Spring Fever--Return appearances and name changes underline the rock scene's growth and mutation.
Thursday, April 8, 1999
The sign on my forehead for this week reads, April Fool. Seems like everybody had a field day with me on April 1. It wasn''t bad enough that I fell for practically every single joke and had to endure screaming laughter all day, no, it got much worse when I realized that wunderkind Dr. Cosmo Fraser would still be working his medical wonders in San Francisco on Saturday, instead of coming to Borders with his soul-healing reggae, as I had announced in big fat letters. So, to all of you who went to Borders to see Cosmo last weekend, my apologies. He will be there this weekend (I am double-checking the date even as I write this!). Give it another try, he is worth your while.
Cosmo, Saturday, 7:30pm, Borders Books & Music, 899-6643
Also coming this weekend (really!) is Box Set. They''re returning to Doc''s with their solid roots-based sound. If you didn''t catch their act in January, you definitely shouldn''t miss them this time around. Since the band emerged from San Francisco''s coffeehouses in 1993, it has released four albums, three of which are indie releases, titled Box Set (1994), Twenty-Seven (1995) and Meantime (1996). Their most recent CD, Thread, marked their debut release on Capricorn Records. They''ve won two Bay Area Music Awards (BAMMIE) for ''97 Best Club Band and outstanding American Artist.
Though their accomplishments are impressive, it is their live performance which has earned them a solid following as well as rave reviews. The mix of evocative and intricate music with sensitive, witty lyrics continues to pack the house and pull the audience into a whirlwind of sight and sound. For the deja-vu effect, Government Grown will once again be their opening band. Their psychedelic rock is flavored with a little reggae and blues. As the saying goes, why mess with a good thing?
Box Set with Government Grown opening, Friday, 9:30pm, Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241
If you ever saw the movie Dirty Dancing, you''ll surely remember the opening scene. Bodies, crushed against each other provocatively, not merely dancing but practically making love on the dance floor while hot Latin music pours thickly from a speaker. Meet the B-Side Players and get ready to experience how sensual music can feel. Based in San Diego, this nine-player band will show you how...and then some...Doc''s. They just came out with their debut album, Renacimiento, on which they mix Afro-Cuban jazz, Latin funk and world beat in such a way that the mere act of listening will turn you on. This comes from a person who usually doesn''t care too much for the genre. The band formed about five years ago, though the final lineup is only a little over three years old. Recently, the B-Side Players won the San Diego Music Award for Best Latin Band, proving that they are on the right track. On their home turf, they perform sold-out shows night after night. Could be that they are so in tune with each other, that even the most unlikely listener gets caught up in the harmonies of the infectious beat. But B-Side Players is a phenomenon best taken in personally. The magic these nine young people (ranging in age from early to late twenties) work on stage is something you''ll have to experience for yourself.
B-Side Players with Martins Dam opening, Thursday, 9:30pm, Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241
Now let''s talk spring. The word itself, by the way, appeared first in 1843 when people grew tired of calling that part of the year "the season when new life springs forth." Whatever you call it, this season is always associated with change, growth and making a fresh start.
For Unshakable Race, which has been quite busy around town as of late, spring definitely means change. The band, with its mix of funk/original fusion of funk/hip-hop/reggae, has changed its name to simply Unshakable. That seems fitting since the trio''s hard work over the last six years has continuously paid off. Before relocating from Portland, Ore. to the San Francisco Bay Area, they were already well established in the Pacific Northwest. Shortly after the move, UR earned the 1996 Mama Award for Best New Band, and so far the band has released two CDs, Right On (a top-five independent release for 1993/Northwest Music News), and Serial Survivors (1995). Beware, Unshakable dishes up extremely dynamic dance music. Only serious dance seekers need apply.
Unshakable, Friday, 9pm, The Blue Fin Caf & Billiards, 375-7000
Staying in step with reggae, The Tony Miles Band is revisiting Monterey, and after listening to their CD, What''s Up, again, I can once more only recommend a walk to the Blue Fin Caf to check them out. There is much more to this band than reggae. There are those funky rock/pop numbers that, along with Miles'' strong and versatile voice, will without a doubt lure you in.
The Tony Miles Band, Saturday, 9pm, The Blue Fin Caf, 375-7000
Speaking of name changes, Juice played its last song at Whitey''s over the weekend, and henceforth will be known as Dick Richie (remember the struggling actor in the movie, True Romance?). To make it official, the foursome will be introduced under the new name on Friday''s radio show, "Otter Control," where they will give an interview and perform between 7-8pm. The show will be broadcast live from CSUMB on KAZU 90.3 FM (see newsbrief, p.10).
Here''s some food for thought to all you people out there insisting that there is no local scene. If you had stopped by Whitey''s Place this past weekend for its last party, you would have been proven dead wrong.
On Friday, both Juice and Lovers & Strangers put on shows that would have made you weep. Everybody was at his absolute best and the energy and connection between the players and the audience was incredible. The following night picked up where the previous one had left off. The Blue Tones made their way to the stage, and everything after that was pure magic. They gave a jaw-dropping performance, never mind the fact that they are very, very young. Next up was The Filth, a blues/rock band consisting of musicians from other bands around town. "We just get together to have fun," says band member Johnny Moezzi, guitarist/ lead vocalist of Jedi. And fun they had, no doubt about it. As the evening turned into night and then early morning, the stage turned into a fantasy world of sight and sound. People came up with their instruments and the lineup began to change continuously. Every player brought with him a distinct yet subtle shift in sound, and still, each group played as harmoniously as if they''d been doing it forever. The audience was enthralled, moving closer and closer to the stage until you could practically see the chemistry between performer and listener. It was a breathtaking display of talent. Maybe this weekend was the exception to the rule, and everybody did show up just to say good-bye. But then again, maybe no one has figured out what it would take to bring all these people together and watch them work their alchemy regularly. Thanks to Jeff White, for giving them a chance.