Showing posts with label festivals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festivals. Show all posts

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Outside Lands Fest Day 3 highlights: Italians, Africans, Bluegrass, and STEVIE WONDER

Stevie with one of his insanely hot backup singers.

Another year, another Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park. I (happily, these things are tiring) didn't get there all three days, but was surprised with a VIP ticket to Sunday, which was the BEST day to be there. Two words: STEVIE WONDER.

But first things first. We got there early to see this Italian dude Jovanotti, who was SUPER fun. His fabulously hooky song "Tutto L'Amore Che Ho" was featured on the festival's site and I just had to  see what his deal was.


Turns out this guy can rock a crowd, hard. His energy was infectious, reminding me of Manu Chao, like this video...



Toward the end Jovanotti popped down into the crowd (which was WAY smaller than what he usually plays for in Europe, I'm sure) and sang to us. Not bad for high noon.  I enjoyed seeing the sort of folks who knew who he was, and would get to the festival so early to see him.



"We usually play for three hours" Jovanotti said in the cutest Italian accent, "So we're trying to give you the highlights in forty minutes!


After some fried pickes from the Fabulous Frickle Brothers, we came across Dr. Flotsam's Hell Brew Revue, returning bigger and better than last year. "It's an extraordinary setup, envisioned and handmade by an artist named Mike Shine and his posse of Carny Bastards to evoke a family carnival ambience." (SFWeelkly blog)


And guess who was playing? The Brother's Comatose (a fabulous local bluegrass band)! And I later found out that's where The California Honeydrops and Tumbleweed Wanderers had been playing all weekend, to pretty large crows! I'm glad that local bands got to play for the throngs in such a fun and quirky spot.


Then we caught some of Caveman's brooding set, who I became familiar with after NPR featured them on one of their Tiny Desk Concerts. I love that their guitars are made by one of the band members and I love that dude's outfit. (Yes, I had some fun with the color saturation.)



And then it was onto Amadou & Mariam. The other highlight of the day for me. I've been wanting to see this Malian couple perform live since I first heard about them in grad school. My afropop ensemble covered a couple of their tunes (with varying success, this music is complicated!) And they did not disappoint! 

A totally oversaturated photo of Amadou y Mariam. With those colors I couldn't resist 



And then it was onto Mr. Stevie Wonder. HOLY SHIT. It was all I could have wanted. I mean the dude walked out onto stage with a freaking KEYTAR. He played all the hits, even the corny ones. That's OK Stevie, we'll let that go, because you can do whatever you want. Really WHATEVER you want. You're Stevie Wonder.


He really did whatever he wanted. It was pretty obvious that the band was pretty used to Stevie changing the order of the setlist, calling out keys and songs, and teaching them (Beatles) songs on the fly. Everyone was having a ball.

Aisha Morris, Stevie's daughter is second from the right.
I was particularly mesmerized (as I often am) by his backup singers. Not only were they too hot for words, but Aisha Morris, STEVIE'S DAUGHTER, is one of them. 

I heard that Metallica (who played the night before) was really fun, but I'll catch them next time. Two more artists checked off the bucket list: Stevie and Amadou & Mariam. w00t!

This is a cool photo of the Wine Land's tent. It's just purdy.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cool Bay Area Event: The International Body Music Festival

What is Body Music? Well, it's just that, any sort of sound that you can make with your body: stomping, singing, patting, clapping, tapping and more. If you check out the one-of-a-kind International Body Music Festival next week, you will be astounded at the countless ways performers from around the world find to make music with their bodies.

From November 1st to 6th, the International Body Music Festival presents events all over the Bay Area from performances and workshops to lecture-demonstrations and in-school programs. Performers participating in the festival come from the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, Canary Islands, Greece and Canada.

The Body Music Festival is a great event to get the whole family out to!

Click here to read more about performers to look out for

Check out this awesome footage from previous Body Music Festivals!


Monday, October 3, 2011

My humble solution of what to do about San Francisco's overcrowded Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

Some lovely folks I met coming back from the loo

Warren Hellman and the organizers of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival have a chance to make the gathering even more meaningful. At some point safety regulators will notice that the gathering has gotten far too crowded; how will they solve this problem? My humble solution is to require inexpensive tickets for entry, and donate the proceeds to local charities.

Hardly Strictly is one of those many events that makes me so lucky and proud to live in the Bay Area, and be a resident of San Francisco in particular. As a music lover, the idea of seeing (or more like only hearing because you can’t get too close to the stage) Emmylou Harris, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ralph Stanley, Bela Fleck, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, and Gillian Welch in two days free of charge is absolutely insane. I thank Mr. Hellman for an awesome birthday party every year and applaud his love and passion for good music.

TO READ MORE OF MY ARTICLE CLICK HERE

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fitz & the Tantrums: Waterloo Records parking lot, March 16th, SXSW, Austin, Texas

Fitz! Fitz! Fitz!

Finally I got to see Fitz & the Tantrums live! I'm also happy to say that I also converted two of my friends over as well who had not heard of them. I, myself, was converted after Amber Gregory's excitement of their Bay Area shows last year. So after finding rockstar parking, we slid over to the Waterloo Records parking lot (they no longer have SXSW shows in the store, which is good news for everyone) and were treated to the funky sounds of Los Angeles based Fitz & the Tantrums.

We found front duo Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs outside Amy's Ice Cream around the corner and had a quick chat, they were as nice as can be. The fangirl in me waited in line to get them to sign my newly purchased copy of their first album Pickin' Up the Pieces.

The music is a sort of reinvention of soul music. It's modern, yet very much firmly based in Motown and STAX. Fitz has no guitar (score!) and instead has a baritone saxophone (double score!) played by Jamie King. The music is fun, but definitely has a certain edge to it, and a good amount of passion and anger. And that's what I think drives it. The performance is super tight and groove-worthy. The vocal combination of Fitzpatrick and Scaggs is perfect. And although Fitzpatrick has a great voice that suits the music wonderfully, I wish Scaggs would get to sing more lead. But, really, that's my only complaint.

I don't know the history of each of these musicians, but these guys are seasoned professionals that know their stuff. Bassist Ethan Phillips and drummer John Wicks lay down tight, funky grooves and keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna has chosen the perfect keyboard tones for each song that gives each song a specific personality of sorts.

The song "Dear Mr. President" pleads with (I assume) Mr. Obama, "Hey put your foot down, and take a look 'round, if you don't like what you see." Say it. Hallelujah. And songs like the fabulously catchy "Money Grabber" (see the video below) and "Rich Girls" suggest that Fitzpatrick might have had some specific troubles mixing money and women. I'm really enjoying the dark "News 4 U" with a chorus of call and response between Fitzpatrick and Scaggs that gets in your head.

Photos by Jamie Freedman

I took video (including a cool cover of Sade's "Sweet Dreams"), but the amplification was too much for the little flipcam, so I give you their performance on Conan, the late night talk show host with the best taste in music.

Monday, March 14, 2011

South by Southwest here I come! And I'm hosting a Bay Area bands house show

This afternoon I leave for Austin for a week. I AM VERY EXCITED. I see that it's going to be over 80 for the next few days, so not only do I get to enjoy the craziness of South by Southwest, there will be fun Texas-y things to do like hanging out in Barton Springs and maybe even toobing on one of the rivers down south.

This will be my 5th time at the festival, and I *think* I've gotten a the hang of it by now. It helps that I can work from wherever there is internet and I have friends who still live there to stay with. It also helps that I know where all the good taco stands are.

I'm also very excited to be hosting my very first house show on Thursday the 14th with Bay Area bands The Family Crest, Dina Maccabee and Foxtails Brigade! It looks like we're going to have a full house! (Let me know if you're in town and you'd like to come) It's been such a pleasure working with my friends to put this together, and house shows are a really wonderful, intimate way to hear music. I think it will be especially excellent after dealing with the street crowds downtown all week.

My general SXSW advice:
  1. wear comfy shoes
  2. drinks lots of water
  3. don't worry too much about sticking to your schedule of bands to see. Even if you have a badge or wristband or whatever (and you don't really need one by the way, there's so much free stuff going on): shows are full, places are further away than you think, you might want to stay for the next band or you might find that there's a glorious sound coming from that tent over there! FOLLOW YOUR EARS! You never know what might come your way, and that's the whole point of this festival, to discover new things.
And of course I have to tell you who I am most looking forward to seeing:

The Bees:
I have been a fan of the Bees since discovering them randomly on a sampler CD I picked up at a Radiohead concert in 2003. They don't tour to the US very often so I will not be missing this one, even though they are playing at 1 in the morning. They have an 1960s thing going on: garage rock with a psychedelic, folky vibe:



Schmillion:
These ladies are Girls Rock Camp alums, so of course I'm excited about them. They were recently featured on a cnn blog. Woa! They are still in high school and embody what camp is all about. AND, they are sharing the stage of the Girls Rock Camp showcase with the Bangles. Not too shabby.



The Hello Strangers:
My friend and former classmate Larissa Chace Smith and sister Brechyn, whom I've written about before, will be in town from central Pennsylvania! Think Neko Case times two! I love the vocal harmonies. Their music tells the stories of women caught in bad relationships who might take matters into their own hands every now and again. I've not gotten to see them live yet, but love their recordings.



The Defibulators:
Erin B. is the younger sister of Eli, who is my pianist when I sing in Los Angeles. Eli and my brother played music together in junior high. The Defibulators throw a raucous party of what I'm gonna call country-punk. I've been getting to know their music over the years and it keeps changing. The new album "Corn Money" has a fun combination of honky-tonk tunes and 1930s-type ballads.

Defibulators "Corn Money" from Possum Den Productions on Vimeo.

I have a new smart phone so I will be trying out live blogging with it. Stay tuned!

And, of course, I will be eating lots of tacos.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Navigating the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and a couple band recommendations


Carolyn Wonderland

Every time I look at the line-up of this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, I notice another ridiculously awesome name buried in the mix: Patti Smith! Joan Baez! Sharon Jones! Elvis Costello! David Grisman! Trombone Shorty! Gillian Welsh! Ralph Stanley! The Indigo Girls! Conor Oberst! MC Hammer (had to mention)! The list just keeps going and going.

And what? Hardly Strictly is free??? Are you serious?? (Sorry, it's free every year, this 10-year anniversary line-up is just sort of blowing my mind.)

You know what that means: throngs and throngs of people descending on Golden Gate Park. How does one navigate this experience without getting totally frustrated? Golden Gate is not the easiest to get around for masses of people.

My advice: Don’t get overly ambitious about seeing every act you’re excited about. There’s just too much and it's too spread out. Pick one, maybe two a day, and just go with the flow. You’ll end up seeing something amazing that you weren’t expecting. Find a spot and stick with it. The line-up is full of so many amazing musicians that you’re going to see something good, I promise.

READ MORE ABOUT MY PICKS: Carolyn Wonderland, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the California Honeydrops (suddenly I want candy)!

the Carolina Chocolate Drops

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My picks for the SFJAZZ Fest 2010 Fall Season

Check out my picks for the SFJAZZ 2010 Fall season, my favorite "festival" in the Bay Area, including:
- Nellie McKay - a tribute to Doris Day
- Olodum
- Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabaté and Vieux Farka Touré - tribute to Ali Farka Touré
- Meklit Hadero
- Lila Downs
- Slavic Soul Party!

Friday, February 19, 2010

My picks for the SFJAZZ 2010 Season

The SFJAZZ fest is one of the most reliably exciting festivals I've come across in this country. The variety of talent that comes to the Bay Area from across the Bay and across the globe is astounding. When I first picked up the brochure for the 2010 Spring Season, my jaw dropped: Joshua Redman, Bobby McFerrin, Keith Jarrett, Dianne Reeves, Ladysmith Black Mambazo... the list just goes on and on.

There are festivals like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival where the word "jazz" seems like it's either a guide for picking music or a remnant of another era. SFJAZZ is both. I would say that music in the jazz idiom is in the majority of SFJAZZ performances, but the idea of "jazz" has been stretched to include R&B, Afropop, Fado, Samba and singer-songwriters.

As a lover of international music, innovative musical fusions and straight up good musicality, I wanted to shine my humble spotlight on some of the 2010 SJFAZZ Spring Season's acts that might be a little more obscure and/or interesting.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE: my picks include Malian Tinariwen and Salif Keita, South African Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Singer/Songwriter Raul Midon, Saxophonists Joshua Redman and Pharoah Sanders and Kurt Elling and the Basie Band.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Electronic music everywhere, all the time: Burning Man 101

Opulent Temple at Burning Man (photo probably from last year)

The question on the tip of my tongue as I decompress from my first Burning Man experience:

Just because Burning Man is very much based in rave culture, why do all 45 thousand attendees have to settle for electronic music reigning supreme? You’d think that a bunch of creative people in the middle of the desert could get it together enough to make their own music with actual instruments!

What I learned about electronic music from my first Burning Man experience:

READ MORE OF MY ARTICLE HERE

Duck Pond DJ Jan Sobel photo by Robin Guido

Duck Pond DJ Kok Chong Photo by Robin Guido

There are more photos on the way, don't worry. I brought my old 35mm point and click camera (there was no way I was bringing the digital), so I'm getting the photos developed today. I'll post them here. Don't get too excited though, I was having far too much fun to document everything.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I can now die a happy woman, I've seen Tenacious D perform live

Jack Black whoops the devil's ass in a rock off - "I did not mean to blow your mind"

Seven years ago I got a job selling tickets for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. The Fringe has been considered the largest performing arts festival in the world. One of the acts, Tenacious D, had been scheduled, and canceled, even before I started working there. But the act was still listed in the program along with the other several hundred shows we were selling tickets for. Tenacious D was on our short "canceled" list.

For 6 weeks I sold thousands of tickets to people from all over the world who waited in line for hours to get them. I distinctly remember the faces of those few that had not heard that the Tenacious D show had canceled. There weren't many, but their sadness remains with me. They were so disappointed, so I became curious.

As The D gained popularity, I learned to understand why these fans had been so disappointed. Jack Black and Kyle Glass are: THE GREATEST BAND IN THE WORLD.

And they have rocked my socks off tonight. What an awesome show.

I was pretty lukewarm about the whole Outside Lands Festival this year. I got a press pass at the last minute and am in between a trip to New York and my first Burning Man experience. I wanted to pace myself. Friday's highlight was seeing Tom Jones, who was downright entertaining. I saw a few other bands, but nothing really worth mentioning.

But then Sunday night came. Tenacious D stepped in a few weeks before the festival after the Beastie Boys canceled their summer tour due to MCA's (Adam Yauch) cancer surgery. I was delighted to hear this marvelous news (other people were not happy, including M.I.A - she didn't realize that the Beastie Boys had canceled and was mouthing off on twitter about it. I'm sorry for you). I would finally be able to experience what I had been wondering about since 2002.

I love musical comedy shows. The Flight of the Conchords show I saw a couple months ago was one of the best shows I've seen this year. One of the things I like so much about these kinds of acts is that the musicianship is topnotch. Kyle Glass is an excellent guitar player. Jack Black has a fabulous, versatile and expressive rock voice.

And what about the musical jokes? Like Kyle playing a solo that ends with him climbing up the scale to sit on the leading tone for what seemed like forever before resolving to the tonic. I'm a music dork, and you know what? That made me laugh.

Tenacious D is lewd, raunchy, foul-mouthed and ridiculous. And I loved every minute of their show.

Jack announced that yesterday was his 40th birthday and that he had never felt better since he had been doing so much yoga. He got down on the ground and did a couple (cock?) push-ups for us. And then announced that he had been practicing "flick flacks." So he cartwheeled off the stage and then flipped back on stage a couple times ending in a hand stand. (Hopefully SOMEONE got that on video!)

What is going on here??

Kyle got pissed at Jack and forced him to bring out the stunt double. Jack yelled at him for ruining the act and Kyle stormed off the stage. So Jack sang "Friendship" and brought him back. They made up. Aw.

What about the robot "Heavy Metal" coming out on stage and doing a choreographed dance with the D? (Pictured below) or a "rock off" with the devil??

So here is a little photo essay. Yes these pictures suck, but I wasn't standing close enough to the stage to get anything worthwhile, so I went nuts taking photos of the giant digital screen. Enjoy.

Mr. Kyle Glass

Where does one get a guitar like this?

Mad guitar skilz

The pick of destiny

A weird toy saxophone that Jack probably stole from his son

"We're finished singing about the devil, we want to sing about Jesus so we won't go to hell!"

Heavy Metal and the D do a choreographed dance.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but look at Kyle's face!


I think Jack got so sweaty that he just figured take is clothes off at the end of the encore, why the hell not??

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sonoma County's Harmony Festival, a cross section of all things North Bay




Let's just say that the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, California is all things Northern California: eco-friendly, hippie, spiritual, healthy, organic, liberal, pot-smoking, laid back, dread-locked and free form dancing. Some have compared it to Burning Man, but it's way too wholesome and crunchy for that. It really reminded me more of the H.O.R.D.E. festival from the 1990s but with a larger and diverse audience and vendor base.

The 2009 Harmony Festival took place on June 12th-14th on the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, it featured vendors of all walks of life from organic cosmetics and food to artists and costume makers. In 1978, the then called Health and Harmony Festival was founded as a way to "feature the cutting-edge lifestyle options that were arising at the time" in Sonoma County. From my one day in attendance of the festival, I can positively say that it still does just that. What's so great is that it now has expanded its appeal to the next generation, including skateboarding and folks that might not be as "granola" as their parents and grandparents might be. Read more about the festival's history.

As someone who continually explores the Bay Area and all of its diverse events and communities, I was drawn to the festival's variety of musical acts (I am a music writer after all): The Dead Kennedys, Cake, india.arie, Matisyahu, Balkan Beat Box, Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars... as my co-worker said "it's a bizarre lineup, but there's certainly something for everybody." It came to my attention, however, that Saturday was the reggae, except for the hard rocking San Franciscan ladies of Zepparella who I could hear wailing as I waited in the endless line to pick up my tickets. I'm sad that I missed them, I must catch a local show sometime soon!



Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras duke it out in a battle of the bands


Musical competition is something that has existed since humans started making music. And if you like traditional big band music from the 1930s and 40s, it doesn't get much better than this. The Glenn Miller Orchestra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra will return to San Francisco this Sunday night to square off in a battle of the bands at Davies Hall.

Swing and Big Band Examiner Rick Busciglio says that "in the glory days of the Big Bands, many ballrooms promoted a Battle of the Bands. Harlem's Savoy Ballroom, in particular, offered...Basie vs. Chick Webb with Ella Fitzgerald....or Benny Goodman vs. Duke Ellington, etc. They used a revolving stage to present the two bands. Well, the practice continues!" This will be a friendly competition, I'd imagine the "winner" will be determined by each individual listener.

The big difference between the 1930s and 40s and now is that the audience won't have a dance floor to reflect how the music is affecting them. The focus will be on the extraordinary musicianship coming from the stage rather than on lindy hoppers on the dance floor. This kind of big band swing music has, in the last century, morphed from "dance music" into "concert music," which is why we sit and listen in a concert hall like Davies Hall.


The Glenn Miller Orchestra's "In the Mood"

The Tommy Dorsey Orcehstra's "Oh, Look at me Now" with Frank Sinatra, Connie Haines, & The Pied Pipers

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bahaa Ronda and Arabic Music

I'm still trying to figure this video out (anyone have any information?) But this is an all Arabic female performance of traditional Moroccan music featuring singer Bahaa Ronda. Her voice is effortlessly beautiful.



I am so fascinated by how the violin is played upright like a cello in this Arab-Andalusian musical tradition called Gharnati.

Ronda also performs with the Chabab Al Andalous Rabat Orchestra. The Kennedy Center recently featured them on the Millennium Stage. See the live broadcast here. The Milliennium stage has a free to the public performance every day of the year at 6pm and archives every performance on their website. So if you are ever looking for something new, from classical music to world hip-hop, this is a wonderful resource. 

The Kennedy Center recently held a festival called Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World.
Sharing the varied music and culture of the 22 Arab nations across the globe, the program also featured exhibitions of  art installations, dance, fashion, a soundscape, cuisine, a marketplace and more. Check out the website, there are many links and resources to help you discover this
wealth of culture.

Kudos to the Kennedy Center for helping Americans learn a little bit more about the Arab world and therefore bringing understanding and appreciation between our worlds.

Thanks to Yaffa and my Mom for telling me about this!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Joshua Nelson and Kosher Gospel: Concert Review

If you are not a religious person, but feel drawn to African American gospel music, raise your hand. (I know this is the internet, but do it anyway. Unless you are in public, then spare yourself.)

If you are not Christian and are still drawn to gospel music, raise your hand.

If you are not Christian and are drawn to gospel music but get a little (or very) uncomfortable with the lyrics, raise your hand. 

Still have your hand raised? Thought so. Okay, you can put it down now.

I LOVE African American gospel music. I have been drawn to it for as long as I can remember. I even wrote a one-hundred page master's report on it in graduate school.

I am an agnostic Jew, and I love music written with the love of Jesus Christ in mind. What's up with that?  

People have described the concept in many ways, but it usually gets back to something like: it's not the words that matter, it's the conviction, the emotion and the excitement of the music behind the words. And most of the people that sing gospel, can really SING.

I learned about Joshua Nelson years ago when a friend who knew that I was researching gospel music sent me a newspaper clipping.  The Grammy-nominated singer grew up as a Black Orthodox Jew in South Orange, New Jersey. His grandmother introduced him to Mahalia Jackson and he fell in love. Nelson wanted to be a gospel singer, but he couldn't realistically sing about Jesus now, could he?

"All I can do is be who I am," said Nelson at the sold-out opening night of the Jewish Music Festival at the First Congregational Church in Oakland, California. Really all Nelson has done is replaced hebrew lyrics over the gospel style of singing, accompaniment and harmony.  Similar, and yet very different, to what Ray Charles did with gospel music and secular lyrics years before.

To me personally, it's theoretically the perfect blend.  It actually it sounded a little cheesy to me at first, but then I experienced it in person this evening, and I got it.  Let me explain:

The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir took the stage first. The choir is a professional group that is unaffiliated with any church and has singers of all backgrounds and creeds.   They started off with a handful of gorgeously arranged spirituals like "Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit" and "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel." 

"Good start," I thought, "stick to the old testament and songs that tell about the glory of god. The Jewish people can get that, definitely."

Then came a more contemporary style gospel. I heard the word "Christ" once and at that moment wondered what every person in the sanctuary was thinking, I mean, we were in a church, but as part of the Jewish Music Festival.  I kinda thought my brain would explode for a second there, too many layers to think about.

The audience was into it, heads were bobbing. Things were going well.  Terrance Kelly, conductor of the Interfaith Choir, gave the audience a gospel 101 lesson, "don't wait for the song to end to clap!" People laughed.

But then after the intermission, Nelson and his band took the stage, and people couldn't stay in their seats. They went nuts. The difference was like night and day.  

In addition to singing Jewish traditionals like "Hineh Ma Tov" and "Mi Chamocha" he referred to and sang the songs of Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Louie Armstrong and Harry Belafonte. He riffed off of Benny Goodman's (a fellow member of the tribe) "Sing Sing Sing" and Ray Charles' "Hit the Road" Jack. Music that was familiar to everyone in the room.

I spoke to an older couple on my way out who said that that was some of the best music they had heard in a long time. 

As a Jew, I get it: this guy is literally speaking my language. He's singing words that I recognize. And words that I, even as an agnostic, am emotionally attached to.  And it's to the music that I know and love.  I don't have to distance myself from the music just because I can't relate to the words.

Oh, and Nelson can sing too...



Here's another one of the tune Adon Olam with his backup singers.

This picture from 2004 cracks me up.  You know if Oprah says someone is the "next big thing," it's gonna be true. 


I will be attending most of this weeks Jewish Music Festival's shows, so please check back for bloggings.  It's going to be fun!

Here's a the schedule. Tickets are available for all shows:

Young People's Symphony Orchestra: Special guest cellist Bonnie Hampton sits in with California's oldest youth orchestra in a concert that is part of "Bloch Party - A Celebration of the Life and Music of Ernest Bloch." 2 p.m. today. $15-$20. Castro Valley Center for the Arts, 19501 Redwood Road, Castro Valley. (510) 889-8961.

Andy Statman Trio: A master of blurring genres, this clarinet and mandolin virtuoso shuffles through bluegrass, American roots, and avant-garde jazz with klezmer and Hasidic nigunim. 8 and 10 p.m. Monday. $20. Yoshi's, 1330 Fillmore St., San Francisco, (415) 655-5600.

Flory Jagoda and Friends: Born 84 years ago into a singing family in the Sephardic community of Sarajevo, this Jewish singer and composer is one of the primary ambassadors for Ladino culture. This program finds her sharing stories and songs. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. $16-$20. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley.

Di Goldene Pave: The Toronto-based Yiddish singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Lenka Lichtenberg duets with clarinetist Kinneret Sageet. 1 p.m. Thursday. $12-$16. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley. Also 6 p.m. Thursday. Free. San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco.

Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird: Mixing klezmer and politics with elements of punk and folk on its new album, "Partisans and Parasites," this Berlin cabaret group will be joined by beatboxer Yuri Lane. 8 p.m. Thursday. $12-$14. Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St. Also, 8 p.m. April 2 (without Lane). $12-14. Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

The Sisters of Sheynville and Gaucho: The all-female Canadian folk vocal group headlines with its three- and four-part harmonies in the style of the Barry Sisters. Gaucho plays seductive gypsy swing with a detectable Django Reinhardt influence. 8 p.m. Saturday. $18-$28. Jewish Community Center San Francisco, 3200 California St., San Francisco.

Elana Jagoda, Yuri Lane and guests: A program directed at children as part of family music day, featuring folk-rocker Elana Jagoda, beatboxer Yuri Lane, workshops and performances by other festival artists. 11 a.m. Next Sunday. $7-$20. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley.

Finale Dance Party with Brass Menazeri: The festival closes out with a lively set by a horn-driven Bay Area soul and Klez-Balkan outfit. 4 p.m. next Sunday. $10-$25. Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SxSW Day 3 highlights: Peggy Sue, Steve Taylor, The Environmental Encroachment Marching Band & Theresa Andersson



I started my day with something called "The Trailer Park" from  Torchy's Tacos in South Austin that included fried chicken. I also had a Mexcian Coke (all sugar, no corn syrup), perfect! 

Then I headed up to on the roof of the Whole Foods Headquarters for the Girls Rock Camp Day Party with a Daisy Rock Guitar raffle, face painting (check out the KISS makeup) and of course, girls who rock. England's Peggy Sue greeted me with their gorgeous yet forceful vocal blend. They remind me a little of First Aid Kit but with a little more sass.  

Then I strolled further into downtown and came across Steve Taylor, an Oakland musician who had decided to busk on Sixth street instead of playing proper staged venues.  He drove his portable piano all the way from California to Texas to play on the street. From the little that I saw, I'm willing to guess that he sold a pile of CDs that way. People loved him. His style reminds me a little of Paul McCartney or Jamie Lidell.

This is a video that I took of Steve while a hula-hooper provided visual entertainment. Ah, such is South by Southwest... actually, this is pretty normal for Austin year round...



This is a quick video I took of 6th Street, the main strip for South by. You can hear the cacophony streaming out of the clubs, even in the daylight. Image what it sounds like in the evening.



Another band I found wandering the streets of Austin is the Environmental Encroachment Marching Band from Chicago.  I think this video speaks for itself (sorry it's so short and blurry).



Later that night I ended up at Antone's, a special place for me (I was Clifford Antone's teaching assistant while he was working for the University a year or so before he died) and got to see Theresa Andersson, a Swedish ex-pat living in New Orleans. She's got quite a voice on her and with the help of looping, she's a one-woman band. Check her out with her apartment setup (I like this video because you can see all her pedals).


I came home to the Bay Area earlier today and am ready for another (but not quite as intense) week of music!  This time with the Jewish Music Festival.  Honestly, I'm a little sick of guitars at this point...

Friday, March 20, 2009

SxSW Day 2 highlights: Efterklang, Girls in Trouble, The Sway Machinery & Golem


















If I had a Girls Rock Camp day on Wednesday, Thursday was my Jewish day. 

My sunlit hours were a bit of a wash (which has to be expected), but we did stumble upon experimental Danish band Efterklang (meaning "echo") at the French Legion. With 8 musicians on stage, I think each instrument on earth was present.  This is of course, not true, but this band is interesting enough for me to pass onto fans of folks like Akron/Family.

I then got myself a seat at the gorgeously remodeled speakeasy on Congress to see the JDub Records showcase including: Girls in Trouble, The Sway Machinery & Golem.

Firstly, let me just share that within the first hour of arriving, a girl came around with free sausage wraps - at a jewish record label sponsored party. I had myself a good chuckle. People, of course, ate them up. 

Golem violinist, Alicia Jo Rabins, has a new project called Girls in Trouble. This description comes from their myspace page
GIRLS IN TROUBLE started as an attempt to get out of writing a thesis for a masters degree in theology and grew into a song cycle which grew into a band.

These are songs that tell ancient stories of girls in trouble from that hotbed of human and divine darkness, The Bible.

Girls with names like Dinah and Tamar, and some whose names were never recorded. Tales of runaways, human sacrifice, and illicit seduction from a time before God and the Devil got separated out from each other. 
This was my favorite tune of the set:  

Hunter from hoovesontheturf on Vimeo.

Finally the club filled up, and we got to bask in the frenetic energy of The Sway Machinery and Golem. I've now seen The Sway Machinery three times since October, and they never disappoint (read an old blog post here). With an all-star lineup of musicians (from Antibalas, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Balkan Beat Box & Arcade Fire), these guys are tight. They also have a lot of fun, bumping into each other onstage and dancing around.  I love their suits too.

Finally at 1am, Golem took the stage. Rather than donning an according, the pregnant Annette rocked a red keytar. That baby is going to be cool.  My favorite new song?: "Tucheses and Nenes" (listen on their myspace page). For  those that don't know, these are certain female body parts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Independent Film Channel starts SxSW off with Gomez and Decemberists partay

Quick recap of last night: The IFC (the Independent Film Channel) brought Austin quite a party with Gomez and the Decemberists.

We stood in line for an hour-and-a-half Monday morning for tickets and then for another hour just to get in, but it was well worth it. This was the first time I have been in Pangaea, the space that was once the Downtown Alamo Drafthouse. It's a gorgeous space and small enough that we were able to get pretty darn close to the stage.

Gomez was terrific as usual. They never disappoint. The boys played songs from their new album, A New Tide as well as old favorites. A cool moment was the mention that Gomez played SxSW 11 years ago.

The Decemberists also stepped it up. They played old favorite and will play their entire album The Hazards of Love. So if you are planning to catch them tonight, have fun!

Girls Rock Camp SxSW

Come out and support the Austin Girls Rock Camp at South by Southwest.

Supporters from all over the world will be throwing down in March to show their love for Girls Rock Camp Austin. Don't miss these rockin' shows!

Wednesday, March 18, noon: Day party Benefit with Grounded In Music at Jo's Hot Coffee, 1300 S.Congress. Girls Rock campers, volunteers, and friends Rank + File, Fabi Reyna, Peggy Sue, and Adrian and the Sickness, along with a powerhouse lineup from Grounded in Music, will rock South by San José.

Wednesday, March 18, 7:30pm: SXSW BMI Showcase to benefit Girls Rock Camp Austin at Maggie Mae's, 512 Trinity St. (Sixth and Trinity), with Ume, The Besties, Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer, Girl in a Coma, Jedd Hughes, and Ten Out of Tenn.

Friday, March 20, 2:45-7:00pm: Girls Rock Camp Austin Day Party on the upstairs patio at Whole Foods, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. Family-friendly fun, with face-painting, plentiful food and drink for purchase, and and amazing musical entertainers Fabi Reyna, Peggy Sue, Bo-Peep, Rank + File, Follow That Bird!, Northern State's Hesta Prynn, The Coathangers, and Adrian and the Sickness.

See the Calendar for lineups/times as available.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bluegrassalicious!: The Difibulators and The Asylum Street Spankers


Well maybe bluegrass isn't the best way to describe these bands, but old-timey and adorbale for sure. The Defibulators have done well in Austin in the past and even though they call Brooklyn their base, their music is firmly routed in the hills. So are their boots.

They will be playing at SxSW this Sunday and Monday, check out their schedule.


It is possible that the Defibulators might be taking some cues from these guys, the Asylum Street Spankers, one of the funniest, irreverent, entertaining bands out there. The Spankers can sing a gorgeous gospel ditty and then sing a song about loving beer.

They are as classically Austin as you can get.

Check out this video calling out yellow ribbons on SUVs.



The Spankers will be playing Saturday night at SxSW.


Monday, March 16, 2009

The SxSW African Beat: BLK JKS and Nomo


If you're in the market for some African grooves, check out BLK JKS from South Africa and Nomo from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

BLK JKS (Black Jacks) has been called the "African TV on the Radio," and judging from their single "Lakeside" that's what I thought too. But after seeing them live at the Rickshaw stop, they are way more than that, more prog rocky and more jam bandy - "afro avant noise rock" if you will. (I love that way some music critics describe sound...)

It has also been said that "Lakeside" has a drumbeat even Radiohead would be jealous of." If this sounds like your thing, go check them out.

In the middle of their tour of the US and Europe, they will be playing SxSW later this week. Check their myspace page.



Nomo has a special place in my heart. I went to college with a bunch of these kids. I take pride in turning people onto their music. I loved playing the cowbell to their music in my Afropop ensemble in grad school. I heard a track off their most recent album Ghost Rock on KUT earlier today and felt the urge to spread the word.



This is a video I took of Nomo at the 2006 SxSW. The band traditionally descends from the stage and jams on a riff amongst the audience. This is my favorite bit.

Check out their SxSW schedule on their myspace page.