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[whitespace] Early to Bed, Early to Uprising

EARLIER, I WAS THINKING that a lot of people have sex on Sunday morning, so I didn't know if anyone would show up," said Fred Eaglesmith as he opened the Texas Uprising and KPIG Swine Soiree to a surprisingly large crowd at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Sunday around 11am. "Thanks for taking care of things a little earlier."

I guess it's really just a case of trading one morning uprising for another, if you really think about it, but in any case Eaglesmith made it worth everyone's while with a blistering rock set. The new songs are all muscle, and he was playing old faves like "49 Tons" thrice as fast as I've ever heard him do them--turn the tempo up much more and he'll be playing punk rock. Hell, with his songs about standing up to the government man and the way he turns his total rejection of slick corporate culture into the Great White Trash Hope, Eaglesmith's already more punk rock than 90 percent of the post-Fat Wreck Chords faster-louder crowd. And plus he's got Willie P. Bennett on mandolin--I've never seen anyone else mistreat that poor, helpless instrument the way he does as he heaps layer upon layer of vicious electric noise onto Fred's barnstormers.

Not to be outdone, headliner Robert Earl Keen latched onto the speed-of-sound theme with a triple-time "Shades of Grey" and a rare but lightning-quick run through his cover of Steve Earle's "Tom Ames' Prayer." "Wild Wind Blows" off his new album may, incidentally, be the best song he's ever written, but it hasn't yet come near the crowd-pleasing power of "The Road Goes On Forever," which had fans bum-rushing the stage to the shock of several formerly quite content cops. Now, that's an uprising.

--Steve Palopoli

Electron Futon

Veronique Larsher turned fantasy into reality on Friday night at the Cayuga Vault, where futons of all shapes, sizes and colors convened at the third installment of Electron Salon. The recumbent audience enjoyed an eclectic mix of music from experimental music artists Wayne Jackson, David Van Brink, Ms. Pinky (Scott Wardel), Dana Massie, Rick Klessel, David & Tom Zicarelli, Rick Walker and DJ Jot, while FXTC projected psychedelic visuals onto the ceiling. The cushy floor was surrounded by techno artists standing behind a tangle of cords, laptops and about 56,489 miscellaneous techno gizmos that looked uniformly cool and futuristic. If the music wasn't quite up to par with, say, Brian Eno's work (which sometimes it was), it was mostly due to the artists' playful preoccupation with toys: kids' toys, sex toys, techno toys--all in the name of good fun, though. Backed up by Klessel, Massie delivered a soulful, computer-enhanced guitar solo. Tenor sax player Zicarelli showed ample skill at jazz improv, having no problems accompanying the antics of his Brother computer. Spicing things up a bit, Ms. Pinky hooked his turntable up to his laptop and altered (in real time) a recorded reading of vintage erotica.

Electron Salon is a preamble to the Big Daddy of experimental music events known simply as Woodstockhausen, coming up in August. Friday's event was held in honor of the summer solstice and La Fête de la Musique, a national holiday in France when the streets and shops close down and music is everywhere. Magnifique, eh? We must institute this holiday immediately!

--Mike Connor

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From the June 26-July 3, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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