Oakland-based "pagan lounge ensemble" Rosin Coven took the grand prize last night in the 2007 Independent Music World Series' West division. A showcase at SF club The Independent featured the national contest's top six bands from the western United States, also including San Francisco's the Tongues, and Rosin Coven walked away with grand prize honors to be shared with regional winners from the Southwest, Southeast, and Northeast. Rosin Coven will receive a cash award, gear for a home studio, a CD manufacturing package, studio time, showcases at popular music conferences, appearance on an IMWS compilation, and more. The band's eight members -- on violin, cello, bass, guitar, harp, vibraphone, drums, and vocals -- perform a dark, theatrical cabaret blending jazz, classical, and Latin styles. Give 'em a hand for scaring away the competition.
There's something about this beautiful black-and-white landscape, looking something like a scene from the Himalayas but without the snow, and Swift in the foreground wearing a native handmade blanket across his shoulders, kicking his right foot up and tilting his head back just a bit, holding in his right hand a bundle of soft white balloons that contrast starkly with the dark, jagged peak behind them. So very odd and mystical.
Some 200 fans, friends, and colleagues packed Bates Hall in East Oakland on Sunday to honor the "Godfather of Bay Area R&B," Jay Payton. Lee Hildebrand writes in the Chronicle all about the star-studded affair, which doubled as a celebration of Payton's 60th anniversary in the biz and his retirement from it. However, Payton cast doubts about whether he'd actually retire and cited the absence of black clubs in the Bay Area.
Before their rousing show at Berkeley's Greek Theatre in June, several members of Canadian indie-rock supergroup Arcade Fire decided to sweat it up on the basketball courts of People's Park. Pitchfork posted photos of the event on Monday via Flickr, but just removed them at the request of the photographer (who probably figured he could make some money!). Check out the cached page for the hot pics.
Oakland foursome Rogue Wave will release its third studio album, Asleep at Heaven's Gate, on Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records on September 18. The twelve tracks were produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney), with help from singer/songwriter Zach Rogue, and feature guest appearances by John Vanderslice and Nada Surf's Matthew Caws. Their publicist calls it "one of the most affecting and beguiling records of recent memory." The album comes at the end of a tumultuous period for the band -- drummer Pat Spurgeon had a kidney transplant, keyboardist Gram Lebron lost his father, Rogue had a daughter, and the band welcomed a new bass player, Patrick Abernethy (formerly of Beulah). Asleep at Heaven's Gate is the follow-up to 2005's Descended Like Vultures, which was released by Sub Pop Records. Sub Pop also released the band's first two highly-lauded albums. So the question is: will their new, "earth-friendly" label (home to Johnson, G. Love, Matt Costa, ALO, and Money Mark) have any effect on the band's music? Indie status? Or who it's marketed to? We predict MySpace ads very shortly ...
Expanding on its indie-rock monarchy in the Bay Area, Noise Pop has teamed up with Berkeley promoter Another Planet Entertainment for the first ever Treasure Island Music Festival on September 15 and 16. The outdoor festival promises to rank among the Bay Area's top music events, and will feature 28 acts including Modest Mouse, Thievery Corporation, Spoon, Gotan Project, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, Built to Spill, M.I.A., Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and others. And in true NP tradition, local talent will also be represented: Two Gallants, Honeycut, Film School, Street to Nowhere (managed by NP's Jordan Kurland), and Trainwreck Riders. The festival will also include a "vending village" with local artists and designers. Single-day tickets cost $58.50, two-day tickets cost $110. Click here for more information.
Made up of songs from Shakespeare's plays, popular ballads of his time, and musical adaptations of some of his speeches and sonnets, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits is, to say the least, an unusual compilation. The record was assembled by Berkeley theater company Subterranean Shakespeare and performed by a motley cast of local musicians in an even wider array of styles. Yeah, we know it's crazy. But the songs aren't half bad. And we bet you couldn't find a better gift for the oddball Shakespeare lover in your life. Stream all 17 songs at CD Baby.
Generally speaking, album covers that prominently portray the artist are not worth a second look. This one's an exception. The just-clever-enough image renders the title A Taste of Paradise something of a double-entendre, mixing up a Biblical allusion with careful composition and unabashed eye-candy. Local musician Saul Kaye performs a CD release show at La Peña Cultural Center on August 4. Upbeat pop-rock with dashes of jazz and reggae, for fans of John Mayer and the like.
Maybe not. Or maybe they're only cool in that ironic hipster kinda way. But there's no point in analyzing it. In a couple Saturdays you'll finally have your chance to dress up as one of the Village People in a non-Halloween setting. I like to think that within each one of us is a biker, sailor, police officer, construction worker, cowboy, and Indian. Our personalities are determined by the extent to which each plays a role. Take that, Freud. On July 28 at the Starry Plough's Village People Appreciation Night, enjoy live music by the Altered Egos, Bunny Numpkins & the Kill Blow-up Reaction, and Dubious Ranger, while dressed as whichever Village person dominates your personality. Can't decide? Wow everyone by splitting yourself down the middle like Harvey Dent. That might actually make the Village People cool again.
Looks like East Bay bands are holding their own in independent music contests this summer. In addition to Berkeley band Kaura's current #8 position in the 2007 Lollapalooza Last Band Standing contest (see here), Oakland bands Rosin Coven and the Tongues have earned top-six honors from the editors of Billboard magazine (out of 1,300 entries) in this year's Independent Music World Series West Showcase. The six acts (including Landon from LA, Miki Vale from San Diego, Chris Merritt from Utah, and the Love Me Nots from Phoenix) will compete on Thursday, July 26, at SF club 12 Galaxies, to be named Top Independent Act in the West. The contest is sponsored by media manufacturer Disc Makers.