David Crosby is alone again following yet another fallout with his partners in harmony, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash (and sometimes Neil Young). Having once taken 21 years between solo albums, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame double inductee (once with the Byrds, once with Crosby, Stills & Nash) is now prepping his third new release is three years, “Sky Trails.” The rock album follows last year’s acoustic collection, “Lighthouse,” which was produced by Michael League of Snarky Puppy. Crosby, 75, spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle from his home in Santa Ynez.
If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reality, it’s the explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch. In just a few short years, the group —saxophonist Mike Wilbur, fellow horn player Wenzl McGowen, and drummer James Muschler — has gone from playing on New York City subway platforms to touring with the likes of Beats Antique, They Might Be Giants, and Lotus, as well as their own headline shows in major venues around the country.
The band members all speak reverently of meditation and consciousness and the role it plays in their music (McGowen believes his introduction to it, spurred on in part by Wilbur and Muschler, saved his life), but equally close to their hearts are the environmental causes they champion. Moon Hooch tries to live up to their green ideals while traveling as much as possible, playing benefit shows, supporting local farmers and co-ops, participating in river cleanups, filming informative videos for their fans, and more. The band even runs a food blog, Cooking In The Cave, in which they highlight the healthy, sustainable, organic recipes they utilize with their mobile kitchen setup on tour.
For the members of Moon Hooch, commitments to consciousness and environmentalism and veganism and philosophy and peace aren’t separate from their commitment to music, but actually integral parts of it. It’s all tied into that same core approach that led to their discovery on the subway platform: try, even if it’s just a little bit every day, even if it’s just with the power of your mind, to make the world less like it is and more like you wish it could be. It’s an ambitious vision, to be sure, but considering the band’s track record at turning their thoughts and dreams into action and reality, perhaps it’s only a matter of time. - SF Sonic
Catch them in action at GAMH on Fri. 4/28! Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers will be kicking off the night, and tickets are still available!
Okilly Dokilly is the world's only Nedal band. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, a majority of the band's lyrics are direct Ned quotes. The band's members include Head Ned, Red Ned, Thread Ned, Stead Ned and Bled Ned.
Established in 2015, the band found success before ever playing their first show, becoming a viral phenomenon after releasing just a few press photos and a 4-song demo. Within 2 weeks, the band had nearly 30,000 Facebook fans and was featured by numerous publications including Billboard, Time, The Independent, BBC, Esquire, Vice and many more.
Okilly Dokilly's live shows are high energy affairs that weave together comedy and brutality. Guttural screams and pounding drums provide a soundtrack for the pummeling of an inflatable donut as green sweaters and round glasses blur across the stage.
Playing Friday 4/28 at Slim's with Beatallica!
The anticipated second leg of Superjoint’s Caught Up In The Gears US live takeover will commence this Friday, April 21st in San Antonio, Texas. The eighteen-date journey will work its way west, coming to a close on May 14th in Dallas, Texas. Support will again be provided by Motor City thrashers Battlecross and noise rock eccentrics/Housecore labelmates Child Bite, also of Detroit, who both trekked out with the band during the first leg of the tour in January.
Comments Superjoint frontman Philip H. Anselmo, “It is our pleasure to be playing a show near you this April and May with Battlecross and Child Bite. Come as you are, bring a guest, spread the word! Let the generations unite! So much love to all the incredibly awesome Superjoint fans out there!” - Earsplit PR
On April 1, 2016, Chris Purkea released Back in the Ring. She left her home base of Portland, OR and embarked on a tour with her band that found them crisscrossing the United States and Europe playing over 70 shows in less than a year. Now, one year later, Chris is heading out for a string of U.S. tour dates to celebrate the upcoming April 2017 release of her new live CD / DVD combo, which was recorded during the Back in the Ring release tour at Jammin Java in Vienna, VA.
Chris’s elegant emotionality as a vocalist, and her flair and immediacy as a lyricist have garnered her favorable comparisons to Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, and Patty Griffin. She’s earned accolades from such distinguished taste-making outlets as The New York Times, Paste, Magnet, Billboard.com, and The AllMusic Guide. She’s shared the stage with such diverse and esteemed artists as Dar Williams, The Lumineers, The Cowboy Junkies, Gregory Alan Isakov, Martin Sexton, and Ani DiFranco. Along the way, Chris has remained fiercely independent, selling over 50,000 albums through her own label, Sad Rabbit Records.
Tickets are still available for her show at GAMH on Thurs. 4/20 - with Mothers Fathers Sisters Brothers!
How do you write about bands that don’t exist?
To be fair, Dreamcar — the recently announced joint venture of AFI lead singer Davey Havok and No Doubt members Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont, and Adrian Young — does exist, but barely. Their first single, the upbeat rocker “Kill for Candy,” premiered on Los Angeles radio station KROQ in early March. They’ve since released another single, “Born to Lie” — and that’s it.
The band’s eponymous studio debut drops on May 12, which meant that when I entered Great American Music Hall on Sunday night, I had roughly six minutes’ worth of music to use as context.
In some ways, this scenario is a welcome departure from the normal routine, wherein fans go see a band they love hoping they play their favorite songs. Radiohead and Green Day don’t have to sell me on their music with their performances – I’ve already bought in a long time ago. With Dreamcar, the stakes were somewhat different, even if the results were ultimately the same.
Lead singer Davey Havok seemed charmed to be playing a space as small as Great American, a contrast from the larger venues necessary to house fans of AFI, the dark pop-punk outfit he’s been fronting for nearly 20 years. At one point, he scaled an amp to grab the hand of a fan reaching down from the balcony. His charisma was infectious as he paraded through a series of new songs.
The No Doubt section of the group seemed equally enthused. Bassist Tony Kanal wore a genuine smile for much of the evening as he laid down the rhythm for songs that often found their kindred spirit in the ether between Duran Duran and Tears for Fears. If forced to decide, the music was closer to AFI’s brand of emotionally saturated punk than the bouncy ska of No Doubt, but in all honesty, Havok wasn’t bluffing when he told Billboard last year that this music “doesn’t sound like AFI or No Doubt.”
Instead, what echoed through Great American for a scant 45 minutes (that includes the encore) was something more in-line with New Wave by way of Live 105. It’s the kind of music fans of Fitz and the Tantrums will likely love, a brash but friendly melding of genres that invokes the ’80s without alienating the Hot Topic set.
Hopefully those younger listeners have spent the past year getting reacquainted with the late David Bowie, because one of the short evening’s highlights was a cover of the Thin White Duke’s “Moonage Daydream.”
“How about a song by a guy who made everything cool?” Havok asked at one point. Given the rapturous response of fans who had clearly grabbed tickets for their chance to get up-close-and-personal with the AFI frontman, it wasn’t immediately apparent whom Havok was referring to.
Credit should also be paid to the two backup singers and the saxophone player, who were all female and did a phenomenal job. You know Dreamcar is down with the 1980s when the sax solos start flying, and if Sunday night was any indication of what to expect from their album, it might be time to get your DeLorean out of storage.
Still, the question remains: How do we judge that which is still beginning to form?
After all, Dreamcar’s San Francisco show marked only their third live performance ever, part of a six concert warm-up run to their performance at Coachella later this month.
The answer, it seems, is to be forgiving and to exercise patience, but in truth, those efforts were entirely unnecessary.
Dreamcar took the stage like a band that has been at this for a long while, and in truth, they have. Sure, the name may have changed, but the players are all familiar. This is still the bassist with a Mohawk who wields his dexterity with furious abandon. This is still the lead singer who can seemingly touch the heart of every fan he sees, even if only for a moment, even when that moment is soaked in sweat and reverb.
They’re called Dreamcar now, but you know them. Or at least you will soon. - Zack Ruskin / SF Weekly
Bay Area musician Austin Cairns aka R Beny is a true ambient wizard. To be honest, I only discovered him about 6 months ago thanks to his fantastic Youtube channel, but he's been inspiring the modular synth community for some time now. His debut album 'Full Blossom of the Evening' was one of the best surprises of 2016 (I listed it as #3 in my Best Albums of 2016 list) and a wonderful glimpse into his hypnotic ambient world, reflecting on nature and emotion. For those new to R Beny's music, his music is a powerful, mesmerising mix of sounds that layer and mingle, harmoniously combining, disassembling, and submerging into one another. Fans of Stars of the Lid, Oval and Tim Hecker will absolutely love R Beny.
In this interview R Beny talks about how Nature plays a big role in his creativity and how falling in love with synthesizers helped him recover his creativity after hitting a wall creatively and quitting making music for nearly a year.
Click HERE for his interview with That Special Record, and be sure to head to GAMH this Sunday (April 16) to see him open for Bing & Ruth!
San Francisco singer and songwriter Chuck Prophet has been entertaining audiences for decades. He talks to KQED’s Marisa Lagos about his new album, Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins, and the tension between gentrification and the arts in his hometown. He closes the interview with a performance of one of his new songs, “A Bad Year for Rock and Roll.”
Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express + Cocker Power perform at GAMH on Sat. April 15!
When Steve Jobs calls, you answer. This was certainly the case for songstress, Yael Naim, whose folk ditty “New Soul” was handpicked by Jobs to soundtrack a landmark commercial for Apple’s first generation MacBook Air in 2007. As the company demonstrated the laptop’s sleek and simple design, Naim’s lyrics took the spotlight. “I’m a new soul / I came to this strange world / Hoping I could learn a bit ’bout how to give and take,” she sang over a bright and bubbling melody, before breaking into a catchy chorus of la la las. The world was hooked.
Naim went from virtually unknown to global sensation in a matter of days, as “New Soul” rocketed to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The self-titled album from whence it came received critical acclaim across the continents, hitting #11 in France and charming listeners with its sweetly bilingual discography, including a uniquely pared-down version of Britney Spears’ hit single, “Toxic.”
Born in France in 1978 to Jewish Tunisian parents, Naim has long heralded a diverse array of inspirations. After moving to Israel at age four, she became enamored of pop music upon discovering the Beatles and soon fell in love with Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell as well. She cites all these artists as some of her earliest and strongest influences.
Before long, young Naim was performing with Winton Marsalis and backing musicians in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv. She started her first band, The Anti-Collision, while fulfilling her required military service for Israel, returned to Paris at age 21 to pursue a career in music, and soon snagged a record deal with EMI. Her first album, released simply under the name Yael, debuted in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2007 that Naim got her big break.
Naïm attributes much of her success to a very strong creative and romantic partnership with West Indian musician and producer David Donatien, who has collaborated with her on her past three albums. “When the Steve Jobs thing happened, it was amazing because we didn’t imagine this kind of impact,” Naim has said. “We were still sitting in my little apartment in Paris. We didn’t have any money, anything. It was a homemade album.”
C.W. Stoneking is a born entertainer. Dressed in all white, he emerges onstage in a black polka-dot bowtie with slicked-back hair, looking like a blonde Pee Wee Herman with hand tattoos. Surrounded by a full band complete with a horn section and sexy backup singers in spangly outfits, Stoneking flashes one of his signature showstopping smiles and grabs the mic. He talks and laughs and jokes with the audience, telling tales of voodoo and vaudeville, African tribal mythology and the history of yodeling, in his strange Australian/American drawl.
The showmanship is disarming, but when he starts to sing, Stoneking’s voice is nothing like anyone could have expected. It is low and scratchy and woeful. It is Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Bukka White, Big Bill Broonzy. It is the blues, as if packed into a time capsule and siphoned all the way here to 2016.
Born and raised in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, Stoneking learned to love music from a very young age, thanks to his American schoolteacher father, a fan of 1920s and 1930s blues. The genre provided a welcome alternative to the ’80s pop music that dominated radios at the time, and young Christopher (as Stoneking is known to family and friends) consumed it voraciously and from every angle: gospel and ragtime, calypso and hillbilly, boogie woogie and hokum, Chicago and Memphis and Mississippi Delta. By the time he entered adolescence, Stoneking had taught himself to play the banjo, the guitar, and a prized vintage dobro from 1931—the same instrument that classic blues legends of that era used to play.
By 13 he was performing with local bands and busking around town, developing his skills as both a serious musician and a lighthearted performer. In 1998, after moving to Melbourne, he privately released a self-titled album of covers and started a band called C.W. Stoneking & the Blue Tits. The band broke up less than two years later after the death of mandolin player Charlie Bostock, but Stoneking soon went back to playing solo, doubling down on his classic early blues sound.
Bringing The Bay Beat back with a brand new interview!
Benjamin Cohn: Can you introduce yourself for anyone who may not know?
Call Me Ace: What’s good everybody! Call Me Ace - I got what you need, check me out! Haha.
BC: How long have you been in the Bay Area and what has your impression been so far?
Ace: I moved out here in summer 2014 to get my MBA at UC Berkeley, and I’d be lying if I tell you I ain’t love it here! Most my family and friends are still out East, so that part’s tough. But this weather man…also, just the fact that everybody’s mad laid back here. Being here also has given me more exposure to new experiences, lifestyle, and people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I can’t complain at all.
BC: Where did you grow up? What are some of the biggest differences and similarities to California?
Ace: I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, man, which is much more like Oakland than it is Berkeley. So when I go to Oakland I get that small feeling that I’m back home. And of course, what you see going on in parts of Oakland you also see happening back in Bridgeport, too. The biggest differences I’ve seen though would be the slang, attitude, and music styles. The Bay is it’s own unique bubble – I’m still learning about it.
BC: You took 5 years off from making music. You’ve said that you aren’t picking up where you left up but rather starting over completely. Why is that distinction important?
Ace: Back in the day, even though my nickname had always been Ace, my stage name was “Tha Pyro” - a “fire spitter,” as it were, haha. When I look back on what I rapped about though, while there were small glimpses of deep content, despite my thinking that I was being different, I was really just rapping about the same ol’ things as everyone else, maybe just with bigger words or a more detailed rhyme schemes.
Coming back now into music, I’m starting over. I’m not bringing old “Pyro” tracks into my track lists (even though with some searching, you could definitely still find some of that stuff online). Instead, it’s a new leaf, new mindset, new perspectives. I’ve grown a lot in those 5 years – my life is literally not the same as it was in many different ways. That’s why I’m saying that my goal isn’t to pick up where I left off or try and make up for “loss time.” For me, this isn’t just a whole different chapter. It’ s a whole different book. A sequel, rather than just “chapter 26.” That’s how I’m treating my resurgence in hip-hop.
BC: How does it feel to be back? How has the reception been?
Ace: It feels great man! People that knew me back then called me Ace anyway, so the name change wasn’t crazy, and they love the music still which is great. People that didn’t know me before are also feeling the vibes and songs I’m putting out too. I’m still someone who cares about what I’m saying and how, and that’s what’s been receiving the most positive feedback. That’s the gift. People also have given me great feedback on how I speak about various aspects of my life, from my past experiences to my faith. It makes things much realer for the listener, allows them to engage with me more, and, in a sense, make it feel like we’re having a dialogue about it all. Definitely inspires me to make more.
BC: 5 years later, you must have a much different view about a lot in regards to music and the music business. What do you hope to achieve this time around?
Ace: Oh for sure – being in business school also helped to give me a more professional perspective about how to engage in the music world. From having my own label – Light Armor Music – to not taking shortcuts around high-quality music. I definitely understand and appreciate the business side of music much more than when I was a 19-20 year old just trying to write, record, and throw in the blind.
At the same time though, I’m not doing this to become famous and make a lot of money. I don’t need to make music to put bread on the table. I don’t have to depend on my art as my “one shot to having a successful life.” Not having that burden is very freeing. It allows me to really be an artist, to express myself the way I want, and use my gift in the way that I feel called to do. I love to entertain, encourage, and inspire, and that’s what I intentionally hope to achieve this time around.
BC: And lastly, can you tell us about your upcoming project? The Out the Wilderness series, why did you call it that? What is this project all about?
Ace: Yea man. From a logistical standpoint, the Out the Wilderness project is a monthly series of track releases, and at the end there will be a final full project available. Conceptually, “Out the Wilderness” means two things to me: 1) simply, five years of “not creating” has been somewhat of a wilderness, so making music is coming out of that environment, and 2) moving from New York/Metro Area to the Bay Area and leaving my friends and family behind has made these past couple years also feel like a different type of wilderness in a way. Now though that I’m about to graduate from business school, get married, and start a new career, there’s just this huge sense of transitions and new phases that I’m experience in this season. This project is me expressing all of that.
BC: Thank you for your time! Any final/last thoughts you want included?
Ace: I’m a fan of real support and conversations, so if you’re feeling the music and want to stay up-to-date with me, please join me newsletter (http://eepurl.com/bYii1b) and follow me on the Instagram (@acexpatt) and Facebook (Call Me Ace) And we can stay connected!
Purple Pam (aka DJ Pam The Funkstress) is going to be taking over Slim’s for the Purple Passion Dance Party 7/29! Get ready for a night of singing, dancing, and well… more dancing. It’s Purple Pam, so naturally, there’ll be plenty of Prince in the mix, but this time, she’s bringing you some current faves and throwback jams, too. Think, Rihanna back to back with Salt-N-Pepa. Yeah. We’ll see you there.
Get a taste of what Purple Pam has in store for the Purple Passion Dance Party with a playlist curated by The Funkstress herself.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, a town steeped in classic country music and the culture that surrounds it, Robert Ellis has been performing since his teens. Now at the ripe old age of 27, the singer/songwriter and guitarist can look back at a career that already spans over a decade, starting out in 2005 under the moniker Eyes Like Lions. In many ways, Ellis’ musical journey is a classic tale of growth, of experimentation, of creating and dismantling the various identities that we all create and dismantle as we mature.
But one thing is clear: Ellis is better now than he’s ever been. His latest album, the boldly eponymous Robert Ellis, is a clear indication of a young musician coming fully into his own, finding a solid sense of identity and basking within it, allowing for all the discordant parts of himself to float and settle. The self-produced record is number four for Ellis, one that critics have called “his finest work to date.” With the help of his trusty lead guitarist, Kelly Doyle, who has been recording with Ellis since 2011’s breakout LP Photographs, and a variety of other musical collaborators, the album incorporates Ellis’s signature country-folk sound with a wide variety of instrumental experimentation, from MIDI keyboards and ambient noise to synths and string sections.
“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
Mark Twain might not have said it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Here’s a playlist for those cold summer days featuring a few artists that will be playing Slim's & GAMH soon (and a few that aren't, but are still worth hearing).
Interested in these artists? Browse their shows here - #coldsummer.
And now for something completely different! Get ready, San Francisco, for an evening of immersive audio-visual entertainment with internationally acclaimed electro-acoustic music ensemble Stellamara, belly dancer extraordinaire Zoe Jakes, and avant-pop mastermind SORNE. All on their way to perform at this year’s Lighting in a Bottle festival at the end of May, these three one-of-a-kind acts will team up at the Great American Music Hall on May 22nd for a performance guaranteed to stimulate all the senses.
After over a decade of recording and performing an elegant blend of folk and classical music borrowing from a diverse range of traditions, Stellamara stands at the forefront of modern world music. Led by vocalist, composer, producer, and percussionist Sonja Drakulich, the group seamlessly blends the modern with the medieval. Drakulich’s haunting vocals evoke mist rising over the verdant plains of Westeros, bolstered by a profusion of rare instrumentals from bandmates Gari Hegedus, Evan Fraser, Sean Tergis, and Dan Cantrell. From the mandocello to the jaw harp to the n’goni to the oud, Stellamara’s musical artillery is one of the most impressive you’ll see on a single stage.
Born of Serbian and Hungarian heritage and raised in Los Angeles, the ethereal Drakulich found her passion early in life when she began studying classic Eastern European and Balkan singing as a child.