Music Picks: Circa Survive, Joanna Newsom, El-P, Roots Roadhouse | Music | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Music Picks: Circa Survive, Joanna Newsom, El-P, Roots Roadhouse 

Also, Scorpions, Viza, the Park and others

Thursday, Jul 29 2010


Inspired by the Stax session bands and dubwise riddim sections of yore, San Francisco's the Park formed in 2006 as a drums, bass and keys unit able to operate both on its own and backing bigger names in the business. One of their most esteemed regular gigs is acting as the touring outfit for rediscovered '70s Bay Area R&B eccentric Darondo, though they've also accompanied U.K. soul sensation Alice Russell, Ubiquity Records' eclecticist Nino Moschella, and funk-steeped electronic up-and-comer Wallpaper. The Park is also known for picking up players wherever it goes — hence their lengthy "Special Sauce" roll call of assorted horn players, guitarists, DJs and MCs. At this, their second July gig at '40s-inspired piano bar Angel's, Derek Taylor, Josh Lippi and Ben Schwier plan to welcome to the stage beloved Root Down open-mic king Tunji and Sly Stone's daughter Novena Carmel, aka BabyStone. Get funked up. (Chris Martins)

Also playing Friday: POCAHAUNTED at the Bootleg Theater; PAUL THORN, MISSILES OF OCTOBER at Coach House; JON POUSETTE-DART at Genghis Cohen; TOBY KEITH at Gibson Amphitheatre; SERGIO MENDES & FRIENDS, MORCHEEBA at the Hollywood Bowl; NON STOP BHANGRA at Levitt Pavilion Pasadena; JOHN LEGEND at Pacific Amphitheatre; PAT BENATAR & NEIL GIRALDO at Pechanga Showroom Theatre; THE GOODNIGHT LOVING EDGAR at Redwood Bar & Grill; I.E., HYPE BLAST!, THE TLIELAXU MUSIC MACHINE, STONED KOALAS at the Smell; PEPPER RABBIT, CANDY CLAWS at Spaceland; SWINGIN' UTTERS, THE CUTE LEPERS, LOST CABRAS at the Troubadour; BRASILIDADE at the Waterfront.

click to enlarge T-Model Ford: ladies' man
  • T-Model Ford: ladies' man

Location Info



There are those who'll decry singer/harpist Joanna Newsom's recent album, Have One on Me (Drag City), as a self-indulgent muddle run amok. Especially coming after the tautly drawn wonders of her previous The Milk Eyed Mender and Ys sets, where her ventures across the plains of folk and pop were fenced within tight, albeit quirky, orchestrations. Have One is all over the conceptual map, and, overloaded with ideas, basically runs out of steam midway. Yet with patience the album pays enormous dividends, demonstrating if not a depth, then at least a spectacular width of vision ranging from string- and horn-draped ballads to smart stabs at accessible piano pop to purely impressionistic passages of lonely voice and harp, adrift in a mist. As usual, Newsom's penchant for very personal structures combines with oddly juxtaposed lyrical matter to create an utterly idiosyncratic sense of place. (John Payne)

The one-day Roots Roadhouse country-blues festival is such a major affair that it takes place on three stages: one in the Echoplex, another upstairs in the Echo and one outside in the patio. The potent lineup features an intriguing mix of local roots, indie and "cowternative" bands combined with certified blues and country legends. Mississippi blues man T-Model Ford has had a rough life, working on farms and in sawmills before serving time on a chain gang for murder. He didn't even start performing until he was in his 70s, but the singer-guitarist has since released a series of raw, palpably earthy blues CDs, including his latest, The Ladies Man (Alive Naturalsound Records), his first acoustic album. Country singer Red Simpson came out of the same Bakersfield scene as Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and is best known for a series of wittily rocking songs about truck driving, including "I'm a Truck," which was written from the point of view of a cab who's had it with those ungrateful "double-clutchin', gear-jammin', coffee-drinking nuts" behind the wheel. Among the other potential highlights are sets by the entrancing folk-pop harmonizers the Chapin Sisters, guitarist-producer Pete Anderson (Dwight Yoakam, Roy Orbison), former Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin, and Leslie & the Badgers, who marry Dolly Parton–style tunefulness with a winsome modern pop-folk sensibility. The fest starts at 3 p.m. (Falling James)

Somewhere between Gogol Bordello and System of a Down's more flippant fancies you have Viza, a largely Armenian-American L.A. troupe that earned, under its former name Visa, quite the cult following over the course of a couple of albums and EPs. Almost inevitably managed by SOAD crooner Serj Tankian's company (Tankian also guests on their new album, Made in Chernobyl), Viza rather overcartoon their exotic aesthetic with the faux Eastern Bloc uniforms of their promo pics, but their sound is less predictable and straight-faced. Spiraling riffs, knee-slappin' Romany rhythms and blurs of oud and tar propel Greek frontman K'noup's melodies in and out of rockish flirtations and massed unison celebrations with some of his eight bandmates. There's humor, heartache, political commentary and intoxicating musical communion here — plus, on a good night, belly dancers. (Paul Rogers)

The name says it all. Actually, the old name, "The Funk Rumble Block Party," said a little more, but this still-green annual event is evolving into a full-blown "Music and Arts Festival" for its second year. But first, the funk: Headlining the day of festivities are Connie Price and the Keystones, a locally based, internationally whispered-about soul ensemble led by Breakestra multi-instrumentalist Dan Ubick. Their throwback funk sounds equally hot accompanying old-school hip-hoppers like Big Daddy Kane or seasoned singers like Lester Abrams of L.A. Carnival. The guests they've got lined up for this should go well too — Madlib's old rapping buddy Wildchild and former Jurassic 5 member Soup. Meanwhile, KCRW DJs Jeremy Sole and Anthony Valadez will be heading up a posse of more than 50 spin-doctors, healing revelers with deep cuts from all music that grooves. A handful of other stylistically copacetic bands will play, while the Hive Gallery curates live painting exhibitions and the ubiquitous food trucks flock to the action. (Chris Martins)

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