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July 11-17, 2007

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Music Picks

The Smashing Pumpkins, Tony Shepperd, Ani DiFranco and the Carmel Bach Festival

The Smashing Pumpkins: AMONG THE pantheon of misheard lyrics, the chorus on The Smashing Pumpkins' first song ("I Am One") on their first album (Gish) is still a bit of a mystery. To my ears, the lyric databases are way off, claiming, for instance, that the vampirish Corgan's vibrating metal coil of a voice is shouting, "See you, don't you just want to/ See you, I am one." Besides the fact that it doesn't make any sense, the line sounds nothing like Corgan's unintelligible wail (he clearly sings, "Sail, downdididdlewahoo/ Sail, I am one"). But like many Pumpkins songs, the occasionally recognizable lyrics are just a cherry on top of emotionally satisfying hard rock songs. Maintaining a subtle space-rock aesthetic throughout the years, the Chicago-based alt-rock band progressively moved away from Corgan's squealing guitar solos and Jimmy Chamberlin's monsterously complex drumming toward a lighter, starry-eyed feel, until the band dissolved altogether in 2000. The Smashing Pumpkins are celebrating the release of their reunion album, Zeitgeist, with a residency at the Fillmore and a performance at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. (Mike Connor) The Smashing Pumpkins perform on July 15-16, 18, 22, 24-25, 27-28, 30-31 and Aug. 1 at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary, San Francisco, and on July 20 at Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. (408.998.TIXS)

Mixing in the Box: IN FEWER THAN 10 years, technological advances in music production have revolutionized the music industry. What was once only possible to do in an expensive studio can now be done in the comfort of your own home. Software such as Apple's Logic Pro and DigiDesign's ProTools have made it economical for do-it-yourself musicians to record and mix their own music. But just because it's possible doesn't mean that it doesn't take skill and know-how to do it right, and that's where Tony Shepperd comes in. Tech Breakfast is hosting a free seminar on mixing taught by Shepperd, who has done work for bigshots like Elton John and Madonna. This is an outstanding opportunity for closet mixers to get a better lay of the land and brush up on their mixing chops. (Mike Connor) Tony Shepperd appears on Tuesday (July 17) at 7:30pm at Foothill College, Los Altos Hills. Register at For more information, call 408.250.2444.

Ani DiFranco: ANI DIFRANCO is a slam poet in musician's clothing. She traverses the gap between spoken word and flowing melody with a unique style of fingerpicking and a love of alliteration and punctuated verse. The folk-punk singer-songwriter has taken a guitar and a few words of wisdom and run with them, cranking out dozens of self-produced albums on her independent record label, Righteous Babe Records (home to artists including Andrew Bird and Drums and Tuba). Instead of in-your-face media coverage, DiFranco, an outspoken bisexual, has gained popularity through word of mouth, touring constantly and releasing at least one album a year since her self-titled debut in 1990. After a nationwide tour last summer in support of her 16th studio album, Reprieve, DiFranco tours in support of this year's offering, Canon. (Claire Taylor) Ani DiFranco performs Monday (July 16) at 8pm at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $40.50. (408.998.TIXS)

Bach Time: THE NEW KID at the Carmel Bach Festival, which starts this Saturday, is Andrew Megill. Nominally the festival's associate conductor, he is specifically responsible for the fully professional Festival Chorale, which sings all the major oratorios, cantatas and a capella programs. Megill will be responsible for two of the festival's main concerts, on Wednesdays and Thursdays. (Main programs are performed three times over as many weeks.)

He makes his debut in an arcane program at Carmel Mission that includes the harmonically bizarre Tenebrae by Carlo Gesualdo, a 16th/17th-century prince of Venosa, and Richard Rodney Bennett's Seasons of His Mercies (from a John Donne sermon given from the pulpit at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on Christmas Day, 1624). For the Thursday main program, at Sunset Center (and with orchestra), Megill celebrates the trio of prominent composers born in 1685—Bach, Handel and Scarlatti—with cantatas composed in their youth and first heard exactly three centuries ago this year.

Festival music director Bruno Weil conducts three Bach programs (Saturday, Sunday matinee and Tuesday) at Sunset Center, including the St. Matthew Passion, an "Aha! Bach" sampler and, for opening night, cantatas and orchestral music. The Monday all-virtuoso-concerto program goes to concertmaster Elizabeth Wallfisch. Weil returns Fridays in an all-symphony program of J.C.F. Bach—the "Bückeberg Bach"—Haydn and Beethoven. (Scott MacClelland) The Carmel Bach Festival season runs July 14-Aug. 4 in Carmel and Pebble Beach at various venues; tickets are $20-$72. See or call 831.624.2046 for details.

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