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[whitespace] Keepin' It Real

A semimysterious band of gypsies calling themselves The Real Jimmies once again appeared on Pacific Avenue on Friday night, wielding acoustic guitars and a 2.5-piece drum "set" right out in front of Pacific Wave. The four troubadours (well, five, including Gypsie ... more on him later) attracted a sizeable gathering of people, who couldn't resist clapping along and hooting and hollering with these 20ish-year-old dudes cranking out acoustic, jerry-rigged versions of, well, all your favorite songs. Just to name a few ... NOFX's "Bob," NIN's "Hurt," and TLC's "No Scrubs," along with songs by bands that don't have letters for names, like Weezer and Michael Jackson.

They also mixed in a bunch of originals, and a whole bunch of clever banter from drummer/lead singer James, who looks, sounds and acts remarkably like--no, exactly like Sneaky Creakan frontman Nate Lieby. Indeed, Lieby-man & Co. have created a fine set of diversions for all kinds of wallet-heavy holiday shoppers, offering Real Jimmies CDs (available at Streetlight) as stocking stuffers. But let the buyer beware: songs like "Cash for Hash" and "Sucks to be You," while indeed for everyone, may cause inexplicably unreasonable brain damage. Lieby's is also putting out a CD for his solo project, 300 Pound, a mostly acoustic, consistently entertaining, yet sometimes deeply disturbing endeavor. Check out the carnage at www.300poundmusic.com and www.therealjimmies.tripod.com.

Weird stuff, but somehow not quite as weird as the incredible improvisational talents of random-guy-with-drum, a.k.a. Gypsie, a bare-footed drummer who heard the live music and took it upon himself to join in. "Santa Cruz is the tit of the Central Coast," Gypsie said with dreamy confidence while we discussed Santa Cruz music after the show was over. Ain't that the truth.

One Hot Lava Mama ...

By now you've probably all seen pinup shots of Lavay Smith in her skivvies, lookin' sexy and retro as all hell. But if ya hain't a damn swinger and ya hain't never seen her, then for you, honey chile, I gots a story ta tell. She's a big, buxom babe and she's dressed to the hilt--she look like she traveled through time. She got a black strapless dress and a flower in her hair, and Youch! She got a voice so sublime! Like Billie Holiday, and Bessie Smith too, she belts it out there ain't no tomorra. And the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, her illustrious band, lay down the standards with ease and a swingin' sense of style, heating up the dance floor and cooling it down by turns, not worrying about how in the hell I'm going to rhyme anything with "tomorra." It's not even a word fer chrissakes.

--Mike Connor

Calvin Happening

It used to always piss me off how most of your typical rock compendiums--like Rolling Stone's rock encyclopedia, for instance--had little if anything to say about Beat Happening. Because they barely ever seemed to tour, a rabid fan like me who had never set foot in Washington state found it downright impossible to find out everything about the now-legendary Olympia band that I wanted--nay, needed--to know.

My, how things have changed. The recent indie-rock volume Our Band Could Be Your Life devotes as much space to Beat Happening--pages and pages and pages--as it does to longtime punk icons Black Flag, the Minutemen and Husker Du. And you know what, that's how it should be.

Anyway, K Records has just released an amazing BH box set, and frontman (and K label head) Calvin Johnson has a gorgeous, back-to-basics album called What Was Me. And he'll be in Santa Cruz Monday, Dec. 9, playing on a bill with Little Wings at the 418 Project, so go see him.

--Steve Palopoli

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From the December 4-11, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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