We Know JackIe: Jackie Greene's Catalyst show had something for everyone.
By Garrett Wheeler
Ee-clectic: The assignment seemed too good to be true: go see three shows of my choosing and write about them. Talk about a dream job. Maybe Rolling Stone magazine is the Holy Grail, but for an aspiring rock journalist like me, this is a helluva step in the right direction.
My first stop was at Moe's Alley last Tuesday to see Taarka, which calls its sound "seismic gypsy hypno grazz." I'm not going to waste my word count trying to top that. It was freewheelin', yee-hawin', old-timey stuff infused with the exotic whispers of cultures far away in place and time. Northern Indian classical, freebop jazz, Celtic, bluegrass, Americana, contemporary indie rock--it was like the Tower of Babel house band. To call Taarka's sound eclectic would be a severe understatement. Halfway through the show, lead singer/tenor guitarist David Tiller unbuttoned his shirt and announced, "That was the traditional set." Traditional? Apparently the fun had only just begun.
Next up was Jackie Greene at the Catalyst on Saturday. Now that guy's traditional. Not to slap the Monterey native with the (dare I say) "unoriginal" tag, but he's not exactly experimental. His songs are tight, neat and at times very catchy. Oozing with pop sensibility, Greene and his band produced the kind of street-smart melodies that appeal to just about anybody. Case in point: I thought for sure I was the youngest person in the club, but near the end of the show I spotted a group of early twentysomethings grooving amid the masses of gray hair and Hawaiian shirts that dominated the scene. It was like rocking out with my parents' friends, which, after a couple of drinks, was actually pretty fun.
The end of my musical escapade led me to the Attic, where I witnessed the rambunctious blues-rock of Howlin' Rain. Visually, the boys in the band looked like they'd stumbled out of some kind of hot-boxed cryonic freezer from the 1970s. Long hair, sideburns, vintage T-shirts: they had it all. And the music was equally retro, drawing from the psychedelic-rock era to incorporate Hendrix, Zeppelin, CCR and the Allman Brothers into a fully charged outburst of rock & roll mayhem. Frantic vocals soared over gritty power-chords played on guitars with so much distortion my ears are still ringing. But I guess it's a nice little reminder that my dream job came true, ear damage or not. Next time, I'll wear earplugs.
Free Bird: Mūz caught wind that Richard McSherry, the man behind two years' worth of great music at the Attic, has flown the coop and will be spreading the love all around the 831 via his new venture, Totem Music Presents. McSherry will continue bringing great shows to Big Sur along with (((folkYEAH!))) co-founder Britt Govea; at this end of the bay, he's got the Ditty Bops lined up for Kuumbwa (Aug. 4) and Devendra Banhart at the Rio Theatre (Sept. 6).
McSherry's coy about why he's parting ways with the Attic, which is under new ownership, but he regrets rien: "One of my last shows was with Pegi Young and Neil Young, and it doesn't get much better than that."
Send a letter to the editor about this story.