The Bohemian's second-annual 24-Hour Band Contest was held on July 13, 2013, and man, was it a night to remember! Burning Token Media was on the scene to document the whole thing—the choosing of the bands on Friday, the rehearsals on Saturday, and of course, the mighty performances.
Watch the results in playlist form here, or see individual performances below.
Band #1: PSYCHO SANDWICH!
Band #2: WONDER WENCH!
Band #3: FIVE BRIDGES!
Band #4: ROSE!
Band #5: GROUP THERAPY!
And... who won? See below:
When boat races, delicious food, cold drinks, $5 weddings and good ole' fashioned Americana music come together, you can be sure that the Rivertown Revival (RR) is making its way into Petaluma, usually known for being the 'Butter and Eggs' center of Sonoma County. Jam-packed with enough musicians, vendors and art boat competitions to keep anyone satisfied, where to begin?
Here's a helpful breakdown of the various events occurring on this exciting day in which you may choose to indulge.
On five stages you will find musicians/bands of different backgrounds and genres performing throughout the day.
2013 NorBay winners for rock, The Highway Poets and for country/Americana, Frankie Boots & the County Line; Bay Area-based folk-punk band, Vagabondage; 13-piece funk/ecentric street band, Church Marching Band; Bay Area native and American roots-focused, Steve Pile band; singer-songwriter with a toy piano, Eliza Rickman; and (for the kids), children's songwriter and guitar player, James K.
For the full list of performers, visit http://rivertownrevival.com/2013/05/rivertown-revival-2013-roster-revealed/
Buying cool items, plus food and drinks:
Merchants are present to sell their artisanal, environmentally friendly and one-of-a-kind specialty items at RR, which is committed to keeping the festival local, meaning vendors will be coming from within a 100-mile radius of Petaluma. Local food and beverages will also be available and toting the same message of sustainability.
The festival will once again offer couples their one-of-a-kind and fun-filled party as a setting for an unforgettable wedding, and only for the low, low price of $5. Ceremony reservations are still available and are strongly encouraged. On site officiants will perform vow renewals and legal weddings, for couples with the proper paperwork, that is.
Email RRWeddings@kaisquaredevents.com for more information.
For the Love of Art:
The festival features an array of art- art boats, art performances, music and other items for purchasing, and this year RR invites back sculptors from Sonoma County and beyond to showcase their art on land and some, perhaps, on water.
Called the 'land(ing)' artists, the group includes: geometric sculptor Boback Emad; 3-dimensional sculptors Eileen Fitz-Faulkner and Matthew Rapalyea; 22-year-old Petaluma sculptor Henry Washer; metal sculptor Sean Paul Lorenz; North Bay photographer and master printer Michale Garlington; sculptor and Santa Rosa Junior College design instructor Peter Crompton; metal and ceramic sculptor Todd Cox; and Santa Rosa recycled-metal sculptor Tyson Barbera.
More fun for every one:
1) The famous RR photo booth is here again, with photographer Michael Woolsey ready at the camera.
2) Enter your hand-crafted art boat in the Grand Flotilla competition where judges will score the vessels based on five categories. Apply here: http://rivertownrevival.com/apply-yourself-2/apply-yourself/
3) Kid-friendly activities are provided throughout the day on a designated stage this year, including kid-led music, jug band lessons, crafts, scavenger hunts, salmon fishing and more.
Now that you're a bit more acquainted with the excitement Rivertown Revival has to offer, make sure to join the non-stop fun on Saturday, July 20, at Steamer Landing Park. 6 Copeland St., Petaluma. $5. 11am. Rivertownrevival.com
My editor told me the news, and at first it was hard to believe. But when he lifted me out of my chair from across the room by simply raising his hand in a choking motion, saying in a disappointed tone, ”I find your lack of faith disturbing,” I quickly changed my tune. Hamill will try to help the symphony to stay on target through pieces by John Williams, Danny Elfman and others. No, he will do it, because there is no try. Shut up, Grizzle, my editor says. Fine, I tell him, this is boring conversation anyway.
But will Hamill be conducting a piece? If he takes the stage, the audience might get a very bad feeling about this. But it might all be a clever rouse to cover up the real conductor, Sarah Hicks, who has served as Principal Conductor of Pops and Specials Presentations with the Minnesota Orchestra since 2009. Those 16th notes, too accurate for Hamill, one might think. Only imperial conductors are so precise.
Don’t get stressed on the way to the concert—if some big galoot in a tree crushing SUV cuts you off in the parking lot, just let the wookie win. And dress nicely—you don’t want to be called a scruffy-looking nerf herder, do you? But don’t get cocky. And as always, may the Force be with you.
The tickets are a gift from the Santa Rosa Symphony, performing Beethoven’s Consecration of the House, Ravel’s Bolero, Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto performed by SRS conductor laureate Jeffrey Kahane, and Copland’s Canticle of Freedom, featuring the 100-voice Symphony Honor Choir. The Symphony also commissioned an orchestral work, Sonoma Overture, by Petaluma composer Nolan Gasser. It’s worth going just to hear Kahane play Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto, let alone see it.
Yes, it will be visible from the nosebleed free seats, because, as the symphony points out, “Most of the lawn seating will not have a view of the stage; however, large outdoor screens and a state-of-the-art sound system will facilitate an exciting experience for all.” This means the pressure is on the camera crew and director to create an exciting experience for those 2,700 who are sure to gobble up the free seating. Even though it’s free, tickets are required (though they will be available at the gate, is still available). Presumably, seating on the lawn is first come, first served.
As of right now, there are still very good seats available at the $25 tables directly outside the hall. Those might be worth the price, too, but make sure your seats aren’t in the “half stage visible” section. For both the free and $25 lawn seats, patrons are invited to bring their own picnic, but not alcohol, to the concert. Box lunches, wine and beer will be available for purchase. For the free lawn seats, feel free to bring low chairs or blankets. Ever been to a concert at the Shoreline in Mountain View? It might be like that, but not built on a mound of old garbage. Check out the Santa Rosa Symphony's website for details and tickets.
Don’t just play your music to dustballs behind closed doors anymore! The Sonoma County Fair is looking for young talent, so bring your garage band out to play in the Battle of the Teen Bands! The competition will be held in Community Theater (previously known as Redwood Theater) on Saturday, Aug. 11.
Groups will be awarded based on vocal/instrumental ability (up to 40 points) and up to 20 points in the following three categories: group performance ability, stage presence, and audience reaction. There’s also an optional bonus of up to 5 points for those performing original music.
And sweet prizes await—first place takes $1,000 home, along with a trophy and a contract to perform on the Park Stage at the 2013 Sonoma County Fair! Second place receives $500! Third place receives $250! What’s there to lose? Sign up before Saturday, July 21!
Age: All performers must be between 12 and 24 years of age. Additionally, at least two band members must be 12 — 18 years old, and no more than two members can be between 18 and 24.
Be careful when you apply: Once the Entry Form is filled out, each act entered must only perform with the people listed on it. No changes or substitutions will be allowed. Individuals can only perform with one act during the entire competition.
Don’t be late: Contestants must arrive at the Community Theater (Redwood Theater) by 6pm on the day of the contest, Saturday, August 11.
The act: Acts must be performed live—vocally and/or instrumentally. No props or special effects can be used otherwise. A professional quality drum kit will be provided and contestants are expected to use that rather than their own.
Watch the clock: Acts are 20 minutes total, including set-up, performance, and tear-down.
Have good taste: No music or lyrics that the Sonoma County Fair and its representatives considers offensive may be performed.
Be original: If contestants perform their own music, they can receive extra 5 bonus points from the judges. Music eligible for bonus points is any piece that is written or co-written by at least two band members. And don’t lie about it either; any band claiming to be playing their own music may be disqualified if a copyright exists for the music that does not name a member of the band as author or contributor.
So what are you waiting for? Rock out!
To enter, email email@example.com with BATTLE OF THE TEEN BANDS in the subject line. Include the name of a contact person, mailing address, phone number, email address, the name/age/instrument of each band member, as well as a photograph and demo. Deadline is Saturday, July 21.
What a tremendous turnout we had in voting this year with 1,637 total votes! But the gold records can only go to one winner in each category. Without further ado, the winners of the 2012 NorBay Awards are:
Blues / R&B: Levi Lloyd
Country / Americana: The Crux
DJ: Zack Darling
Folk / Acoustic: Church Marching Band
Hip-Hop / Electronic: Radioactive
Indie: Girls and Boys
Jazz: Hot Club Beelzebub
Punk / Metal: No Sir
Rock: Baby Seal Club
World / Reggae: Dgiin
Thanks to everyone who made it such a special night. Here’s to next year!
Here's how it works: You sign up for the contest. You tell us your name, the instrument (or instruments) you play, your experience level and practice space situation. All ages and all experience levels are welcome.
Then, on July 13 at 6pm, we'll meet at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa. We'll pick names randomly, assembling bands made up of complete strangers—a singer, a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist, a singer, a keyboard player, a horn player, an accordionist, a rapper, a kazoo player… anything goes!
The bands will then have 24 hours together to get to work in the practice space, writing two original songs and learning one cover song, and returning to perform the very next night at the 2012 NorBays! Prizes will be awarded to the winning band.
Are you in? Of course you’re in. Sign up by clicking here!
Live 105's Not So Silent Night at the Oakland's Oracle Arena
All photos by David Sason
When R.E.M. announced their breakup back in September, reactions from critics and bloggers fell into one of three categories: summaries of an influential career; personal accounts of the group as gateway to subterranean scenes (ending sometime in the ‘90s, of course); or facetious assertions that they’d already broken up years ago.
My obit for the Athens, Ga. band could never be so flippant because I was one of the dwindling faithful. Long after the masses jumped ship, I remained. I knew the second half of their 30-year recording career not as the obvious commercial decline, but a rich period of experimentation that spawned excellent albums like Up, Reveal and Accelerate. Even their admitted worst record Around the Sun had a few brilliant songs.
But the same week the disbanding brought renewed interest, I spotted their 2008 photo book R.E.M. Hello – MSRP $29.95 – at the Dollar Tree. Two copies right there, nestled among the no-name crime novels, obscure self-help books, and an early adventure tale from L. Ron Hubbard. I had to buy both copies out of respect.
What’s more of a shame than their company on that shelf is that R.E.M. Hello documents some of the most celebrated tours of their career. During their last decade of touring, R.E.M. turned in some of the most inspired, impassioned, energetic performances of any band, young or old, completely eradicating any remnants of their sterile Monster Tour shows from 1995. I’ll never forget how their politically charged show at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre in October 2004 impressed even my old jaded, New York hipster friend, who boasted of seeing them open for the Cramps at the Peppermint Lounge in ‘83 (under the name It Crawled From the South) and naturally swore them off after the I.R.S. Records years.
“Wow, they were great,” he told me at show’s end, completely surprised. “Michael Stipe is just one of the all-time great frontmen.”
Stipe had indeed become a great entertainer in recent years: extroverted, cordial, funny, and always trying to put on the best show he could. It’s no wonder that R.E.M. lost more fans the more comfortable on stage he became, because the singer’s “enigmatic” persona was a huge part of their early appeal. What a sin it must have been to see Stipe actually enjoying the spotlight, or playing “Shaking Through” as a request for a new bride at a 2003 Chicago show, or explaining his “West of the Fields” lyrics at a Berkeley show in 2008, or – gasp! – finally having his lyrics printed in CD booklets.
None of this turned me off, because to me the group was never the quirky college-radio grassroots phenomenon or even the political rock songsmiths of the late ‘80s. My era’s R.E.M. was the highly successful baroque-pop sensation of 1991-1992, when the fragile melodies, acoustic instrumentation, and eccentric ballads of Out of Time and Automatic for the People finally won over the kid who’d avoided anything without heavy guitars or a hip-hop beat. Their weird anti-love songs and thoughtful videos were a true “alternative” in 1991, when the biggest story in rock was the return of Guns N’ Roses. Visually they stuck out like a sore thumb on MTV, looking like uncles or librarians in their wrinkled, regular clothes. One member was balding, another wearing huge glasses, the next sporting a uni-brow, and worst of all, only one had long hair!
The release of “Shiny Happy People” remains the gutsiest move in their career, especially for a band that’d had their big break with edgy rockers like “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. Sure, “Stand” was goofy and corny, but this song and video, with its ridiculous choreography and bright clothing, were something else. Metallica’s Lars Ulrich famously mocked the clip on MTV News, calling it “very UN-heterosexual.” How much more “punk” was the cartoonish “Shiny Happy People” than Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from later that year, which was still a grinding, aggressive hard rock anthem? Thrift store clothes do not a strong digression make.
It was an incredible inspiration to see such a band – with absolutely no regard to what's "cool" or “hip” or "masculine" or “youthful” or “bad ass” or “rebellious” or even "rock n' roll" – conquering MTV and the charts because of their art alone. This had a profound effect on my own art appreciation throughout my life and my willingness to explore the gentler, more vulnerable side of music.
Nirvana and Pearl Jam reissues can’t escape the “grunge” tag, just as Murmur can’t leave “college rock” behind, yet Automatic for the People remains an unfettered masterpiece 19 years later. The album was reportedly playing on Kurt Cobain’s CD player when he killed himself, and I’ve always wondered what song he went out on. Hopefully “Try Not to Breathe” or “Find the River”.
Neither of these songs appears on R.E.M.’s new retrospective Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011. Yet the two-disc set is the most effective introduction to the band yet, with 40 songs spanning both the I.R.S. and Warner Brothers years for the first time. As with all compilations, there are some unfortunate omissions (What, no “Wolves, Lower”, “Feeling Gravity’s Pull”, “Cuyahoga”, “Near Wild Heaven”, “Drive”, “Star 69”, E-Bow the Letter” w/ Patti Smith or “Walk Unafraid”?), but the first-time anthologizing of key tracks like “Country Feedback” and “New Test Leper” (and the rightful prominence of Green album) compensate nicely.
The three new tracks (recorded last summer) are unfortunately sub par, especially “A Month of Saturdays”, which sounds like a quick demo. But their inclusion provides proper closure, proving they gave us everything they had (something foreshadowed by the lyrical letdown on their last album) and that they, as Rob Sheffield recently put it, “ran it into the ground.” Not all of it was great, but the vast majority of it was.
My final two cents as a fan and critic? (deep inhale) A) Automatic for the People is their finest album, followed by Green and Out of Time; never before or after did they match this four-year period (1988-1992) of undeniable melodies, lyrical potency and imaginative instrumentation. B) Up (1998) is a ragged masterpiece, a compelling document of a band breaking up and piecing themselves back together. C) It’s criminal that their 1982 Chronic Town EP has not received the deluxe treatment it deserves; the true start of their renaissance. D) Their catalogue comprises the longest run of excellent albums by a single artist in modern rock history; I can’t even think of another. Even Around the Sun was 1/3 good, while all their others are at least 2/3 good. E) A huge part of what made R.E.M. so unique was that the traditional leads (singer and guitarist) were complete amateurs and wrote their own respective books, while the rhythm section (normally in the background) were highly accomplished musicians who injected amazing dynamics into each song. F) Mike Mills is an unsung genius. Just listen to his bass lines on any album. G) Dead Letter Office is the single greatest b-sides collection in history. H) The bootleg everyone should track down is a show at Oakland Arena in November 1987; surprise guest Warren Zevon plays kickin’ piano on a few songs, including their cover of Wire’s “Strange”.
A couple weeks after the Dollar Tree incident, I noticed U2’s gigantic picture book U2byU2 in the Novato Library’s oversized book sections. There it sat, right between the Beatles and Frank Sinatra, which is probably where Bono has always aspired to be. I pondered the longevity of R.E.M.’s legacy, now that they’re kaput. I also wondered where their book would go. Probably near the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, and the Monkees. Although R.E.M. Hello only measures about 10 x 9, I think I’ll donate a copy to the library. Who knows? Maybe some unsuspecting music fan will stumble upon it one day and wonder what a mandolin is.
Come to think of it, I didn’t hate ALL of the snide breakup tweets. After the news broke, @peterbrynes tweeted, “The best part of REM breaking up is that they might inspire U2 to do the same.”
This San Francisco duo brought national attention to San Francisco with their 2009 debut release Album, featuring their shimmering brand of guitar rock, which echoed psychedelia, surf rock, punk and other styles without deviating from strong melodies. On their highly anticipated follow-up Father, Son, Holy Ghosts, Christopher Owens, Chet “JR” White and company sound downright gigantic and ready for the world at large.
Lead track “Honey Bunny” is an epic ode to a desired one, beginning as a galloping ‘60s-rock ditty replete with harmonies and surf riffs before becoming a slowed-down detour into dreamy, slide guitar heaven. Just as ambitious is first single “Vomit”, a compelling six-and-a-half-minute tale of romantic pining that teeters between quiet jangle and power ballad territory, ending in an explosion of sound: power chords, Owens’s full emoting, a female soul singer belting it out, clanging organs, etc.
Even the quiet songs like “Jamie Marie” and “Just a Song” are impeccably produced (by the group and Doug Boehm), with the latter tune’s coda full of strings and flutes that evoke mid-era Beatles, as does everything else on Father, Son, Holy Ghost (harmonies, lyrics, instrumentation, general cheekiness). Throughout the record, Owens’s voice is right up front in the mix while still retaining a reticence that draws you in. And while the songs here are not as intense and passionate as those on Album, they show the group working on their craft more than one would think. Apparently, Girls actually care.
The early reviews are true. The new Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration – an odd pairing to begin with – simply does not work. Recorded in a little over a month this spring, Lulu’s inception was Lou Reed playing “Sweet Jane” with the band at 2009’s starstudded Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Anniversary Shows at Madison Square Garden, which was well-received. But that was a beloved Velvet Underground three-chord classic, and Lulu is based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial “Lulu plays” from 1885 and 1904 Germany.
Like 2003’s The Raven, which was based on Edgar Allen Poe’s work, Reed’s lyrics here fit nicely with his career’s societal decay/underbelly motif. Yet despite being an initially interesting idea, Metallica’s accompaniment is jarring rather than complementary. Most tracks begin with the familiar Metallica sound – booming drums, crisp & down-tuned chords – before Lou Reed’s recitation comes in above it all, seemingly freeform in meter. Even more awkward is when James Hetfield joins in – not in any “singing” fashion like we know he’s capable of, mind you, but in full-on thrash-bark mode. Too haphazard, despite the varied talent present. A little more time spent crafting the songs might have helped.
There aren’t really any highlights, but if I had to pick one it would be “Little Dog” merely because it stays with its swells of quiet guitar feedback to serve Reed’s lyrical recitation and doesn’t switch tempos into full-on Metallica mode. On the next track “Dragon”, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Reed’s refrain “Are we nearly dead now?”
Surely Metallica fans will wish the boys had saved some of these riffs for their own next album. But it’s clear that Lulu is by Lou Reed/Metallica, for Lou Reed/Metallica. Kudos to both for following through on a whim. Perhaps it’s the catalyst they both need right now, like David Bowie’s Tin Machine. In that case, I’m curious to see if this shakes anything loose for either icon.
Although not nearly as catchy as albums Girlfriend or 100% Fun, Matthew Sweet’s last solo record, 2008’s Sunshine Lies was hailed as a welcome return to guitar-driven power pop, with A-list session players like Richard Lloyd in tow again. The audaciously titled Modern Art continues in this vein, but with much better melodies and more stylistic variety.
“She Walks the Night” is a classic Matthew Sweet single, a mid-tempo love song reminiscent of “I’ve Been Waiting” or “We’re the Same”. The anguished, bluesy “Ladyfingers” sounds like an Altered Beast outtake, with its throbbing bass and dark vibe, and the sparse, echoey “My Ass is Grass” reminds of Girlfriend’s quirkier half (Side Two).
Fittingly, Sweet is performing Girlfriend in its entirety this year, and these new tracks will fit nicely in the set. Sweet is an artist who needs no seismic shift with each album; his established palette still delivers.