What's Up, Chuck?
Memorial Day Gatherings--If you're just hanging around this weekend, you have some fine musical choices.
Thursday, May 27, 1999
If you''re going to be staying at home this weekend, kicking back to enjoy the first three-day weekend since February, there''re a few musical acts you might want to check out in the evening. And the lineup at the Santa Cruz Blues Festival is strong enough that you might be tempted to get out of your hammock, drop your apron on the deck and leave your Webber alone while you drive north for the daytime tunes.
Let''s start close to home, with Stacey Earle, who will be playing at Morgan''s Coffee and Tea tonight. Right now, Stacey''s biggest claim to fame is probably being Texas country rocker Steve Earle''s little sister. But her 1998, self-produced CD, Simple Gearle, amply demonstrates that she has the songwriting and vocal skills to be a star in her own right. Not a huge star, probably. Like her brother, she''s too good, and apparently too independent to be neatly packaged by the sausage grinders in the music machine.
You can''t tell it by listening to the album, but Earle didn''t decide to get into the music business until after she was 30. Married at 17, she had two children, a background in waitressing and apartment management, and a recent divorce when her brother called to ask for some help. He was going on tour and he needed someone to house-sit his Nasville home and.? It turned into a break.
Stacey toured with Steve in 1990 and did some guitar work on his album The Hard Way. She also had a gig as a songwriter with the Ten Ten Musical Group, which churns out commercial songs for various labels, and has been a fairly prolific performer.
Stacey told Shannon Rupp of the Ottawa Citizen that more than one record label has seen her performance, liked what they saw, and then brought her in and "they would take something simple into the studio and make it this gigantic, over-produced project. I knew the only way I could make the record I wanted was to do it myself."
Listening to Simple Gearle conjures lots of comparisons, probably most quickly to Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith, although there''s just a little bit of Allison Krauss hanging out in the upper reaches of Stacey''s vocals. Although the music is a lot gentler than that of her country-rock brother, it''s still got enough edge that you won''t snooze through it.
Should be a good show.
Stacey Earle, Thursday, 8pm. Morgan''s Coffee and Tea, $8/door; $6/students & Seniors. 642-4949.
Another fine female singer/songwriter, Nina Storey, is returning to Doc''s Nightclub on Sunday. Storey made her debut at Doc''s earlier this year and dazzled the audience with her powerhouse voice. You''re sort of blown away that such a big, soulful, expressive voice can come out of such a diminutive performer. As long as she''s singing, Storey is nothing short of amazing but, even so, her last performance at Doc''s was uneven.
It''s almost like Storey was such a nice person and wanted to be so personal with the audience, that her show lost steam between each song. Rather than just moving from song to song, Storey stopped between almost every one and conversed with the audience, with the upshot being that there was never any momentum.
Still, it''s worth the down time just to hear Storey''s amazing voice (closest comparison I can think of is Joan Osborne). And she''s had several months to work on her presentation--who knows? By Sunday she might drive the show from start to finish.
Nina Storey, Sunday, 9pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.
Also at Doc''s are The Boneshakers on Friday. The duo of Randy Jacobs and vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson comprise the core of the funky group. At one time Jacobs and Atkinson worked together in offbeat funk band Was (Not Was) in the ''80s. Since then, the two have worked separately with a collection of industry names including Coolio, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop and Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Together again, Jacobs and Atkinson recently released Book of Spells, a deadly soulful album that showcases Atkinson''s stinging vocals and Jacobs'' guitar work.
Boneshakers, Friday, 9pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.
Interestingly enough, both Storey and the Boneshakers are going to be performing at the Santa Cruz Blues Festival this weekend. In fact, they are the very first two acts to take the stage on Saturday, and given the talent and enthusiasm they bring to their work, they''re going to give everyone who follows them something to aim at.
Following the Boneshakers on Saturday are Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, and Jimmie Vaughan. Sunday''s lineup features Chris Cain, W.C. Clark, Ronnie Earl, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Greg Allman.
The strong, solid lineup is heavy on California blues and features many bands that are regular visitors to the Santa Cruz area (the headliners, Vaughan and Allman, and Storey are the exceptions). If you like your musical lineup safe, the seventh Santa Cruz Blues Festival is your dish of blues. If you want something a little more adventurous, however...
At any rate, as long as the sun shines, it should be a great day in the sun at Aptos Village Park.
Santa Cruz Blues Festival, Saturday and Sunday, 11am-7pm. Aptos Village Park, off Highway 1, Aptos. Day tickets: $26/general, $40/gold circle, $16/12 and under. Two-day tickets: $42/general, $70/gold circle, $26/12 and under. 479-1854, 408-998-BASS.
And while we''re bluesin'' it, don''t forget that Sly McFly''s has four nights of blues this weekend with the power blues of local band Crusin'' Deuces on Thursday, Taylor P. Collins'' powerhouse vocals returning on Friday and Saturday, and John "Broadway" Tucker''s almost CD-release party (seems delivery of the disks got delayed, and the release will be rescheduled at a later date).
Four nights of blues, Thursday-Sunday. Sly McFly''s, 649-8050.