According to a recent Financial Times piece, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies--the largest humanitarian organization of its kind--is bracing for the recession by slashing staff and shelving projects globally, thus putting needy populations in politically unstable countries in even greater peril.
The situation in hurricane-ravaged Haiti is especially precarious in the aftermath of a bloody 2004 coup, which had already left thousands homeless amid widespread famine. It was with this in mind that James Jordan, national coordinator of the Campaign for Labor Rights and lead singer/guitarist for country-fusion locals Caliche Con Carne, organized the Haitian Workers' Hurricane Relief Benefit at Club Congress, with generous support from a diverse collection of local musicians.
Though earlier in the week, Mexican folk-flamenco singer-songwriter Salvador Duran wowed thousands--not once, but twice--at the Rialto Theatre via performances with Calexico and Los Lobos, Duran graced the evening's 7:45 p.m. opening slot. Fortunate early birds were treated to a stripped-down version of his Rialto spots with Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta, with Mendoza on keys and Orkesta's Javier Gamez on bass. Highlights included "Calles de Tucson," an upbeat Duran original with a beach theme.
Naïm Amor followed with particularly brash versions of his "French avant-pop" numbers, as he has been wont to do of late; Amor seems to pile on the reverb, distortion and flashes of rockabilly in direct correlation with the roll of his jeans cuffs and height of his quiff. Later, the always-amusing Jimmy Carr put his Tom Waits-like stamp on a Waterboys cover and a saw-infused take on the standard "Frankie and Johnny."
Special guest Lana Rebel, former singer of the now-defunct Last of the Juanitas, transfixed show-goers with her haunting tales--like an indie version of Tammy Wynette. Rebel's friends in Golden Boots later dropped cuts off their forthcoming epic release, The Winter of Our Discotheque (the CD-release party is at Plush on Friday, Jan. 30), with pedal-stompers like the twisted "Country Bat High II."
Closing out the night with Caliche and the Darryl Hall-fronted local trio Not Right Now was politically charged singer-songwriter Pablo Peregrina, whose tributes to the struggles of Mexican migrants can be related to that of the oppressed indigenous Haitians. To lend your assistance to the cause, visit clrlabor.org.