The Golden State Theatre features back-to-back nights of music very different from each other.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Garrett Riley’s voice is unlike any you’ve heard, an almost theatrical vibrato that sounds like an old-time blues singer having a seizure. Once word spreads about his unique pipes, Hungry Skinny will make waves within the Bay Area music scene. As of now, the group’s a treasure awaiting discovery.
That low visibility was clear on the outfit’s first tour, when the indie rockers – Garrett Riley on vocals and guitar, Sean Paulhus on bass and vocals, Remy Vale on guitar and Ty Thorpe on drums – played to four people at the Phoenix Lounge, a biker bar off a dirt road in Harrisburg, S.D.
“We felt like we were playing for real Americans,” Paulhus says. “We’re used to playing for all these hipsters in the city and we get there and it’s just a bunch of bikers at the bar without shoes and missing teeth. We walked in with long hair and paisley shirts and they were like ‘Who the fuck is this?’ But they dug it.”
After running into some financial difficulties, the band was forced to head home after playing only two shows. But the hardship translated to stronger chemistry on stage and off.
“We grew a lot closer from being in such a shitty situation,” Paulhus says.
That will be audible Saturday at the Golden State Theatre, and already is on their recent EP Nobody Cares. “My Dear Captain” harnesses original flavor through Riley’s definitive vocals, which sounds like what you may get if the voices of Violent Femmes’ Gordon Gano, David Byrne and Alec Ounsworth were fused. Instrumentally, the song is an inviting potluck of heavy blues and blue-eyed soul – with a teaspoon of punk.
“Nowadays we’re feeling a little more comfortable in our songwriting skin,” Riley says. “The more comfortable we get the weirder it gets, in a good way.”
The night before Hungry Skinny unloads, the Juan Sánchez Ensemble kicks off the weekend with what multi-instrumental bandleader Juan Sánchez describes as “a celebration of the immigrant experience.”
After spending time in children’s music, Sánchez is poised to get back to Spanish/Latin American new folk, jazz, bossanova, Middle Eastern soundscapes, gypsy rumba and spicy Flamenco rhythms. The title track on JSE’s most recent work Hijos de la Tierra takes flight with a tranquil flute solo – masterfully executed by Paul Contos – before erupting into molten mariachi music that has traces of Sánchez’s Andalusian history running through its lava.
“I try to make music without frontiers for a world without frontiers,” he says. “The celebration of a cosmopolitan spirit.”
Sánchez’s ensemble features Dayan Kai on piano, mandolin, zampoña, guitar, charango, kena and clarinet, Paul Contos on flute and saxophone, John Martin III on percussion and vocals and Steve Uccello on upright bass and guitarrón.
THE JUAN SÁNCHEZ ENSEMBLE performs at 8pm, Friday, Dec. 21, at the Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $10. 297-2472.
HUNGRY SKINNY, MOZZO KUSH and BOGIE & THE TURTLES perform at 9pm, Saturday, Dec. 22, $10. www.goldenstatetheatre.com