded live clip, just after this appearance on Eat Beluga, a television show from the Philippines.) Here she is, a legend who sold millions of records, who would have accepted a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award next month, who could easily rest on her laurels, and instead she’s bringing some sunshine to people who surely remember her in the twilight of their own lives.

Deciphering the Code of Rihanna

Posted by on Jan 2, 2013 One Comment

I have always had a hard time accepting Rihanna’s extreme popularity. Her music, to me, is bland, and she’s not a good performer. The fact that she is a victim of extreme domestic violence who has since climbed back into the arms of her abuser, fellow pop star Chris Brown, sets a terrible example for others in her situation and actually upsets me.

I’ve never had a way to explain these confusing opinions until Sasha Frere-Jones apparently climbed into my head, organized my thoughts and wrote them for me in the New Yorker’s Dec. 24&31 issue.

He nails the social impact with this:

“With all this drama, it is difficult to think of Rihanna’s stated version of independence, of being a ‘Good Girl Gone Bad,’ as the title of her biggest-selling album would have it, is being the object of badness, being subjugated… What makes this attitude even more disturbing is that it seems to have served only to make Rihanna more popular.”

Without missing a beat, Frere-Jones flings more thought-goo from the cauldron of my stewed brain and it sticks on the wall in this elegant, concise phrasing: “She has an exceptional physical beauty married to an unexceptional, almost disengaged sense of performance–she may be the most successful amateur ever.” I’ve already applied this lightbulb concept to other pop stars that suck, like Lana Del Rey, Ke$ha and Nickelback.

And, as a good critic should do, he calls out the pop star for what should be an obvious “phone-it-in” moment, her “performance” last month on Saturday Night Live. “She moves, in Timberland boots and a fatigue jacket, as if she had perhaps beard the song a few times before. There was one bit that reminded me of dancing.”

Unfortunately the article is paywalled, only available with a subscription or by purchasing the whole issue. But it’s a luxury worth paying for, if for nothing else than Frere-Jones’ music columns.

Think You Know About Music, Huh?

Posted by on Jan 2, 2013

If you’re like me, you woke up on New Years Day and listened to the ultimate soothing hangover cure album, 20 Jazz Funk Greats by Throbbing Gristle.

If you’re not like me, you were probably paying attention to more popular music throughout the year 2012. Good news for you, then! Every year I compile a pop music quiz for you, the oh-so-smart CSI reader, eager to test your attention span for music (which, as the here-today-gone-tomorrow spotlight on Lana Del Rey taught us this year, is sometimes very short).

Sharpen your pencils and take the quiz here. Answers are at the bottom. And give yourself one extra point if you never made yourself look silly by doing the “Gangnam Style” dance in public.

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(Keyboard image via Shutterstock)