(Photo by Ben Clark)
My first music article for LA Weekly:
Long Beach is overflowing with talented musicians. The city’s haunts are crammed with rockers and DJs, not to mention Cambodian rappers.   But it has relatively few music venues. That helps explain the popularity of the annual (and free) Summer and Music series, which hosts a plethora of outdoor shows.The capper is Buskerfest, which returns this Saturday, September 6, in the East Village Arts District in downtown Long Beach.

(Photo by Ben Clark)

My first music article for LA Weekly:

Long Beach is overflowing with talented musicians. The city’s haunts are crammed with rockers and DJs, not to mention Cambodian rappers.   

But it has relatively few music venues. 

That helps explain the popularity of the annual (and free) Summer and Music series, which hosts a plethora of outdoor shows.

The capper is Buskerfest, which returns this Saturday, September 6, in the East Village Arts District in downtown Long Beach.

ray barbee buskerfest long beach

Flashback: Cursive live review

(Originally published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Feb. 2012)

Tears, booze, sex, pain, martyrdom, regret. Against my better judgment, I was singing along with the band. I was singing carefully, with my eyes closed and likely a smile creeping up in the corners of my mouth. I couldn’t help it, it came from within, as much as that particular act generally annoys me in packed settings. The swell of angular guitar and thundering drums pulled back mostly leaving higher octave vocals from a scale that slides to and fro: “Your tears are only alibis/To prove you still feel/You only feel sorry for yourself/Well get on that cross/That’s all you’re good for.”

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cursive

Charlie Megira for San Francisco Bay Guardian

Like some bastard love child of Link Wray and Johnny Thunders, Berlin-by-way-of-Israel rock ‘n’ roller Charlie Megira has mastered the art of blending 1950s-style rock guitar and spooky, blood-curdling howls. In his newest incarnation (though not as new as it may seem, but we’ll get to that later), the Bet She’an Valley Hillbillies, he takes those building blocks and adds a vroom-vroom rockabilly twang […]

charliemegira

This is one taco. The tempeh taco from all-#vegan Shine Cafe in Morro Bay.

This is one taco. The tempeh taco from all-#vegan Shine Cafe in Morro Bay.

vegan

Flashback: Balkan brass blowup for SF Bay Guardian

[This story originally appeared in the SF Bay Guardian, Dec. 2012]

Balkan brass blowup 

If you’re going to book a Balkan-influenced band, don’t expect the crowd to stay put. The Bay Area’s Inspector Gadje, an offshoot of the Brass Liberation Orchestra, usually packs in around 15 players, including 12 on horns and three percussionists. When the raucous group came marching through the wilderness (read: Golden Gate Park) during Outside Lands, it filled in crevices between trees, and created an instant party atmosphere between the main stages. Those fast-walking through the thoroughfare of Choco Lands stopped in their tracks, surrounded the group, and started dancing, against everyone’s better judgment. It all happened in the blink of a dirt-lodged eye.

"A lot of Balkan music has a great ‘party’ feel to it…even when the music includes moments or textures that might have a darker feel, the music is played with an undeniable exuberance," says Oakland’s David Murray. "The rhythms of the Balkans; Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, etc., include many unusual time signatures that are compelling and especially attractive to musicians." […]

balkan