What's Up, Chuck?
MoCo Hope?--There are signs that the MoCo music scene may finish healthier than it started.
Thursday, November 5, 1998
If you''re one of the people who''s been keeping your finger on the pulse of the MoCo music scene this year, trying to find some signs of life, there''s reason to be optimistic. I don''t want to sound too Pollyanna-ish--it''s not been a great musical year in MoCo and we''ve all been disappointed before--but there are some omens that a music specialist might read as positive.
As Beth pointed out in her column above, the new owners of Doc''s--Sean Croce, John Cardinalli and Santo Davi--have opened their wallets and gone on a spending spree to upgrade the sound system and ambience of the old joint. And, based on the projected schedule of bookings at Doc''s by Matt Heimbold, it looks like the quality of performers is going to be turned up a notch.
The roster of scheduled headline performers for the upcoming month or so includes The English Beat and Dave Wakeling on Nov. 12; Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs, on Nov. 13; Laura Love on Nov. 19 (a show that''s actually being presented by local coffee baron Morgan Christopher); The Blasters on Nov. 27; Tab Benoit on Nov. 30; Gene Loves Jezebel on Dec. 4; Shana Morrison (Van''s daughter) on Dec. 5; Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men on Dec. 10, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats on Dec. 11. Further down the line, the rumor mill''s floating the names of both Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo.
If you''re into rock--particular at the roots and blues end of the spectrum--that''s a pretty respectable lineup. It''s true there''s going to be a cover charge for the shows, but the owners say they''re going to try to keep it under $10 a pop--which means it''ll be generally cheaper to see the acts here at home than it would be to see them in Santa Cruz.
And if promoter Steve Vagnini keeps bringing in interesting regional acts to Blue Fin Billiards, and if owner Jack Burnam at Sly McFly''s keeps booking locals and occasional regional/national acts (like the blues extravaganza a few weeks ago), that little stretch of Cannery Row could turn into a real happening music scene.
It sounds like these guys are trying to make a commitment to providing some top-notch music in the area--but you can bet it''ll be a short-lived deal if audiences don''t get out and support their efforts.
Which sounds pretty much like what happened to McGarrett''s Thursday-night, national-music experiment. After last Thursday''s disappointing turnout--the audience was estimated at about 80 people--for the postponed Fabulous Thunderbirds concert, promoter Dan Miller and club owner Brooke Lewis have put the concert concept on hold until further notice. My advice: Don''t hold your breath.
On the other hand, Lewis is remodelling the back bar at McGarrett''s, turning it into a sort of showcase for local bands--so it doesn''t look like a total wash.
Continuing to look at the sunny side of the scene, it''s also hopeful to see that Vince LaRocca has reinstated live music at Viva Monterey. He says he took the live stuff off the menu for a few weeks just to see how people would react. Music is back on the weekends. ''Nuff said?
And, of course, Barbara Murphy has remained rock steady in her presentations of singer/songwriter types, primarily at The Media Room. Murphy has found company at TMR with one of ''98''s newcomers, Nina Kelly, who stepped up her concert promotions of bluegrass groups from house parties to public concerts. And, if Morgan Christopher, et al, with the fledgling Monterey Bay Traditional Music Society make good on their promise to bring in top names from the folk/blues circuit, 1999 starts looking like a very good year for the folk scene.
"Yes," you say, "but how come haven''t written a damned thing about any shows this week?"
Patience, grasshopper, these things take time.
Besides, there is one show I''d like to bring to your attention: The Imperial Crowns are returning to Doc''s Nightclub on Saturday, and if you''ve seen ''em in the act (this is their third or fourth trip to MoCo) you already know what this means: high-energy, rock-strength blues. About the only blues group I''ve seen round about here to rival their down-and-dirty intensity was Lester Butler and his band, 13.
This time around, The Crowns are horny. In addition to harmonicat Jimmie Wood, guitar man J.J. Holiday and and drummer Billy Sullivan, they''re bringing their horn section with them.
One of the best things I read about the band''s performance came by way of the Los Angeles New Times: "With goggle-eyed, eyed, maniacal frontman/harpist Wood howling, cackling and sermonizing like the bastard offspring of Oral Roberts and Redd Foxx, and with Holiday''s carefully plucked yet fully deranged bottleneck guitar, it was nuthouse city that evening...It was train-off-the-track messy, a second-line funeral march on acid, a gumbo-inspired nightmare rumble." Cool. Couldn''t have said it better, myself.
Check ''em out.
The Imperial Crowns, Saturday, 9pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.