Get out: Memorial Day weekend is coming up, and with it, music festivals.
BottleRock Napa Valley is sold out, but there are always ways to snag last-minute tickets if you’ve got the passion and the funds. The three-day lineup includes big names like Stevie Wonder, Florence + the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Lumineers and Lenny Kravitz. Being Napa, there’s plenty of fine wine and delicious food, which also signals the return of the popular culinary stage. Last year, huge crowds showed up to watch Snoop Dogg rolling sushi and Flavor Flav frying chicken alongside celebrity chefs. This year’s culinary talent is even more impressive than last year, and nonchef sous chefs include Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt (Green Day), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) and Cheech & Chong. Learn more at www.bottlerocknapavalley.com.
For something decidedly smaller and less corporate-feeling, consider the 63rd Strawberry Music Festival. With camping, kids activities, jam sessions and a lineup highlighting bluegrass acts, indie folk bands and singer-songwriters, it promises to be a family-friendly fun time. Tickets range from $50 for a single evening to $250 for four days with camping at the Nevada County Fairgrounds (11228 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley). More at http://strawberrymusic.com.
Then, there’s the Sacramento Music Festival, right in our backyard of Old Sacramento. More than 60 acts will perform in more than a dozen venues over the course of four days. Once again, there’s an emphasis on jazz, blues and rock. Locals make up a large chunk of the lineup, such as Joy & Madness, Todd Morgan & the Emblems and Vivian Lee. As for headliners, look forward to ’70s band Pablo Cruise, rockabilly bassist the Stray Cat Lee Rocker and swing revival act Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. A complete festival pass goes for $125; single day passes cost $25-$55. Grab ’em at http://sacmusicfest.com.
And a final note: Check out SN&R next week for a music feature about Operation Restore Maximum Freedom, the annual festival by Davis station KDVS, also taking place the same weekend. Think Burger Records bands with local favorites like Screature for the 16th iteration, all at Sudwerks Brewery (2001 Second Street in Davis). Yep, the beer shall flow.
Jazz explorers: What does a sandstorm sound like? This is the question I imagine the members San Kazakgascar asked themselves as they went into the studio to record Twice-Baked Coma.
The psyche-jazz, fusion five-piece defies genre and has done so since 2009’s Idle Ships. Collectively, San Kazagascar is Jed Brewer on guitar, Greg Hain on bass, Chris Hall on saxophone, Robert Kennedy on drums and Tony Passarell on keys, sax, and percussion. Past incarnations embodied a seemingly no wave exotica. The Doors, Sonic Youth and Les Baxter all collide in a San Kazakgascar album. But, April’s Twice-Baked Coma is a four-track frenzy that skronks with an intensity that keeps the sand dunes in disruption. Opener “Sour Creek” is a whirlwind, dizzying and climbing in its build. “Sticky Kitchen” tapers off to a degree. The group settles into a Saharan rock groove, while saxophonist Hall wails like Mingus. Again, fusion is in full swing, but Twice-Baked Coma feels less at odds with itself.
As inventive and inviting to comparison as San Kazakgascar felt in past recordings, Twice-Baked Coma locks into non-western tradition. There’s no New York here. No post-punk nor no wave. By “The Tired Shopkeeper,” San Kazakgascar has given itself almost entirely to a foreign region—the dust has settled. “Bullet Train” simply earns its title.
Like the exotica of the 1950s, the EP is men with mostly caucasian names making Middle Eastern music. But San Kazakgascar should not be construed as colonialist. There is a tradition and adaptation at play, pillars of jazz that prevent a reduction of Twice-Baked Coma as flippant. My suggestion is to ask the band at its upcoming Press Club performance on Sunday, May 29, about its influences. There are sources at play, they’re just not in our immediate lexicon.