Top regional bands complement national names for a West End Celebration that will be the best free music festival all year.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Local fave musical flavors like the cello-fueled ADHD punk rock of Tornado Rider (performing Saturday at 1pm) and the expert, timeless blues of Mike Beck & the Bohemian Saints (Sunday at 1pm) have made their own musical imprint in the area and beyond. Now honeymoon (Saturday at noon) is joining their ranks, only with a little more estrogen. They will all join a groundswell of good music at the 10th West End Celebration this weekend.
But honeymoon – lowercase intentional, featuring multi-instrumentalist Andrea Blunt, Lauren Shera, Christina Bailey and Sara Bollwinkel – might be the one among them with the most upside. The all-female outfit is already a musical force to be reckoned with, though they’ve only been together for about a year. In that short time frame, they’ve been tapped to open for Jackie Greene (Saturday at 4pm), gained an expansive fan base that includes Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and earned the Best Band in Monterey County 2011 crown from Weekly readers.
Shera, who appeared at Bonnaroo earlier this year, also juggles a successful solo project, recently releasing her debut Once I Was a Bird.
“It’s been incredible that so many media outlets have been giving [my album] so much props,” Shera says after returning from a two-month solo tour. “I’m really proud of it and like it every time I hear it.”
After releasing the new LP and touring for an extended period of time to promote it, Shera still feels just as much passion about her four-piece. In fact, the acoustic quartet plays some of Shera’s solo tunes with a different spin. Her beautifully melodic “Stealth,” is transformed into an a capella arrangement.
“[‘Stealth’] is how we’ve opened many sets since forming the band,” Shera says. “On my record, it’s a finger-style somber tune; so it’s been cool to see what honeymoon can do with it differently.”
Dividing time between honeymoon and her solo act is a juggling act but Shera has no qualms about it.
“It takes a little bit of science, energy and a lot of love,” she says. “I have all those things. We all support ourselves and our individual careers, which is also helpful.”
Both honeymoon and Shera’s solo project seem to lend themselves nicely to one another.
“After touring by myself, it’s nice to come back and play and sing with the girls and have the power of [honeymoon] with me,” Shera says. “It’s also nice to get on the stage by myself and have that creative control.”
The talented foursome doesn’t seem to miss a beat no matter how long Shera is off doing her own thing. The title track opener of honeymoon’s After the Flood, for instance, is as textured as a Shakespearean sonnet. Over piano and acoustic guitar, Shera brings a voice that can split oceans, while Blunt, Bailey and Bollwinkel intertwine flawless harmonies that soothe audience eardrums.
The “Raising Cain in Sand City” kickoff event – a benefit for the Youth Arts Collective of Monterey County and the Monterey County Blues Festival’s “Blues in the Schools” (Friday at 7pm) – will also host some soothing acts, including blues guitarist Chris Cain, the one and only John “Broadway” Tucker, plus the stamina-flavored Red, Beans & Rice. The Monterey Bay Blues Festival Honor Band – featuring a group of local teens under the direction of jazzman Roger Eddy – will round out the evening with tasty covers of everyone from Maceo Parker and B.B. King to Aretha Franklin and Etta James.
THE WEST END CELEBRATION happens 11am-5pm Saturday, Aug. 27, and noon-5pm Sunday, Aug. 28, in Sand City. Free. www.westendcelebration.com.