Rock 'n' Roll 101--MoCo relives the British Invasion when Eric Burdon & The New Animals rock into town.
Thursday, March 25, 1999
OK, I am thrilled. Rock ''n'' Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon is coming to Doc''s with his band, Eric Burdon & The New Animals. I mean, we''re talking legendary titles like "House Of The Rising Sun" (my personal favorite), "Don''t Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Don''t Let Me Down" and, of course, "Monterey," which he performed at The Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 with his then newly formed band, Eric Burdon & The Animals.
The original line-up, including Burdon, was named simply The Animals, and only lasted from 1962 to 1966, its demise beginning with the departure of band member Alan Price in 1965. Since then, Burdon''s musical path has been colorful, to say the least. The ''70s found him as frontman for a black funk group from L.A.''s streets, called War ("Spill The Wine"). After their break-up, Burdon joined with the legendary Jimmy Witherspoon to record true blues songs such as "Guilty." Twice, he reunited with the original Animals (1977, 1983) to record and tour. In between, he ventured into the world of film where he starred in and composed the soundtrack for the German film, Comeback, and later also recorded the song "Sixteen Tons" for the soundtrack to Tom Hank''s feature film, Joe Versus The Volcano. The early ''90s saw Burdon mixing his various interests, with more acting, composing and live performances.
It is unlikely that Burdon''s life has ever seen a dull moment. He seems to always be on the road, a step ahead of himself, exploring. And now, this road has led him to Doc''s, where all you true rock fans are sure to be in for a treat. Oh, and did I mention that drummer Aynsley Dunbar (Mothers, Jefferson Starship, Journey, Whitesnake), will join Burdon on stage for the night? Be there or flunk the first lesson in Rock 101.
Eric Burdon & The New Animals, Thursday, 9pm, $12, Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241
For your next class, meet the San Jose-based band Rebecca''s Mask. Recently we have been treated to some female singers with big voices, and, again this week, it may be the voice that upstages the music--at least at first. Lead singer Rebecca Reece might remind you of Kate Bush or Blondie with her eerily haunting voice. That isn''t surprising when you know that she grew up with Patsy Cline''s heartfelt voice filling the house throughout her childhood. Later on Reece found herself being drawn to the voices of Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde), Debbie Harry and Annie Lennox. It won''t surprise you then, either, that the quartet''s creations tend to cross over into dark, Goth pop at times.
After listening to the first two songs of the band''s self-titled CD, it was the music that slowly caught my attention. It is much more than what the happy labelers have decided to call alternative rock/pop. The sound is always different and fresh with tiny little interludes by various instruments throughout each song. You can hear some folk, some jazz and every once in a while a harder edge of rock. Gregory Menacho (guitar/vocals) and Kevin Mendoza (bass/guitar) lay down some intricate stringwork that will amaze you throughout their performance. And Brian Jacobs (drums/percussion) definitely knows how to keep his beat. Catch this band before it soars to the stars.
Rebecca''s Mask, Friday, 9pm, Blue Fin Cafe, 375-7000
Moving right along to lesson #3. It''s easy to fall into a rut when the audience keeps listening. Like the old saying goes, ''Why fix something if it isn''t broken?'' But breaking away from the tried-and-true to do something you truly believe in can be much more fulfilling, though the road to success may be longer and harder. Meet Bryan Kelley who basically didn''t give a damn about musical fashion or the work-filled road ahead, and instead went his own way. From the Philippines and his ukulele, he moved on to the guitar and Seattle at age 13, where he played alongside Stone Gossard and Mike McCready (both members of Pearl Jam), and Scott Mercado (Candlebox).
But Kelley soon realized that the emerging grunge sound was not for him, and moved to Los Angeles to cultivate his own aspirations and dreams as a singer/songwriter. Now it is 1999 and he''s begun to capture the ears, hearts and attention of fans and critics alike, with his heartfelt, true to life alternative/folk rock pop sound. The music itself is interwoven with such instruments as the fiddle, accordion and mandolin. The lyrics on his indie debut CD, titled Charming the Gods (1998), are old life truths such as addiction ("Charming the Gods") or a child who sees things in this world we adults no longer recognize ("Angels").
A poet at night, Kelley is the Jack of all trades during the day, being his own label owner (Groove House Records) and promoter, even pressing his own CDs. Though the most intriguing aspect of all his own legwork may be the fact that he recorded his album partially in his Santa Monica apartment, integrating background noise such as birds, children and the street as part of the tracks. You can''t get much more true to life than that and, judging from the reviews, these exotic additions find a more than positive resonance amongst the listeners (the album earned him a preliminary Grammy nomination as Best Contemporary Artist). As of late, Bryan Kelley could be seen and heard at Borders Books & Music bookstores, where he most likely did not appear with his full five-man band, due to space and sound limitations. But this Friday, he''s coming to Doc''s and he''s bringing the band. So prepare yourselves well for this test in life''s poetry. Kelley may charm you along with the gods.
Bryan Kelley with Greg Wood opening, Friday, 9:30pm, $3, Doc''s Nightclub, 694-4241
And now, for some additional credits, here are a couple of extra shows for you to check out. A little birdy told me that Mudskippers will be playing along with Naughty Babies at Viva''s this weekend. Both bands are of MoCo''s very own homegrown breed, the rocking kind. So if you''re more partial to domestic as supposed to imports, Viva''s is the place to be on Saturday. Mudskippers has been around since 1992 with their protopunk sound and, as the little birdy chirped, they''ll put on a high energy show that''s worth leaving the house for. Part of the band''s line-up, by the way, is guitarist Mac Talley of Foamscape, another local band which has been quite busy around town as of late. Naughty Babies, of course, have been popping up here, there and everywhere, working on their intention of becoming the world''s greatest rock ''n'' roll band...
Mudskippers with Naughty Babies, Saturday, 9pm, Viva Monterey, 646-1415.
For the traveling punk rock lover, Santa Cruz has something to offer. Three bands with three very interesting names and styles are coming your way. First, meet ''70s-style street punks The Swingin'' Utters, followed by hard-core locals Lost Cause and finishing up with new school skate rockers Jet Lag.
The Swingin Utters with Lost Cause and Jet Lag. Friday, 8pm, Santa Cruz Vet''s Hall. (805) 987-2026. cw