In time of need, I turn to music

27 Sep

This has been one heck of a month, so to keep my mind off it, here are my music picks for the SF area.

9/28: New Pornographers, Bimbos 365 Club
Neko Case, that alt-country angel, singing power pop. And she’s not even the lead singer. That’s how good the New Pornographers are. But only go if you can’t make it to the killer Barefoot Nellies show that night.

9/30: Very Strictly Bluegrass, Plough and Stars
Some of my favorite bands (and good friends) are playing within walking distance from my house and I’ll be at a wedding in Santa Barbara. O cruel world! Honestly, every act on the bill puts on a good show, but the Lone Mtn. Sisters and Homespun Rowdy are my personal favorites because they’re my pals. This is a fundraiser for musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

10/1-10/2: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Golden Gate Park
Everyone’s going to (and should) check out Earl Scruggs, Hot Rize, Doc, Del McCoury, and Dolly, but I say avoid the crowd.

On Saturday, check out Calexico with Los Super Seven. I haven’t heard them play together, but Calexico is a great, great band with a truly unique sound (here, unique means good). Skip the Peasall sisters–we all had enough of them after O Brother. But Wake the Dead and Perfect Strangers are two great, but very different, bands with great, but very different, mandolin players (one of whom I used to work with and one of whom is my mando teacher).

And on Sunday, if you’re not checking out Del McCoury at Rancho Nicasio, go see Tim O’Brien, not only because he, too, is a fine mando player, but because Danny Barnes, quite possibly my favorite banjo player in the world, is touring with him and it should be a great show. The Be Good Tanyas will probably be good (I wonder if I can make that sentence a palindrome?). If you want to see fine showmanship, go see Rhonda Vincent. She can plug every single product she and her band endorses in a way that leaves you completely entertained, yet filled with a strange desire to go out and buy Martha White flour. It’s amazing. Plus, she’s got a great voice and when she does pick a mando, it’s pretty sick especially considering the amount of sequins she wears. If Tony Rice shows up to the gig, the Peter Rowan/Tony Rice could be a good one to catch if you like hot flatpicking over treacly singer-songwriter songs.

Look at all my recommendations. Maybe I do like mandolin.

10/19: Iron and Wine/Calexico, the Warfield
Their duet EP is one of my favorites this year, and the juxtaposition of Sam Beam’s whispered vocals and Calexico’s mariachi horns is oddly satisfying. “A History of Lovers” is a great song off that EP, by the way. If you don’t own it, it’s worth it just for that song.

11/11: My Morning Jacket, the Fillmore
I’m curious to see how good a show these guys put on because their albums are filled with beautiful music that I can’t imagine hearing live. But I thought that about the Cure after Disintegration came out and that tour was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I’m not expecting MMJ to live up to the Cure’s standards (since they probably don’t put the same attention the Cure does towards light shows, pointy hair, and eye makeup), but I bet it will be good.

And my favorite newish discovery, Samantha Stollenwerck. Check her out when you can. She’s very nice, too.

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