Born in the United States and raised in Paris by a French father and Chinese mother, Jessica Fichot is a multicultural chanteuse, singing in several languages and playing a worldly blend of pop, jazz and folk. Her latest album, “Dear Shanghai,” is a collection of 1940s Chinese jazz. Fichot and her band perform at the Cotati Accordion Festival, this Saturday, Aug 22 at 11:30am.
Now based in Los Angeles, Fichot spoke with City Sound Inertia about how she tunes into her musical heritage for an authentic, yet accessible, chanson sound.
City Sound Inertia: So Jessica, you grew up in Paris?
Jessica Fichot: “I was born in upstate New York, but I moved to France when I was two years old, all my memories of childhood are from France.”
CSI: What was your relationship to music like as a kid?
JF: “I played piano, but growing up, I didn’t really listen to music in French, it was considered lame to be listening to French music when I was a kid, so I listened to a lot of music from the United States; Tori Amos, Madonna.
It was only after I moved back to the United States and went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, that I re-discovered French music, because I wanted to so something different, try to find my identity. And of course France is very much a part of my identity.”
CSI: And how did you start playing the accordion?
JF: “After college, I moved to Los Angeles and I put a band together performing my own French songs. I sing mostly in French, recently a lot more in Chinese, and a lot of different languages. And when I put my band together I was looking for an accordion player, but I couldn’t find one, so I bought an accordion and just played the right hand. I just got more and more into it and, to be honest, I barely play the piano now.” (more…)
He’s got a baby face, but there’s nothing infantile about blues guitarist Jules Leyhe, except maybe his band name. Along with the Family Jules Band, Oakland’s own Leyhe is blazing a trail of true blues music in the vein of legends like Buddy Guy, who he has already shared stages with in his young career.
This summer, Leyhe released his latest album, “Juicebox.” The title track and album single has got a kickin’ rock and roll rhythm and funky organ under Leyhe’s stinging guitars and rowdy sing-along chorus. Named one of Guitar Player Magazine’s 12 Players of Christmas in 2014 as well as the Bay Area Blues Foundation’s All Stars in 2015, Leyhe is a sight to be seen and heard, and your next chance comes tonight, when he plays Silo’s in Napa. James Regan from the Deadlies opens the show.
Listen to “Juicebox” below.
Jules Leyhe & the Family Jules Band gets down and bluesy at Silo’s, 530 Main St, Napa. 7pm. 707.251.5833.
Award-winning Asheville, NC, bluegrass ensemble Steep Canyon Rangers is having another busy summer, touring the country with Steve Martin and finishing up touches on a new LP, Radio, due to be released in early September.
And for your listening pleasure, the band has released the music video for the album’s title track and first single. The nostalgic lyrics and melodic fiddles of “Radio” are presented in a video collage made up from intimate, on-the-road footage gathered from the band’s relentless touring life.
Earlier this year, I caught up with Steep Canyon Rangers banjo player Graham Sharp. You can read that interview here. And click below to hear “Radio.”
Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers perform on Thursday, Aug 20, at the Green Music Center, 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park. 866.955.6040.
The new self-titled album by Sonoma County duo HUGElarge is a blistering blend of classic songs done up with garage rock revivalism from two veteran Bay Area musicians. Guitarist and vocalist Robert Malta (Paw Paw Blowtorch / Bermuda Triangle Service) and drummer Matt Norelli (American Music Club) sound as fresh and eager as a couple of teenagers, pounding fuzzed-out riffs and grinding beats that fans of the Black Keys will swoon over.
Since forming in 2005, this stripped-down duo has kept it simple, utilizing vintage equipment and playing in Norelli’s garage for the pure joy of rock and roll. That joy is on display throughout the new record, and HUGElarge sound as big as advertised. It’s a raucous collection of classic proto-punk and glam rock gems, with tracks like T. Rex’s “Motivator” and ? & the Mysterians’ “96 Tears” inventively revisited and invigorating as ever.
Recorded by mix master Karl Derfler (Tom Waits, Roky Erickson) the album sounds amazing for two guys, a guitar and a cocktail drum. Coming soon as a special high-quality collector’s edition, this self-titled album is available next month though Hwy 61 Records and at local record stores. To give you a taste of the album, check out the video for the album’s only original track, the instrumental “D.O.G.”
Over the last year, the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma has risen from the ashes of a spotty concert history and is bringing a slew of exciting and immensely popular bands to the historic venue, courtesy of booker Jim Agius.
This last summer, the venue sold out for 90’s alternative act Neutral Milk Hotel, and in the last month, news of concerts from a variety of acts, like hardcore punks the Misfits and scene-shaking reggae band The Green, have further boosted the Phoenix’s standings in North Bay music purveyors.
Oberst first burst onto the national music scene as the wunderkind behind Omaha-based Bright Eyes. He has also played in hardcore acts like Desaparecidos and, since 2008, has produced several acclaimed albums under his own name.
M. Ward rose to prominence as a solo artist in the Portland, Oregon music scene at the turn of the century before teaming up with actress and vocalist Zooey Deschanel for the poppy indie duo She & Him. His alt-country styling and deep drawl make him an instantly recognizable voice.
Both Oberst and Ward are also part of the Monsters of Folk super group that’s been on-again-off-again since 2004 and also features Jim James from My Morning Jacket.
As if these two powerhouse performers were not enough, the Felice Brothers are opening the show, offering up a country-tinged rock that was born busking the subways of New York City.
Conor Oberst and M. Ward perform on Thursday, Oct 1, at The Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St, Petaluma. 8pm. $30. 707.762.3565.
Marin singer-songwriter Audrey Auld-Mezera died at her home in Stinson Beach after a battle with cancer on Sunday, August 9, surrounded by family and friends. She was 51. Auld was a beloved figure in the North Bay country music scene, a gifted lyricist and vocalist who was generous with her time and talents.
Born in Tasmania, Auld spent most of her music career living in Marin County, until she moved with her husband Mez Mezera to Nashville in 2007 to be a part of the music business there. Though she was never far from Marin, returning often to perform and visit with friends. Diagnosed with cancer last year, Auld returned to her “American home” as she called it to spend her final months in the North Bay.
In the wake of Auld’s passing, the community has praised her music and her character. On the KRSH’s weekly Monday night program ‘Evening Muse,’ host Robin Pressman spoke of Auld’s ” irrepressible and radiant” spirit; and she echoed those sentiments in an email to the Bohemian. “Audrey’s smile entered the room first, followed closely by her laughter, and then that sassy Aussie accent. And she used her joyous nature to help others,” said Pressman.
Auld built up an impressive resume of music over the course of 11 albums and three EP’s on her own Reckless Records label. Her last album, Hey Warden, especially highlights her authentic and generous personality. Released in November of 2014, the album was recorded with inmates at San Quentin Federal Prison, a passion project for the songwriter who had lead workshops and offered performances at the institution since 2006. Her ability to connect to others, no matter the circumstances, and to positively impact those around her will be remembered as fondly as her music.
Santa Rosa’s experimental noise rockers Secret Cat make some of the most head-spinning, mind-altering rock and roll music in the North Bay, taking cues from Zappa, early ‘Discord’ bands and dystopian robot romance novels. The band just wrapped recording their latest batch of garage rock with a twist, Smiling Songs, and released it online last week. Now, the cats are looking to take their tunes on the road with a tour, and they need your help.
The band, which consists of Ian Shoop(vocals, guitar), Melati Citrawireja(bass), Emile Rosewater(drums) and Charlie Davenport(guitar), have a Kickstarter page for the occasion; and though generous donations have already streamed in, there are several special rewards for anyone still looking to donate, from handmade art to photo studio sessions with Citrawireja and more.
For this tour, Secret Cat is also bringing a new visual element to the live show in the form of a live mask and puppet performance developed with the help of Quenby Dolgushkin, and the band is hoping to traverse the Pacific Northwest freaking out unsuspecting audiences along the way. Today is the last day to donate, so head over to their page now and click the button.
You can listen to Smiling Songs right here.
Remember way back in June and July, when the four remaining core members of the Grateful Dead played five concerts dubbed “Fare Thee Well” that were billed as “the original members’ last-ever performances together,” or something like that? Well, it took all of a month for three of the four to come back together once more for another round, this time under the moniker Dead & Company.
And this time, Bob Weir, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann are bringing along guitarist John Mayer, yea “Your Body is a Wonderland” John Mayer, to round out the crew. Only Phil Leash is sitting out the Company, to continue playing at Terrapin Crossroads as Phil & Friends.
Dead & Company have also already announced their first gig, performing on Halloween at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Not a bad debut, as the venue has been a popular spot for the Dead through the last five decades.Tickets for the concert go on sale to the general public on Friday, August 14.
According to a Billboard article, Weir says, “Those songs weren’t done with us.” Billboard also reports that Mayer has been jamming with “select members” of the Dead and learning Jerry’s parts of the songs since March, meaning this new incarnation has been in the works for awhile now. No telling if the $50 million payday all those “Fare Thee Well” shows generated was involved in the decisions as well, but fans online have already noticed a striking similarity in Dead & Company’s logo to that of another group of innovators.
Led by the tireless efforts of Santa Rosa’s Josh Windmiller, the North Bay Hootenanny has become a powerful proponent of live music in the North Bay, hosting gigs at small venues, farmers markets and recently throwing the wildly successful Railroad Square Music Festival in downtown Santa Rosa last June.
Now the Hootenanny is heading into the city to host a monthly residency of shows at Doc’s Lab in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. This Friday, Aug 7, Northern California singer-songwriter bandleader and creative speller Misisipi Mike headlines the Lab, showing off why he’s considered one of the best in the Bay area right now and laying down a Delta Blues inspired rock and roll with his new ensemble The Gilroy Tall Boys. Local favorites Frankie Boots & the County Line open the show.
Next Friday, Aug 14, the Hootenanny is back at it, with Windmiller’s own group of outlaws, the Crux topping the bill for a rollicking night of chain-rattling and boot-stomping. San Francisco’s own the Vivants start the show with their Southern brand of showmanship and swing.
Get ready to celebrate Halloween twice this year, as the classic horror punk band the Misfits are scheduled to make their way to the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma on Friday, November 20.
The show is sure to sell out, so you’ll want to grab tickets when they become available tomorrow, Aug 5, at 10am.
An eerie entity since their formation in 1977, the Misfits are known for their dark, raging live shows complete with handcrafted instruments, painted faces and intense visuals. Currently on their 2015 “Static Age Revisited” world tour, the band is celebrating their classic debut album Static Age, recorded in 1978 and released as singles and EPs, but unreleased in its entirety until 1997.
This year, the Misfits are playing Static Age all the way through on stage, as well as a full set of the band’s fiendishly frightening catalog of classic and current material. This year, the Misfits’ line up has gone generational as founding member Jerry Only (bass/vocals) is joined by his son Jerry Caiafa Jr on guitar and Eric “Chupacabra” Arce on drums.
Misfits play on Friday, November 20, at the Phoenix Theater, 201 Washington St, Petaluma. 8pm. $25. 707.762.3565. http://www.thephoenixtheater.com