Wednesday, April 11, 2012

House Of Vibe : Kickin' It Live :
Robin Leach Teaching Me How To Really Survive

House Of Vibe is a supersonic soul machine with love and life and verve and swerve. Swagalicious in nature and generous to a fault, HOV live and breathe music. Their reverential attitude towards music and songs and performing and voices together creates a unifying existence that is expressed weekly on Wednesdays at Harvelle's Santa Monica. Guests always abound - including ANON (left), Dessy DiLauro, Ric'key Pageot, Ultralove, Vonyse, Ijeoma Njaka, Freewill, Raphael "Tweet" Brown and a 3 piece skinheads horn section who blended nicely with horn-y HOV stalwarts Shaunte Palmer, Sebastian "Seabass" Leger and Jaman Laws. Anthony Brewster as leader conducts his orchestra (which also consists of Amy Lou on percussion, Greg Raymond on keys, Pete Antunes and Fish on drums, Corey Cofield and Colin Wolfe on bass). Mainstay rappers Deploi and Jon Swift always represent The Westside Tribe.

Amy Lou warns y'all. Don't get her mad. You wouldn't like her mad.

Dessy Di Lauro
Tweet and Colin 


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blues And Burlesque : A Monster Combo

Blues and burlesque seem like a perfect combo. Especially dirty, grimy blues. Fucked up blues. Deranged bluesmen pumping three chords louder and louder, twin guitars dueling while the harp player blows like a hurricane and a singer in a red three-piece suit bellows through a homemade bullhorn, which only serves to distort and fuck things up further. Molly, a burlesque dancer of some note and a Toledo Show "Dame", threw herself around like a voluptuous rag doll, psychotically blazing a sexy scene to the delight of both the boys in the band and the folks on the floor. Take a look for yourself:

The Band is 'Smokehouse' Brown (guitar), 'Pink' Arguello (vocals), Henry Carvajal (guitar), Tom Fillman (drums), Johnny Mastro (harmonica) and Bobby Tsukamoto (bass).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ultralove! On The Promenade

I ran into my man Ultralove busking down on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. He treated me to a version of the sad blues lament Strange Fruit. Written by Abel Meeropol in 1939, it was made famous by Billie Holiday. Ultralove performs every Monday night at Harvelle's in Santa Monica with a full band.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

THE BONESHAKERS : Gettin' Down Just For The Funk Of It

Randy Jacobs & SweetPea Atkinson
The Boneshakers!

Rattling your sacroiliac to the groove of some of the funkiest players around, is what them Boneshakers is all about.

Randy Jacobs is the lead guitarist and one of the most underrated players currently out there. Sans pick, R.J. slices up his axe using everything and anything - fingers, thumbs, the palm of his hand, his wrist... whatever. And it produces some of the sweetest, dirtiest funk that a man can coax out of a machine made merely of wood and metal and wires.

Randy's partner-in-crime is the OG soul singer SweetPea Atkinson. A man who when he isn't sweetly crooning and smiling at the girls in the audience, has a scowl on his face - a mean gangsta scowl - like he's got a blade in his pocket, and he ain't afraid to use it. Thankfully, I've never actually seen him angry (well once, he was really pissed off at someone who wasn't around and his demeanor changed and out came a string of swear words like I never heard before!!!) SweetPea of course loves old soul music and has told me stories about the old days traveling around singing, swinging', doin' his thang. He loves The Staple Singers and we've spent a great deal of time talking about the famed L.A. concert in 1972 known as Wattstax. He wasn't there, but those are his contemporaries and he's got great stories from back in the day.

Y'know earlier today, I was thinking about some of my musical heroes who have passed on and how sad it is that I will never again see Isaac Hayes, Gil Scott-Heron or Billy Preston. These 3 artists in particular have brought me uncountable hours of entertainment (and knowledge), and I was privileged enough to see each one of them at least a dozen times in various venues, either headlining or backing someone. 

It is with these thoughts in my head that I wanna shout-out SweetPea Atkinson, an oldie but a goodie and also James Gadson. Gadson invented some of the funkiest beats in music, backing Charles Wright and Bill Withers among others. Still alive and kicking, he used to play every Monday night at Harvelle's where I was always in attendance digging' on the authentic grooves from this legendary drummer.

Cheers to Don Was who was in the house tonight!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

MONOPHONICS : This One Goes Out
To My Man The Groove Merchant

Tonight at Harvelle's Santa Monica MONOPHONICS are taking over [official website]. From the Bay Area, they are just signed to UBIQUITY (one of the coolest labels ever!)

from the press release:
Monophonics were formed in '05; originally a instrumental ensemble comprised of guitarist Ian McDonald, bassist Myles O’Mahony, saxophonist Alex Baky, trumpeter Ryan Scott, and drummer Austin Bohlman, the band has recently added the dynamic soul vocals of keyboardist Kelly Finnigan. The result is a psychedelic soul & heavy funk sound, which harks back to the stylings of the late '60s and early '70s, all while keeping its feet planted in the present.

Their Ubiquity debut, In Your Brain is now available for Pre-Order. Also be on the look out for a special 7'' to be released on Record Store Day.

San Francisco and it's out laying townships and suburbs have a long history of soul funk, psychedelic soul, acid jazz, rare groove, and other unclassifiable yet deeply funky stuff. Not just the known stuff from the 60s and 70s, like Tower Of Power and Sly & The Family Stone, but obscure artists like The Propositions, The Mighty Ryeders, and Spanky Wilson, continuing through to modern bastardizers  like Limbomaniacs, Primus, Deli Creeps, Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, new traditionalists like T.J. Kirk, Charlie Hunter and Mo'Fessionals and revivalists like Mike James Kirkland, Orgone and Monophonics, going strong today.

I spent much of the late eighties and early nineties making regular trips to San Francisco specifically to The Groove Merchant* to collect rare vinyl and everything on the Luv N Haight label which was primarily vintage tracks no one ever heard, available for the true groove connoisseur, the true crate digger looking for the ultimate head bobbing track. In the Beastie Boys song Professor Booty, they pay tribute: "This one goes out to my man the Groove Merchant/ Coming through with beats for which I been searching". Brilliant. Many Luv N Haight titles are available [here].

Of course, with YouTube and mp3s and funk blogs and many compilations from all over the planet filling every nook and cranny and every niche genre, it's all well documented and readily available. But there's nothing like hearing it live.

MONOPHONICS are blasting off tonight at Harvelle's 1432 4th St. in Santa Monica (between Broadway and Santa Monica Blvd). Come down, it'll do your soul some good.

*note: the URL doesn't seem to work any longer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vintage Trouble in Long Beach : Love With Me!!
Comin' Soon To A Shore Near You!

Ty Taylor sings his soul out
Celebrating it's six months in existence, Harvelle's in Long Beach hosted the mighty Vintage Trouble on Friday Mar 9. VT started their career with a weekly residency in 2010 at Harvelle's Santa Monica, and they've been touring and recording and making fans around the world ever since. Tonight was their first L.A. (adjacent) performance since January when they sold out The Troubadour in Hollywood. The night was filled with the hardcore fans (aka Troublemakers) along with the curious, as well as locals who just happened to be there because it's Harvelle's and a Friday night, which is always a great combo.

VT has been in the studio and is on the verge of releasing their 2nd album of dynamite hits and rockin' soon-to-be classics!  So tonight was a soulful work-out of the new stuff and some new arrangements of the favorites. You know how these guys rock! 

Rock n' roll with it baby : Nalle Colt and his Les Paul
Richard Danielson pounds the skins into submission
Rick Barrio Dill is straight up steady mobbin'!
With the new album in the can, Vintage Trouble are off to Austin, TX for SXSW, and then they're on tour with Van Hunt and later this year Lenny Kravitz! With less than a quarter of 2012 gone, this is shaping up to be a truly stellar year for the boys in the band.