24 Apr 19
Roots music speaks of American music, pure and simple. Today’s American musical landscape consists of a wide vista of extrapolated versions of what once were the basic truths and building blocks of what it meant to be an American at the dawning of this country’s existence.
While there are a multitude styles brought by immigrants and they in turn integrate into our common musical language, it’s the basics of the American blues rooted in Africa, and the Appalachian or British Isles folk music that make up the two rivers that flow through our national identity.
The African derived blues developed into jazz, soul and their derivatives on one side, and the British Isles lent its flavor to country, folk, bluegrass and their related musics on the other. This is a generalization, of course, but these two branches of American roots music are what informs these three out of so many musical events that are on tap this week in our neighborhood.
Tuesday at Folktale Winery & Vineyards the popular music series Live in the Vines, a collaboration between KRML radio and Folktale Winery, presents an artist out of Oakland who calls himself Fantastic Negrito. His background plays a big part in his choice to lean into the traditional blues and bring it into the modern world. For his efforts in this most recent era of his life and art he has won two Grammy Awards, one for each of the albums he’s produced under the Fantastic Negrito moniker. “The Last Days of Oakland” (2016) won for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and the 2018 release “Please Don’t Be Dead” took home another of the same.
His family moved to Oakland from his birthplace in Massachusetts when he was 12. Xavier Dphrepaulezz, his given name, grew up in a conservative orthodox Muslim household, so the move to the urban scene in one of the most infamous and vibrant black communities in the nation was something he had to navigate through trial by fire. A good choice he made was to learn to play every musical instrument he could get his hands on, and then he applied himself to the effort of making his way in the music world.
He left Oakland after a particularly harrowing incident with a masked gunman. He brought a demo tape to L.A. and proceeded to land a record deal with Interscope. But the music business practice of shaping an artist to make hits failed him, and his first album, “X Factor” crashed and burned. He left that scene and opted out of trying to be a star. A very serious car accident in 2000 put him in a coma for four weeks and he had some intensive rehab to go through.
He gave up music and moved back to Oakland in 2008 where he settled into family life and had a son. He was inspired to start over with his son’s arrival and he found himself drawn to the rootsy blues of the Delta. His music oozed with feeling, a byproduct of his hard knocks along the way. His talent was evident to anyone who listened. His first big break was winning a Tiny Desk concert competition on NPR, his song “Lost in a Crowd” taking the honor in 2015. The next year he released his first full length album under the name Fantastic Negrito, and then the second, the two mentioned above.
The concert at Folktale is a solo acoustic evening with this guy that is so grateful to have been given a second chance. The VIP tickets are sold-out, but general admission at $35 plus fees are still available at Eventbrite, or by visiting http://www.folktalewinery.com. For those 21 and over only. The concert begins at 7 p.m., doors at 6 p.m. Opening for Fantastic Negrito is local artist Austin Metreyeon. A wine and food reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with food created by Chef Todd Fisher and the Folktale Culinary Team.
That same night (Tuesday) at Hidden Valley Music Seminar, Nashville-based band Cactus Tree Motel performs their mix of classic country western dance music for your listening and dancing pleasure. Presented by Galante Vineyards, and featuring the talents of family member Evan Galante, this night of music brings together the talents of some of Nashville’s finest session players.
The two lead singers, Raven Katz and Zach Torres, are solo singer/songwriters on the Nashville scene with voices compared to Alison Krauss and Vince Gill respectively. The rhythm section, Kevin McGowan, drums; and Tarka Layman, bass; are currently touring with the Americana/blues duo Larkin Poe and just completed a stadium tour with Bob Seger. Keyboardist Dylan Jones tours with today’s top pop/country acts and musical director Galante is a record producer and multi-instrumentalist who graduated with a Bachelors of Music degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Berklee College of Music. His core influences are those of American roots music, spanning from 1930’s jazz through early blues and rock’n’roll forward.
Repertoire will include Western Swing, Bakersfield Sound, Outlaw Country and 90’s country pop. The doors swing open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. concert. Tickets are $30 advance, $35 door. Call 831-624-3800 or visit http://www.galantevineyards.com for tickets and details.
Saturday evening in Seaside, a featured presentation by Palenke Arts brings soul and gospel songstress Tammi Brown to town accompanied by virtuoso guitarist Yuji Tojo and master drummer Mike Shannon. Brown, a Santa Cruz resident, is often a featured vocalist with the White Album Ensemble, so many of you might know her from the much loved Beatles repertoire ensemble. But she’s been growing and spreading her beautiful voice far and wide with the two-time Grammy Award nominated vocal ensemble The Cultural Heritage Choir led by the legendary Linda Tilllery (Loading Zone). She’s sung background with renowned jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan, and has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival as part of the Quincy Jones tribute three years ago. The concert starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10 – $20 advance, or $15 – $25 door, available at http://www.palenkearts4.brownpapertickets.com.
Sean Schively & Alex Ramirez: Friday, doors at 7 p.m., The Lab, 3728 The Barnyard, Suite G-23, Carmel, $8 at the door. Salinas-native Schiveley melds dreamy melodies with stories of loss, hope and love, similar to the sounds and tales of Nick Drake or Elliott Smith. Alex Ramirez is a singer/songwriter and musician known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He is best known for a catalog of lo-fi home recordings. Ramirez has a distinctive vocal style, characterized by his “whispery melodic” delivery and uses multi-tracking to create vocal layers and harmonies. Various publications have described his style as Alternative Folk and have pointed out production similarities with that of the early 1970s.Beer and wine available for purchase.
Friends! The Musical Parady: Friday, 8 p.m., Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel, $39 – $59, visit http://www.sunsetcenter.org for online ticket order and more info. A comedic musical that lovingly pokes fun at TV’s “Friends,” celebrating the adventures of your favorite group of 20-something friends as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life, and love in 1990s Manhattan. It’s a typical day at New York’s only coffee shop, Central Perk, until an unexpected runaway bride enters the picture and kicks the whole gang out of second gear! The new musical recreates our favorite moments from all 10 years of “Friends” through an uncensored, fast-paced, music filled romp. Show is recommended for mature audiences, ages 13 and up, due to adult humor and language.
“Quilters: Stories of the Women Who Pioneered America’s Western Expansion”: Friday, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, 2 and 6 p.m., a part of The Western Stage’s SpringFest, Hartnell College Performing Arts Center, Building K, 411 Central Ave., Salinas, $10 GA, available in advance at http://www.westernstage.com/tickets or at the Box Office, 831-755-6816. Culminating SpringFEST 2019, “Quilters” was written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, with music and lyrics by Barbara Damashek. It is a musical about the women who settled the nation, based on the book “The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen. Presented in a series of short tales and tableaus matched with musical numbers, “Quilters” is a celebration of women as told through the art of quilting. With an ensemble ranging in age from 11 to – well, let’s say elderly – the musical weaves together a beautiful collection of stories from women who came to America from all corners of the globe during the Great Westward Expansion of the early 19th century, seeking a new life and a fresh start in America’s uncharted plains. Their stories reveal the hardships, joys, and triumphs of life out west, and the ways in which women drew strength from, and shared joys with, one another to endure the toughest and the best of times.
Youth Arts Collective (YAC) 8th Annual Live ART! art and music festival: Saturday, 5-10 p.m., Youth Arts Collective Studio, 472 Calle Principal, Monterey, $15. This year’s LiveART will feature live art making by several returning artists, including those from Carmel Art Association who’ve been part of LiveART for eight years now. This year the event is graced by more artists (including several founders) from other arts groups like Open Ground Studios, Emerging Artists Alliance of Monterey, Play Full Ground, and ArtWorks. All art done during LiveART is for sale to benefit YAC’s program. Art goes up on the LiveART Laundry Line as it’s completed for sale ($50 and under) – a great way to collect pieces from your favorite artists. Some single pieces will take longer and will have a silent auction sheet next to them as the artist produces the art in real time. Art from the Collective and mentors/founders will also be on display on the gallery walls. This is YAC’s best yearly party, brought to you by the generosity and talent of 36 artists and musicians to benefit YAC, and to entertain and thank our community for supporting the arts. Don’t forget to get your five-minute portraits drawn by 10 professional artists, including Steven Whyte and Mary Liz Houseman, plus some returning alumni and a handful of brave YACsters in the now famous Sketch Circle.
M. Callahan & more, a benefit for Carmel Youth Center: Sunday, 2 p.m. – 7 p.m., Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel, GA $75 adv/$95 day of event, $650 for Group of Ten, available at http://www.carmelyouth.org/the-event. Nashville country singer-songwriter M. Callahan headlines an impressive lineup of musical talent from nearly every genre of music performing to benefit the Carmel Youth Center. Also on the bill are rock violinist Razzvio, sultry New Orleans chanteuse Ace De La Vergne, DJ Hanif Wondir, folk/bluegrass trio Astrobabes, pianist Gabe de Vera, and Los Angeles-based singer Solar Yellow Human. Music for the event is curated by record producer and film composer Mark Governor, who will also serve as MC. Arkansas native M. Callahan prides himself on representing the blue collar values embodied in his songs from his current album “Working Man,” produced by Grammy-winning Matt Rollings (Keith Urban, Willie Nelson). His rich low tenor vocals, intricate guitar work and beautifully understood lyrics anchor a pure country album that weaves between issues like class distinction (“Johnny Cash and Jesus Christ”) and personal narratives about love, life and lessons learned. M. Callahan has opened for EmmyLou Harris and performed across the U.S. and Europe, and was named Country Artist of the Year by Indie Music Channel in 2015.