What's Up, Chuck?
Bonanza Week Christine Lavin, Rogers & Buffalo, Mary McCaslin, Barbershop Valentines (and no mention of B of B).
Thursday, February 5, 1998
We''re looking at a music weekend that''s so big, there isn''t even room for a mention of the heart-rending, hair-pulling, tooth-gnashing saga that filled the last two weeks'' columns. What with appearances by Christine Lavin, Mary McCaslin and Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, plus a couple other performances you should know about, there just isn''t any room to mention the B----- of the B----. Darn.
Morgan''s press release probably overstates the case when it describes Christine Lavin as "the reigning queen of folk music." Then again, maybe it doesn''t.
While there are plenty of female folk singers who have been plying their trade for decades, Lavin''s only been making music for less than 15 years. In that time, she''s racked up a whole trophy room full of accomplishments. Lavin''s recorded eight solo albums, produced six compilation albums with other singer/songwriters, has recorded three albums as a member of the "Four Bitchin'' Babes" quartet, published one solo songbook, two compilation songbooks, won two New York Music Awards, three ASCAP composer awards, a National Association of Independent Record Distributors'' award for "Folk Album of the Year" and the Kate Wolf Memorial award from the Folk Music Association. That''s a track record many musicians don''t achieve in a lifetime of making music.
Making Lavin''s success sweeter is the fact that she has been so willing to share it, as evidenced by the compilation albums.
Lavin has a reputation for being a clown in her concert appearances, and if you recognize her name, you''ll probably associate it with such songs as KPIG standards, "Bald Headed Men," "Peace or Prozac," "Sensitive New Age Guy," "What Was I Thinking" and others. Local audiences can testify to Lavin''s power as a performer from her previous visit to Morgan''s.
Christine Lavin, Friday, 7:30 & 9pm. Morgan''s Coffee & Tea, $15/advance. 655-6868.
Up around Santa Cruz, slide-guitar master Roy Rogers and harmonicat Norton Buffalo reunite for two concerts on Saturday night. I''ve seen both performers on stage as the front men, and I''ve seen ''em together (at a Humbug Hoedown at the Vets Hall in Watsonville a few years ago). And there''s no comparison: When Rogers and Buffalo share a stage there''s some sort of synergy that energizes both performers.
For instance, up until this last summer, the only time I had seen Buffalo was when he played with Rogers. Then, he was animated and all over the stage; in baggie pants and beret, with his long hair flying, he looked like an elf on amphetamines. Then, this summer, in Seaside''s Laguna Grande park, he played in front of his band. Dark clothes, pointy boots and anchoring the front of the stage like a Charlie Musselwhite or Delbert McClinton-except he ain''t really that kind of harp blower. Maybe because he felt the need to be the focal point for his band, his (relatively) staid attitude seemed to squash the spontaneity of his playing. This wasn''t the free-wheeling Buffalo ready to take musical flights of harmonical fancy.
On the other hand, when the usually mellow Rogers-who is arguably the best slide guitar player in the world today-fronts his band, it looks like he''s forcing the issue. His laid-back demeanor makes the discovery of his amazing musicianship all the more powerful-but it doesn''t necessarily translate into a front man''s charisma.
But let''s say you put Rogers'' rock-steady guitar behind Buffalo''s excitable harp? Then you got something that adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
You don''t have to take my word for it. Rogers and Buffalo recorded a pair of albums, R&B and Travelin'' Tracks, in the early ''90s and the magic of their partnership rings throughout both albums. If you don''t have the clams to shell out for a purchase, maybe you can convince someone to stick one of the CDs in a listening station. (And if it comes down to a choice over which one to buy, choose R&B.)
Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo, Saturday, 7&9:30pm. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz. $15.75/advance (reservations strongly advised). 429-7663.
Alsoin town on Saturday is Mary McCaslin, one of the major influences on contemporary folk music. Her melding of traditional music forms with original musical arrangements-she was an early proponent of the open guitar tunings used by many musicians today-and straightforward guitar playing did a lot to pave the way for contemporary singer/songwriters whose work relies more on poetry and musicality than it does on bluster or political intent.
Attending a McCaslin concert is like listening to someone playing in your living room. There''s little pretense or artifice involved in the show, there''s just this intimate time with a woman and her guitar who''s willing to share her songs and observations with a few friends.
Mary McCaslin, Saturday, 8pm. Pacific Grove Art Center, $10/advance; $12/door. 373-7379.
If you are at all into flat-picking, bluegrass style guitar playing, you need to make reservations ASAP for Orrin Star who''s playing next Thursday (Feb. 12) at the Monterey Public Library. A former winner of the National Flatpicking Championship, Star is a warm and winning performer and the small confines of the library''s conference room will make this a special concert. 646-3949.
And you know what''s coming next week, right? Valentine''s Day. Over the years, you''ve said "it" with your lips, with high-price dinners, with flowers and chocolates and treacly Hallmark greeting cards that gave you sticky fingers from handling their sugary sentimentality. This year, say it with something different. Say it with a barbershop quartet. The Cypressaires Barbershop Chorus is offering lovers a chance to say it with music. Next Friday and Saturday, the Cypressaires will send a barbershop quartet to your beloved''s home or office to deliver a long-stemmed and sing two love songs for the low cost of $30. Even if barbershop stuff isn''t your lover''s idea of fine music, it''s still a pretty cool idea. And it is the idea that counts. Call 899-SONG to reserve your quartet.