What's Up, Chuck?
Something Different--Check out some roots music of a different type in some unusual venues.
Thursday, April 9, 1998
You say you want roots music, something that cuts close to the bone before soaring to the heavens; something that has some meaning beyond silly little songs? Something that can touch your soul and make you stomp your feet? Well, my friend, it sounds like you''re looking for some gospel music. Say hallelujah!
Or maybe you just feel like you could use some heavenly help on tax day? You just might find salvation at the Mayflower Presbyterian Church where Clarence Fountain and the Blind Boys of Alabama are doing their gospel thing. Someone certainly seems to be in the Blind Boys'' corner; the core group has been making music together since the Great Depression.
In 1937, when Fountain was a pre-teenager, he enlisted five of his friends from Alabama''s Talladega Institute for the Deaf and Blind to perform as a group called the Happy Land Jubilee Singers. Although it was not encouraged, the group would sometimes leave the institute to sing outside the walls, and began to develop a following.
One thing followed another--including the accidental death of one of the members--until the 1950s when the group changed its name to the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, in part to capitalize on the success of another gospel group called the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi.
"The only distinction was one group was from Mississippi and one was from Alabama," Fountain told Folk Roots interviewer Dave Peabody, "you could go to which one you liked best. We were tryin'' to kill each other for real."
Obviously the Alabama faction survived. Over the group''s six decades, they''ve recorded several albums and have continued touring and spreading joyful tidings.
Clarence Fountain and the Five Blind Boys, with the Gospel Stars of San Jose, and Daniel Simpson, Wednesday, 7:30pm. Mayflower Presbyterian Church, Pacific Grove. $13/advance, $15/door. 899-3950.
Inthe same vein, for those of you looking for heavenly help, Higher Ground Christian Coffeehouse is hosting an appearance by Bo Capebianco, a Christian-leaning blues singer out of the Santa Cruz area.
Critics have described Capebianco, who''s been a Christian artist/performer for 15 years, as gutsy and powerful and she''s just released her fourth CD, Bo Capebianco Live in Concert.
BoCapebianco, Friday, 7pm. Higher Ground Christian Coffeehouse/ Bookstore, Marina. $3/donation, 384-3726.
And, at the other end of the spectrum, if you''re going to Las Vegas...
You''re likely to run into some familiar names. Vince Salazar dropped me a line from Sin City, USA, telling me he was in good company. You''ll remember Salazar from his stint around here as the Belushi half of "The Bluesy Brothers," who enjoyed a period of popularity last year.
To make a long story short, Salazar upped and moved to Vegas, found a new partner in town, and is enjoying some success on the casino circuit there. Currently he''s playing the Continental, where there''s a computerized marquee that flashes his face, many times bigger than life, all down the Strip.
"It''s every actor''s name to have his name in lights," says Salazar, "but this? This is incredible!"
Salazar isn''t the only person from MoCo to find manna in the desert. The guys from Mistery Machine (Peter Cash, Josh McChesney, Mike Baker and Vince DiFranco) are also working in Vegas at the moment. But that''s temporary, apparently they''ve booked a gig that will take them on tour to Japan. Although the group didn''t do much in the clubs around here, theater-going audiences will remember Mistery Machine as the a cappella, ''50s-style foursome that performed in Pacific Repertory Theater''s held-over, then encored productions of Forever Plaid.
Othernames in Vegas familiar to theater audiences include choreographer/dancer Laura (Akard) Dunbar, as well as dancers Mel Ushakov and Jason Vandervort. And Craig Dunbar (remember his fine performance a few years ago as Randall P. McMurphy in GroveMont''s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo''s Nest?), plays the captain of a sinking ship in one casino''s extravaganza.
"When the ship comes back up for curtain call, he''s standing in the exact same place [as before the sinking], and the audience goes wild," says Salazar.
Names in lights, international tours? Not bad. Congrats, guys.
Anybody need a roadie?