David Crosby On Finding His Happy Place Without CSN Or Y (Playing GAMH on Sun. 4/30)


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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.

 Q: You go two decades between solo records and now you’re on a roll. What’s going on?

A: I don’t know. I can’t get my act together to do it on a regular basis. I think the main thing is I left CSN. It was a great band — we did some great work — but it wasn’t a happy thing. It got to a point where we didn’t like each other, and you don’t want that to spoil music for you. Getting out of there opened the floodgates for new material. I’m at a very good place in my life.

Q: I’m happy to hear that, because it took a lot of years of suffering for you to get here.

A: Me, too. The suffering was mostly my fault. Getting out of it and getting here, I finally realized I was given this talent and I shouldn’t have been wasting time screwing around. I should have been working this whole time.

Q: Your voice sounds out of this world on “Lighthouse.” What are you gargling with?

A: Truthfully, I just don’t know. I can hear it, too. There isn’t any reason I should be singing well, but I am. I think, “Wow, I better use the s— out of this while I got it.” Which is what I’m trying to do. I think it’s a great record. It’s completely different than the “Sky Trails” record, which is the next one.

Q: Are you totally shredding on that one?

A: It’s definitely electric. There’s horns, keyboards, lead guitar. The rehearsals are going extremely well. I was singing “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” yesterday and I’ve got my eyes closed. We get to the end and somebody starts applauding and I turn around and it’s Paul McCartney. He and his entire band are sitting there on our couch because they were rehearsing next door. He said, “Play us another!” It was a great affirmation.

Q: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. When you look at the state of the country, do you feel like it all amounted to nothing?

A: I don’t think it was for nothing. We did manage to stop the Vietnam War, and we did some good work for civil rights. Music is a great tool for propagating ideas. Ideas are the most powerful thing on the planet. Underline that. I think this abysmal mess in Washington and these disgusting people infesting government are going to inspire some really good art.

Tickets are still available for An Evening With David Crosby & Friends at GAMH on Sun. 4/30!

Moon Hooch Bring The Party To GAMH On Fri. 4/28!


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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!

From the soundtrack of an Apple commercial to the stage at GAMH


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.”

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An Evening of Immersive Audio-Visual Entertainment with Stellamara


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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.

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Imarhan brings a new sound that is funky in all the right ways


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The Tuareg people live across the hot sands of the vast Saharan desert, in a land many might deem unlivable. A subset of the North African Berber ethnic group, the Tuareg are a nomadic pastoralist community known for moving constantly across national borders in Niger, Mali, and Algeria.

While much of the Tuareg music that reached Western audiences in the past tended to follow certain patterns, a new wave of Saharan musicians are dedicated to dismantling any preconceived notions one might have about the genre. The distinctive vocal distortions popularized by bands like Mdou Moctar or Group Inerane are gone, replaced by a new sound suffused with tranquility and passion, complex of composition and funky in all the right ways.

Imarhan, which means “the ones I care about” in the Tuareg language of Kamashek, embraces this new sound. Band members Iyad Moussa Ben Abderahmane, a.k.a. Sadam; Tahar Khaldi; Hicham Bouhasse; Haiballah Akhamouk; and Abdelkader Ourzig grew up together in Tamanrasset, Southern Algeria, in a Tuareg community of Northern Malian descent. Today, the five friends are poised to begin a world tour, ready to share their deep-rooted yet hip-shakingly modern desert rock from California to Copenhagen. They’ve held on tight to the deep bonds connecting them as band members and lifelong friends.

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Mount Moriah, Southern Rock roots with an Indie twist


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Something of a musical chameleon, North Carolina-born vocalist and guitarist Heather McEntire is no doubt a force to be reckoned with. Starting out her career as the leader of indie-duo-turned-punk-trio Bellafea, McEntire now stands firmly upon her Southern Rock roots as the fierce frontwoman of indie country rock outfit Mount Moriah.

Since coming out in 2013, McEntire has used her songwriting to explore and dissect the often-difficult experience of growing up queer in the South, particularly within the confines of her provincial Southern Baptist upbringing. McEntire’s piercing lyricism cuts to the core, exploring themes of religion and sex and the everyday melancholy of small-town life. Her gritty musical prowess has made her a critical darling and her soulful, twangy vocals have earned her comparisons to a young Dolly Parton.

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Artist Spotlight: Whiskerman


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Some people say the music scene in SF is dead - while we could debate that statement at length, it is much simpler to exemplify it, with a band like Whiskerman. Known in the Bay Area for their often raucous shows, Whiskerman is a Bay Area band that gives us hope for local live music (*please don't move to L.A.!). Now, with NOMAD, their new album produced by Jeff Saltzman (The Killers, Dept of Eagles), there’s no holding back. Whiskerman has taken to lush string arrangements framing bold prophetic lyricism in their most recent effort. Fronted by Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Graham Patzner, Whiskerman utilizes the structure of a classic rock band to convey a timeless familiarity, luring the listener into a new mythological landscape with a story for our time. The songs of NOMAD were written through the anxiety and uncertainty constantly revealing itself in our society towards the collapse of industrial civilization. Somehow they manage to make it all sound so catchy.

Whiskerman has gone through basically all of the growing pains a band can go through from their folkier self titled first album to their soul driven EP, BAD NEWS Produced by Tony Berg. Drummer Nick Cobbett, Lead Guitarist/Sitarist Charles Lloyd and Bass player Will Lawrence, all active members of this growing machine for 5 years, bring a tight groove, powerful dynamics and virtuosic chops to the landscape of Patzner’s songs. They finally found a match in Jeff Saltzman, who worked closely with the band to push them from their rock and roll backbone into a grander more symphonic sound. Working with their new label, OIM Records, the momentum and ambition continues to grow for this humble quartet.

On Friday January 8 at Great American Music Hall, Whiskerman will have their Album Release Party. Featuring Papa Bear and the Easy Love & Scary Little Friends - 2 more Bay Area bands that keep the flame burning, deep inside San Francisco.