Thursday, November 26, 1998
It''s official: The holiday season is now in full swing. The refrigerator''s filled with leftover turkey and slowly moldering pumpkin pie that nobody wanted to eat when it was fresh, the Christmas tree lots are selling overpriced dead trees, and the shoppers rush by with treasures they feel compelled to buy for people they barely know. It''s a wonderful time of year.
If, however, you choose not to throw yourself under the wheels of the Christmas bus this early in the season, you can invest your energy in some of the music that''s being offered around town this week. In the long run, it probably won''t save you from the holiday madness but at least it''ll take your mind off it for a while.
Let''s start at Doc''s, where the biker-bar, back-to-basics, roots rockin'' The Blasters make their debut appearance on Friday.
The Blasters, one of the most durable roots rock outfits, have been fronted by iconoclastic lead singer Phil Alvin since the late ''70s. During the group''s early days, Phil''s younger brother Dave was also a part of the band, but he left the group in the mid ''80s to play with another L.A. roots band, X, and to pursue a solo career. (The younger Alvin, coincidentally, is scheduled to play Doc''s on Dec. 10.) In the band''s current incarnation, Alvin is joined by bass man John Bazz (the other remaining original Blaster), lead guitarist James Intveld and Jerry Angel on drums.
Although roots rock is enjoying a renewed popularity these days, The Blasters were able to make their mark--and a name for themselves--during a time when punk and new wave were the up-and-coming antidote to the dying days of disco.
Think of roots rock from those dark days, and you''ll probably think of Blasters music: "I''m Shakin''," "Marie, Marie," "American Music," "Border Radio".the list goes on.
I''ve never caught The Blasters live, but by all accounts they put on a helluva show.
"On Saturday," wrote Neil Strauss in The New York Times of a Blasters concert, "the Blasters played for two and a half hours, slowly getting drunker, wilder and more unhinged as the night progressed. In the process, they tapped into the mania and eccentricity of some of the rock-and-roll forefathers who continue to inspire them."
Friday''s show should be a great way to avoid this weekend''s shop-til-you-drop holiday mania.
The Blasters, Friday, 9pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.
And on Monday, blues guitarist Tab Benoit returns to Monterey County with his heartfelt brand of blues. One of my big gripes with so many blues guitarists today is that they can make their instruments howl, but they have no soul. There''s no such problem with Benoit.
Make no mistake, Benoit can make his guitar scream with the best of them. But you never get the feeling that Benoit''s strangling his guitar just for the hell of it. The Louisiana native keeps the pyrotechnics in service of the music--like a splash of Tabasco sauce on your crawfish pie, it enhances the taste rather than overwhelming it.
After Benoit released Standing on the Bank in 1995, I spoke with him about his music.
"Every time you hear me play it''s going to be different," said Benoit. "However I''m feeling at the time is what''s going to come out. I''d rather play from the heart and not from the head--and that''s the way you have to play the blues.
"I don''t practice, I don''t rehearse, I don''t care. I just want to play."
And it looks like Benoit''s recording history backs up that statement. Since ''95, Benoit has released only one album, Live: Swampland Jam, recorded at the House of Blues in New Orleans.
In the meantime, Benoit''s continued his ambitious touring schedule, although a hand injury earlier this month forced him to cancel some East Coast and Midwest shows.
This is the second time that Benoit has been to MoCo; the last time he was here he performed at Seaside''s Blues in the Park series in ''97. This show should offer a very cool opportunity to see Benoit up-close and personal.
Tab Benoit, Monday, 8pm. Doc''s Nightclub, 649-4241.
So maybe you don''t want to party to avoid the hysteria of the holiday season''s opening weekend. Here''s another option: Check out New Age harpist Erik Berglund who''s offering a Thanksgiving concert at Carleton Hall.
The singer/harpist has achieved international recognition amongst New Age types for his heart-touching music.
"Erik''s music blends the physical with the non-physical through the medium of the heart," wrote Gary Zukav, author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters. And Johnnie Lee MacFadden, a health foods pioneer, said "The world is starved for this wonderful spiritual awakening that Erik''s voice and his harp, combined together, bring to the world."
Erik Berglund, Friday, 8pm. Carleton Hall, Monterey Religious Science Church, 400 W. Franklin St., Monterey. $12/advance; $14/door. 373-7379.
And next Wednesday, The Quirks bring their blend of traditional acoustic music to The Media Room. The quartet--Scott Nygard on guitar and fiddle; Ruthie Dornfeld, fiddle; Paul Kotapish, mandolin and guitar; and Cindy Brown, bass--blend musics from all around the world.
A typical set, according to press materials, might include "a Brazilian choro, Finnish waltz or uncategorizable original along with the Appalachian fiddle music that is the heart of The Quirks'' repertoire."
The Quirks, Wednesday, 7:30pm. The Media Room, $13/advance; $15/door. 373-7379.