Cooler in the Summer
The action has been picking up in the county in recent months—and the fun is set to continue.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Let me state this simply: There is suddenly a lot going on in Monterey County for local music fans. While venues like Sly McFly’s and Ocean Thunder continue to showcase high-quality local and regional acts, there are a score of other new venues offering wide-ranging styles of music. Recently, Fernwood Bar in Big Sur has been hosting great area acts like Universal Language and internationally-known indie rock legends like Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Victoria Williams. Meanwhile, the tiny Outer Edge Gallery and Morgan’s Coffee & Tea have opened their small spaces for acoustic groups like Vermillion Lies and Ryan Bisio. Also, Club Octane has become a bona fide venue for globetrotting DJs, and the Lava Lounge has truly helped develop a wide range of local talent from hard rockers Retribution to comedy duo Fantabulous.
Yes, things are looking up for old Monterey County, but it’s about to get even better this summer. On June 2nd, the Robin Nolan Trio featuring Howard Alden—Alden performed the music for Woody Allen’s film Sweet and Lowdown—will appear in a sneak preview concert unveiling a new venue in Monterey called Monterey Live (646-1415). The new state-of-the-art performing arts venue at the site of the former Viva Monterey will accommodate 100 people in its sophisticated Spanish-styled hall. Live will host performances ranging from Norwegian vocal ensembles to rootsy acoustic acts.
On the same night of Monterey Live’s sneak preview concert, there will be another standout show at Carmel Valley’s Hidden Valley Theater by Darol Anger & the Republic of Strings (625-1229). Violinist Anger, a former member of the David Grisman Quintet, will be joined by Rushad Eggleston, an accomplished cello player who graduated from Carmel High School.
Later that weekend, on June 3, seven-piece Bay Area party band Too Smooth will bring their highly danceable sounds to Sly McFly’s (649-8050). Too Smooth plays any sort of dance tune from 50 Cent to Kool and the Gang.
Called by some “the ultimate rock and roll session man,” multi-instrumentalist Leon Russell has played with music icons Jerry Lee Lewis, the Byrds and the Rolling Stones. Also a founding member of the bluegrass group New Grass Revival, Russell comes to Carmel’s Sunset Center on June 4 (620-2040).
Less than a week later, on June 10, Club Octane opens its main room to something completely different from the rootsy sounds of Russell with the appearance of DJ Mark Farina. Farina, one of the most recognized DJs in the world, is known primarily for his series of jazzy house music compilations titled Mushroom Jazz (646-9244).
The following evening, June 11, alt country legend Rosie Flores treks out to Carmel Valley’s Plaza Linda. Working since the late ’70s, Flores is known for producing a mix of country and rockabilly (659-4229).
After Monterey Live’s grand opening concert featuring gypsy jazz artist Angelo Debarre on June 15, the new venue keeps its doors open for San Francisco string band The Waybacks. The group plays everything from swing to jammed out acoustic originals (646-1415).
On June 18, the Henry Miller Library will try to raise some funds to keep the Big Sur landmark alive and kicking with a benefit concert including local groups like The Suborbitals, Flojos Nos Visten, Vermillion Lies and others (667-2574).
That same day, the Monterey Bay Aquarium will present another installment of their Jazz at the Aquarium series with pianist Bill Charlap, a riveting performer who wowed audiences at last year’s Monterey Jazz Festival.
Former prizefighter, skydiver, and KPIG favorite Paul Thorn will perform at Monterey Live on June 19. Thorn has collaborated with musicians like Sting and Carole King (646-1415).
Before playing his slot on the Monterey Blues Festival’s Main Arena Stage, bluesman Big Mo will play Sly McFly’s on June 24 (649-8050). Big Mo is the winner of this year’s Monterey Blues Festival Battle of the Blues Bands.
Back for the 20th time, the Monterey Bay Blues Festival returns June 24 through 26. This year’s lineup includes famed piano player Billy Preston, New Orleans R&B group the Neville Brothers and Chicago blues great Buddy Guy (394-2652).
On July 10, the Seaside Sunday Blues concert series starts up again with a performance by the Broadway Blues Band and harmonica player Paul deLay. The series will continue for the following five weeks (899-6805).
Also returning will be Brad Mallory’s Rock and Art Festival featuring 25 bands on three stages. Acts include classic rockers Whiskey Dust, Santa Cruz hard rock band 3 Up Front and dozens of local musicians like Plaster (899-1007).
This July 28, acoustic duo Willie & Lobo, discovered while playing a small bar in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, will play Carmel Valley’s Hidden Valley Theater (625-1229). The next evening, on July 29, the Jerry Miller Band hops up on stage at Monterey Live (646-1415). A veteran of the ’60s psychedelic blues band Moby Grape, Miller’s still one the best guitarists anywhere.
The following Sunday, July 31, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott celebrates his birthday at Big Sur’s Henry Miller Library (667-2574). Elliott is a seminal folk singer who influenced musicians like Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead.
Whew. I told you there was a lot going on.