Author Archive

Album Review: Times Beach — Step in Time

The creatively fertile arts community in the Bay Area – centered for a time around the San Francisco Arts Institute – informed the music scene. As I wrote about in my latest book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, many of the region’s punk and new wave bands came out

Album Review: Tamar Berk – Start at the End

Until very recently, Tamar Berk was one of those artists with whom I was only vaguely familiar. Her name has been bandied about by those whose tastes I admire and respect, but beyond seeing her image in onscreen previews of those Facebook “reels,” I had somehow never managed to hear any of her music. I

Album Review: Dave Brubeck Trio – Live from Vienna 1967

The latest in posthumous recordings courtesy of the Brubeck Editions series, Live from Vienna 1967 is a thrilling, you-are-there live recording featuring the pianist and superb sidemen Joe Morello on drums and upright bassist Eugene Wright. It’s worth noting that the November 12, 1967 performance at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria wasn’t supposed to feature

Album Review: Jeannie C. Riley — Harper Valley P.T.A.

I’ve gone on about this idea before, but it never ceases to fascinate me, so I’ll mention it again. Those of us of a certain age — boomers, I guess you’d say – came of age in an era that was characterized in part at least by shared experience. Where popular culture was concerned, pretty

Album Review: Detective — s/t

By the mid 1970s, having one’s own boutique record label was a symbol of Having Arrived. The Beatles started it all with Apple, and within a few years, The Moody Blues had Threshold, Deep Purple had (naturally) Purple Records, and The Rolling Stones had their own eponymous label. So it came as little surprise when

30 Days Out, May 2022 #2: Albert Cummings, Jason Isbell, Gov’t Mule, Destroy Boys

In the next 30 days, there’s all manner of live music to be experienced in Asheville. This roundup focuses a bit more on c&w, but there’s something for every taste on the stages of Western N.C. Artist: Albert Cummings Venue: Isis Music Hall Date: Wednesday, June 1, 7:30 p.m. Door: $23 advance, $28 day of

Concert Preview: Beabadoobee

Canadian rapper Powfu’s 2020 single “death bed (coffee for your head)” is an irresistible slice of pop wonderfulness, combining kittenish folk-bedroom pop with hip-hop in a way that works splendidly. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: the tune has received 1.2 billion plays on Spotify, and that’s merely one streaming service. But

DVD Review: SVT – The Price of Sex

SVT is one of the coolest bands you’ve likely never heard of. Led by singer, songwriter and guitarist Brian Marnell, this San Francisco-based band had talent to burn, combining musical muscle with sharp songwriting. But the group didn’t last long, and their recorded output was limited to a couple of singles, and EP and one

Nina Hagen: Ten Albums that Changed My Life

Nina Hagen has always cut an unusual figure in pop music. From Berlin in what was then East Germany, she escaped to the West and launched a career as a singer. Nominally working in punk and new wave, her accomplished and powerful operatic vocals transcended those styles. And her music drew from a dazzling array

Last Plane Out: JC Smith’s Escape from Russia

The life of a touring musician is perilous enough: the general hazards of the road make everyday existence a constant challenge. Add to that the threat of war, and it’s enough to rattle the nerves of even the most road-hardened artist. Popular and award-winning Bay Area bluesman JC Smith knows all this firsthand: he was