Music Picks: Baaba Maal, Snuffaluffagus & Rats, Carlene Carter and Friends, Country Throwdown 

Also, Freestyle Fellowship, Bebe Buell, Billy Joe Shaver and others

Thursday, Jun 17 2010


It's far too easy to write off disco, but a hard look at Donna Summer's back catalog would tempt even the stiffest critic to embrace the dark art of dance. Simma down now, boys and girls — we're not just talking about the First Lady of Love's sex appeal, slathered as it was over those provocative album covers and dripping from each note of her best-remembered single, "Love to Love You Baby." Nay, Summer's early work has a great deal more to offer music nerd and boogie junkie alike. Her partnership with producer and synth pioneer Giorgio Moroder resulted in some astounding proto-disco and disco proper that seemed to take plays directly out of the prog-rock rulebook. While CD compilations cut "Love You" down to a bite-sized four minutes, the original, at nearly 20 minutes, took up the entire A-side of Summer's sophomore full-length. What's more, she seemed to prefer the concept album as her main method of delivering her freewheeling, four-on-the-floor soul. Her most recent material (like 2008's Crayons) updates her sound for 21st-century dance floors with her usual left-field touches, but it's a safe bet that the Bowl show will also serve as a deserved career retrospective. (Chris Martins)

It's a damn shame that L.A.'s early-'90s alt-rap community doesn't get more dap. Had Freestyle Fellowship never existed, it's quite possible that there would have been no Def Jux and no Anticon, let alone local hip-hop staples like Mush Records, the Shape Shifters crew and — to some extent — the contemporary beat scene. This supergroup-in-hindsight was formed in 1991 in Leimert Park by rappers Aceyalone, Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E. and Self Jupiter — all students of the Good Life Café freestyle sessions that inspired Jurassic 5 and the greater Project Blowed collective (which FF was a part of). The Blowed open mic continues to this day with the same spirit — a commitment to poetic thought, strong improvisational skills and forceful cadence — while these elder statesmen have wrought legacies of their own. Aceyalone has released 10 solo albums in 15 years, experimenting with blues, reggae and soul modes even as his own style seems to hail from a future yet unexcavated. If you're at all interested in underground hip-hop, Freestyle's return should be an essential gig. (Chris Martins)

click to enlarge Carlene Carter (see Thursday)
  • Carlene Carter (see Thursday)

Location Info

Also playing Friday: PANTHA DU PRINCE, DELPHIC at the Echo; THE WHIGS, EVEREST at the Troubadour; KEIKO MATSUI at Catalina Jazz Club; STEVIE B, SHANNON, COMPANY B at Gibson Amphitheatre; BROTHER SAL, THE QUIET, JANET ROBIN at Hotel Café; MULATTO, TREVOR WESLEY at Key Club; JIM LAUDERDALE at McCabe's; CITY MUSEUM, SUPER DUPER at The Mint; GEMMA RAY (see Music feature), WHEELS ON FIRE, DIRT DRESS at Redwood Bar & Grill; DAVE GONZALEZ & THE STONE RIVER BOYS at Weber's Place.



Billy Joe Shaver, Shaman Laureate of the Outlaw Country movement, has always done it the hard way. Starting at childhood, when, "with no shoes on my feet/I walked 10 miles of train track/to hear Hank Williams sing," to his recent acquittal on a heavy-gauge assault charge stemming from a barroom shooting in Waco, the singer-songwriter has doggedly outwitted the toughest of times and developed a singular, hard-headed, uncompromising style along the way. Prized for penning lyrics that are bonehead simple yet distinguished by a brilliantly evocative employ of language, Shaver remained true to form during cross examination his recent trial: Asked if he was jealous of another man looking at his (then) wife, he replied "No, I got more women than a passenger train can haul." Queried as to why he didn't just leave the premises, Shaver said "I'm from Texas. That would be chickenshit." This gloriously bad attitude, along with one of the finest original set lists in country music history, make any Shaver appearance an attendance-mandatory situation. (Jonny Whiteside)

Presented by Rockstar Energy Drink — the same folks who put on the heavy-metal Mayhem and Uproar festivals — the Country Throwdown tour sports as headliners two of Nashville's toughest-talking acts: Montgomery Gentry, who're kind of like Brooks & Dunn for AC/DC-loving libertarians, and Jamey Johnson, whose fearsome Rasputin-style facial hair accompanies a voice that sounds like it could kick your ass. So you sort of figure you know what's going on here: outlaw country revisited, or something along those lines. But then you see that the bill also features Little Big Town, the shiny coed outfit responsible for the appealingly corny 2005 hit "Boondocks," recent Oscar winner Ryan Bingham, plus Jack Ingram, who covers Hinder's excellent hair-metal power ballad "Lips of an Angel." Might Country Throwdown welcome wimps as well as bruisers? With Eric Church, the Lost Trailers, Emily West, Cory Branan and more. (Mikael Wood)

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