Fusion festival offers a rainbow of student sound at CSUMB.
Thursday, April 29, 1999
It''s happening on May 1. Literally. "It''s Happening," a music, art, poetry, and film festival aimed at sharing the spirit of inspiration at Cal State Monterey Bay, brings together some of the finest musical talent on campus to the Black Box Cabaret for a 12-plus-hour show.
This colorful fest, billed as an installation of work by "creative folks who have been making it happen at CSUMB for four years now," is the brainchild of graduating Visual and Public Arts senior Brock Essick, who developed it for his senior Capstone project. This free public showcase offers Monterey County residents an opportunity to discover for themselves CSUMB''s mushrooming art and music scene.
It seems a strange phenomenon that this school appears hidden by the fog from the rest of the bay. The military base mystique has acted as a muffler, in effect blocking Monterey residents from exploring the myriad musical offerings. This is a favorite stop for Dick Ritchie (formerly Juice), a band that has played the Black Box numerous times this year. In the words of Mitch Fadem, Earth Systems Science and Policy major, and the band''s drummer, "With the huge stage, great sound, big floor, this is the venue on the Peninsula, people just don''t know it."
In fact, the Black Box and CSUMB have a strong, albeit short, history linked to some of the area''s most successful bands. Local reggae band Jonah and the Whalewatchers will be playing on familiar ground at "It''s Happening." The band''s trumpet player, Bill Steacy, a Communications Science and Technology graduate student, remembers having the student members of the now popular Santa Cruz band Dub Congress for neighbors. And not many will forget last Halloween, when CSUMB alumni New Sun Born returned for a Black Box gig. The funk band had recently opened for James Mayfield in Santa Cruz and rumor has it that they might attend this Saturday.
School favorite Jon Peach, is also slated to play. The band''s funkadelic blues freestyle will stand out with the unique saxophone virtuoso Jon Purcell. The band, formed on campus, may skip the larger Monterey beat--they are already talking with East Coast labels. The variety of sound will bring many surprise juxtapositions. The day begins with a cappella R&B by the Monterey Harmony Movement, an on-campus club that strives to promote harmony through harmony, and sounds smooth doing it.
Next, talented crossover artist Nancy Phillips, a student of world percussion and gospel, and whose jazz group Cattywhompus played with Jon Peach and Jonah at Monday''s powerful Heritage Music festival, will solo. Later on, the Curbs will bring melodic punk from San Jose via student transplant Mrinal Sinha, and multitalented Teledramatic Arts and Technology major Brandon Blomquist will create an ambient film score of "non-linear sound sculptures" with his group L.A.P.S.E.
Social and Behavioral Sciences major Matt Brown, the charismatic drummer of popular school band Pizza and Beer (one of the many bands that have honed their sound in the on-campus apartment garages) is also involved in a side project with bandmate CST graduate Dan Bremenstuhl. He freestyles as "Emcee Embee" in Brownstuhl, which will make a rare appearance, treating audiences to what Brown describes as an "eclectic blend of West Coast rap, hip-hop, grunge, surf-punk, and late ''80s power ballads." The show is an opportunity to promote their CD, which was completely produced on campus using technology offered to all students.
And in yet another school crossover, Pizza and Beer''s Brown will be starting out as Dick Ritchie''s new drummer, joining them at their first Catalyst show this Thursday.
Hip-hop will also be represented by the BBC''s weekly DJs Kerry Yarbrough and Dave Kashevaroff, who strive to present "creativity and positivity" in their sound. Although Yarbrough has been spinning less than a year, he grew up steeped in the hip-hop culture of Oakland, and brings this into the Black Box every Wednesday night with kung-fu movies as a visual backdrop to the music he spins. He says that the two are linked in urban society, especially the message of triumph by the underdog.
DJ Eric Chappins will be spinning ambient music later in the evening, accompanied by guitarist Paul Contos, a rarely heard combination, one of the many experimental sounds produced on campus.
DJ Drew Ready, an Integrated Studies senior and one of the event organizers, explains the significance of this event.
"It''s the students who have proactively done it on their own," says Ready. "So far it''s been a really underground scene, with backyard shows and parties in the park, it''s been about non-commercial music. This is where Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire; there''s something that''s been lying dormant since then."
The developing sound cradled in CSUMB is not something that can be easily defined or neatly packaged. From budding a cappella R&B, Oakland-inspired indie hip-hop, and forever evolving electronica to Hendrix-inspired guitar blues, reggae, funk, jazz and punk, a rainbow of eclectic sound will be represented at the Black Box this Saturday. cw
Black Box Cabaret, CSUMB campus, Saturday, noon. $3. 582-3597.