Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Soft White Sixties, and I'm hooked.

I went to see Beware of Darkness on Sunday, expecting to be very-much entertained by the headline act, wishing it wasn't a Sunday because I had to be up for an early start on Monday and knowing that Sacramento doesn't really go all out to attend Sunday shows. I didn't know any of the support acts, and I had few expectations. I was going to see Beware of Darkness, to take photos, to enjoy the show, because they are one of the outstanding new bands of this decade, in my humble opinion.

I wasn't expecting to be blown away by the support act.

The Soft White Sixties at the Assembly, Sacramento
Soft White Sixties, Sacramento
The Soft White Sixties, from San Francisco, did just that.

Octavio Genera, vocals, The Soft White Sixties at the Assembly, Sacramento
Octavio Genera, Soft White Sixties
You might call them "pop"--but it's pop of a bygone age, when pop was rock and rock'n'roll and soul, not Gaga and Beiber and wish-wash-insipid; when "pop" was bad-boy Thin Lizzy, and glam-boy T Rex, the wonderful Queen and Freddie Mercury, and a touch, a hint, of Northern Soul, when pop was outstanding and strong and loud and tough-but-approachable and pop because it stood for "popular", not just a limited set of notes and chords. This is real. This is music that takes me back to my roots, and yet feels so much like tomorrow it's haunting. (Indeed, TSWS played the best cover of Children of the Revolution I've heard, and there have been a few of those because it's a great song and most fail badly to do it justice.. Singer Octavio Genera too, he has something reminiscent of Phil Lynnot in the way he performs.) I'd call them rock, and fun, and darnit... you need to get out there and see them, hear them, listen to their album "GET RIGHT". Seriously...

The Soft White Sixties at the Assembly, Sacramento
Soft White Sixties

(If you don't know what I mean by Northern Soul, I guess you didn't grow up in England, did you?)

These photos are by no means the best I've ever taken. They are grainy and obscure. (I am soooooo ready for some summer-daylight shows, or some shows where the lightman does some magic and illuminates the bands.) But if any one of these pictures inspires any one of you to go check out this band, these Soft White Sixties, it will have been worth the effort to wring some drops of light out of the camera.
And... I just found another good reason, if not the best reason, to head to BottleRock in Napa. The Soft White Sixties are playing on the Saturday.

Let's go!

Find The Soft White Sixties on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and music is available from their website through iTunes and Amazon.

More photos from the show:  http://alisontoon.com/tsws

(And if you like the energy of The Soft White Sixties, you might also enjoy Blackjack Billy.)

Today's soundtrack: The Three Way and The Soft White Sixties

I'm listening to "The Three Way" by The Three Way, and The Soft White Sixties "Get Right" as I work today... and they go together very, very well.

Now that's a lineup for a fun show. Yes, please!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Beware of Darkness at the Assembly, Sacramento, 27 April: thoughts, review

Dear Beware of Darkness,

I have seen you three times in just over a year: at the first Aftershock, then late last year at the Ace of Spades, and then last night, at Sacramento's Assembly.

Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Each time, I've enjoyed your show very much. And I really, really rate your first album, Orthodox.

Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Beware of Darkness, The Assembly, Sacramento
So keep on coming back to Sacramento. Every time you do, you gain new fans. Soon you won't be able to wander down K street, thinking no-one knows who you are. Until then, keep doing what you're doing.

Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Thank you,


P.S. More photos from the show in the Toon's Tunes Beware of Darkness photo gallery. Yes, it was a tad on the dark side last night!

Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
(Everyone else: if you still haven't heard Orthodox, take a listen. Might just be the breath of fresh air you're looking for. And catch them on tour: tonight at The Alley in Sparks/Reno, then in LA)

Beware of Darkness, Sacramento April 2014
Beware of Darkness, The Assembly, Sacramento

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Dandy Warhols, and The Warlocks, and darkly-mystic psychadelic rock?

Last night, The Dandy Warhols, ably supported by The Warlocks, put on an almost-mystic, trance-like, almost-psychadelic show at the Ace of Spades in Sacramento.

I hadn't realised that The Dandy Warhols have been around for quite as long as they have, but it's already twenty years since they played Sacramento's Old Ironsides! And no doubt, there were more than a few fans from those days in the audience.

ALISON TOON: The Dandy Warhols &emdash; The Dandy Warhols
Courtney Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols
The previous night's show in San Francisco, and tonights/tomorrows dates in Los Angeles, sold out: there were still a few tickets available in Sacramento, but the room was full by the time the Dandys came on stage.

ALISON TOON: The Dandy Warhols &emdash; The Dandy Warhols
The Dandy Warhols
I really enjoyed the music from both bands. I just wished there had been a little more in way of visuals. The lighting was almost non-existant... and while darkness does help set the mood for this type of music, I really wanted to see the performers, too.

The Warlocks had a cool video projected across them, their faces, and the back of the stage. It added to the atmospher, but it didn't add any light--hence the lack of quality photos.

But then, it's about the music, and not about the photographer!

ALISON TOON: The Warlocks &emdash; The Warlocks, live, 2014
Earl V. Miller, The Warhols

More tour dates here: http://www.dandywarhols.com/news/shows/

More about The Warlocks and more about The Dandy Warhols on their websites: click the links!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

So who's going to BottleRock? Nice lineup! The Cure! Really!

So who's up for a trip down to Napa?

BottleRock is Friday, May 30th until Sunday, June 1st. Lineup includes The Cure, Outkast, Barenaked Ladies, Heart (Heart?), Ed Kowalczyk, Third Eye Blind, and many, many, many more.

Full lineup here:  http://www.bottlerocknapavalley.com/lineup 
And you can buy your tickets here:  http://www.bottlerocknapavalley.com/tickets

For full details of the festival, go to http://www.bottlerocknapavalley.com

Lots of shows this week: New Kingston, The Dandy Warhols, Beware of Darkness...

I've been travelling for three weeks out of the past four, and am now back in Sacramento. There's a whole lot of music in town this week!

- The Dandy Warhols at the Ace of Spades on Thursday
- New Kingston at the Assembly on Wednesday
- Beware of Darkness, at the Assembly on Sunday!

ALISON TOON: Beware of Darkness 2013 &emdash; Beware of Darkness live in Sacramento
Beware of Darkness, December 2013, Ace of Spades, Sacramento
These are just the ones that I've picked out--there are many other shows. Check out the full lineups from these venues:

Ace of Spades

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Best albums ever... revising my list, and adding one

There are few albums on my best-ever list. I have well over 20 days of music on my iPod, but there are few albums that have that everlasting, always-listen-to-it-and-hear-something-new, appeal.

They have to be albums that are timeless. They don't become dated.

They have to be musically intricate and technically strong.

They have to have meaningful lyrics.

There can be no more than one naff song on the album (and that's only because I like Dire Straits too much to say, "not one"). And they are not "best of" albums, because that's cheating, (though at some point I'll have to make an exception for a "best of 5FDP gentle songs").

The songs might be played by a classical orchestra, and stand up--because the music is that detailed and that strong.

If you hear the songs played live, you know that each performance will be unique, because the musicians are living the music, and the music is alive.

Gemini Syndrome, Sparks, NV, 2013
Gemini Syndrome, Sparks, Nevada, 2013

Alessandro Paveri, bass, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013
AP, Gemini Syndrome, Sacramento Aftershock 2013
After several plane journeys, many subway rides, and a few long-distance east-coast train rides during the past couple of weeks, I am in no doubt that Gemini Syndrome's "Lux" is way, way up on my list of best albums ever. I don't say that lightly.

Brian Steele Medina, drummer, Gemini Syndrome, Aftershock 2013
Brian Steele Medina, Gemini Syndrome, Sacramento Aftershock 2013
Together with Marillion's Marbles, and Brave, and Afraid of Sunlight, and more; Peter Hammill's Silent Corner and the Empty Stage;  Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms; Stevie Nicks' Belladonna, and a few more, Lux is going to be on my playlist for a very long time.

Peter Hammill performing live at the Entrepot, Grenoble, 1994
Peter Hammill, 1994, Grenoble, France
But then, you say, what comes next?

There's a lot of time, and many years, and hopefully many more albums to come.

Ask some of the oldies (and not-so-oldies, but very very good-ies) on my list. They are still making music, still out there, still living the song.

Thank you all, very much.

Friday night of the Marillion Weekend, Wolverhampton UK, 2013
Marillion, Wolverhampton, England, 2013

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Three Way's CD is about to arrive!

This week is a week of new arrivals. First, very very early on Wednesday morning, my first grandbaby arrived!!! She is beautiful and adorable and it's all very very exciting. More about this soon!

And tomorrow, another new arrival of a different kind--The Three Way's first album is being launched at a party in Sacramento. It's being held at the Midtown Barfly, 1119 21st Street, Sacramento. The event will include live performances by (of course) The Three Way and also Island of Black and White, the Soul Shine Band, Hans Eberbach and Joshua Dale Krage, and Jesse Guerra, as well as comedy by Garrett Wildgust.

The entry fee for the launch party is $10, and includes a free copy of the Three Way’s new CD. You have to be 18 or older to go to the launch party--if you're not, you'll still be able to purchase the CD! Look out for it everywhere you usually buy music!

There's a great interview with The Three Way online in this week's Submerge magazine. If you live in Sac, you'll also be able to find the print version. (I had the great pleasure of taking the photos!)

Personally, after seeing their show just a few weeks back, and playing their EP ever since, I can't wait to hear all the album.  It will be great!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Flying again... oh my ears!

Flying across the USA in daylight, never failing surprise at the vast, enormous areas of uninhabited wilderness. Desert, mountain, forest, snowfield, lake. It's beautiful and its wild and its crazy how people cram into tiny city apartments and traffic jams.

Sacramento to Chicago. Midway to East coast. Soundtrack: metal spinning, and then I created a random new one:

Shinedown, 45
Linda Sharrock, Until you come back to me
Calvin Russell, I gave my soul to you
Radiohead, Creep
Picture Me Broken, Mannequins 
Richard Peikoff, Mirrors
Pearl Jam, Breath
One-Eyed Doll, Liar
Sinead O'Connor, Nothing compares to you
Mumford and Sons, The Boxer
Marillion, When I meet God
Marylin Manson, Sweet Dreams. 

ALISON TOON: Marillion Saturday &emdash; Marillion weekend Wolverhampton 2013 Brave live
Steve H, Marillion
The mix was a tad insipid. Good songs, good musicians, but it came across a little flat. After that? I needed more H, more Marillion, and more Ivan Moody. You need strong vocals to cut through the plane-pressure hearing loss!

ALISON TOON: Five Finger Death Punch &emdash; Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP, 5FDP) live at Aftershock Festival 2013
Ivan Moody, Five Finger Death Punch

Friday, April 4, 2014

Istanbul: art and music and memories

A few years back, my daughter and I were sitting on the beach in Dahab, on the Red Sea, and hearing some very haunting music. That music was B-Tribe, and for me, it's synonymous with Dahab, with sitting under shade at a waterside cafe, eating Fuul Mesdames, playing backgammon with the Bedouin girls. Flamenco meets New Age and some electronica... not from the desert, not from Sinai, but very much linked in my mind with the two.

In Istanbul, I was wandering the streets last Thursday, doing my own walkabout thing, my way of getting to know a place; meeting strangers, haggling in the market, seeing the backstreets as well as the tourist attractions (which in Istanbul's case are not to be missed: Hagia Sofia is incredible, the Blue Mosque beautiful, the Suleieman mosque totally tranquil). I was about to return to the hotel, or to find a boat across the Bosphorus and back, but something pulled me up a steep, steep street, up towards Hagia Sophia. (The top of the street is where Bored Security Guy sits at night, playing with the alley cats. The bottom is close to the tram line that circles around the peninsula.)

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey
Artist Ilhami Atalay
On my left, a cafe, tables stepped up the street. On my right, another cafe... with some very interesting graffiti running behind, and above, and around, the tables. "Don't be afraid of the art", "Don't be afraid of your mind": quotes from Polish photographer, Maciej-Meru Adamczewski. The quote is right. Never, ever, be afraid of art. And this street is full of it. Everywhere.

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey

More exhuberant and vocal and colourful graffiti-art, even over a street sign, which becomes a part of the picture. More signs pointing to an exhibition. More art. More walls. Again, don't be scared, you will like!

And like I did. It's the home of artist Ilhami Atalay. A wonderful treasure-trove of artwork-in-progress, major canvases, paintings to buy. Stacks of them.

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey

If I lived in Istanbul, my home would be full of his paintings. I love the colours. I love the energy and the life and the heart and soul. I had to run away before I spent this year's mortgage on a load of artwork. (That's not to say the pictures are really expensive: for this calibre of art, they are affordable. I just wanted lots!)

That red and yellow and turquoise canvas? It would be perfect in my living room. Maybe I need to go back to Istanbul... soon.

Artist Ilhami Atalay's gallery in Istanbul, Turkey

And why did I start this post with the music from Dahab? Because... if you go to Ilhami Atalay's website, the music that plays is Turkish and New Age and electro. It's the music of Can Atilla. And his music will now, for me, be synonymous with Istanbul.

Go look, go listen. Don't be scared: you will like!

Website: http://www.ilhamiatalay.com/ 
More pictures from Toon's Tunes visit to Ilhami Atalay's gallery, click here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guess where I was last week?

It's obvious where I've been, from the books I'm reading. 

A good trip always generates good reading material... and new recipes to try!  The recipe books by Greg and Lucy Malouf are beautiful, and worth buying for the photos as well as the food. And I will now have to read all of Orhan Parmuk's books, beginning with this one: Istanbul, Memories and The City.