To his great surprise, Garrett Wheeler gets his zydeco on.
By GARRETT WHEELER
Rub-A-Dub-Dub Yee-haw! No, seriously—yee haw. That's what I wanted to shout last Saturday night at Don Quixote's as the Felton venue hosted Monterey's own Cachagua Playboys. Central California eclecticism once again reared its multi-genre head, this time in the form of traditional Louisiana Zydeco music. Zydeco emerged near the turn of the century in Southern Louisiana, a mix of Cajun music and Creole dance tradition. If you're as unfamiliar with Zydeco as I was, you might mistake it for good ol' country western, but with a little less twang. You'd be sorely mistaken. Besides the heavily syncopated rhythms and the undeniable presence of an accordion, there's one very important instrument that is fundamentally unique to the genre: the Zydeco rub-board. The "King of Zydeco" himself, Clifton Chenier, invented the washboard chest-piece, also called a frottoir, in 1946. When it's played right, it adds a clickety-clack percussion sound—perfect for moving to the grooving. And move they did. The Playboys performed for a near-packed house and the dance floor never cleared. It's been a while since I've seen the Electric Slide in action, but the older (than me) crowd line-danced like it was going out—er, coming back in style.
It's no wonder the Cachugua Playboys have earned regular airplay on Santa Cruz's beloved radio station KPIG. With tight instrumental phrasing, hot guitar/fiddle leads by Pat Clark, and five-way vocal harmonies, the Boys shook up Don Quixote's like a James Bond martini. The good tunes kept the crowd up late, or at least late enough for Felton babysitters to earn some extra gas money.
Back to Metal But what would a local music week be without heavy metal? While everyone else was getting all gangsta in the Catalyst mainstage area with rapper Ghostface Killah and crew last Thursday, a few devoted metal-heads gathered in the Atrium to watch a lineup of local metal acts that included 6 Days To Nowhere, Mnemonic Device, and Perfect Flaw. I popped in some earplugs (thanks to the guy who was kind enough to spare a pair), took my seat and watched the havoc unfold.
Mnemonic Device started its set with an eerily tranquil march that quickly cascaded into an explosion of thundering metal power-rock. Pleasantly melodic vocals evaporated into guttural screaming, while a dual guitar attack pushed the overdrive well past the threshold of comprehensible sound. At one point lead singer Justin announced that the following song was about drugs, "because we know Santa Cruz is down with that shit." The band proceeded into a heavy metal representation of drug use, which apparently, is nothing like the drug use guys like Jerry Garcia sang about. This "shit" would tear your head off, then serve it to you for breakfast. Capping off the nightmarish run of metal mayhem, which coincidently came exactly one night after Halloween, was thrash-metal posse Perfect Flaw. A small group of the band's faithful screamed and yelped as the Santa Cruz quintet dove headfirst into their ferocious brand of rock & roll. At night's end, there was little to do but feel forever indebted to the earplug donator and head home. If someone were to tell me that in two nights I'd be watching the Electric Slide and listening to Zydeco, I'd have called him crazy. But then again, I guess anything's possible in this Land of the Weird we call home.
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