Tumbleweed Wanderers Headline Oakland’s Starline Social Club // Friday April 8th

Oakland’s own Tumbleweed Wanderers play their first hometown headlining show in over three years on Friday, April 8th.

Tumbleweed Wanderers, who released one of the best Bay Area albums of 2015 in June, have managed to sidestep the Oakland spotlight as of late. They’ve opened up for big names like Jackie Greene and Greensky Bluegrass but consistently avoided the headlining slot in the East Bay.

 

Now they’re back for a big jamboree at Starline Social Club’s upstairs ballroom, and joining them are Steep Ravine and Papa Bear.

Jeremy of TW + Steep Ravine
Jeremy of Tumbleweed Wanderers with Steep Ravine. Do I smell the sweet bouquet of collaboration?

 

Steep Ravine’s style of bluegrass takes the traditional idiom and turns it sideways, combining complex jazz chords with beautiful sweeping melodies. They are seriously talented musicians who put on a thoroughly enjoyable show (in the past, they’ve covered “I’ve Just Seen A Face” *cough* Ihopethatsonthesetlist *cough*)

 

Opening up the show is a solo set by Papa Bear, whose dynamics ebb and flow, moving from big loud blues to delicate acoustic melodies. Papa Bear is especially known for bringing guest musicians up to the stage, allowing another talented songwriter to lead the band and sing a song. But whether or not he decides to share the stage, expect a surprising amount of sound from this charismatic performer.

 

For advance tickets (save $2.00!!): http://bit.ly/1V5qqOX.

TUMBLEWEED WANDERERS, STEEP RAVINE + PAPA BEAR

Starline Social Club

645 WEST GRAND AVE,

Oakland CA 94612

APRIL 8, 2016

Doors 8pm, Show 9pm
$15 adv / $17 dos

 

 

The Dust Never Settles – Blood & Dust Premiers Performance Video For “Charlie Dixon”

Blood & Dust announces the release of “Charlie Dixon,” a live performance video shot at Ex’pression College in Emeryville.

With the face of singer Doug Tieman alternately basked in sunlight and obscured in the shadow of the brim of his hat, the dapper gentlemen of Blood & Dust whipped with the sound and energy of a steam engine. The clanking rhythm of the tune could only have been further exemplified were it recorded live on top of a locomotive.

Drummer Jason Slota expertly wrangled the fiery energy of the room, pounding the beat into his thigh with a tambourine and into the floor with a kick drum.

Shots of the stretching neck of the double-bass met the intricate thrumming fingers of bassist Paul Geoghan as he nodded insistently to the beat.

Motes of dust ricocheted across the rust-colored wall, no doubt launched by the sliding twang of Brandon Venable on steel guitar. The metallic body of the instrument casting him in an eerie glow, the guitarist looked almost nonchalant as his strings cracked out a solo that split the song in half.

While the scraping melody flicked from his acoustic guitar, Doug’s sliding honey vocals rushed from his smiling face:

“Charlie stared that crowd right down and he started to sing. He said, I’m a hungry man.. and I’m gonna chew you up and swallow you whole, but I ain’t going home till I get my fill.’”

Doug sang, as unabashedly as the protagonist of his song.
In those devil-may-care words, in that careening orchestration and crashing rhythm— filmmaker Kevin Willing and sound engineer Allen Antoine captured the energy of lightning bugs in a jar, of Blood & Dust.

 

 

Cellista Interviews Lady Lazarus

An Interview with Lady Lazarus

Lady Lazarus cloaks lyrical reflections in impressionistic musical musings. From her debut album Mantic, recorded in 2011 at her home in San Jose, Melissa Sweat has shown a penchant for a home-grown sound. That first album, mailed to Pitchfork by her brother, received glowing reviews, praising her musical musings.  Since then, Lady Lazarus has risen, putting forth “All My love in Half Light,” recorded by Jason Quever of Papercuts in SF.  On March 3rd 2015, Sweat  unveiled her newest tableau,”Miracles” on her label Queen’s Ransom. Lady Lazarus

I first met Melissa in 2011, backstage at The Uptown Nightclub in Oakland at her headlining set.  At the time, I was playing cello for a SF indie-rock band by the name of Doe Eye on the same bill. I was immediately struck by Melissa’s glowing California-girl image. With sun-kissed, blonde tresses, and a glowing smile she delivered a set that was more invitational in nature than I had expected from a project named after a poem by Sylvia Plath.  Even then, Melissa had the foresight to see her project would take flight, leading her from her childhood home of San Jose to Georgia, to LA  to Joshua Tree, CA to Austin, TX where she now resides, working on a multitude of creative projects.

What I have always loved about Melissa, and what has remained consistent in her style, is her openness and willingness to share her creative process. It was just prior to Mantic, she began teaching herself music after purchasing an electronic keyboard from a Craigslist ad. Pitchfork noted in a 2011 review of her track “Eye in the Eye of the Storm,” that Lady Lazarus gives the bare minimum song elements but is able to provide ample blanketing for her nostalgia-tinged words. Her subsequent album All My Love in Half Light is testimony to her musical growth; themes, musical motifs, and technique are more evident, but she still retains her invitational style. The strength of her lyrics, neither overwrought nor simplistic are enhanced with her placement of sound (in a Debussyian sort of way) meant not to fit in any formal sonata scheme but placed deliberately to enhance her words. She places words with music the way Debussy played tone clusters within Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun. Within a formal structure, Lady Lazarus falls outside the box, she is beyond the confines of the pop formula.

Via an email exchange, that was sparked by my interest in San Jose’s thriving artistic culture that is receiving more and more attention, Melissa shared her thoughts about growing up in San Jose and how it shaped her and Lady Lazarus.

Where did you go in San Jose to be alone?  Were there particular spots you would head to when you were pissed off and needed refuge?

Two of my favorite spots to be alone in San Jose were at parks: hiding among the roses in the municipal Rose Garden, and sitting on top of the big green hill watching planes fly overhead at the Guadalupe River Park & Gardens on Taylor and Coleman. I’d also like to put on my headphones and go on extremely long walks and generally ghost all around downtown. One of my favorite areas to explore was the warehouse district where the Art Ark is and Citadel art studios. The door to the Citadel oddly used to be open and you could go roam around in there, though you probably weren’t supposed to. I had no idea that there were so many artists living and working in this strange little section of downtown, and I loved discovering and exploring it.

You moved several times from SJ. With each move what kind of homesickness (if any) did you experience?

I love San Jose, but I don’t think I could ever live there permanently–still, I long for it all the time. It was such a comfortable and nurturing place for me to grow up as a young creative person, and I always felt safe exploring it on my own, wandering, and going on adventures. There’s always been an innocence and humility to San Jose that I love, and I hope it always remains. It’s never going to be San Francisco or Oakland, and that’s a good thing. I miss the old familiar places and my friends when I think of San Jose… and I miss the wonderful times I had growing up and when I returned. I think if I moved back now, though, it wouldn’t be the same for me. Right now I’m living in Joshua Tree, a village of 8,000 people after living in Los Angeles, and I’m not sure what I want out of a city… maybe I’m not sure where I belong in one, or if I belong anywhere, really. I think I have a lot more exploring to do, but San Jose will always be home to me, even if I don’t live there.

In what ways has San Jose changed during your time growing up? Are there any particular changes that are significant to you?

San Jose is becoming more hip in some ways with all the development and new businesses downtown, but I worry that it will become too posh and lose its weird edge. I heard that the Blank Club is closing, which is really very sad. It was a refuge and a void will be created, but maybe the scene is growing older and the younger kids are just into other things. Things just change, and I’m not sure what it means to be “alternative” or “underground” in San Jose now. But I don’t live there, so maybe there are a lot of great things going on that I don’t know about. But I think when I was growing up San Jose it felt a bit more Slacker-esque (like the Linklater film) and now it feels a lot less weird and more grown up with its shit together–and I think I miss the weirder side.

When you are onstage, what thoughts do you have the moment before you begin playing?

I try not to have too many thoughts, and just try to feel. And what I feel is my most beautiful, inside and out, and I try to feel and be, well, magnanimous.

What is happening for you in 2015 (music or otherwise)?

I’m releasing my third album Miracles on my new label Queen’s Ransom. It came out on 3/3/15, and the title track is out now. Take a listen… and send my love to San Jose, please. I miss it.

by Cellista

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Wells: The Chapel

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At the beginning of the night, the main floor of The Chapel, a converted mortuary on Valencia street is empty. The venue, with red lit lamps and 40’ foot ceilings is stunning.

Emily Neveu at The Chapel
Emily Neveu at The Chapel

Before Ms. Wells takes the stage, the dreamscape sounds of Emily Neveu open the night.. “The other Emily,” as Ms. Neveu refers to herself with a dry delivery manages to break up the initially cold atmosphere that the venue delivers.

Performance spaces set the tone for performers, informing the audience of the aural programming as much as the acoustics. A space like the Chapel is a tough venue to open. Filling a room, sparse with audience is no easy feat, especially with the only open bar in the two room space is the one outside the performance area. Neveu’s set manages to warm the space and coupled with her sarcastic wit between songs, they set the stage for Emily Well’s entry.

As our main act steps on stage, the room becomes instantly quiet. The murmuring of her fans stops. They are captivated before she even begins. She transfixes audiences with her musicianship, the kind of performer who makes a room quiet the second she begins. She’s a storyteller, and her audience is eager for a tale.

Emily Wells | photo by Nicolas Hadacek
Emily Wells at The Chapel

On stage is a drum, pedals, keys, and a violin all manipulated by her into a tapestry of sound. She weaves together a combination of the poetic and the everyday. Her observances are unpretentious narratives.

Behind her a film of Pina Bausch plays silently. Well’s set is the live accompaniment that makes Bausch’s movements audible. Between layers of melody and textures, Well’s shares moments from her journeys. After each song, the audience moves in closer, reveling in her stories of being on the road.

The acoustics of The Chapel are ideal for this symphony of one. The reverberation of looped violin, mixed with excerpts from classical repertoire that acts as liaisons between songs feel authentic in a hall reminiscent of a cathedral.

Tonight we’re her passengers.

 

by Cellista


 

This article is long overdue. Meant to be published after I saw her perform at SF’s “The Chapel,” on October 21st, 2015.

 

 

 

Hey! Rosetta! Hey Hey Rosetta! [REVIEW] November 2nd at Brick and Mortar

After a particularly smashing weekend of local music Halloween madness, I was excited to have an evening of dastardly decompression at Brick and Mortar Music Hall with Hey Rosetta.

And while this blog doesn’t typically showcase touring talent, I thought it fitting to make an exception for these accomplished Canucks, who I first saw locally at the Rickshaw Stop back in 2011.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/167447407″ params=”color=c2bccc&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

 

Hey Rosetta is incredibly tight band that goes from heartfelt melodic whispers to distorted guitar explosivity at the drop of a hat. Singer/songwriter Tim Baker leads the group back and forth between these two extremes, and their swelling sense of dynamics is remarkable to behold live.

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Yes, all seven of them did fit on that tiny stage.

One part rock band and one part micro-orchestra, Hey Rosetta includes multi-instrumentalists Romesh Thavanathan, Kinley Dowling, and Mara Pellerin, who play cello, violin, and french horn respectively.

Each of them also plays keys and sings, and so their show was something of a musical ‘musical chairs,’ as band members shuffled around on stage and settled into a slightly different configuration for each song.

IMG_1721
See! All seven of them on that tiny stage.

Celebrating their 10 year anniversary as a band and their excellent new album Second Sight, Hey Rosetta returned in November 2015 to a warm and enthusiastic crowd. Their set focused primarily on their new record (Soft Offering for the Oft Suffering, Harriet, Kid Gloves, Alcatraz) as well as favorites from their 2011 album Seeds (Young Glass, Welcome).

Local trio Scary Little Friends opened up the show. Their combination of tight vocal heavy surf-rock, which oscillated from rhythmically driving to light and instrospective, was a welcome addition to the line-up. As were Hey Rosetta’s tourmates Yukon Blonde, who play a sort of freewheeling-Americana-meets-synth-rock. All in all, I had a great Monday night. And with Hey Rosetta’s music in your eardrums, this too could be your reward. This could be it.

Watch Hey Rosetta’s 2010 La Blogotheque performance, which was filmed in what appears to be a parking garage with a view of the TransAmerica pyramid (???) below:

 

A Spoonful of Honey Helps The Medicine Go Down

Honeydrops

“I’m feeling belligerent” said California Honeydrops singer/guitarist/trumpeteer Lech Wierzynski during their first set on Friday at the Fillmore.

Lech came on stage with an attitude, determined to get people dancing – even if it meant bossing everyone around. Last night’s show, part of a two-night stint at San Franicsco’s legendary fruit-sharing Fillmore, celebrates the release of the California Honeydrops’ new album A River’s Invitation.

The Honey Jug Band
The Honey Jug Band

 

The “Honey Jug Band,” a stripped-down version of the Honeydrops & friends dressed as hillbillies in overalls, opened the show. Their set featured enough junky pint-sized instruments to make an Antiques Roadshow fan salivate. Think washboard, guitar and horns, as well as the harmonica (played by Josh “The train’s a’roarin’ in!”Howell), and the infamous soul tub.

And what’s a jug band without an actual jug! Though Pete Devine looked like he was sippin’ down moonshine mighty fierce, he was actually playing the jug (as a percussive instrument) with his mouth. Watch a short clip below:

The @cahoneydrops took to it at The Fillmore last night. Here's an instrumental, part of their set as the "Honey Jug Band."

A post shared by Van Goat formerly Bear Lincoln (@vangoatband) on

 

Other great moments included George Jones’ The King is Gone, Pumpkin Pie (the dirtiest kid-friendly song there is), and when each member of the band jumped off the stage, one-by-one, to play their instrument among the crowd.

Lorenzo points it out during the Honeydrops' second set.
Lorenzo points it out during the Honeydrops’ soul/funk set.

 

The Honeydrops emerged for their second set after a sweeping costume change, from ‘podunk’ to ‘mo’funk.’ Ditching their barefeet and overalls for bellbottoms and suede jackets, the band kicked the energy up with their full electric set.

Highlights included Wilson Pickett’s Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You & an extra-long version of their “hit When It Was Wrong (which Lech insisted was a cautionary tale about the importance of ‘communication’ in a healthy relationship). But the most powerful moment of the night was when they brought Freddie Hughes, an Oakland soul legend, to perform his Top 20 R&B hit from 1968 Send My Baby Back. Flying around the highest highs and slinking to the lowest lows, Hughes and his voice delivered a truly wonderful performance.

 

A California Honeydrops live show is a real party, more so than any other live concert I’ve attended. And the closer you are to the stage, the more you feel it. And that’s the only troubling thing about a Honeydrops show. It is fun – so fun – but the feverish spirit of the room, if you’re not totally into it, can feel evangelical.

It’s the same “lose yourself in music” release you’d get from an EDM show, but for a live music crowd. Visceral, communal, and undeniably fun.

So if you’re lucky enough to be reading this article on 9/12/15 before their second show at the Fillmore, I would strongly recommend dipping into your piggy bank to catch them tonight. Otherwise, keep your ears to the ground: their full tour dates are listed here: http://www.cahoneydrops.com/tour-dates/

 

Tangled, Tied Up, and Drowned by Sound: Bent Knee Returns to Art Boutiki

“I imagine your dead body lying in my bed..” Bent Knee vocalist Courtney mused, playing a light tinkling of bell sounds across her keyboard. With these first few notes the audience plunged into the depths of Bent Knee’s sound- depths sometimes murky and dark, sometimes clear and cutting, and always shocking to a new audience, surprised to suddenly find they could breathe underwater all along.

Bent Knee are not an SF band in the geographic sense, but their establishment as regulars at SLG Art Boutiki in San Jose make their yearly Bay Area appearances something special. Like migrating birds they darken our skies, making the stark light piercing through their feathers that much brighter.

IMG_8076

On this year’s tour from their Boston home, violinist Chris noted they would be trying newer material. “Whatever constructive criticism you have, we’d appreciate it,” he said before sound check.

“We’ve had some feedback with each album that the music has become more and less accessible,” said Courtney. “In the content.. and the music..”

“See if you can come up with an album name while we’re playing,” added Chris.

“I’m leaning toward ‘Six Jaunty Sea Captains, We,’” said drummer Gavin, smiling and nodding enthusiastically. A native of the Bay Area, his parents were in the front row of this show, swaying and singing along. Swaying to Bent Knee is a potentially dangerous act. With complex hit patterns, and unique time signatures, attempts to dance to Bent Knee can lead to some erratic jolting. And jolt the audience did, that is, when sweeping soundscapes hadn’t stunned them into silence.

At the helm of these soundscapes, live engineer Vince wore studio headphones and could be seen in the back corner of the stage pressing keys in his microKORG by the glow of his Macbook. Although a background figure on stage- sometimes hidden faceless behind a gas mask- with just the slightest nudge Vince’s sound wave manipulation can turn Courtney’s already mind-blowing vocals into something almost terrifying in its alien beauty.

As Art Boutiki’s sound man Dustin tested the limits of these vocals for speaker-blowing land-mines, he requested the band turn up bassist Jessica’s effects.

“She doesn’t have that many effects,” responded Courtney. “She’s leveling up; she’s spending time in the grass.”

“Pokemon jokes!” Shouted Gavin from behind his drum set. During the performance, Gavin’s precise, though seemingly erratic hits challenged Jessica’s skills as a rhythm collaborator. As if harnessed by her bass, Jessica lashes out at Gavin’s baiting beats like a wild animal. The movements are all in good fun, as each member of Bent Knee seems to be having the time of their life as they play with equal parts savagery and serenity.

From these movements their songs leak out, pulling each of the members like marionettes who have taken hold of their own strings. Playing a few songs off of their November 2014 release “Shiny Eyed Babies,” the band members broke into grins to hear their song lyrics whispered and oftentimes shouted back at them by the audience.

This energy carried into the band’s new material. With songs that crept down carpeted basement stairs into locked cabinets, songs that chanted in four-part drones, and songs that unsettlingly sounded like powerhouse pop anthems about flashbulbs and LEDS, Bent Knee’s new offerings kept the audience in a sort of trance as their captivating performance continued to generate electric energy.

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Nearly an hour and a half later, the audience came up for air. Fans and converts alike took in a collective gasp as the band appeared to have completed their set. “Way Too Long?” guitarist Ben asked the crowd. “Do you mean the song, or our set was way too long?” With an ominous pounding of tom and snare followed by a simultaneous, gut-wrenching howl from vocals and strings, Bent Knee launched into their final song for the evening: Way Too Long off of Shiny Eyed Babies.

Granted a few more minutes to show them what the Bay Area is made of, the audience climbed and clawed, now tangled in Bent Knee’s marionette strings. It was truly an experience to be tied up with sound, and it will be a different experience altogether when Bent Knee comes back again next year to show us something new.

SPACE PROM is THIS SATURDAY

How was your high school prom? Good? Or lame? Did you wear a corsage or tuxedo, and have your very own grand entrance? Did one of your rebellious teenage friends spike the punch? Were you unexpectedly voted prom king or queen?

But let’s be honest… Wasn’t something missing? Didn’t you feel that, I don’t know, the DJ should have played the Imperial March at least once? Like it could have used at least one sandworm chandelier hanging from the ceiling?  Or that someone should have been dressed as Plavalaguna from the Fifth Element?

Well friends, you clearly feel the way I do. So this Saturday, a special treat of an event is happening at San Francisco’s own Pianofight. Presenting….

1513706_953780511350904_1391623430523257988_n
SPACEPROM

 

SPACEPROM. Space. Prom. Prom from space. Prom in space.

The 4th annual Space Prom will be “a groovy party of hit classics from the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s.” Featuring live music from The Y Axes (whose members Devin and Alexi are celebrating their birthdays in conjunction with this show) and the fabulous Bent Knee (on tour from Boston). DJ MacFergus also takes the stage.

Best of all: tickets to Space Prom are FREE. FREE! Costumes are highly encouraged, check out music and videos from both bands below and don’t miss out!

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=501934510 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=333333 tracklist=false artwork=small]

 

Details:

Saturday, July 18th

Pianofight. 144 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

NO COVER.

Music by:

The Y Axes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAPYhU8aI8A
Bent Knee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-FXsZEq_ro
Guest DJ MacFergus!

Y Axes
The Y Axes

Stream Wicked Man’s New Single “Soil Leaking Water”

Wicked Man
Wicked Man

 

Wicked Man writes music that digs under your skin. On paper, this group combines elements of jazz and math-rock with processed guitar and eerie melodies. So, it’s not exactly pop music.

But you may be surprised by how catchy their new song “Soil Leaking Water” is. Both the vocal melody and groove are rock-solid, that’s what initially kept me coming back for more. And with repeated listens, new layers and textures are exposed – ones that didn’t reveal themselves after the first play. Very cool.

As 1,600 Soundcloud streams within 10 days of its release demonstrates, it’s clear that others feel similarly. Check out “Soil Leaking Water” below:

 

Wicked Man‘s new single Soil Leaking Water is a slithering, subterranean song that grooves harder than anything they’ve ever done. It’s also weirder, darker, and heavier than their previous Fingerships EP.

Their sound combines Max Denny’s syncopated drumming with Andrew Kunz’s haunting keyboards with the strangely plucked guitars and raspy vocals of frontman Yonatan Tietzz. Comparisons to Alt-J barely scratch the surface of this trio.

Just you think the song starts to make sense, it switches into a twisted 3/4 beat and then disappears completely.

 

Wicked Man in focus
In focus

Wicked Man plays the Legionnaire Saloon with Bourgeouis Speedball and El Elle on August 21st. More info available at their website Wicked-Man.com