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[whitespace] Nothing Shocking

Folk-rocker turns out the lights on Palookaville appearance

By David Espinoza

BEING AN UNCOMPROMISING, politically minded artist in the music business is sort of like swimming up stream--sure, you can do it for a while, but it's bound to make you tired. Not that Michelle Shocked's abrupt cancellation of her show at Palookaville June 8 and her subsequent free show at the Catalyst the same night could be called out of character. This is, after all, the same artist who compared being with a major record label to being a slave--perhaps not an entirely off-target remark. But tell that to any descendant of slavery.

According to P-ville sources, Shocked cancelled after Bay Area promoters 2B1 paid the deposit on only two of the three scheduled Bay Area performances. In a move modeled on PG&E, Shocked's management pulled the plug on the Palookaville show in retribution for not paying one bill even though the P-ville show had been paid for. Shocked then decided to mosey on over to the Catalyst and play an hour-long free set. So what's the moral of the story? Good question. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Jam 'N' Skate

Three-foot-high spiked hairdos, metal spikes and middle fingers adequately sums up Padded Cell and Surething productions' "Skate Jam" June 10 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. Oh yeah, there was skateboarding too. From one fan's patch that read "F**k you, you f**king f**k!" to Total Chaos' opening lines, "F**k the f**king system," it was all about punk f**king rock in its most clichéd form. After flaking out on their last show in SC, East Los Angeles' (that's pronounced "Eazeslows," holmes) Union 13 finally made a good impression, coming on stage dressed in bright orange prison jumpsuits and ending their set with a decent cover of Rancid's "Roots Radical." True, most of the kids probably couldn't have understood Union 13's hardcore en español rantings, but hey, who can understand hardcore en ingles anyway?

Stack the Wood

You know a band is hot when they can take fans who are usually up and dancing, sit them down and give them an acoustic version of the group without earning any complaints. Then again, who would ever complain about pianist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood? These boys have yet to play a single disappointing note.

Performing two separate sets, MMW gushed vivid New York City experimental jazz sounds from the band's new album, Tonic. It was the archetypal Santa Cruz funk/jam/jazz scene, with bootleg geeks holding precious recording equipment raised like weather dials probing the air. And while it's tempting to say MMW fans are of the dreaded and Deadheaded persuasion, their appeal cuts across all kinds of music enthusiasts.

Up on stage, the band formed some sort of mystic triangle with Medeski (flanked by a baby grand and upright piano) on the left side, Martin on the right and Wood in the middle. For MMW, the transition from amped Fender Rhodes keyboards and basses to acoustic instruments was more of a change in tone than style.

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From the June 14-21, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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