“I brought my costume, it's in this bag. Well except for the pants.” The song and dance man of the Bay's vaudevillian acid bordello, Broadway Freddie (aka Miguel Strong, or Michael if you're trying to get technical about it) is already seated at a corner table at the Right Spot Cafe when I arrive to chat about Yard Dog Road Show's first headlining show in San Francisco in years (The Independent, Sat/20).
Broadway-Miguel is wearing a striped tie, suit jacket, and dapper fedora, which by Yard Dogs Road Show standards seems vaguely pedestrian. But then he stands up. Electric blue, leopard print, so-skinny-they're-emaciated jeans. “Miley Cyrus,” he confides, tossing his shoulder length blonde locks. Read more »
Bay Area hip-hop heads are grateful that Zion I walks these mean streets. Emcee Zumbi and DJ Amp Live have been expanding the boundaries of what dope beats and lifted lyrics can be ever since they fled the industry culture of Atlanta and hit the Oakland scene with 1997's underground hit Enter the Woods. Their vibe's stayed positivewhile resisting major label affliation and a lot of the turf warring that plagues hip-hop in a weird, stereotype-enhancing way around some of the Bay's venues.
We spoke with Morehouse College grad Zumbi over the phone on the cusp of the duo's weekend-long Slim's celebration (Sat/20 and Sun/21) in honor of new album Atomic Clock, and the gig will be the duo's last before hitting the road on tour. Clock is a bangin', lifted affair studded with gems like "Always" and "Girlz" featuring Martin Luther's sweet hook -- but all the same, we still found ourselves talking politics. Sheesh. Read more »
In an age of endless crossover between most conceivable forms of music, it's but small surprise that a Caucasian man from Virginia is making blues with West African witch doctors. What rarely gets discussed in these cross-ocean collaborations is the social aspect of the fusion. What did the artists eat for lunch the day they recorded that track? In what language was the “and-a-one” that started off the first take?
We had the opportunity to chat over the phone with Bay Area artist Markus James, who has parlayed his time with Malian string musicians into elemental blues tracks. You can hear them on both his new album, Snakeskin Violin, and at his live show (at the Ashkenaz, Fri/22) with The Wassonrai, who are West African musicians that rep for jam band track longevity – strains of which James says is indigenous everywhere from Mali to Jackson, Mississippi -- into their already formidable blend of blues past and present. James said (and we're paraphrasing here) that the secret to fusion collaborations all lies in your location-resonation, but that's just his perspective. Read more »
Nine hundred thousand people and over 70 bands braved the drifting fog banks for this weekend's 10th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. With a crowd that size, you have to think logistics. So at my interview with HSB bankroller-birthday boy Warren Hellman well before the madness, I asked who were the up and comers to look out for. I chicken-danced our way through Speedway Meadows accordingly.
“The Ebony Hillbillies,” Hellman told me, chuckling over lead singer – and as the band's press kit explains, “bones” of the group -- Gloria Gassaway's penchant for abrupt audience interaction. The HSB performance would be its first in the Bay Area, and Hellman was happy to have been its means of infiltration, particularly for Gassaway's no-nonsense stage presence. “She's quite a woman,” he said. Read more »
San Francisco is waiting for its Boogie Nights. Unbeknownst to Hollywood, our fair berg was the infant creche of hardcore pornography, spawning a subculture of porn theaters that thrived despite police harassment and political pressure.
We were number one! Luckily, a few brave men are resurrecting our porn golden age money shot – read on for a first look at documentary The Smut Capital of America and an interview with the director himself, Michael Stabile.
It is not everyday that a San Francisco Bay Guardian culture writer finds herself going for an interview in the Financial District. Something about the fumes of avarice making poor atmosphere for the creative process. But high above the Starbucks and town cars is the banjo-packed office of a rich man who puts on the best free bluegrass festival of the year. And so, for Warren Hellman and his Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (Fri/1-Sun/3), I braved the world of name tags and extravagant corner offices.
Entering into its twelfth year of existence this weekend, Michael Franti's Power to the Peaceful music and yoga festival doesn't appear to pack quite the big name punch on (recycled, written on with hemp ink) paper – the Talib Kwelis and String Cheese Incidents that shared the bill with Franti in years past have been cycled out for Rupa and the April Fishes, SambaDa, and other relatively little known acts. But we caught up with Franti a few weeks ago to talk about this weekend's (Fri/10-Sun/12) life-loving festivities while he was driving through the Nevadan desert, and he says there's a method to the grooviness.
Slap a belly, claps them hands, shake your head side to side and buzz through your lips like a motorboat. It's called body music, mon cheri – and since 2008 the Bay Area's been the yearly gathering spot for all manner of the diverse artistes that call this noise home at the International Body Music Festival. This year, the festie's moving down south to Sao Paolo, Brazil – but before it does, festival founder and primo tap dancer Keith Terry has organized a benefit show (Sat/7 La Peña Cultural Center) that features his group, Slammin, along with sometimes-clown and presently hambone performer Derique McGee. The show will fund Bay performers trips down south – and more presently, out to NYC where they will perform at the Lincoln Center (Thurs/12). We spoke with the mastermind behind this convergence of natural noisemakers over the phone, and found him to be more than happy to explain his unusual passion for playing with one's self. Keith, what's all this noise about? Read more »
A long version of the interview in the current issue of SCENE:
If I'm going to stay up late and go as deep as I can into the night, so far that I'm just about lost and in trouble, I want the sounds of Shannon and the Clams with me. The Oakland group's album I Wanna Go Home (1-2-3-4-Go! Records) is packed with songs that have been there and will shine a light to lead you back into the day, while letting you have a sip or two and an adventure or three along the way. This is rock 'n' roll music, electric-charged by bassist Shannon Shaw's wild wonder of a voice, guitarist Cody Blanchard's flair for classic crooning and crying, and drummer Ian Amberson's fierce reliability. See Shannon and the Clams live. You will believe.