It was in the ’80s that reggae started to gain a wider, more international audience.
I first saw Tristan “Phonetic” McCormick at Streetlight Records. With his hoodie up and headphones on, he would silently dig through the bins and leave, barely making eye contact. Then I saw Phonetic, the Jekyll to his Hyde, spit rapid-fire lyrics at the Blue Lagoon to a stunned crowd—which erupted with raucous cheers.
When I saw the Bad Light last April, Edu Cerro’s metalish band had been searching for the right drummer for several months. It was their second show with drummer Dana Shepard, and as Cerro dug his fingers into his guitar strings, bending them into dizzying blues licks as his long brown hair swayed side to side, he would periodically look over at Shepard as if he couldn’t believe his ears.
Folk, country, bluegrass—and ska? How does that old song go? One of these things is not like the other. That doesn’t seem to bother local trio Harbor House, who claim every single one of those genres as an influence, and even go so far as to call their genre “folk-ska.”
Jackie Zealous is a three-piece garage-rock band, but it’s also the name of a real person. Not one of the members, though—the name belongs to a guy they met at their practice space who provides them with a lot of unsolicited advice. And he lives in a van right outside.
There are a lot of retro soul bands that troll record stores for old, obscure soul gems to cover. Harry and the Hitmen do a little of that, but mostly they stick to the popular, crowd-pleasing Motown classics. They distinguish themselves in a completely different way; by adding a little jam-band flair.
Over the pulse of keyboards and drums is a high-pitched wail: half screeching and half soaring, just a little bit jazzy, and altogether beautiful. It’s the vocals of musician Linsey Olsen, a former Santa Cruzan, fronting for the live hip-hop group Joomanji.