"Like the spare, understated music that accompanies it, Holland's voice is evocative of fin-de-siecle Americana while remaining original and modern. Her voice, with hints of a Texas upbringing in her charming accent, is often compared to Billie Holiday's. In fact, she doesn't sound much like Holiday--the comparisons are more likely due to their shared gift for unique phrasing. On Catalpa's 'All the Morning Birds,' when she sings 'all the highways will be saayyed,' she means 'sad,' and the forlorn quality of her voice shows how deeply she feels it. ...
"Whether she's summoning the ghosts of the Appalachian mountains, the back-porch players whose names will never be recovered, or her beloved Delta blues practitioners--Mississippi Fred McDowell and Skip James among them--she is, as much as anyone today, embodying the conceptual basis of the ballads, hymns and blues, the country and the folk that was dubbed the 'old, weird America' by Greil Marcus when writing about (Harry) Smith's Anthology of Folk Music. ...
"Trust me, and go see her this week. When the diminutive Holland sings, 'The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs,' you won't argue."
Jolie Holland performs at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., Saturday, Feb. 19. Sean Hayes opens at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, call 884-0874.
"Sure, these days, with bands like DeVotchKa, Gogol Bordello and dozens of others that incorporate world music into their sonic stew, the melding of disparate types of music has become somewhat commonplace. But in the 1980s, when most of the stuff played on college radio fell mostly into two camps--punk and synth-pop--Camper Van Beethoven's mix of rock, ska, punk, folk and anything that sounded remotely ethnic (with then-uncool violin as a primary instrument, no less), teamed with often absurd, witty lyrics, was nothing short of revelatory.
"After five stellar albums and a pair of EPs, Camper collapsed as the '80s came to a close. Singer/guitarist David Lowery teamed up with his friend, guitarist Johnny Hickman, to form Cracker, which followed a more traditional rootsy-rock path (in a 2001 interview with The Weekly, Lowery said, 'I always said that Camper wanted to be The Beatles, and Cracker wanted to be The Rolling Stones, but really, in sum total, we ended up being The Kinks'). The band found mainstream success with a trio of successful singles, 'Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now),' 'Get Off This' and 'Low.' ...
"But a few years ago, a funny thing happened. The members of Camper came together to compile odds and ends for a subsequent album and ended up recording some new material. The release of Camper Van Beethoven Is Dead: Long Live Camper Van Beethoven (Pitch a Tent), in 2000, began a spate of activity in the Camper ranks. Since then, the band has released Cigarettes & Carrot Juice: The Santa Cruz Years (SpinArt), a career-spanning box set, and its song-by-song reinterpretation of Fleetwood Mac's bloated, cocaine cautionary tale, Tusk (Pitch a Tent); Michael Moore used the band's "Take the Skinheads Bowling" as the theme song to Bowling for Columbine; and, in what seems like a gift to a generation that missed their powerful live shows the first time around, the band began touring again."
David Lowery and Johnny Hickman perform songs from the Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker catalogs as an acoustic duo Tuesday, Feb. 22, at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave. Openers Creosote start the all-ages show with an acoustic set at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $15 at the venue and Cafe Jinx. That number again is 884-0874.
"Denton, Texas' Riverboat Gamblers performed a half-hour of songs that meet at the intersection of late-'70s British punk and early-to-mid-'80s American hardcore before an impressively crowded room--especially considering it was the Sunday following the spring Club Crawl. The Gamblers are first-rate showmen; only a couple songs into the set, Mike Weibe, the band's dervish of a singer, was already snaking his way through the crowd, mic in hand, and one got the feeling that the other members would have followed suit if they hadn't been tethered to their instruments. With songs simple enough that if you can chant 'Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!' you can basically sing along, the Gamblers did the job that any punk party band aspires to: making you want to fuck shit up."
The Riverboat Gamblers headline a four-band punk rock and roll extravaganza that also includes Swing Ding Amigos, The Knockout Pills and Chango Malo, Monday, Feb. 21, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The show begins at 9:30 p.m., and admission is a mere five bucks. Call 798-1298 for more information.
"... KC and the Sunshine Band were lumped into the disco movement largely because they came along in the '70s, and because you could dance to their music. But go back and listen to that music again, and you'll hear what is essentially a groove-based, horn-heavy R&B band; which is to say, the music holds up far better than most disco acts. It's also easy to forget just how huge these guys once were; though the disco era was replete with one-hit wonders, the group scored no less than five No. 1 singles: 'Shake, Shake, Shake (Shake Your Booty),' 'Get Down Tonight,' 'That's the Way (I Like It),' 'I'm Your Boogie Man' and 'Please Don't Go.' Other notable hits included 'Boogie Shoes,' 'Yes, I'm Ready' and 'Keep It Comin' Love,' which hit No. 2 on the pop chart."
KC and the Sunshine Band perform Friday, Feb. 18, at Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road. Doors open at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $18 (they'll be $23 on the day of the show) at the casino's box office, or by calling 393-2799 or 866-DDC-WINS. For more information, dial the latter number or log on to www.desertdiamondcasino.com.
"It's hard to think of another band so hugely hyped that is so divisive among the music cognoscenti. ... Example: a recent article in the Seattle Weekly described Interpol's music as 'Post-Post-Post Sixteen Candles' and 'When the Psychedelic Furs started to suck' and 'Eddie Bauer meets the Mighty Lemon Drops.' Finally, the band elicited the comment, 'I guess this is probably the coolest thing you can listen to the morning after someone breaks up with you and you're driving to IKEA to buy yourself a new disposable lifestyle.' Meanwhile, the well-informed, snarky but hilarious folks over at Pitchfork (www.pitchforkmedia.com; our fave music site, in case you're asking) named the band's debut album, I Can See the Bright Lights (2002, Matador) the best album of the year (2002). Truly, there is no accounting for taste."
Touring in support of their latest album, Antics (Matador, 2004), Interpol performs at Coconuts, 296 N. Stone, Monday, Feb. 21. Blonde Redhead opens at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $20 at luckymanproductions.ticketforce.com. For more information, call 884-0600.
"I have a special relationship with The Tubes for several reasons, some of which I've previously written about in these pages (formative childhood experiences) and some of which I haven't (their way around completely silly, dead-on parody songs, packed with more hooks than a pirate movie). Showfolks to the Nth degree--a good portion of The Tubes' live set is "performed" by an onslaught of fictitious personalities--The Tubes are first and foremost entertainers, albeit ones with a substantial catalog to draw from. Judging from (the attendance at) their last local appearance, I'm not alone in professing my love for them. (Note to the die-hards: Quay Lude will be in attendance.)"
The Tubes perform Wednesday, Feb. 23, at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road. Doors open at 8 p.m. The Jane Crowe Band opens the show. Advance tickets are available for $15 at the venue, all Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 321-1000. They'll be $17 on the day of the show. For more information, call 733-6262.