Upcoming concerts with Dan Bern and Steve Kimock Band

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Dan Bern



Dan Bern

Thursday · Southgate House

Not every artist who has a beef with the current administration is joining an organized tour to affect a change (see feature story, page 35). Some are taking this year's election battle to the road on their own. Take Dan Bern, for instance. The tour for his latest album, My Country II, is a veritable one-man anti-Bush campaign. The neo Folkie with the raspy voice, timely set list and quick wit has endured comparisons to Bob Dylan for his entire career; now that he's shifting into overt protest mode, he's likely to hear more of the same. Bern has been a cagey observer of the human condition and current events since his 1996 debut EP, Boy Dog Van, and that stance has continued through the subsequent string of releases over the past eight years. But clearly the war in Iraq and the policies of the Bush administration have combined to push Bern into making his political feelings a very pointed part of his art. Bern doesn't pull any punches or deal in soft metaphor on My Country II. There is very little room for discussion with songs like "Tyranny," "The Torn Flag" and the album's quietly insistent closer, "Bush Must be Defeated." The message is slightly more subtle but no less powerful in songs like "Ostrich Town" ("They once lived by the ocean but it's safer here inland/Somewhere bombs are falling, time to duck under the sand/In Ostrich Town") and the devastating look at the aftermath of patriotism and service from the perspective of the wounded in the soul-rattling "After the Parade."

Alone with his acoustic guitar or fronting the Folk/Rock fury of his band, the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy, Dan Bern's distilled power comes from his thought provoking songs. With the first presidential debate airing Thursday night, Bern has arranged to watch the proceedings in the SGH parlour with fans and then perform in the ballroom immediately afterwards. (Brian Baker)

Steve Kimock Band

Friday · Madison Theater

There is no easy way to describe The Steve Kimock Band. The members are well-respected musicians with wide-ranging musical influences and a common desire to push musical boundaries. The sound is a virtual cornucopia of improvisation ranging from exploratory Fusion and Funk to Psychedelic Rock to soft, jazzy balladry. Every time I've seen Steve Kimock, he virtually has the whole audience under his spell waiting for the next segue-way into a different universe of sound. Kimock has been wowing the musical world with his guitar work for over 25 years now, playing in bands like The Goodman Brothers, Heart of Gold Band, Zero, KVHW, The Other Ones and Phil Lesh & Friends. Steve has also shared the stage with legends from Carlos Santana to Bruce Hornsby to Jerry Garcia. More than 15 years ago, Garcia dubbed Kimock his "favorite unknown guitarist," and today he is numerous people's favorite known guitar player. If you've never seen The Steve Kimock Band live, you will be more than pleasantly surprised: His live shows have become the stuff of legends in the Jam band community. (Jason Woodruff)

The Animal Crackers with Grandmaster Flash

Saturday · Southgate House

Old school- to new school-style Hip Hop and Rap will be in full effect as part of Tha Blast Urban Arts & Culture Festival on Saturday at Southgate House. The old school will be represented by the legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash (who teamed up with rappers The Furious Five in the late '70s to form the seminal Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five). The new school will be represented by multi-DJ team The Animal Crackers, who will pay tribute to Grandmaster Flash with their mad turntablist skills.

Grandmaster Flash was one of the first to popularize the turntable as a viable, respected musical instrument and thus, in turn, elevated the DJ to an artistic position, not just somebody who played records at parties. The 1981 release of The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel introduced Flash's extremely influential "cutting" technique to the Hip Hop world (and soon to the world at large). Cutting was/is the process of taking snippets — melodies, vocal lines, but mostly beats — from other's recordings to make a sound collage. Today, cutting is a fairly common practice, as it's been used by artists from Beck to Vanilla Ice (to varying degrees of usage and talent) but, in the hands of skilled DJs, cutting can sound as fresh as it did when Flash introduced the technique.

Carrying on that spirit and level of skill today are The Animal Crackers, an eight-man collection of local DJs, MCs and producers. The group features Unseen, djdq (nominated this year in the CEA Hip Hop category), Mike B, Nozart The Nati Kid, Haiku, King Smo, Tobe and Ru. Tha Blast's arts and cultural showcase also features a fashion show and an art exhibit along with performances by DJ M-n-M & Mike and DJ Pillo in addition to sets by The Animal Crackers and a closing set by Grandmaster Flash himself. More info can be found at www.hipnoticconcepts.com. (Dale Johnson)

Tara Jane O'Neil with Mirah

Tuesday · Southgate House (Parlour)

Tara Jane O'Neil's solo career arc has closely followed that of arch Folkie-turned-sonic experimentalist John Fahey. O'Neil began her musical journey in 1992 as a member of Louisville's brilliant, art-damaged Punk noisemongers, Rodan. From there, O'Neil and Ruby Falls guitarist Cynthia Nelson conceived the antique intensity of Retsin, which lasted for six years and a handful of acclaimed albums. During her stint with Retsin, O'Neil formed the side project Sonora Pine and collaborated with the band Ida in various forms, including 1998's The Ida Retsin Family Album, Vol. 1. O'Neil finally began to explore her solo aspirations with 2000's sparsely beautiful Peregrine. But, as her non-band projects have evolved, it's become clear that her wide ranging affiliations (which have included work with Papa M, Naysayer, Come, Saturday Looks Good to Me and many others) have all contributed to the breadth and depth of her musical education, allowing her to attempt increasingly challenging projects. 2002's TJO TKO found O'Neil extrapolating the soundscape inventions of the previous year's In the Sun Lines, utilizing environmental elements like twittering birds and running water to complement her jazzily ambient soundtrack. The result was a fascinating sonic collage, a musical stream of consciousness arbitrarily yet consciously divided into songs, which blended O'Neil's unique singer/songwriter gifts with a newfound direction toward Laurie Anderson's brave new studioism. The same year, O'Neil and erstwhile Ida-mate Daniel Littleton explored the extremes of her work on TJO TKO with Music for a Meteor Shower, which combined straightforward Folk guitar improvisation with an undercurrent of sonic manipulation and experimentation, weaving together traditional guitar construction and meandering sonic rumination. O'Neil's recently released You Sound, Reflect is yet another fascinating example of the distillation of her post-Punk fervor, Folk reverence and experimental dedication. (BB)

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