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[whitespace] Walker Don't Run

Santa Cruz's multitalented Rick Walker keeps busy sitting in with folkies and running a live looping show

By David Espinoza

RICK WALKER is always busy doing something. Earlier this year, the Santa Cruz veterano musician sat in on drums for Sin in Space at the Catalyst; this past weekend he performed with folk-favorite Mary McCaslin at the Kuumbwa. What's in store for this weekend? The multi-instrument-playing maestro will be working buttons and knobs, instead of djembes and frame drums, for a live looping show at the brand-new Blue Bird Gallery in Felton on Sunday (Dec. 17). The show is scheduled to begin around 3pm, and Walker will be accompanied by George DeMarest and may request audience participation with some "acoustic" loops. Sound like fun.

More Holiday Music Shopping

I finally got my paws on the Lowdown's debut album, Revolver II. Yes, it has been over a month since it came out, and yes, a few weeks since they had a CD-release party, but remember we're running on Santa Cruz time here. I'm now thoroughly convinced that anyone who owns this CD has no doubt locked him or herself in a room with a year's supply of Twinkies and set the stereo on self-loop indefinitely. You know all those missing people you see on postcards? That's where they are.

General things to know and ponder about the album. The cover art is in two colors--baby blue and bright orange, ideal for children (and adults) with short-attention spans. Though the CD itself displays three human faces, none of them seem to be Josh Alper, Noel Harmonson or Hugh Holden (perhaps they used stunt doubles?). Vinyl will always trump CDs, and accordingly, the CD's 22 songs are divided into a Side 1 and Side 2. The longest track clocks in at five minutes and 14 seconds; the shortest at six seconds. Yeah, you could say this project is in a no-brow class of its own.

The vocals range from a lobotomized Les Claypoolesque whine to hysterical screaming--and the occasional Martian speak. Recorded at Dub Narcotic studios in Olympia, Wash., the Lowdown have harnessed all the nonsensical musings that have made their live shows such a unique experience in Santa Cruz for the last two years. That being said, anytime the Lowdown come across a catchy riff (which is often), they do everything to tear it apart and work it into a collage of noise. Midway through track 12, for instance, Alper's keyboard mashing and Holden's fuzzy guitar hit a golden point of rockage, which then dissolves into utter chaos--such is the way of the Low and the Down.

Many of the tracks are composed of pure static, gurgling, robotic bleeps and rhythmless drumbeats. Sometimes you can make out what Holden and Alper are saying, as on the song "Dance Punks," where they sing, "Shake your booty, you've never before, well come on!" This album should go on everyone's list of essential local albums, along with the late Soda Pop Fuck You's Timing Is Everything and Estradasphere's It's Understood.

Upcoming Shows at the Cat

Usually, this time of year has little to offer in terms of local underground shows. Thankfully, there are a few dates worth looking forward to. While the Gherkin is away, the Sneeky Creekans will play the Catalyst Dec. 22, assuming that their new guitarist is up to speed. Wishcraft will play a post-Christmas show on Dec. 27 at the Catalyst; the next day will feature emo-punkers Jetlag. On Dec. 30, long-ago rocker Eddie Money will also make his way to the Catalyst. Not to be mean or anything, but it should be noted that he used to play the Civic Auditorium on a regular basis back in the '80s.

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From the December 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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