Hustle and Yolo
Not just for Winters:
What you might expect: That Doc Holler, an Americana quartet fronted by Guy Kyser and Roger Kunkel—the guitar-wielding demigods from the late, lamented Thin White Rope, an internationally known neo-psychedelic band from Davis active in the 1980s and early ’90s—would recapitulate some essence of the dark and twisted vision of the earlier band, perhaps a string-band equivalent of a writhing mass of maggots devouring a dead cow in a Yolo County field. What may surprise you: That said foursome offers a bright, straight-up acoustic take on a bunch of old favorites, with Kyser on banjo and Kunkel on mandolin, augmented by Jason Weinstein on guitar and Jon O’Brien on stand-up bass.
On Friday night at Old Ironsides, Doc Holler opened a dance card, which also featured Davis’ stellar mutant Western swing combo the West Nile Ramblers and Sacramento’s ragtag Mad Dogs and Englishmen revue Blvd Park, and delivered a solid 15-song set in which the various members shifted around onstage in proximity to the standing microphones, depending on who was singing—all four players took turns on lead vocals—because no one was wired through an amp. The repertoire featured all the stuff you might encounter in, say, flat-pick guitar or banjo tutorials, songs like “East Virginia Blues,” “White House Blues” and Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light.” Which wouldn’t be news; “Graying punk-band vets go acoustic and play 78 rpm-era Appalachian favorites” is hardly a novel headline.
What was novel is this: The singing was impeccable. I mean, the harmonies were drop-dead gorgeous, perfect, stunning—perhaps the prettiest vocal work I’ve heard from a local stage this side of the touring A-list bluegrass stars that occasionally visit the Palms Playhouse in Winters. “Yeah, we’ve worked really hard on the vocals,” Kunkel offered after the set, which would have continued for another four songs had time not intervened. Kyser in particular was revelatory, his voice a straightforward deep-hollow plaint, with none of the gnarled phrasing and spectral howls that stamped his Rope work, with Kunkel’s keening tenor sailing over the top and locking with Kyser’s lead lines. Marvelous, really.
The West Nile Ramblers followed, with fiddle player Andy Lentz leading a quintet whose luminous approach to electrified rural sonics—at one point offering back-to-back Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies covers—occasionally throbbed with a minor-key klezmer undertone. Only from Yolo County. (Jackson Griffith)
How about “swustle”? Or “hagger”?:
If there are two words overused in the hip-hop world today, they are “hustle” and “swagger,” with every rapper bragging about how much of both they have (especially ironic when the truth is that record companies do the majority of the hustling). Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa is a shining example of these words in their truest sense, and Sacramento was treated to a stage full of both last Wednesday at the Colonial Theatre.
After parting ways with the Warner Bros. record label in 2009, Khalifa released his second album, Deal or No Deal, followed by a self-released mix tape entitled Kush and Orange Juice, which became a top-trending item on both Twitter and Google without help from a major label or radio single. Pittsburgh is not a city known for its hip-hop, but Khalifa is slowly but surely putting them on the map as a powerhouse with his crew Taylor Gang.
Taking the stage to a full house, the Colonial crowd buzzed in anticipation of Khalifa’s second-ever Sacto appearance. The emcee, best described as a mixture of Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi and DJ Quik, left no one disappointed. Running through a high-energy set, including his YouTube hits “Ink My Whole Body” and “This Plane,” for one of most diverse crowds in recent memory, Khalifa exemplified the new school of hip-hop. That is, rappers who can have fun while staying street relevant and straddle the fence of underground content and commercial success. (Andrew Bell)