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Oh Honey, Baby, I Got Your Money

For all its libertine posturing, Santa Cruz is surprising prudish. When was the last time a show rolled through the town with a group of solid-gold booty dancers? Not even David Lee Roth brought them, and ZZ Top isn't playing clubs anymore. At least Sean Paul knows where to water when there is a drought.

Bringing the aforementioned booty, two MCs, a four-piece and a colossal ego to the stage, Sean Paul had all the KDON-heads in happy rapture last Thursday at the Catalyst. Starting out his set with all of his singles was a bold move, but Sean showed no fear, dropping "We Be Burning," "Get Busy," "Like Glue" and "Gimmie That Light" all within the first 20 minutes.

Or at least it sounded like that. While Paul drew from his entire back catalog, it all kind of ended up sounding like one spongy mass. At one point he asked the crowd if they have been with him since 1995. Hundreds answered positively, but few answered truthfully.

While he is critically lauded as the man who combined hip-hop and dancehall, acts like Damien Marley, Vybz Cartel and Buju Banton all do a better job of it. But lacking Paul's private school, polo-playing privileged background, they haven't had the opportunities to remix every single that hits the Billboard Top 100--so they get no play.

Paul, on the other hand, has no shortage of acclaim, fame and money. In heavy rotation on MTV and mainlined on commercial radio, he can demand half a Benjamin a concert and have no shortage of fans show up.

It's a Hat, You Know, for Kids!

Elfin is a word not often used as a descriptor for people past the age of 17, but in Carla Kihlstedt's case, an exception can be made. Standing stage-left in pinstripe pants held up with a green ribbon and calmly but passionately enthralled with her violin, she exuded an aura of otherworldly charm during Tin Hat's Dec. 1 concert at the Kuumbwa. Without showboating or posturing, she completely stole the show with her instrumental prowess. Her playing is textural and lyrical at the same time. Miraculously, she manages to be melodic while being completely unafraid of voicing a line in seconds.

Like a Victorian doll or circus poster, there is something sepia-toned and fragile about all of Tin Hat's presentation. They make music that is somehow distant, like an echo of an era long since given over to electronics and noise. It's almost as if they should issue wax cylinders instead of CDs.

Even their instrumentation is archaic. Kihlstedt played a Stroh violin (a standard fretboard attached to a trumpet bell). Guitarist Mark Orton plucked away on a parlor guitar and a dobro, and Ben Goldberg played an ancient bass clarinet (apparently made of metal and shaped like a long euphonium, but with a clarinet reed) that was as ungainly as it was haunting to listen to. Ara Anderson gets the prize for best instruments, alternating between harmonium, trumpet, cooking pot and paper bag to fill out Tin Hat's back line.

Working through a set list that included westerns like "The Last Cowboy" and "Bill" from <>The Rodeo Eroded, 14/8 Cuban dances like "Compay" and lilting little chamber works like "Hotel Aurora," the group has more than achieved its goal of breaking down the barriers between genres. Whatever words you use to describe their music, it's good.

Giraffes? Giraffes!

Ah, punctuation. Is there anything it can't do? Santa Cruz's own version of Hella, Giraffes? Giraffes! will be playing Caffe Pergolesi this coming Friday, Dec. 9, at 7pm. Composed of refugees from the Mothers Eggs, the duo of Joseph Andreoli and Kenneth Topham will spin out intricate instrumental ditties while celebrating the release of their appropriately titled opus Superbadass! (Black Death Greatest Hits Vol. 1). Sheena and the Terrible will also put in appearances. The Queen of the Jungle and the Lords of the Serengeti all in the same venue? Call National Geographic.

Peter Koht

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From the December 7-14, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

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