Monkeying Around--Latin-influenced ska band plays Doc's, Latin-flavored jazz at the Jazz Store, ladies sing the blues.
Thursday, July 2, 1998
Question: What two bands list both Tito Puente and Pete Escovedo as musical influences? Answer: The Mario Flores Band and Monkey, both booked to play this week around town. Although Flores and company lean heavily on the Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban sound that Puente and Escovedo have advanced through their illustrious careers, with Monkey you have to dig a little deeper, beyond the more obvious influence of Jamaica''s Skatalites and Desmond Dekker.
Dino down at Doc''s says this Monkey band is hot and he''s got them coming down from the Bay Area to play on a regular basis, most likely for the Tuesday and Thursday reggae nights. This week it''s Thursday. Although I haven''t seen them yet, I got the CD right here next to me, blasting away on the old CD player hooked up to my computer where I can transfer digital response in a matter of seconds. The title >Changito! means "little monkey" in Spanish and there is no doubt some Latin influence on a couple songs here. "Skamba!" is one that has a more jazzy approach with the flute flourishes floating like a butterfly in the draft of a big left-breaking wave. and the tenor sax joining in with the trumpet for a group improvisational feel going down amidst the jubilant ska beat.
Guitarist Adam Brioza, one of the founders of Monkey (along with bassist Kevin Miller and Hammond organist Curtis Meacham), says they chose to play the more traditional ska sound, rather than ska/punk which was so prevalent back on the scene in 1995. But since the repetitive "oompa oompa" beat of ska can get boring after a while, they thought to mix in the Latin, swing and big band sound carried well by the use of the horn section of Bobby Miller, (alto, soprano and tenor sax); Mike Merrill, trumpet; Bob Furber, tenor sax; and Dustin James, fluegel-bone. Matt Kolb sits behind this ska big band and mixes up the beats on his drum kit.
A fun-loving approach to life and love can be found on "$30 Suit," where the guys sing, "Got my suit, got my tie, shined my shoes and there''s a sparkle in my eye/Goin'' down to the local disco club, find some girl/Gonna dance the rub-a-dub/I left my cares on the couch, got my money gonna buy a Guiness now...I''m dancin'', I''m romancin'' in my $30 suit/You can say anything, but I was nothing ''til the Goodwill made me king!"
Gotta love it!
Monkey, Thursday, 9:30pm, Doc''s Nightclub, no cover, 649-4241.
Saturday at The Jazz Store, Mario Flores (congas) and his band (Mike Miller, timbales; John Ulloa, percussion; Joel Nixon, bass; Mario Gee, keyboards; Rod Harris, tenor sax and Rob Lautz, vibes) will stir up the hot-blooded urge to dance in even the most timid of listeners. As I reported last week on the Los Van Van concert, people love to move to the poly-rhythms punctuated strongly by the use of congas, timbales and percussion instruments. Flores started his band 15 years ago with friends Miller and Gee, and they''ve developed a sound based on the tradition of classic Cuban styles called "tropo-bopo" and "son." A local band that has performed sporadically in town at The Clubhouse and Cibo, this is an opportunity to hear a top-notch group of performers at the venue known for its warm and intimate space.
Mario Flores Latin Band, Saturday, 7:30pm, The Jazz Store, $25, call to reserve, 624-6432.
This weekend at Whitey''s Place, there are a couple of bands you might want to check out. Friday, Santa Cruz band Mutha Ship returns for another Friday night of funky Motown R&B. If you got down to hear them last week, give me a call and let me know what you think. And Saturday, the Buddy Garland Show will entertain you with 100% Americana music for the Fourth. You know, this group is really good. Their mix of ''40s & ''50s tunes with rollicking showtime rockola makes for a fun time. Johnny Love called to say his buddy, bassist/vocalist Sean Michael White, has left the group to concentrate on his Juice band, but has found a replacement in Jesse Jones.
Mutha Ship, Friday, 9:30pm, Buddy Garland Show, Saturday, 9:30pm, Whitey''s Place, 646-8383.
So, how many of you went out to the Blues Festival last weekend? This is where you go to see everyone you haven''t seen since high school--or since you last attended the festival.
There were plenty of good performances over the weekend, but it was the ladies who stood out as the crowd-pleasers. Not that the Fabulous Thunderbirds didn''t live up to their name. Backstage after their set, Kim Wilson commented how much he loved playing for the audience at the Blues Festival, a truly mixed group of people coming together for the love of music and a good time. He said his only regret was that he felt he hadn''t given everything he was capable of giving to the black audience--for whom he has a huge respect because of the music''s roots. I thought he did just fine.
Dorothy Moore, who preceded the T-Birds'' set on the mainstage, sent shivers through me with her vocal depth of emotion; the beautiful Beverly Watson was like a comet streaking the heavens with her energy and stage presence in the Garden, not to mention great songs and vocals. Sista Monica had the Garden Stage burning in the afternoon sun, the little we got on Sunday. What a powerful person for all five feet of her height, and she put together a helluva band for this festival. Candye Kane smiled and joked her way around the stage to everyone''s delight, and Barbara Morrison was like sitting down to coffee with your sister and having a good talk: She''s got all the answers. And of course, Ruth Brown, the grand dame, a legend in her own time. She received the Mobay award for dedication and preservation of the blues. There''s no argument there, and she''s still coming on strong at the age of 71. The littlest lady of the festival, Little Koko, the daughter of B.B. Queen, came out during her mom''s set and startled the audience at the President''s Stage with her vocal talent. People came up to her and handed her dollar bills in appreciation for her performance. Bravo. And Beau Jocque, who took the President''s Stage at the same time Sista Monica was holding court at the Garden, had everyone dancing and hollering to his zydeco music, while Joe Louis Walker walked out unhappy with his set on the Main Stage. (I think the outside smaller stages stole his audience right out from under him.) And of course there are plenty of people I missed and those I can''t mention here, but thanks for the party!