“Felonius my old friend/ Step on in and let me shake your hand/ So glad that you're here again/ For one more time/ Let your madness run with mine/ Streets still unseen we'll find somehow/ No time is better than now/ Tell me where are you driving/ Midnite cruiser/ Where is your bounty/ Of fortune and fame/ I am another/ Gentlemen loser/ Drive me to Harlem/ Or somewhere the same./ The world that we used to know/ People tell me it don't turn no more/ The places we used to go/ Familiar faces that ain't smilin' like before/ The time of our time has come and gone/ I fear we been waiting too long.”—“Midnite Cruiser” by Steely Dan from the album Can’t Buy a Thrill.
Here, Donald Fagen writes from the perspective of a shady underworld figure whose associations have nearly led to ruin and certainly to cynical disenchantment. Throw in a tasty hook and more than a few major and minor seventh chords and you’ve got a jazzbo’s fecund fever dream. Ironically, Outre Dan’s time hasn’t come and gone; they’re touring stadiums this summer with Elvis Costello in tow, and Fagen’s been writing some arch music criticism for Rolling Stone of late. As for waiting too long, hell, all you gotta do is read this column and pick out a show or two or four, and that fear will surely dissipate. So yeah, let your madness run with mine; it’s nearly show time after all.
Back in the ’90s there was a thing called rap-rock. Bands like Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and Papa Roach played a blend of two genres that was energetic, unrestrained and oftimes perplexingly pompous. As the new millennium dawned, those who took the macho mash-up seriously (Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine) added a sense of postmodern (there’s that word again) deconstruction to it and survived, while the others drowned in the sweat produced by their own backwards baseball caps. Well, not all of them drowned. Case in point, The Chimpz, a City of Angels outfit who’ll be gigging, bigger than life and better than their sodden predecessors, at Ned’s (2509 San Mateo NE) on Thursday, May 28.
The strictly regulated vocal meter of front man Artimus Prime dances around the grungy guitar gloss of Cary “Scary Cary” Singman in a fashion reminiscent of uh, well rock music laced with hip-hop. But whatever, these dudes can obviously partay; they’ve got the tattoos, mad-dog shades and tuneage like “Home Invasion” to prove it. Plus, they’re from Califas, dig? Tickets for this 21+ excursion to Zach de la Rocha’s darkest fantasies will cost ya $15, and The Chimpz start rocking and rapping (at the same time) at 8pm.
As an undergrad at UNM in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I was nearly moved to tears by the then-ascendant popularity of reggae music. It seemed like every house party I attended was blasting wholesome Jamaican sunshine out into the dark and dank confines of the student ghetto. It was groovy, and everyone got to dance. Thirty years on, EDM has captured the hearts of the next generation, yet reggae music continues to soldier on as classic acts take to the road to recapture the glory and ears of youthful and not-so-youthful revelers across America. The El Rey Theater (622 Central SW) gets with the groove on Friday, May 29, when the historic venue welcomes Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, progenitor/innovators of the somewhat smoky genre.
Sly and Robbie have been playing together since the 1970s. As a rhythm section, they’ve backed some of reggae’s giants, including Mighty Diamonds, while also developing a sound that defied the conventions of dancehall and roots music by incorporating electronica and hip-hop aesthetics. Of course you can dance to the results, but the intricacy and intimacy of their work makes for great listening as well. And while reggae may never regain the cultural cache among Caucasian college kids it once held, legendary performers like Sly and Robbie remind us why reggae went into supersonic orbit way back when. Admission prices range between $25-$50 for this 18+ upbeat extravaganza, and the show starts at 8pm.
Despite the nostalgic leanings alluded to previously in this week’s Show Up, you can bet the forward-looking and listening part of me will be in tune with the Tannex (1417 Fourth Street SW) on Saturday, May 30. That evening, Marya Errin Jones’ favorite joint lights up with a heavy-heavy instrumental incursion featuring experimental saxophonist Curt Oren as well as local experimental guitarist Ipytor Gavyen Machislav and master of tuba Mark Weaver.
Oren, of Minneapolis, uses the technique of circular breathing to birth complex chordal structures. Expansively spacious and technically tenacious, works such as “What Is” and “Good Morning” demonstrate the artist’s commitment to far-out sonic exploration. Meanwhile, Machislav has chops that slay with a weirdly compelling technique that both masters and destroys the structures inherent in modern jazz.
As for Weaver, well, he’s clearly the baddest tuba player in town, but beyond that, he brings a tough and tender tonality to the instrument that defies categorization as he turns the bell of the big instrument toward the endless New Mexican sky. The price of attending this tremendous all-ages recital is a mere six dollars. That’s fucking heavenly considering what the listener is likely to get in return. The curtain at Tannex rises at 8pm that night.
William Elliott Whitmore, a bluesman of some renown, plays Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Monday, June 1. Usually, I’m not too hep to the blues, but in this case I will relent due to the awesome banjo-fied talent of Whitmore, who has gigged with the likes of Chris Cornell and Clutch, somehow maintaining a delicate balance between the aforementioned genre of self-reflective sadness and pure punk-rock proclivities present in his powerful performances.
Whitmore’s got a relaxed stage presence that, when combined with an intense take on the capabilities of the stringed instruments he commands, leads listeners to a veritable wonderland of American music. Local plangent picker AJ Woods is also included in this folk-filled bill wherein multi-genre guitar genius Meredith Wilder opens. This wildly poetic and plaintive production is meant for those over the age of 21 and requires a 10 spot for admittance. The doors open at 8pm, and the music begins rolling toward the mountains and the river at 8:30 that evening.
The time of our time has not come and gone, though the folks at Steely Dan would have you believe otherwise. If you fear you’ve been waiting too long to confirm this and other facts made manifest in this week’s column, I’ve got some advice for you. Go see a show; it’s the only way you can possibly buy a thrill, and no time is better than now, old friend.