Take some dubstep-influenced beats, overlay them with Native American tribal vocals, and you get Pow Wow step, the genre A Tribe Called Red uses to describe their debut self-titled album. Hailing from Canada, the Native American DJ crew combines the traditions of Pow Wow music with the rhythms of today’s electronic scene, creating a remarkable collection of tunes that really can’t be heard anywhere else. The entire album can be downloaded for free at http://www.electricpowwow.com/ .
“Sure, sure…fersherrsure,” the boys of North Pacific String Band mumbled enthusiastically when asked to play some more tunes on my show, Pickin on the Porch with Auntie Em, a few weeks back.
The five-piece string band consists of Steven Stubblefield on mandolin and vocals, Jeff Wilson on banjo, Alex Bice on upright bass and vocals, Evan Penza on guitar and vocals, and Jan Purat on fiddle and vocals. All these boys live locally within Santa Cruz County and have played many houseshows, on-campus shows at the UC, and gigs at local music venues. This summer, they packed up and headed out to tour throughout Northern California and Oregon. When they came back to release their debut album “Steak & Eggs” on August 22, I asked them to come hang out on KZSC’s own bluegrass show.
In the times between being gratefully serenaded by the band in the studio, I asked a few questions about the recording & production process and the tour.
All thirteen original tracks were recorded live with two microphones in the Corralitos Grange Hall. This specific place was acceptable to bassist Alex after clapping his hands a bit and recognizing its “sweet wood tones.” And the central coast of California in general provides as North Pacific’s key source of inspiration–what they like to call “central coast ramblin’” with all its trees and ocean and big blue skies.
When I asked about their favorite show played while on tour, I remembered that the best gigs aren’t always planned. They all agreed on a scenic overlook at a truck stop near Manzanita, Oregon. The crowd’s energy was on cue; everyone was feeling NPSB’s impromptu busking. After seeing these boys play more than a few times, I can attest that a spontaneous, outdoor setting that revolves around nature’s beauty is precisely where they flourish most.
Of course, North Pacific String Band did not forget to mention the lasting relationships made and incredible musicianship witnessed at the Northwest String Summit festival put on by Yonder Mountain String Band in Oregon. One can only imagine the plethora of amazing stringy sounds heard that weekend in August. And get this–NPSB played music on top of the Further tour bus. Cool?! I’d say these boys have their priorities set straight.
Back in the air-room at KZSC, North Pacific played a few songs they worked on while on the road called “Goin’ to the West” and “Big South Skies.” Then they got down to their song “Murphy” (track 2 on “Steak & Eggs”) with more elongated notes and gritty, bluesy chops. They slowed it down to the point where it sounded like their instruments were talking to each other (which I’ve noticed these boys do a lot–they work together beautifully). They built up the tension little by little then picked it up again with some groovin’ guitar slaps, sweet harmonic fiddle/banjo duo, delicate mando chopping, and finished it off with Alex’s heavy bass punctuation.
Stevee, Jeff, Alex, Jan, and Evan have been playing together for a while, have had time to experience lasting memories, and are individually pretty damn funny characters themselves. North Pacific String Band incorporates a “prograssive” sound to their bluegrass–and sometimes jazzy–roots, making sure to give each member solo time to shine, while keeping a youthful humor that the audience utilizes in its own stomp and clap. Their sound is coherent, tight, and undeniably heartfelt; you can really hear the feeling in the melodies and accompanying harmonies.
Check out North Pacific String Band for more information, merch, and show dates at northpacificcompany.org!
August’s featured programmer is Dj Panda McFloo with the program The Kids “Are Not” That Revolting.
Described as music for those who are cute and cuddly, but mildly cranky, music for the geeks that are far too weird, rebellious on the inside, but not really that angry on the outside. Anti-folk, twee, avant-garde and outsiders, punk, and everything else that goes nowhere else.It’s solid programming meant for the outcasts in us all. What makes DJ Panda McFloo unique is the great job of playing the new music sent into KZSC which is great for maintaining KZSC’s relationship with our promoters.
Check out the Kids “Are Not” That Revolting Wednesdays at 12pm.
San Francisco band The Soft Moon will be releasing their second LP, Zeros, on October 30th. Tour dates are set, and they’ll be hitting da bay – December 14th at Oakland’s New Parish, and December 15th in San Francisco at the Mezzanine. You can listen to the new single “Die Life” on their website to escape “Into the Depths.”
Willie K. will be performing at Pono Hawaiian Grill this Sunday, September 2nd at 7:00 PM. Whether he sings in Hawaiian, performs Blues, OPERA or flat out rock and roll, Willie K. can PLAY. You can enjoy the man, the music and the show, when you get down to Pono at 120 Union Street in downtown Santa Cruz this Sunday night from 7 til 9:00 pm. A word to the wise – get there early & claim a seat for this fantastic opportunity to see Willie K., ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp1unZLs__Mup close and lively!
Summer is the perfect time to put on your dancing shoes and go see your favorite artists performing live. The Catalyst always hosts a great collection of bands, and this season is no different. Here are some of the upcoming shows that KZSC DJs are most psyched about:
Aesop Rock on August 30th, Steel Pulse/Future Islands September 3rd, Arsonists Get All The Girls September 7th, Against Me! on Spetember 9th, Odd Future September 28th, and Yelawolf on October 12th.