Out In The Street

Posted by on May 11, 2010

A group of dudes play in the alley between Ting Hao and Russian River Brewing Co. today. While the Santa Rosa Street Performer Ordinance keeps progressing through committees with flying colors, some musicians just can’t wait for it to be made official.

What a Godawful New M.I.A. Song: "XXXO"

Posted by on May 10, 2010 2 Comments

It’s like she’s trying to have it both ways; i.e. epic political-allegory video with “shocking” visuals and a metaphor thought up by a junior high student and, also, this. Wasn’t it enough that she disregards the divide between genres? Does she also have to go out of her way to blatantly disregard the divide between underground and mainstream sensibilities? Because this shit is a cruddy autotuned Eurodance jack, and I have now never looked forward to an album less. “Born Free” was contrived but no one noticed it outside of the let’s-all-write-about-it video and hey! Wow! A Suicide sample! This, I hope, pulls the curtain back and shows that M.I.A. is now just playing the game like everyone else instead of making challenging, incredible, fucking vital music like the wonderful M.I.A. of old. Meaning the M.I.A. of six years ago. Could it really be all over? Is six years all it takes to drain someone of all their creativity? And they start singing about iPhones?

Ute Lemper: "I Was Never A Punk Person."

Posted by on May 8, 2010

In interviewing famed German chanteuse Ute Lemper for this week’s Bohemian column, I had to ask about her first group, the Panama Drive Band, pointing out to her that Wikipedia describes them as a “punk music group.”

In the continuing adventures of not trusting Wikipedia, Ute clarifies:

“It was not a punk band. It was just a jazz-rock band. I was never a punk person. The music of punk is not interesting to me, it’s horrible.”

Ha! So… what did the band sound like?

“It was a jazz-rock band when I was a teenager. We did good music, like Joan Armatrading, Chick Corea, the Brecker Brothers and all that. So it was good stuff.”

I love Ute Lemper for the 1988 recording Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill, the cassette of which came in a used Volkswagen bus I bought when I was 16. I played that thing over and over and over for an entire summertime. (The car also came with Master of Puppets; the two tapes complimented each other well, actually.) She knows her Weill and Brecht intimately, and interprets their music like no other.

Ute Lemper sings Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins this weekend with the Santa Rosa Symphony, and if you can get there at all, you won’t regret it. Short of funds? If you get there on Saturday afternoon for the Discovery Rehearsal at 2pm, it’s only $10, and you’ll get to see Lemper and the orchestra working out the kinks before opening night. Cool!

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Let's Guess the 2010 Outside Lands Lineup: Phoenix, My Morning Jacket, Furthur, Al Green, Social Distortion, The Strokes, Levon Helm, Bassnectar, Cat Power, more

Posted by on May 6, 2010 46 Comments

I just noticed that the Outside Lands Twitter page has been dropping hints all day about the lineup for the 2010 Outside Lands festival this year, running August 14-15 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

It’s essentially an early lineup announcement—the clues aren’t that hard. Let’s figure them out.

1. Louisville, KY: “Ranger Dave’s winter hibernation is now over.”

Obviously My Morning Jacket, who were inactive all this past winter. Plus, not too many other festival-type bands from Louisville.

2. Fort Collins, CO: “Ranger Dave will be serving white russians.”

I’m thinking this is Devotchka, from Colorado with a Russian name. Update: The clue for Fort Collins is actually “Ranger Dave loves feasting on big city burritos in the town where the rams roam.” Big City Burritos and the CSU Rams are in Fort Collins, and so is Pretty Lights.

3. Woodstock, NY: “Ranger Dave loves hanging in Woodstock, NY around midnight.”

It’s gotta be Levon Helm. He holds infamous “Midnight Rambles” at his studio in Woodstock, and his tour itinerary shows him playing in L.A. on Aug. 15.

4. Los Angeles, CA: “Ranger Dave used to be a robot.”

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. (Alex Ebert used to sing for Ima Robot.)

5. Fullerton, CA: “Ranger Dave loves his Southern California punk rock from Fullerton.”

You can’t say Fullerton punk rock without saying Social Distortion.

6. Montreal, Canada: “Ranger Dave is part Arab, part Jewish and a little French Canadian.”

Chromeo, without a doubt.

7. San Francisco, CA: “Ranger Dave worships this infamous Black Rock DJ.”

Bassnectar, I’m sure, who’s a staple at Burning Man in the Black Rock desert.

8. New Orleans, LA: “Ranger Dave digs brass bands from Treme.”

The television show or the actual neighborhood? Either way, it’s probably the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, since their tour itinerary puts them in Los Angeles on Aug. 18.

9. Versailles, France: “Ranger Dave is wondering what Glendale, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale have in common.”

Phoenix, which will make lots of people stoked.

10. Santa Cruz, CA: “Ranger Dave likes his grass from Santa Cruz via Vermont.”

Definitely the Devil Makes Three, a bluegrass trio from SC by way of Vermont.

So there you go. I think it’s interesting the festival is condensing down to just two days this year—not enough big-name headliners, possibly? Realize in years past they’ve had mainstream staples like Radiohead, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Black Eyed Peas and Dave Matthews, and this tiny trickle of a lineup seems meager, Billboard-wise. It’s just a trickle, though—it’s not to say they won’t bring out bigger names when they announce the full lineup June 1.

But everyone knows it’s the smaller-stage bands that really make this festival. I’m rooting for Superchunk, who only leave their hometown these days for large festivals. Everyone else besides me seems to want Faith No More.

Two-day tickets are on sale for $115, plus the usual service gouges, here. (“Sold Out,” which only means they’re temporarily off sale for a while. Golden Gate Park is huge, so don’t get too worked up about it.)

UPDATE: More clues just in!

11. Memphis, TN: “Ranger Dave is the reverend of love with single stem roses for the ladies.”

Easy—that’s Al Green.

12. Newmarket, Ontario: “Ranger Dave is in a Japanese fraternal order with Steve Guttenberg.”

That’s gotta be Tokyo Police Club. (Steve Guttenberg starred in the Police Academy movies.)

13. Niafunke, Mali: “Ranger Dave has to travel to Mali to find the blues.”

This could be any number of people, but it’s Vieux Farka Toure, Ali Farka Toure’s son, who lists the Outside Lands date on his website.

14. Warri, Nigeria: “Ranger Dave will then backpack to Nigeria on his way to Germany to cleanse his soul.”

Most likely Nneka, from Warri, whose mother is German.

15. Melbourne, Australia: “Ranger Dave raises dionaea muscipula with bad attitudes.”

That’s gotta be the Temper Trap.

Also, in early March, Kings of Leon sent out tour dates to fans that included Outside Lands. Whoops! So Kings of Leon is probably a safe bet—they have the date open on their tour itinerary. Weirdly, they’re going to be in San Diego, Irvine and Los Angeles in July, but they conspicuously aren’t playing Northern California. Most likely because Outside Lands has them for August.

UPDATE: Even more clues.

16. Los Angeles, CA: “Ranger Dave is getting frisky. He’s scared of the ghosts on the roof.”

There’s five zillion bands in L.A. and this clue is so vague, I can’t wager a guess.

17. New York City: “Ranger Dave has smuggled Ukrainian books through Staten Island.”

If this is not Gogol Bordello I will eat my hat.

18. New Orleans, LA: “Ranger Dave is floating on the other sea.”

??? Again, large field, bad aim. Galactic? Allen Toussaint? Zzzzzzz.

19. Kansas City, KS: “Ranger Dave is a fan of this French impressionist painter.”

Most likely Janelle Monae.

20.  “Ranger Dave is a friend of felines big and small.”

As Tall as Lions?

21. “Simon says Ranger Dave is cruising on the Pacific Coast Highway in West LA county.”

Hmm… “Pacific Coast Highway” is the current single by Hole?

Relix Magazine published a lineup including Black Star and the Gossip this week.

And another big whoops: Rolling Stone just leaked Furthur as a headliner.

UPDATE, JUNE 1: Well, that was fun. Here’s the official press-release lineup:

Kings of Leon (Sunday Headliners)
Furthur featuring Phil Lesh & Bob Weir (Saturday Headliners)
The Strokes
My Morning Jacket
Al Green
Social Distortion
Gogol Bordello
Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
The Levon Helm Band
Cat Power
Empire of the Sun
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
The Temper Trap
Pretty Lights
Janelle Monáe
Amos Lee
The Devil Makes Three
Tokyo Police Club
Beats Antique
Rebirth Brass Band
Wild Beasts
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub
The Budos Band
Garage A Trois feat. Stanton Moore, Marco Benevento, Skerik & Mike Dillon
Mayer Hawthorne & The County
Langhorne Slim
The Pimps of Joytime
People Under the Stairs
Electric Six
Vieux Farke Touré
The Soft Pack
The Whigs
Little Wings

“More acts will be announced soon,” says Mr. Press Release. Two-Day tickets go on sale June 2 at 10am PST and Single-Day tickets go on sale Sunday, June 6 at 10am PST via the Outside Lands site.

Your Guide to Roseland's 2010 Cinco de Mayo Party Tonight

Posted by on May 5, 2010 2 Comments

Anyone who’s anyone is gonna be in Roseland tonight for the excitement that’s the fifth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, and organizers have just announced the lineup. As in years past, there’s more traditional acts on the main stage, with a younger crowd expected around the small stage. Love is always in the air at Roseland’s big block party, and this year’s festival looks to continue the trend.

Here’s the lineup for the Main Stage. The 2010 La Reina is announced at 5:40, and note the two Duranguense bands. Synthesizers!

Here’s the lineup for the Second Stage. Mastah Mind and B-Smooth are followed by Nivel y Juanito, then DJ Rob Cervantes brings the heat.


1. The car show starts at 4:30. If you show up late, you’ll miss some amazing-looking rides. Bring a camera.

2. The lines for pupusas are always the longest, but you can get them any day of the year at Pupusas Salvadoreñas across from the Fairgrounds. Skip out and go hunting for food at the many smaller, family-run booths.

3. Like last year, hip-hop acts go on early. Seeing local Latino rappers on their home turf in front of a huge crowd is an amazing feeling of triumph. (My feature on Santa Rosa’s Latino hip-hop scene is here.) Don’t be late!

4. Why drive? The Bike Coalition is providing free bike parking this year, and Rosie the Trolley is making pick-ups from the Post Office on Sebastopol Road across from Cook, and from the FoodMaxx shopping center at Stony Point.

5. The guy at the taco truck on West Ave. & Sebastopol Rd. sells a crazy selection of CDs for $10. Last time I was there, I bought Phat Jams Vol. 503. That is not a typo—there really were 502 volumes of Phat Jams before mine, filled with filthy club tracks. Might be good to stick with the classics, like “Cruisin’ Baby,”  for the kids.

If you don’t wanna be among the throngs of people (it’s shoulder-t0-shoulder) and want to try a great new Yucatecan place, try El Rinconado Yucateco, so says me in this week’s Bohemian. Get the $6.95 panuchos and be in heaven. Plus, they’ll hold your baby while you eat if they’re not too busy.

(Rinconado Yucateco is way down Sebastopol Road near Community Bikes, a wonderful used bike resource which is still going strong. Read about them here. Last year they had a few crazy psych-metal shows; pretty awesome. Also, my friend Jamie tells me the family market next door sells pupusas on Friday evenings and Friday evenings only, and that they’re great.)

On the Stereo: "Your Hand Is Like Fire."

Posted by on May 3, 2010 2 Comments

Morrissey – Revelation: A pretty well-done bootleg floating around of B-sides from the Viva Hate / Kill Uncle / Your Arsenal sessions, i.e. the wizardry era of Moz. “Please Help the Cause Against Loneliness” is pure Morrissey. Bonus points for nailing the classic artwork style. I haven’t been feeling his last few albums.

Grouper – Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill: Liz Harris and I spent a couple summers together in the same circle of friends, usually involving swimming. Either at houses in the McDonald neighborhood or Doran Beach after lots of PBR. It took me a while to pick up her latest album. It’s gorgeous.

Byard Lancaster – Sounds of Liberation: Philadelphia avant jazz from 1972. The basslines really make it. Nothing comes out of Philadelphia without a solid bass line, even after Sun Ra moved there in 1970 and distorted the groove. The first 100 copies of this LP are handmade by Byard himself, now sold out. Regular versions here.

Terry Allen – Lubbock (On Everything): The renegade Texas stoner-country movement of the 1970s should have a modern equal, but it doesn’t. Allen here is incredible, singing about art, bennies, the FFA, jukeboxes, lost dreams and cocaine. Lloyd Maines all over that sucker. I’d love to see him at Studio E.

Alicia Keys – The Element of Freedom: The long, minute-and-a-half drum/piano outro to “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart” is such an exquisite moment and yet every radio station fades it. The whole record crept up on me after nearly barfing at the quasi-empowering intro. “I’m Ready” makes me walk sideways.

Boredoms – Rebore Vol. 3: Japanese noise rock gods remixed by DJ Krush with inconsistent results. Krush is the master at setting and then adhering to a mood, but there’s so many tributaries to Boredoms’ music that he gets distracted and skittish. That said, seeing this band live is a religious experience.

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor: “This is a song about the Louisiana Purchase,” he said, opening for No Age two years ago. I was overwhelmed with nine minutes of uncut ache and fury. Is that song on any album? I asked the singer. No, it’s a new one. Two years later, finally, “Four Score and Seven” sees the light of day.

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique: So, I guess this was in that Dear You / Pinkerton category of ‘slept on’ albums, or something? According to someone who wasn’t me or anyone I knew in 1989? Cause we played it to death. Those 33 1/3 books are hit and miss, but Dan Leroy did an outstanding job with this one.

Ron Carter – Uptown Conversation: The best moments in music are transcendental. I cannot explain how engrossing this record is to me. “Doom,” which closes the album, grabs you like a mugger in an alley and doesn’t let go for six minutes; it’s “Peace Piece” meets “Myself When I Am Real” with Carter sliding through oil.

This Heat – Live: It’s disappointing to draw a parallel to Throbbing Gristle only to later see Wikipedia beating you to the punch. Nevertheless. You still can’t dance to Throbbing Gristle. Dying to find this band’s studio albums; looking for recommendations between their debut and Deceit. Jockeying for latter.

Paten Locke – Super Ramen Rocketship: If, let’s say, you’re a new dad, who hasn’t quite yet found the right hip-hop song that expresses your feelings for your daughter. If, let’s say, you also favor triple-threat MCs/Producers/DJs who put those feelings in rhyme. If, let’s say, you discover “After You.” Then all is well.

John Lewis – The John Lewis Piano: The whole MJQ clan acquired this derisive “classically trained” tag that was hard to live down. That’s what happens when you release Blues on Bach. But you know what? Some guy beating the shit out of a piano still sounds like some guy beating the shit out of a piano.

RKL – It’s a Beautiful Feeling: Sir, are you by chance looking for a 7″ you had long ago? Have you been scouring the Earth for this hardcore gem, featuring a rapid-fire condemnation of meth addiction that you put on every mixtape you made in junior high? Sir, that record is two blocks away from your house, at a garage sale.

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Hopmonk Tavern to Open Second Location in Sonoma

Posted by on May 3, 2010

When we heard the rumors about this last December, it made perfect sense. Though speculation has run wild, we have it on good authority—Dean Biersch himself—that the former Gordon-Biersch partner who opened the Hopmonk Tavern to universal acclaim in Sebastopol has officially inked a deal for a second location in Sonoma.

“It’s 99-percent there,” he told us. “We’re hoping to make an announcement this week.”

Yes, Biersch confirmed, he is taking over the old Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack location at 691 Broadway—a building whose layout and outdoor patio makes it a perfect spot similar to his Sebastopol hotspot.

In addition to a restaurant and bar in Sonoma, live music will be a key component. Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack fought long and hard with the city for an amplified music permit, but something tells me that Biersch, a ten-year resident of the city, will be able to renew it smoothly. The first thing he’ll do, he says, is construct an eight-foot fence around the beer garden; after that, he imagines a hemisphere bandshell in the patio for outdoor concerts. “I’m looking into the acoustics of it,” he says.

Inside the restaurant, Biersch is passionate about reserving space for an acoustic room seating about 40-50 people, because “there’s so many singer-songwriter acts that we have to pass on at Hopmonk,” he explains, “that I think would be perfect for Sonoma.”

This is fantastic news for live-music fans in the city of Sonoma, who’ll soon be able to go to the Uptown Theatre in Napa for larger concerts in addition to the excellent small-club acts that a ‘Hopmonk East’ will surely bring. After recently parting ways with downtown Santa Rosa nightspot Chrome Lotus, Hopmonk booker Patrick Malone is looking forward to bringing his talents to Sonoma.  “I’ll definitely be helping out there,” he says.

Biersch is aiming for a Summer 2010 opening.

If You Had Another Chance

Posted by on May 2, 2010 One Comment

One of the semi-miraculous happenings around the local scene in the last year has been the unlikely reunion of the Invalids. I’m not talking about the band’s well-received show at last year’s Nostalgia Fest, or even their no-holds-barred warm-up the night before at Spencer-King, celestial as it undoubtedly felt. No, what’s miraculous is the Invalids are actually writing new songs—and great new songs, at that.

Those who showed up on Tupper Street yesterday afternoon with hopes of reliving the magic of “Wouldn’t Care If I Died” or “Sunday Afternoon” would have been let down. The Invalids attract an old gang of somewhat gracefully aging fans, and naturally, the old gang usually wants to hear the classics. But as they played a set of all-new material at the word-of-mouth show—not even one old song—I think everyone, one by one, agreed that the older stuff would have paled in currency.

It got me thinking about the steam train of hype surrounding the Pixies reunion, which wheezed to a disappointing rehash of playing Doolittle in its entirety; or the upcoming Pavement reunion, which looks like a rote victory lap while vacuuming dollar bills showering from the receding hairlines of the world. Hey, I can dish it and take it—I bought tickets. But I don’t feel any less played.

It reminds me of Josh Doan, whose new band Sapphire also played a few songs in the backyard yesterday. I realized that Josh has been making music for 17 years and has never put out an official album. Milkfat, Truant, Bottle Rocket, Tommy Gun, Boxcar and Hate Nevada were all good bands, I thought. “What you’ve gotta do,” I suggested, “is make a ‘Josh Doan’s Greatest Hits’ wrap-up featuring every band.” He was nonplussed. “In case you haven’t noticed,” he said, kindly, “I believe in moving forward. Not looking back.”

The Invalids are recording a new record in June. It’ll be their first album in 15 years.

Live Review: The Wedding Present at the Independent

Posted by on Apr 25, 2010

“This part almost sounds like the Cure.” “I love watching drummers.” “My friend flew here from Minnnesota to come to this show. It’s his 40th Birthday.” “The last time I came here, it was to see the MC5.”

These are things that may sound commonplace, except that they were spoken into my ear last night by Sari Bacilla. I know her name has been Sari Flowers for years now, but I can’t help it. Among the most unchanged people I know, she is still, to me, the girl from Sebastopol who works at the downtown gas station—even though she’s a mom from San Leandro who’s married and has a 14-year-old daughter.

I was unaware Sari loved the Wedding Present. She says she discovered Seamonsters first, then backpedaled to Bizarro, which the Wedding was Presenting in its entirety. She says Bizarro is the record that inspired her to buy a drum set and try to learn. She didn’t learn, or at least very well. Drums are hard.

Bizarro is the record my friend Dan and I would listen to late at night, drinking Robotussin. One night, when the excitement of “Brassneck” wore off, I traded it to Matt Carrillo for a beer and forgot about it. Until finding it on cassette a few years ago. Twenty years later. With a whole new meaning and sense.

Bizarro is a record about betrayal, about kiss-offs, about demanding to know what went wrong, and every third song or so ends with a long, extended three-chord guitar vamp. Sometimes I hear these vamps as illustrating the repetitive motion and slow passage of time in the aftermath of a breakup. Moreso lately, though, I hear them as a triumph of the narrator, the incessant music of a cathartic joyride out on the town while looking for new opportunities.

No vamp is as long or as joyful as the end of “Take Me,” and I defend its core of contentment by the next, and last, song on Bizarro: “Be Honest,” a short afterthought that isn’t burdened by complications. “If we’re really, really going to be honest,” sings Gedge, “we might as well be brief.” After the ten-minute opus prior, “Be Honest” is a succinct two minutes that smoothly ends the album.

Here’s the best part. Last night, during all these songs about betrayal and disloyalty, Sari kept leaning over and saying things in my ear. Things that sounded exactly like the old Sari, or rather the Sari she’s always been, which is the great and wonderful Sari. David Gedge stood on stage, pleading to know how people could change. I considered myself lucky to know a few who haven’t.

In News

Miranda Lambert to Headline Sonoma County Fair

Posted by on Apr 23, 2010

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.