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[whitespace] More Shows Than Time

When it rains, it pours--the cliché applies to the number of shows worth seeing this week

By David Espinoza

AS IF DECIDING between Saturn Cafe and Jalapeños for lunch wasn't a difficult decision, Thursday, May 2, brings both L.A. Chicano music fusionists Quetzal to the Cocoanut Grove and indie-superhero Mirah to the Pacific Ave Cultural Center.

After a splendid performance last year at the 418 Project, one of college radio's best kept secrets, Mirah, will bring her sensual voice and guitar (probably some other assorted toys, too) along with the Blow, and local Beck-meets­Woody Guthrie genius Jeffrey Manson to the corner of Seabright and Broadway. With a darling voice that could tame a bad case of road rage, and folk-noir musical style suitable for a Paris cafe circa 1964, the Olympia-based singer/songwriter has managed to keep it on the down-low in the two years since her remarkable debut, You Think It's Like This, But It's Really Like This. Now, with her sophomore effort, Advisory Committee, finally out, Mirah is ready to conquer the world, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, mano a mano.

Coming from the same circle of musicians that brought you Ozomatli, Los Angeles' Quetzal take a more earnest approach to modern Chicano music. In the four years since their impressive 1998 self-titled debut album from the now obliterated Son Del Barrio Records, the band has gone through a few lineup changes (the band retains brother/sister duo Gabriel and Martha Gonzalez), though mostly for the better. The band remains an all-star cast of professionally trained musicians, and the result is one well-polished, highbrow act. Even so, Quetzal's bilingual redefinitions of traditional Mexicano and Caribbean stylings combined with L.A.'s urban savvy have struck a nerve with their sophomore album, Sing the Real. The 11-track effort is already earning considerably more airplay than the first album with its distinct flavor that could only come from Los Angeles. In essence, Quetzal's music is the sound of indigenous music being rediscovered by its descendants--requinto jarochos and cuatros playing with drum sets and electric guitars; mariachi violins played to a rock beat.

Deciding which show to hit on Saturday will be just as hard as Thursday. Bring the J.D. to honor local rockabilly dudes the Chop Tops as they warm it up for the return of Los Straitjackets with guest singer Deke Dickerson (yes, same guy from Untamed Youth) who were just recently on the Conan O'Brien show--The Red Elvises can eat their hearts out. The scattered shards of long-named bands At the Drive In and the Murder City Devils have wasted no time in starting new projects, Sparta and Dead Low Tide being two who are coming to town on different dates. Personally, I'm more excited about former ATDI members Sparta, who hit the SC Vets Hall basement this Saturday, May 4--details of which aren't available. Lastly, the Lonely Kings, Audiocrush, and Slimshot hit the Catalyst this Friday with a 16+ show.

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From the May 1-8, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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