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Extended Play: An Interview With Vijay Iyer

Posted by on Jun 7, 2012

This week’s Bohemian Arts Feature is on Vijay Iyer, the great jazz pianist who’s playing the Healdsburg Jazz Festival on June 10. Iyer and I spoke on the phone for about 45 minutes on a variety of subjects, from the challenges facing jazz as a whole to the phone conversations he used to have with Andrew Hill. Naturally, it couldn’t all fit into a 1,000-wd. piece, which is a shame considering Iyer’s very smart, articulate answers. Here are selections from our interview that didn’t make the print paper. (more…)

Live Review: Cass McCombs at the Great American Music Hall

Posted by on Jun 1, 2012

Photo by Jacques Law

The Lite-Brite style projections on the stage may have held promise of an appearance by the more upbeat Cass McCombs, but when the folk-rock artist took the stage at the Great American Music Hall on May 25, greeting the crowd with a quick, “How ya doin? Ya all right?” (one of the only exchanges with the audience made for the entire night), he launched into a series of semi-morose, jammy songs backed up by his band and an acoustic guitar.

To be honest, the first part of the set made me flashback to one, should-be-lost-to-history summer spent listening to Blues for Allah on the rickety porch of my friend’s compound out in the woods of West County. I spent a large bit of 2011 listening to McCombs’ Humor Risk and Wit’s End, and I never once made the Grateful Dead Blues for Allah connection until seeing the songs performed live. Don’t know if this is McCombs’ normal incarnation, but the sound was definitely there, and vocally he even had a Jerry Garcia thing going on, at times. Roll away the dew, indeed.

It wasn’t until about halfway through the set, when the shaggy-haired singer put down the acoustic guitar in favor of an electric that the energy really picked up, though the extended, repetitive-jam element remained. If anything, McCombs’ Northern California roots definitely showed through in this performance, with a sound that would have fit right into the 70s-era Fillmore.

Interview: Rama Covarrubias of Freeradicals Projekt

Posted by on May 30, 2012 One Comment

Already much-buzzed about in their native Maui, the Freeradicals Projekt are (now) a septet who seamlessly blend funk, soul, reggae, and hip-hop into a potent blend of ass-shaking, feel-good musical gooeyness. A huge reason the group’s fusion actually works is the inter-playing swagger of its co-vocalists, MC Francisco Perez and charismatic soul singer Shea Derrick – whose pipes and charisma alone could buoy the band’s shows. As their tour hits the mainland (they play Mill Valley’s Sweetwater this Friday, followed by shows in SF and Santa Cruz), we caught up with guitarist/band leader Ramas Cavarrubias to learn the benefits of making music in an idyllic bubble. (more…)

In News

2012 Summertime Outdoor Free Concerts in Sonoma County

Posted by on May 28, 2012

Someone recently wrote to us asking if we could compile a list of the free summertime concerts put on by cities around Sonoma County. I’ve had to dig to find these lists on various city websites in the past, so here’s a handy guide for free outdoor community concerts in Sonoma County for summertime 2012. (Note: We’ll add to this list as more schedules are finalized. Also, this does not include every single outdoor free concert; only those put on by cities.) (more…)

Church: Santa Rosa’s Thoroughly Modern Marching Band

Posted by on May 18, 2012 One Comment

I first time came across Church after stumbling out of Stark’s Happy Hour with a couple of friends. Down the street they came, skipping past Western Farm Center and hanging a right into Railroad Square. It was a motley crew, held together by a few lopsided grins, an accordion (played by Kalei Yamanhoha from the Crux), clarinet, a couple of saxophones, snare drums, trombones and a big, ole’ sousaphone. They looked like a bunch of wily mutineers, the Goonies of marching bands, and as we grinned and walked towards the railroad tracks, with Church behind us on the street, we claimed them for a moment as our own personal soundtrack. As they rounded the corner onto Sixth street and headed up into the West End neighborhood, I texted my husband and said, “Look out the window, a marching band is about to pass by!” For a second, everything felt shiny and good in the world.

The next time, I literally ran (or biked) into Church while navigating through dumb Santa Rosa Plaza to get into downtown. As I approached Macy’s, the glass entrance doors burst open, and Kalei the accordionist, came barreling out, still playing his accordion, followed by a tumult of ragtag marching band hooligans, all laughing and breathless—and probably being chased by an humorless department store security guard who didn’t appreciate the charm of being serenaded in the shoe department with off-kilter Russian folk songs. The best part… Church played the theme from “Cops” on the way out the doors.

That’s the great thing about Church: you never know when they’ll perform. The last time I saw them, they were playing guerilla-style at the Tour of California “Lifestyle Festival.” They were making bank in tips, I’m sure without a permit, and I thought, “Ah, now this is a lifestyle I can get behind.” Hopefully, next time I see Church they’ll be playing the shit out of a Ratatat song on the top of Hugh Codding’s tribute arch until the damn thing rumbles down…

Here’s what they say about themselves on their Facebook page: “One rainy night the idea was formed to create a marching band of friends. Why not? Everyone we know plays music, so why not get everyone together for it? We practice hard, perform harder, and create a redonc party everywhere we go.”

And here’s the official 12 -piece line up: Jesse Shantor (Sousaphone), Gaven Hayden-Town (Baritone Saxophone), Ben Weiner (Drums), Ricky Lomeli (Drums), Zak Garn (Drums), Joey Lynch (Drums), Travis Hendrix (Clarinet), Annie Cilley (Alto Saxophone), Adam Lessnau (Trombone), Jeremy Lessnau (Melophone/Trumpet), Josh Jackson (Trumpet), Kalei Yamanoha (Accordion)

While spontaneous, surprise Church sightings are the most fun, you can see them in a more “official” capacity when they play the Arlene Francis Center on Friday, May 25. The show is a benefit to send the West County-based marching band Hubbub Club, along with Church, to this year’s HONK! festwest.

 

 

 

 

In News

The Brothers Comatose Will Get Naked For You

Posted by on May 17, 2012

The Brothers Comatose are playing their CD release show this Saturday, May 19, at the Great American Music Hall, and boy, do they want you to be there.

For every 50 tickets sold pre-sale to the show, band members are taking off an article of clothing and posting the photos on their site. Think of it as a type of strip poker, with convenience fees. So far, they’re up to 203 tickets, which means the photos are still pretty PG-rated.

Does any wealthy benefactor want to buy all the remaining tickets so we can finally see Gio Benedetti buck naked? (Dear Warren Buffett, buy tickets here.)

Here’s hoping the 2010 NorBay winners are successful in their campaign, and below, see the video for “The Scout,” a song about staying young, from the BroCo’s new album, Respect the Van. (Considering our recent question about why there aren’t very many bike songs in the world, we should note it contains the line “We’ll ride our bikes all over this town / There ain’t no freedom like two wheels on the ground.” Sweet!)

In News

Poker Face: Up-coming 2014 concerts in Las Vegas

Posted by on May 17, 2012

The American gambling city of Las Vegas is known for its many casinos that stretch out across the city. While many people come to Las Vegas to partake in the gambling, they also come for many other reasons as well, one of these is for the music performances. Vegas attract many performers covering a wide range of music genes. Some of these performers have long standing engagement at some casino venues while others may only make brief performances – 2014 looks to be an ideal year for catching a concert while in Las Vegas.

Many venues in the city feature artists from the past – these retro artists are very popular to today’s adults that wish to relive a little nostalgia, with KISS having just announced a residency. Some performers scheduled to appear this year in Las Vegas include Journey, The Steve Miller Band, Kenny Loggins, Ted Nugget, Boston and Air Supply. If retro music isn’t your thing, there are more current performers scheduled to appear here. One of the biggest music events will be Lady Gaga’s concert this summer, she is scheduled to appear at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Lady Gaga’s concert this summer but only appearing one night, Vegas is one stop on her Artpop Ball Tour.

Not only are concerts popular events in Vegas, travellers to the city can engage in other activities. The city is of course full of casinos which make excellent places to visit at night. If you’re new to gambling however, it might be a good idea to try out games for free at http://www.gamingclub.com/au before blowing all your funds. While offering casino gambling, the casinos also have nightclubs and bars; some of the nightclubs are rather trendy and have excellent music. The Vegas Strip features numerous casinos within close proximity to one another. Many are next to each other which make it easy to walk the Strip at night visiting multiple casinos venues. Many refer to this as casino hopping which is similar to the concept of bar hopping.

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The Rum Diary Reunion: What Do You Want to Hear?

Posted by on May 16, 2012 4 Comments

The Cotati Sound Machine is back! Well, for one show, at least.

As announced today, the very great Rum Diary are playing this year’s C.A.M.P. Festival in Guerneville, which is this weird-ass type of hippie-indie-spiritual-DIY-new-age-yoga-craft-rock campout amid the redwoods lining the Russian River, outdoors under the stars. In other words, the absolute perfect place for the Rum Diary, who broke up in 2007, to reunite.

What songs do you want to hear? Why not go to this handy survey they’ve created and vote? (I’m currently Googling “Survey Monkey hack” and voting for “Greasers Win” 1,000 times.)

Here’s the funny thing: “Reunion” is a bit of a misnomer, because the lineup features the same exact members of Shuteye Unison—the band that’s still playing every month. Plans were initially made for original Rum Diary drummer Joe Ryckebosch to make it down from Portland, but now it looks like that won’t happen. But Shuteye’s Jake Krohn played briefly in the Rum Diary after Joe left, and “Shuteye Unison to me is basically the same band with a different drummer,” says Daniel McKenzie. “People just want to hear the old songs, you know?”

McKenzie also notes that at C.A.M.P., “the ‘vibe’ is pretty out there at times.” When C.A.M.P. originated last year, we at the Bohemian had no idea how it was going to turn out. A bunch of people from Oakland getting high on the old J’s Amusements site? A mix of bands from Sonoma County, Oakland and Portland? A harmonic convergence to the great savior music?

Alas, watch the video below to get an idea. Tickets are on sale now.

Important PSA: The Wall Still Stands

Posted by on May 12, 2012 One Comment

Roger Waters performs The Wall, by Pink Floyd, at AT&T Park May 11, 2012.

Walking at a hurried pace along Herb Caen Way (I prefer this name over The Embarcadero), it was evident we were walking to a concert. An unusually large cluster of people walked under the Bay Bridge, mixed fashions and eras brought together under a wispy net of marijuana smoke (on the street!). The final clue was a salesman four blocks from the venue with bootleg tour shirts: Roger Waters, The Wall 2012.

In line at the ballpark at 3rd and King Streets last night, one of the first people to approach us was a man in his late 30s asking to buy a cigarette. “You can just have one, man,” said Clint as he reached for a smoke. “We don’t smoke – we quit,” the man replied hastily. He was doing something naughty because this was a party, a Pink Floyd concert. Is ever there were a time to break the rules, it was tonight.

It’s cute when adults in button down shirts and V-neck sweaters break the rules. My cohorts were young enough to make me feel like that adult, so I wisely chose a T-shirt and jeans for the evening.

We were offered pot several times, and it seemed almost like it was legal. The McGyver smokers did everything they could to avoid detection: roll a joint, hollow out a cigarette, refill it and tear off the filter, cigarette-esque smoking devices, edibles. A usual assortment or sneekery seemed unnecessary, but the adults were having fun, and half the fun is trying not to get caught.

The show started late, despite the “8:15 prompt” time on the ticket. It’s tough to start the show when only half the seats are filled, and $9 beers don’t sell themselves. We were seated for about 10 minutes when the lights went dark and a plane literally flew in over the first base side of the park and crashed into the wall on the stage in the outfield. The 5.1 surround sound made this epic, and I can only imagine what the really naughty adults were going through hearing this plane flying around their heads.

The wall on either side of the musicians was a video projection wall, with images and live camera shots of Roger Waters for us in the cheap seats to see. The effects were awesome, as expected. The mood was heavy, with names and pictures of soldiers killed in the current wars were put up on the wall and the big circular screen above the stage.

The sound wasn’t really dialed in until the second half, when the bass was turned up to match the screaming guitar and vocals. That would have been nice to hear before “Another Brick in the Wall,” with Waters slappin’ da bass. The drums sounded amazing the whole time, though it wasn’t Nick Mason playing them. The show really was Roger Waters plays The Wall, with a really good Pink Floyd cover band backing him.

Waters was self-admittedly narcissistic in his performance. At one point, he played along to himself, harmonizing with Roger Waters from 30 years ago superimposed on the screen behind him. He used the word “narcissistic,” and was totally cool with it because, you know what? He’s Roger Fucking Waters. That’s why.

The wall was literally built up, piece by piece, blocking out the band behind it by the end of the first half. After intermission and a 30-minute bathroom line, Comfortably Numb blew me away. The screaming guitar solo from the top of The Wall, with Waters at the bottom harmonizing on vocals and running the length of the stage under the spotlight. This was the apex of the show, a good way to start the second half after, presumably, many fans reloaded their, ahem, psychedelic infusions.

“Dirty Woman” was really, really dirty. Projections of topless women dancing on The Wall were really hot, and that’s a really hot song even without visuals. Luckily there weren’t too many youngsters in the crowd.

The inflatable capitalist pig, which would have been an Occupier’s wet dream to see in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, was dragged through the lawn crowd, partially popped by enthusiastic revelers, and “danced” in the air with a wounded leg for the second half of the show.

At the end, The Wall was toppled, bricks of the projection screen falling forward onto the stage amid screams and chants of “Tear Down The Wall!” Waters and the band returned for a curtain call and well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd at AT&T Park.

The show was as relevant as ever, I can only imagine what it would have been like to see it 30 years ago. It’s good to know a younger generation still feels the same fire and skepticism Pink Floyd was warning us about from across the pond when my parents were my age. Hopefully the message will live on even beyond the band.


Sorry about the poor audio.

Trebuchet: Your New Favorite Band

Posted by on May 11, 2012
Trebuchet at Bototm of the Hill, SF, 5-10-12

Trebuchet plays album release show at the Bottom of the Hill

From the first inhale of Trebuchet’s self-titled debut record, I’m hooked. The ukulele like lapping waves of a tropical shore; the surf lead guitar the birds lazily riding the swells. A breath—giving pause, the moment that will make or break the entire album. Sweet voices coalesce in harmonic bliss, one as strong as the next, none overshadowing another. The wave does not crash, it pushes onto the shore, allowing warm salt water to kiss my toes and leave me wanting more.

The six-song, vinyl-only release (it’s also available digitally) was christened with a show at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill last night, with friends and family accompanying on stage and in the audience. Whether by blood or by feeling, all four bands playing on the evening’s bill were related, and the feeling in the audience was that of an unexpected family reunion.

Survival Guide opened the show, who I unfortunately arrived too late to see. You Are Plural introduced a new twist to the duo of Wurlitzer and cello: drums. The percussion filled in some spaces, but since most songs were written without drums, it felt forced at times. But the harmonies and interesting time signatures kept the set flowing and piqued interest throughout the set. The New Trust brought a powerful rock sound to the stage next, Josh Staples’ thundering bass lines commanding attention from even the smoking crowd in the atrium.

I was lucky to see Trebuchet’s first-ever performance, at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa, last year. The band impressed the hell out of everyone that night, in part because three of the four members are known for intense, instrumental post rock in the band Not To Reason Why. This was as far from the expected as possible while still loosely relatable to the same genre.

Last night, Trebuchet sounded polished, like a beautiful piece of obsidian after hundreds of years in a river bed. That igneous black rock born of violent eruptions from the Earth’s core, sharpened and used as arrowheads and spear tips, left alone under running water matures into a polished, beautiful stone. I walk toward the sea, wading in up to my hips. The warmth and gentle swaying covers the impending danger of being too far from shore, too far from home. This is the best kind of escape.

Band: Trebuchet

Album: Trebuchet

Style: Relaxed, Americana instrumentation, four-part vocal harmonies, extremely musical songs, listenable without being boring, beautiful, interesting without being obscure

Comparisons: Sufjan Stevens, Decemberists, what other Portland bands wish they could sound like

Rating: 4.5/5 (Just because the record is only six songs!)

Trebuchet’s debut record is available at www.trebuchetmusic.com.