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Burning Sensations: Hot Hot Heat smolder for the camera.

Hot Hot Hands Clapping

It would be easier to dismiss HOT HOT HEAT frontman STEVE BAYS' stadium rock posturings were it not for the fact that he so obviously had the CATALYST audience eating out of his hyperactive hands last week. True, the British Columbia band's pop pandering pretty much made the STROKES look like the ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO, but that didn't stop the crowd from screaming and clapping on demand every time Bays gestured for them to do so--which was several times per song. Could it be that the former indie-pop outfit is trying to prove something now that WARNER BROS. decided to drop the price of its album after its failure to meet sales projections? No matter: By the time the band launched into its most infectious material, songs like "No, Not Now" or the new disc's "Goodnight, Goodnight," any remaining skeptics in the house were surely won over.

Bill Forman

Mbari and Masuka

It's one thing to get everyone to clap on the backbeat, but another to actually engage their emotions. After HUGH MASEKELA got everyone to their feet after the end of the third song (no mean feat at the KUUMBWA), he hauled out the cowbell to introduce a song "dedicated to the workers in the fields, and all the workers in the mines who are digging billions and billions of dollars out of the ground that they will never see at their dinner table."

The intensity of that moment served as contrast to the rest of the show that celebrated the beautiful but terrible history of South African jazz and culture. MBARI, MBAQANGA and KWAITO were all represented in the set, and Hugh even gave a shoutout to DOROTHY MASUKA. Dorothy was South Africa's first female superstar and is still churning out songs despite never receiving the attention that MIRIAM MAKEBA (Hugh's first wife) received.

By the end of the set, when the band was back into full groove assault mode, Hugh literally had to kick dancers off the stage so he could finish the set without someone rubbing up against him. I'll bet the ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO never had to do that.

Montreal and Medicine

Benefit shows are a mixed bag. Tibet still isn't free, Live 8 isn't going to stop African hunger and Elton John is unlikely to stop the spread of HIV through his After the Oscars™ party. But some benefits, when keyed to local issues, can truly have an impact. Local jazz singer ALEXANDRA MONTREAL has a brain tumor, so AL FRISBY III, the MOTION PACIFIC DANCERS and KATE ALM are participating in a show to help her pay for its removal. While this column is not the place to make a push for UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE or even HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM, it is the place to mention that you can help Alexandra by going to the Kuumbwa Aug. 14 at 7pm.

Peter Koht

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From the August 10-17, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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