A lot of people talk about the power of music. Not many can say that they helped uproot an entire system of government and an oppressive social paradigm with their vocal harmonies.
Taking lessons from Esperanza Spalding
Everyone knows that old saying “Those who can’t do, teach.” Well, in response to it, meet Esperanza Spalding. The standup bassist, composer, bandleader and multilingual vocalist is annihilating such skepticism left and right. At the age when most people begin their college pursuits, Spalding accomplished a jaw-dropping feat by becoming Berklee College of Music’s youngest professor ever—when she was merely 20 years old. For jazz’s sparkling up-and-coming gem it wasn’t a whirlwind, it was natural.
The Avett Brothers answer the varied calls of the wild
When it comes to North Carolina’s thunderous country rockers the Avett Brothers, younger brother Seth Avett confirms that what you see onstage is what you get in private: “Since Scott [Avett] was a little boy, he’s had the highest level of energy that you could imagine, it’s unbelievable,” the
Tiempo Libre’s Cuban sons fought the odds
Back in Cuba, Jorge Gomez had a lot of time on his hands. During the early ’90s when, he recalls, there was “no work, no food and no hope,” the pianist turned to music. All day.
“In Cuba, most of the time you don’t have anything to do,” Gomez says from his current home in Miami. “So, you rehearse from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. looking for some hope. Nothing happens with your music, but you become a great musician. I only focused on rehearsing and finding a way to leave.”
Charlie Hunter and Ben Goldberg find out what's in store when accidents happen
Charlie Hunter just can’t stay away from home. The jazz funk guru who freakishly pulls triple duty on his custom-made seven and eight-string guitars, busting out bass, rhythm and solo magic, first left for the East Coast in 1996 because, he says, “I just had to go to New York to get my butt kicked, you know? I didn’t want to be 50 years old and feel like I didn’t do that.” Still, the Berkeley native hasn’t left us waning from his radar.
From backyard band to Santa Cruz bar stars, Sourgrass brings on the funk
Sourgrass has come a long way for a band that considered naming itself “Chocolate Subways and Marshmallow Overcoats.” In fact, they’ve come a long way since this time last year, when they were playing funk- and blues-fueled rock shows in backyards and garages. “This year is when we were really indoctrinated into the Santa Cruz music society, so to speak, because before this year we were just a whiskey band that played parties,” explains drummer Drew Cirincione.
STS9 proves you don’t need words to make a statement
Noam Chomsky is down with electronica. OK, so you might not see the revered scholar waving a glow stick at a Sound Tribe Sector 9 show anytime soon, but you will see him collaborating with our hometown boys in an upcoming documentary. That’s because STS9 walks the walk. Virtually all sound and no talk, the local 5-piece-gone-big, infamous for elaborate orchestrations of instrumental jam band rock with tech-savvy electronica, is all about getting the word out and giving back.
Michael Franti talks about Power To The Peaceful, performing in Iraq, wanting to dance, and Obama as President
Michael Franti is one fierce yogi. A decade ago, the dynamically outspoken muscle behind hip hop’s eclectic Spearhead started the 911 Power To The Peaceful festival—a free park concert in his native San Francisco to raise political and social awareness through peaceful activism. That first attempt drew 6,000 people. It currently draws upwards of 60,000 and now features collective yoga practices for the masses before and after the music. Coinciding with this year’s 10th Annual event, his latest album hits stands this week. For All Rebel Rockers, Franti made a concerted effort to infuse vibrant, booty shakin’ beats in his mission to uplift people through dance, after he did just that during a visit to Iraq. Though images of him are often stern and militant, in the following conversation he is humble and poignantly expressive. Preparing for PTTP and his upcoming performance in Santa Cruz on Sept. 18, Franti gives GT insights into the evolution of the festival and the protest icon’s music through his years of international experience.
Israel Vibration’s Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin gives GT a shot of positive energy
I’m talking with one of the most respected reggae artists alive … and I can’t understand a word he’s saying. Between Israel Vibration vocalist Lascelle “Wiss” Bulgin’s thick Jamaican accent, a fuzzy cell phone reception, and the din of a lively entourage in the background, what we’re getting here does not resemble “information” in the conventional sense. As far as sonic Rorschach tests go, though, it’s first-rate stuff.
Social Distortion’s Mike Ness flies his country flag high on his latest solo tour
If you’re someone who only knows Mike Ness through surly Social Distortion anthems like “Ball and Chain” and “Mommy’s Little Monster,” you might be surprised to punch up this 46-year-old punk rock icon’s MySpace page and find that he describes his solo material with a single word: country. Not cowpunk, mind you, nor even rockabilly, but straight-up, truck stop-ready country music. As Ness’ stauncher fans will tell you, the man’s fondness for twang has been evident since Social D’s sophomore album, 1988’s Prison Bound, but the southern accent is all the stronger in his solo work, which casts Ness as a star-crossed troubadour in the tradition of Johnny Cash or Hank Williams. And hey, let’s face it: With his well-documented history of drug addiction, incarceration, violence and alcoholism, Ness is more than qualified to portray himself as a hard-livin’ man of constant sorrow.