Kava Lounge Part 1 – Retra – May 6, 2016

On a recent Friday night I was in the mood for new music and this show at The Kava Lounge looked interesting. I had heard of Mittens and The Fresh Brunettes but didn’t really know anything about them and I had no idea who Retra was. But I love checking out new bands so I headed on down to Kettner.

First up was Retra, who I soon found out is a relatively new band featuring Haven Blue on vocals, James Howard (Imagery Machine) on guitar , Chris Gorrie (Boychick, Giant Surprise) on bass, Carmen Martinez (Boychick) on drums, and Martin Sohikish (who didn’t play this night) on keys and guitar.   Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 5 – Mittens – June 4, 2016

The last stop on my Art Around Adams tour was to see Mittens back at the library stage.  I had seen the band play about a month ago at The Kava Lounge so I already knew how much fun they were.  Mittens play a style of indie-pop that looks back but still has a modern feel to it.  Their band bio mentions being inspired by groups like Rilo Kiley, The Cranberries and The Cardigans – and I can certainly hear the influence of those bands in their sound – but there’s also no mistaking their love of early ’60s girl groups like The Ronettes, The Shirelles and Martha & the Vandellas.  Throw in some surf-rock licks and well-timed blistering guitar solos, to go along with their 3-part harmonies and big hooks, and you have Mittens!  Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 4 – Jason Hanna & the Bullfighters

Jason Hanna 01

My father was 26 years old when the BeatlesPlease Please Me came out.  I used to tell him that he was still young enough then to have followed the Beatles and the Stones instead of  staying on the path that lead to Andy Williams and Glen Campbell. But the die was cast by that point, and rock ‘n’ roll was not going to be my dad’s thing.  However, it turns out there was a section of his record collection that I would eventually come to fully appreciate.  For as the British Invasion was in full swing, my dad was listening to The Lonely Bull, South of the Border and Whipped Cream & Other Delights by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.  It turned out my dad was much cooler back then than I ever gave him credit for! Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 3 – The Schizophonics – June 4, 2016

I made it through the first 55 years of my life without ever seeing The Schizophonics and now I’ve seen them four times this year already. I was doing it wrong!  The first time I saw The Schizophonics I had no idea what to expect.  It was a crowded night at The Casbah and I was near the back craning my neck looking for the second guitarist. I turned around to say something to my friend and he was doing the same damn thing! Continue reading

Art Around Adams Part 1 – Imagery Machine – June 4, 2016

There were so many great bands to see at last weekend’s Art Around Adams festival but fortunately whoever scheduled this event managed to have all my favorites playing at different times.

First up was Imagery Machine. I imagine the beginning of this group to have gone something like this: “Hey, we should start a band!” “Good idea, what kind of music should we play?””Let’s play all kinds.” “I’m in!”

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The Who Hits 50! + Slydigs – San Diego – May 27, 2016

The Who has been one of my favorite groups since I can remember knowing about rock ‘n’ roll.  I can recall the first time I heard Quadrophenia in junior high and it has been in my main listening rotation ever since.  In high school “Baba O’Reilly”, from Who’s Next, was still played regularly at school dances and when I got to college my roommate had a GIANT promo picture of the cover art from Who Are You hanging in our dorm room.  I’ve seen The Who several times, including a trip to The Forum in the mid-’70s and the Quadrophenia tour just a few years ago.  Including this last show, if I close my eyes and just take in the music I don’t feel that the passage of time has diminished their power and musicality at all.  Sure, it’s not the same without Keith Moon and The Ox, but with Zak Starkey  on drums and Pino Palladino on bass the creative duo of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey have found very capable substitutes.

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Frightened Rabbit – The Belly Up – May 21,2016

Frightened Rabbit, the ten-year-old indie rock band from Glasgow, writes big, melodic songs tackling complex and often uncomfortable topics. They’re touring in support of their outstanding new LP, Painting of a Panic Attack, whose songs explore dark territory, yet are delivered with energy, passion and hooks layered upon hooks.

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