“Girl, you can boogie,” John Lee Hooker told her at their gig together and, well, there you have it. Who’d ever argue with him? Anyway, the assessment still holds. Apparently GG stands for “Good God!” as some version of that exclamation is what many people say upon hearing this blues lady for the first time. The nimble phrasing of her vocal work and her guitar’s warm, open tone make for a real double-threat. Also, she’s rather partial to soulfully funking things up.
Here’s a guy who knows where he comes from. Yeah, that would be Kentucky, where Southern-fried blues-rock is a birthright. Slim wears it well, without wearing it out. He came out to Cali from Lexington in ’91 and paid his guitar-slinger dues in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where he hosted a weekly blues jam for years. Slim counts a few easily recognizable icons among his varied influences—Muddy, Hendrix, Skynyrd, Cash—and works their sounds all up into a big, fat, rootsy stew. Then he puts it on a slow burner and lets it simmer. Stacie Eakes and the Superfreakes
You take the blistering bravado of Janis Joplin, the sultry grace of Aretha Franklin, and the balls to compare yourself to both of them and you’re gonna do OK. Must I explain why local belle blues belter Stacie Eakes just scored her second consecutive Sammie nomination? Whether out on the road opening for national names like Coco Montoya and Bettye LaVette, or staying home to keep the Torch Club lit, Eakes and the Superfreakes (bassist and former Beer Dawg Joe Lev, guitar-phenom and fellow Sammie-nom Jimmy Pailer, drummer Leigh Lunetta, and guitarist/singer Bob Fogle) obviously have mastered their “techneakes.” Bill Scholer Blues Band
Guitarist Bill Scholer’s rightly well known for his work with the Joy Buzzards, an acoustic trio once described by SN&R’s Jackson Griffith as “a cosmically comic stewpot of musical roadkill” (he meant it as a compliment). Scholer’s also picked up some trade secrets opening for the likes of Willie Dixon, Paul Butterfield and Jeff Healey, and fronts the multiple-Sammie-nominated Bill Scholer Blues Band, which teams him up with Dale Lyberger on bass and vocals, Jim Monroe on keyboards and vocals, and Craig Faria on drums. Together they get back to the true beauty of blues basics. The Jimmy Pailer Band
As esteemed for his “Blues in the Schools” gig with the Sacramento Blues Society as he is for tearing it up around town with Mark Harmon on bass and Leigh Lunetta on drums, axe-wielder extraordinaire Jimmy Pailer really, really loves the blues. This man means it. Not that it makes him at all hard to take. Mixing energetic originals with covers of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King and others, the Pailer band knows plenty well how to please a crowd.
Rap/Hip-HopThe Addict Merchants
The Addict Merchants operate on the theory that jazz and hip-hop are two great sounds that sound great together, especially when enhanced by social awareness. Holding their own on bills with hip-hop legends like Mos Def, De La Soul and Afrika Bambaataa, the Merchants have continued to prove their hypothesis through five years of live performance. Look for a new full-length CD from the band this fall, the latest in a line of “Merchantdise.” Crazy Ballhead
Crazy Ballhead hasn’t slowed a bit since winning the 2005 Sammie for outstanding rap/hip-hop musician. He’s finishing up production for his fifth album, The Children of Hope, due out this summer, and acting as composer and executive producer for a collaborative spoken-word CD titled Weapons of Mass Instruction. In his spare time, Crazy B runs a record label, a production studio and a clothing line, and regularly shakes up Sacramento-area clubs with his hometown anthem, “The Valley Rumble.” LockMonsta
As with the Loch Ness monster, a sighting of LockMonsta can be rare, mind-blowing and leave the townsfolk talking about it for weeks at a time. LockMonsta’s rap repertoire runs the gamut, from serene to hard-hitting, and never lets his listeners forget where he’s from or what’s really important. As he says on his single “One Pearl”: “My kids can’t eat CDs or tapes / Went on hiatus for a minute / I’m glad you waited … when it’s time to change diapers, I discontinue practicing and kick into dad mode again.” Mr. P Chill & Trunk of Funk
The Sammies nominating committee debated whether Mr. P Chill and his band, Trunk of Funk, belonged in the rap/hip-hop or R&B/funk category. That controversy is nothing new to rapper Chill, whose back-up musicians have been called one of the area’s “finest live-funk ensembles” by Trust Your Ears columnist Jackson Griffith. “The biggest compliment I get,” Chill said, “is from people who don’t like hip-hop, but they love this band.” Having just completed a West Coast tour for his new CD, Organic Hip Hop Vol. 2, Chill’s summer-gig schedule already is filling up. When you’re hot, there’s no time to chill. Who Cares
Sometimes labeled “emo-rap” because of singer Borg One’s tendency to write personal lyrics about growing up sad and overweight, Who Cares has gained a national cult following since forming in 2002. As Phoenix New Times writer Brendan Joel Kelley said, “Who Cares is a band that gets inside of you and shares your pain; as antithetical to hip-hop’s orthodox anger and misanthropy as that is, it’s what makes Who Cares the real fucking deal.”
Though Diciembre Gris draws its influences from British post-punk groups, the band’s Latin heritage and international fanbase have landed it in this category for the second time. Together since 1997, brothers Daniel and Erick Villegas and friend Alex Reyes have completed many successful tours of Mexico in both Baja California and Guadalajara, putting Sacramento on the map for audiences across the border. With another tour planned for the Southwest later this year, Diciembre Gris is racking up the fans stateside as well. Habañero
This Latin-jazz supergroup seeks to revive the standards of the genre while creating fiery original compositions with Cuban flare. Together since 1996, the group includes Berklee College of Music alumni Doug Pauly and Rob Lautz, American River College jazz bass professor Kerry Kashiwagi, noted West African-style percussionist Kamau Mensah, and Brian Kendrick, director of the California State University, Stanislaus, Jazz Ensemble. All those credentials don’t weigh them down a bit; this quintet’s music is as fiery as its name. Nagual
When a band names itself after a mystical consciousness alluded to in Carlos Castaneda’s body of psychedelic, spiritual literature, you can bet its members are focused on transformation. The group describes its music as “in sync with the progressive and boundary-busting musical philosophies of musicians who are redefining what’s been called the ‘perfect union’ of Latin jazz.” Respected local musicians Scott Anderson, Victor Contreras, Harold Muñiz, Ron Ochoa and Sammie-winning bassist Erik Kleven will open your mind—if you let them. Raigambre
Last year’s Sammie winner for outstanding world/Latin band, Raigambre’s socially conscious lyrics—set to rollicking Afro-Cuban-Chicano grooves—have entertained Sacramento audiences at nightclubs and community events for five years. During that time, they’ve also shared stages with national acts like War and Ozomatli. Since the addition of vocalist Celia Hernandez-Lopez last year, the band has increased its impressive versatility. Sol Peligro
With a name that literally means “the sun that people feel threatened by,” Sol Peligro is not a band to be taken casually. This powerful eight-member ensemble, headed by one-time Raigambre frontman Sam Miranda, stays rooted in Mexican cumbia rhythms while dancing its way through Jamaican reggae and rocksteady. With a trio of horns, percussionists and a strong rhythm section, this sun shows no signs of setting.