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[whitespace] Electric Eclectic

Eli Salzman plugs in and Dilated Peoples shorts out

By David Espinoza

WHEN BOB DYLAN first added electric instruments to his music, some fans accused him of selling out. Could the same thing happen for local singer-songwriter Eli Salzman now that he's added bassist Ken Mowry and drummer Bobby Stadler? Don't bet on it.

At a May 24 warm-up gig at the Backdoor Cabaret (the weekly What Is Art? showcase newly relocated to the Four-Eighteen Project), Salzman and his new crew tested the waters with much success. Salzman has always had a folk-rock aspect to his music, with guitar rhythms that, if you listen closely, whisper "put a drum beat here." The new lineup has only added more depth to his style without compromising his warm soulful voice and poetic lyrics.

Dilated Platform

No one said reaching stardom was easy. For L.A. hip-hop trio Dilated Peoples, it's probably gonna take a bit of work. Headlining a Thursday show at P-ville May 25, DP displayed the drive of a crew swimming upstream to get out of the nebulous region between strictly underground and prime-time players. Only a few days earlier, DJ Babu and MCs Evidence and Iriscience had sold out the El Rey theater in L.A. In SC, they got probably 75 percent of Palookaville filled. That's not bad for a Thursday night--though you know their pals Jurassic 5 could easily sell it out.

Even before Dilated Peoples busted out a can of whup-spam, Blackstar's Talib Kweli and DJ Hi Tek struck a blow against ticket sales by conspicuously dropping out of the whole tour. This left a pretty big-time vacuum--which was for better or worse filled by DJ D-Sharp, always a big hit with his Wu-Tang Clan spinning, a random, beat-boxing MC who actually upstaged openers Zzyzx and an impromptu track from Palookaville sound guy Eddie Strickler.

Where can Dilated Peoples fit in as a major-label force? While J5's catchy, sing-along harmonies are easily going to sell a lot of CDs, Dilated Peoples' sound is more about intricate beats and bold rhyming. The collective doesn't take the shock-value "let's dis' everyone in sight" of Eminem, nor does the group go on about Rolexes and fancy cars. But DP isn't mellow like A Tribe Called Quest. On the plus side, though, Dilated Peoples represents the all-encompassing multicultural aspect of hip-hop, and the future of hip-hop is going to look a lot like them.

Steady Blues

This year's eighth edition of the Santa Cruz Blue Festival turned out few surprises but still left sold-out Aptos Village Park crowds wowed with two days' worth of solid lineups. Even Nina Storey's show-stealing set for May 27's lineup was no surprise--she charmed everyone in the place at last year's festival, too.

The high point for one-of-a-kind moments had to be Coco Montoya's closing flourish. He had rotated through his set a collection of Santa Cruz's favorite blues guitar-slingers--Debbie Davies, Chris Cain and Corby Yates--bringing the whole posse on stage for a final-number duel, each guitarist playing a few lines and trying to one-up the others before Montoya cued the band's final chord.

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From the May 31- June 7, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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