Thursday, January 3, 2013
The year 2012 was a good one for the local concertgoer – Mumford & Sons, Joan Baez, the Flaming Lips, Bob Weir and Jackie Greene entertained us and, more importantly, delivered lasting memories. So far, the new year looks promising – and may even ultimately eclipse last year. By itself, the Golden State Theatre says it’s on the verge of confirming 11 more acts. Until then, here’s what to listen for:
Michael Hurley at the Henry Miller Library (Jan. 18): The 72-year-old Hurley’s 1964 “Intersoular Blues” is rustic, primitive and sounds like it was recorded in a junkyard. The folk musician’s guitar is a touch out of tune and his vocals twang and crack like a hungry alley cat. Somehow, he makes it all work – in the same way Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art does. The folk musician – whose songs have been covered by the likes of Cat Power and Espers – has also been credited with penning one of the first instances of what has become known as “freak folk,” a phrase that Hurley calls “unfortunate.”
White Fence at the Golden State Theatre (Jan. 19): Tim Presley, aka White Fence, is one of those hardworking, indie musicians – like Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Devendra Banhart – who digs making music so much, he’s always working on several projects simultaneously. In addition to making music under the White Fence moniker and co-founding Darker My Love, Presley tours with the Fall, performs with the Strange Boys and recently cut the critically acclaimed Hair with San Francisco garage punk rocker Ty Segall. As White Fence, Presley composes experimental, psychedelic folk that breaks all the rules. For him, they never existed in the first place. Dr. John at the Golden State Theatre (Feb. 7): The New Orleans bluesman known as “Night Tripper” released Locked Down in 2012. Produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, it reached No. 15 on Rolling Stone’s Top 50 albums of the year.
Brenton Wood at the Fox Theater (Feb. 9): “Being a black musician [in the ‘60s] was a big struggle,” Wood told the Weekly last year. “I had to really love what I was doing to keep on going.” Every time the longtime R&B musician – known for Top 20 hits like “The Oogum Boogum Song” and “Gimme Little Sign” – performs, his eyes glow with a serious passion, particularly along lyrics like “You wear the cute mini skirt with your brother’s sloppy shirt/ I admit it girl, I can dig it.”
The Zapp Band at Planet Gemini (Feb. 14): Valentine’s Day will never be the same after it gets Zapped with “More Bounce to the Ounce,” “Computer Love” and “Tut-Tut.” The funk collective – one of West Coast hip-hop’s earliest influences – aren’t a band, they’re an experience. Dressed is flashy, matching sequin suits, their shows – led by brothers Lester and Terry “Zapp” Troutman – feature stylized, synchronized dance and most famously, the infamous talk box (not to be mistaken for the vocoder).
B.B. King at the Golden State Theatre (Feb. 26): King’s recently released Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. B.B. King – a 10-disc set chronicling his entire recording career – celebrates the 50th anniversary of his signing to ABC-Paramount Records in 1962. But that was well after he had already established himself as a dynamic blues force. In fact, King had been recording since the late ’40s. But even after more than six decades as one of the world’s most distinguished blues musicians, there are some things you still may not know about King. To wit: He’s a licensed pilot and a vegetarian.
Los Lonely Boys at Sunset Center (March 5): There aren’t many bands with a work ethic that rivals “Texican” rockers Los Lonely Boys. Unfortunately, the extreme dedication – the group performs about 200 shows per year – took its toll in the form of vocal cord lesions in bassist/vocalist JoJo Garza. After pushing back the release of its fourth album, Rockpango, and canceling several shows, JoJo rejoined brothers/bandmembers Ringo and Henry and the Chicano trio picked up exactly where they left off, only this time, JoJo’s remembering to drink more fluids.
Arlo Guthrie at Sunset Center (April 17): For more than 20 years, Philadelphia radio station WMMR has had a ritual that entails playing Arlo Guthrie’s 18-minute “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” several times on Thanksgiving. The classic 1967 tune, which the singer-songwriter has stretched to 40 minutes during live performances, embodies every ingredient needed to cook up the perfect folk tune: story, humor, irony, politics and, most importantly, tradition.
Hipnic V at Fernwood (May 10-12): The Big Sur fest – curated by Chico jam band the Mother Hips and (((folkYEAH!))) – has become a springtime staple. Past performers have included everyone from Pegi Young and Beach Boy Al Jardine to Truth & Salvage Co. and Little Wings. Word is still out on who will light up the Fernwood campgrounds for the fifth installment.
California Roots Festival at the Monterey County Fairgrounds (May 24-26): Jeff Monser’s humble three-day, Sublime-loving event has grown into a colossal happening that attracted more than 10,000 people throughout the weekend for its third go-around last year. From the looks of the band lineup – featuring Slightly Stoopid, Matisyahu and Rebelution – this year may draw even more for roots, rock and reggae flavored with quintessential California soundscapes and the stickiest of the icky.
Iris DeMent at the Golden State Theatre (June 27): In October 2012, DeMent’s Raise the Delta marked her first release of all original tracks in 16 years. “The right bunch of players, producers, engineers… you name it, it wasn’t there till now,” the singer songwriter told Billboard. “I’m glad I waited.”