Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Anderson East @ Sweetwater

Anderson East | Sweetwater | 3.10.16
El Niño hit the North Bay hard, pounding our parched state with plenty of rain, now spring has seemingly sprung. Anderson East was also in California, hammering home a concoction of covers and originals that blur the lines between, soul, R&B, country and rock & roll. After a rousing set from Muscle Shoals native, Dylan LeBlanc, the seven piece headliner took the stage at The Sweetwater in Mill Valley. Young Mr. Anderson, a fellow Alabaman, has a voice that is wise beyond his years. Looking upon the sold out crowd, he stated, "I hope you brought your dancing shoes."

Upon taking the stage his band mates showcased their skills as pros, opening the night with a cover of, "Find 'em, Fool 'em, Forget 'em." Their sound was big, with rich key-work, an über sharp rhythm section and full of horns. A soulful "Quit You" was juxtaposed by, "Only You." The fourth offering of the night took us on a trip down memory lane, as they daftly transformed Mariah's, "Always Be My Baby." The Sweetwater crowd was eating it up. Next came a slow number, I think titled, "Lonely."

At the half dozen mark they softly began the notes to "Tupelo Honey." This Van classic was aided prominently by some slide guitar work that was eerily close to Derek Trucks-esque. The second half of Tupelo morphed into an awesome southern jam. This was one of the high points of the night. Digging back into their own song book, they launched into a jukebox-like rendition of, "Keep the Fire Burning." Another cover came next, Eddie Floyd's, "Knock on Wood." Some welcomed banter told the story of why he wrote, "Devil In Me." After the title track, East was left standing alone on stage.

Solo and armed with an acoustic guitar, Anderson went for the heart punch. He slowly made us feel his ache during, "What a Woman Wants"—perhaps my favorite song from the Devil In Me album. His voice can soothe, now it was cutting. Remaining alone, he kept with the theme of pain, leading to resolve and perhaps understanding. Further wrapping these emotions into poetry were the words to, "Lying In Her Arms." His honesty is a plow etching into your chest, stopping at a depth that punishes the heart just enough. The band would return to add texture; him standing with his words was the tool doing work.

Now that the deep cuts were made, the plurality of the band pushed us back into the fun of rock and roll. Rod Stewart would have been proud as they blitzed us with a rocking, "Stay with Me." It reminded me of arena-rock done right. The Faces cover literally moved the crowd. Briefly tethering an original between covers, the next track would carry the gravity of a fallen great. Anderson began by saying, "This cover is for one we lost; he was just cooler than everybody else." Blasting their way through, "Rebel Rebel," we were all thinking of Bowie (RIP) as East's voice cried out the lyrics. A small Prince tease dovetailed into the track, "Satisfy Me." Having satisfied my senses, all seven members would leave the stage. Returning for one more song, "Your Love is All I'll Ever Need," closed the door on a fantastic night of music and camaraderie.

Anderson East and company will be returning to the Bay area next month. Catch them at The Hopmonk in Sebastopol April 17th, or at The Greek in Berkeley April 23rd as they open for Chris Stapleton.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

PUBlication: Kiwanda Cream Ale

Pelican Brewery | Pacific City, OR
Deviating a bit from my preferred style of libation, I recently picked up a Kiwanda Cream Ale. Pelican Pub & Brewery has been gaining serious momentum since being recognized as the small brewing company World Beer Cup Champion in 2014. This ale oozes with a creamy, wholesome aroma—of course it does. A noticeable head lifts to the top, disappearing if left untouched. Kiwanda is lively on the palate, reminiscent of a kölsch, crossed with a soft Belgian. The nose is illustrious, almost too complex to pin down; it pops with a robust chemistry. 

You could drink this ale quickly, it feels more dynamic if you enjoy it deliberately. Each drink helps to conjure new curiosities. Due to its layers of flavors, Kiwanda Cream Ale tricks you into thinking it's bigger than the labeled gravity. Spring is warming up and this ale will help you to enjoy the warm sun of the season. This delicious ale pairs well with clams off the grill or with a basket of fish and chips. Drink Responsibly. 5.4% | 25 IBU


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Future is Female

Recently a couple of unique artists released new records. Santigold dropped 99¢ on February 26th, while Thao and The Get Down Stay Down uncorked Man Alive March 4th. They have their obvious differences stylistically, yet seem unified in pushing their own sound through the airwaves. Even though these women slice up genres in the creation of their art, they both have a keen comprehension on the landscape of contemporary music. Which is probably why their work stands apart, already ahead of the wave, like it or not.

Santigold is eye-catching and seems to posses an ability to craft danceable tracks that still offer a purposeful message. Highlights on this album include the single, "Can't Get Enough of Myself" and the eerily upbeat island jam, "Chasing Shadows." She fuses heavy doses of hip hop and NYC edginess into her accessible worldly sound. Santigold has an ear on America and hopefully America listens. 99¢ goes deeper than the title suggests, case in point, "Big Boss Big Time Business."

Santigold | "Can't Get Enough of Myself"

Thao on the other hand has constructed an album that is undeniably personal, especially in her lyrics. I'm not sure if psyche-folk is the proper moniker, but it somehow fits. The Get Down sound has grown a bit on this record—the swell of an organ, bass lines full of reverb, strings and hand clapping, all bound cohesively to her word-smithing. Past and the present coexist on, "Astonished Man," as the arrangements illicit eastern melodies tangled against the snap of trap-like drumming. Other tracks I'm grooving on are the rocker, "Nobody Dies" and the lyrically piercing, "Millionaire." 

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down | "Nobody Dies"

You can catch both of these amazing women live in San Francisco. Santigold plays The Masonic on April 4th and Thao hits The Fillmore April 30th. Be there or be square. 


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective

Oscar de la Renta @ de Young
San Francisco's beautiful de Young Museum will exhibit the retrospective of one of fashion's great designers, Oscar de la Renta. Opening on March 12th and running through May 30th, his decadent and elaborate art of fashion will be on display. More than 130 pieces of influential form and five decades of work will be showcased. The garments will be allocated into thematic categories to better represent the collection. de la Renta's company is offering us the chance to not only view collections from fine art museums, but also those items from his personal collection, as well as private lenders whom own some of these timeless pieces. To purchase tickets to this unique opportunity, click here.