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: Pat Martino Trio


When Pat Martino woke up from brain surgery after a near-fatal aneurysm in 1980, he remembered almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents, had difficulty recalling his own name, and could no longer remember how to play the guitar. Considering the fact that Martino was one of the world’s foremost jazz guitarists, this was a serious problem.
Born and raised Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in the mid-1940s, Martino’s early exposure to jazz music came from his father, Carmen “Mickey” Azzara, who once studied with Eddie Lang, the so-called “Father of Jazz Guitar.” An avid member of the city’s music scene and a singer at local clubs, Mickey took young Pat to all the local hotspots, introducing him to jazz legends such as Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane. To this day, Martino cites his father as one of his greatest influences and inspirations, and credits him for the decision to pursue a serious career in music.

Martino began playing guitar at age 12, dropping out of high school as a sophomore to focus on his craft full-time, and became deeply involved in Philadelphia’s growing rock scene alongside early luminaries such as Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, and Bobby Darin. He toured with jazz organist Charles Earland and gigged with Lloyd Price, Slide Hampton and Red Holloway before deciding to relocate to Harlem to immerse himself in the vibrant hard bop and soul jazz movement that was forming there.

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Artist Spotlight: Monophonics / People’s Blues of Richmond


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When Al Bell, co-owner of the legendary record label Stax, calls your band “one of the best live soul bands I have ever seen,” you know you’ve gotten something right. This is the reality for Monophonics, a sextet of San Franciscans who have been playing together for over a decade now.With a sound they describe as “psychedelic soul” and an energetic live show, Monophonics has been cultivating a fan base that spans the globe, from London to Istanbul and back home to the Bay.
Despite starting their career as an all-instrumental band, Monophonics added keyboardist and vocalist Kelly Finnigan to the mix in 2010, bringing a notable dose of soulful grit to their classic grooves. Over the years, they’ve performed with a wide range of music legends, from Al Green to Karl Denson to folk musician Rodriguez. They’ve toured music festivals and venues around the world, known for their superb musicianship and uncanny ability to make an audience get up and dance.

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My Breakfast with Bowie – Slim’s 1997


I had just started working at Slim's (in the box office) in 1997. The ladies of the office (Dawn and Dana) had somehow managed to keep it QUITE a secret that Live 105 was planning a Breakfast with Bowie morning here at the club. The day I found out, I nearly fell out of my chair. I offered to do anything to help... serve bagels, pour coffee, etc.... whatever it took. That's exactly what I did (at the rather ungodly hour of 7am!)To be in a room with just a couple hundred lucky fans... and Bowie... was amazing. I also decided to be brave and brought along my copies of Ziggy Stardust and The Hunger soundtrack on vinyl. Having only worked here at Slim's a few months, I had no idea if I might be crossing any lines, but I was ready. So ready.

The interview & performance were (of course) amazing. A car was parked and waiting in the alley and Bowie was soon to leave. I knew I had the green light when Dawn said "if you're going to do it, now is the time." I met him at the top of the stairs, said hello, thanked him for a wonderful morning and asked if he wouldn't mind signing my records. He joked that he had never seen The Hunger on vinyl - so of course I offered him my copy. Thankfully I got to keep it.

Needless to say, it was one of the best days... ever. I think of that morning quite often. The audio of that amazing morning surfaced on YouTube a couple of years ago and I've made it a habit of posting it on FB every year for his birthday.

Thank you, David Bowie, for... everything.

~ Tracey Buck

 

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.

Artist Spotlight : Benji Hughes


If this is the first time you've heard the name Benji Hughes - we truly don't think it'll be the last! Benji Hughes released his debut album, entitled A Love Extreme on New West Records in 2008. It's a killer album! And was recorded with acclaimed producer and Los Angeles session musician Keefus Ciancia. Hughes' live band during this period contained a rotating cast of notable members, including Barbara Gruska (of Jenny Lewis) on drums, and solo-artist and producer Jonathan Wilson on guitar and backing vocals!

In 2011 Hughes appeared on Jeff Bridges' self-titled country album. He also appeared on Meshell Ndegeocello's album Weather, contributing vocals on two songs and receiving writing credit on three.

Hughes released four new albums via his website in November 2014. XXOXOXXSongs in the Key of Animals, and OXOXOXOXOX are bundled as a set on 4 CDs or a flash drive. In August 2015 it was announced that Hughes signed to Merge Records and would release a new full-length album in 2016.

We can't wait to hear the new album, debuting in SF on Friday, January 29 at Slim's! Get your tickets now : http://www.eventbrite.com/e/benji-hughes-uke-hunt-slims-w-karina-denike-tickets-19787692521?ref=ebtn