Starting near their hometown Boston, with acoustic guitars and bongos instead of a drumkit for percussion, word of mouth soon spread of this talented trio. They soon were opening for the likes of John Mayer and Dave Mathews Band, and that gives you a decent idea of the audience for their ‘adult alternative’ music, which may include you. But they have a way of pulling a few surprises on you, like the bongo thing, which doesn’t make them as hippy as you might think. 1999’s Lost and Gone Forever was released on Sire, for example. Back in the day, Sire was home to bands like the Ramones and Talking Heads, before anyone had heard of either one outside CBGB’s. (RIP or welcome to Vegas, whichever it turns out to be. I’ll put my chips on the latter, very literally)
Anyway, back to the story of Guster, they were one of those bands that seem destined for major label status with very little bluster or hype besides the rave reviews of fans. This is yet another band under the aegis of the ten-year retrospective. This year’s entry, Ganging Up on the Sun, (Reprise) refines their folky pop songwriting craft and deepens their stake on that old music critic clichÃ©, ‘integrity.’ Don’t make the mistake of dismissing them because they’re too popular, indie music purists. It doesn’t mean they aren’t deep.
October 27, In the Venue
October 29: Las Vegas, NV (Vegoose Music Festival)
Cut Chemist/Lyrics Born
Lyrics Born, actually born Tom Shimura, has spent a decade defying hip-hop music conventions, not the least of which is the relative lack or Asians in the musical genre. Going by the name Asia Born until his collaborations with Solecide Records labelmate Lateef in 1996, his work with that musician and likeminded innovator DJ Shadow has evidenced some of the fascinating possibilities for urban turntable and sample-based music. This is the kind of music that is fun yet intricate and worthy of deeper listening, with its multiple layers of sound and complex use of the new ‘instruments.’ His Overnite Encore: Lyrics Born Live! (Jam) demonstrates the impact this music can have on an audience.
Add to the proceedings turntablist Cut Chemist (b. Lucas Macfadden—why not use a perfectly funky label?), who is also a member of Jurassic 5, who deserve as much success and popularity as more widely known and radio-played outfits, and Los Angeles latin funk band Ozomatli. With these ‘two in the house,’ the combination should be electrifying.
October 27, Suede (Park City)
October 26: Boise, ID (Big Easy)
October 28: Aspen, CO (Belly Up)
October 29: Boulder, CO (Fox Theatre)
I don’t have to tell you who Ziggy Marley is. At thirteen years old, he was left to maintain the legacy of his family name after the untimely death of his father, reggae legend Bob Marley in 1981. Since then, Ziggy has done a steller job of keeping the music alive, with his recordings and live shows. But then, he had been sitting in on recording sessions along with brothers and sisters since age ten, even contributing backing vocals here and there.
The quartet of siblings, dubbed the Melody Makers, performed at their father’s funeral, and several years later started releasing recordings. Ziggy also continued his father’s political activism, as a Goodwill Youth Ambassador for the United Nations. In the new millennium, his own children joined his musical pursuit. Thus one of the proudest family names in popular music, up there with Cash and Williams, continues to flourish. This year’s Love Is My Religion, (Tuff Gong Worldwide), reprises his career with songs from childhood up to the present.
October 27, The Depot
October 28: Fort Collins, CO (Aggie Theatre)
October 29: Denver, CO (Ogden Theatre)
October 30: Boulder, CO (Boulder Theater)
Ozma, Everybody Else **Staker’s Pick of the Week!**
Ozma is one of those odd musical mutations that comes up every once in a while, a really heavy kind of pop music in some ways similar to Weezer, for whom they have opened. But then hailing from Pasadena, they have that California eccentricity going for them, and particularly in that part of the state, the echoes of the Beach Boys that still seem to reverberate somehow. Maybe it’s because this kind of pop music is just timeless. Using a former Matthew Sweet producer also gives you an idea of the heavy sweetness of their sound. Everybody Else is simply one of the most brilliant band names I’ve heard in quite a while, though it could work for any genre of music, and that’s a drawback.
October 28, Kilby Court
October 26: Denver, CO (Marquis Theater)
The John Popper Project, DJ Logic
You remember John Popper, right? The behemothic frontman of Blues Traveler, ubiquitous throughout the 90’s for his harmonica, Crocodile Dundee hat and ammo vest full of, ostensibly, harmonicas. As ubiquitous as Hootie and the Blowfish, yet with armloads more musical credibility and not anywhere near as unfortunate nomenclature. Well, it appears that John Popper’s latest ‘project’ is just to appear on our musical radar again, as more than an answer in Trivial Pursuit, when they finally bring out the nineties version. (Have you seen the TV ad for the 80’s one? With celebrity impersonators it’s like the worst acid flashback you could ever have)
Blues Traveler’s ‘poppy’ sound didn’t portray the tragedy they experienced: first the speed-bump of Popper’s 1992 motorcycle accident and 1999 angioplasty for heart pains, and finally, the death of bassist Bobby Sheehan. With the band on hiatus in 2001, Popper played some solo shows with RatDog bassist Rob Wasserman, and DJ Logic sat in. The result was what you might call ‘The Big Man and the DJ’ if it was a TV sitcom, but they called it the John Popper Project, their self-titled debut out this year. A gastric bypass ‘under his belt,’ so to speak, Popper is hitting the road.
October 28, Suede (Park City)
October 27: Denver, CO (Quixote’s True Blue)
Blue Man Group
As with many musical ensembles that don costumes as part of their stage show, the music of the Blue Man Group seems to get lost in the theatricality of the presentation. Few units don’t fall prey to that difficulty: Kiss, because their music was as over-the-top as their Kabuki metal getups, and the Residents, because their music was about enigmas, among other things, so their attire was thematic. How to get up to speed on the Blue Man Group? They actually have amassed a quite innovative body of experimental music. The theatrical element itself is intelligent enough, sight gags and all, to keep the attention of intelligentsia and play in Vegas for weeks on end. Who could complain about that?
It’s unfortunate that they, as much audiophile fodder as the Who (coming November 13 to the home of ‘your’ Utah Jazz), have to perform in the venue with perhaps the worst sound in the entire valley, and that’s saying something. As for the likelihood of an appearance by one-time would-be BMG stand-in Tobias “David Cross” Funque’ from TV’s
Arrested Development, well, at least his schedule isn’t clogged up by that network garbage anymore. But you could do like Kiss fans and dress like your favorite Blue Man dude.
October 30, Delta Center
Month X1: City, CO (Venue Name)
Month X2: City, ID (Venue Name)
Eagles of Death Metal, Throw Rag
Eagles of Death Metal is a side project of Josh Homme and Jesse Hughes of Queens of the Stone Age. That group had already done tons to adds new wrinkles in the tired subgenre of punk/stoner metal. The Eagles first took flight in a contribution to Homme’s compilation Desert Sessions in 1998. Incidentally, the Desert Sessions series is well worth searching out for those with any interest in intelligent progressive heavy music.
Several years later, Carlos Von Sexron (Homme’s nom-de-Death) et al revived Eagles as more than a one-off, and the band this year sees their sophomore release, Death By Sexy. (Downtown) What makes it work so well is that Homme delivers the skank with a wink of the eye. Not to mention Hughes’ porn mustache. It’s not as complex as some of the musical studies in Desert Sessions; it’s just simple fun. Unfortunately, these are the three spots on their tour not opening for Joan Jett, although the Boise date includes Sugarcult.
October 30, The Depot
October 29: Englewood, CO (Gothic Theatre)
October 31: Boise, ID (Big Easy)
The English Beat
Ska music is still popular. Are you kidding me? Take a trip into Utah County sometime. Birmingham, England’s English Beat is one of the originals who did it best, with their hits “Mirror In the Bathroom,” “I Confess” and a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown.” Although they had to add the ‘British” to avoid confusion with another band, it seems to fitting, as they became one of the quintessentially British musical ensembles of the past three decades. It’s the type of revival that is a fresh musical experience and musical history lesson all rolled into one, a revival with a reason. How many 80’s revival tours can you say that about? Whiskey Jacques sounds like a place that might be worth a trip up there sometime. Can you get fish and chips in Ketchum?
November 1, The Depot
October 28: Tucson, AZ (Club Congress)
October 30: Ketchum, ID (Whiskey Jacques)