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Street musicians strut their stuff on CDs

By David Espinoza

DELTA BLUES SLIDE GUITARIST David Scully may get shafted when it comes to getting his dues as a Pacific Avenue Mall street performer stalwart (no Goldies to date) but isn't that the story of every underappreciated local artist? On his self-produced, 10-track Pilgrim Blues CD (available wherever you can find him), the soft-spoken goateed singer offers a very enjoyable dose of classic hobo tunes that's neither jaded nor contrived.

With the help of some pals, including John Crellin on washboard and washtub bass (bucket/washtub with broomstick and string), Josh Neelands on kazoo and mandolin, Nathan Gage on washtub bass and banjo, and Jason Lampel on banjo, the album is a considerable improvement from Scully's street gigs, as you can actually hear his voice.

One of the best tracks is "Hesitation Blues," a foot-stomping, sing-along about whiskey and love on which Scully and crew sing, "Tell me how long have I got to wait? Can I getcha now? Must I hesitate?" The old-timey music Scully plays is a slice of apple pie from a era when life was a lot slower and people had fewer forms of entertainment (no TV, DVD, Internet, video games), hence some passersby lack the attention span to sit down and relax to it.

And while the always-humble Scully refers to the effort as raw, it would seem that's the point of making this kind of music in the first place. Personally, Pilgrim Blues got three full rounds on my CD player, and it's not being replaced anytime soon.

Since Mr. "Have a nice day" Robert Steffen and his umbrella tent vacated North Pacific Avenue, things have been a little too quiet. Luckily, dobro guitarist Calvin Harris, a.k.a. Cal, has been livening the scene up with his lightning-speed lapdog slide and fingerpicking skills. As Cal will tell you, it's all about his 28-year-old love Rosie--a six-string wood-body round-necked dobro that lies across his lap. Unlike Scully's kickback style, Cal doesn't bother to sing as he works Rosie at Mach 3 speeds. Interestingly enough, Cal claims he's new to the Santa Cruz street scene (he plays like a veteran) but loves it; as he puts it: "You meet the finest people in the world out here."

Sambada

There are certain elements of music no Santa Cruz band can escape provided it stays here long enough. Sooner or later, any crew remotely associated with World Beat music will play a funk tune in the key of E and, of course, something resembling reggae; if it's an acoustic guitar you sport, the folk genre will creep up on ya. Brazilophiles Sambada get their funk on and over with early in Sambada Live, the group's self-produced debut released in late March. Recorded live at various Santa Cruz venues, including Rosie McCann's and Seabright Brewery (and one San Francisco club), the 12-track CD is a mix of original tunes written by lead singer Papiba Godinho and traditional samba songs. According to vocalist and percussionist Marcel Menard, the CD will be used as a fundraiser for a full-length studio album.

As live albums often go, the effort doesn't fully capture the energy and carnival atmosphere of a Sambada show. It's mostly due to weak mixing with the percussion levels too low--that and the fact that the audience's cheers weren't recorded or lowered doesn't help either. At its brightest moments, Papida Godinho's Portuguese rings through while band mates Menard, Derek Negron, Kevin Dorn, Gary Kehoe and Anne Stafford go to town on their respective instruments.

Plan Ahead

Winter might have seemed the best time to host a goth/industrial/electronic gathering at the Vets Hall, but hey, let's not get picky. Saturday (April 14), DJs Neko, Gobo (as in sushi?), Rodent (not the former City Council candidate) and Greg will spin Dominion from 9pm until 1am. Call 454.0478 for more info.

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From the April 11-18, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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