Sound Tribe Sector 9 Three Night Electro Extravaganza

September 4th, 2008, Boulder Theater

Family. Joyfulness. Community. Gettin' Down! These five words completely detail, although briefly, the majority of my experiences from the past Sound Tribe Sector 9 weekend.

Sound Tribe Sector Nine Red Rocks Photos

photos by Tawny Frederikson- for the Grateful Web

Grateful Web's Tawny Frederikson was on-hand during last week's Sound Tribe Sector Nine shows at Red Rocks.  Here are some photos from the evening.  Please check back soon for Tawny's write-up of the night.






The Grateful Web

Salvador Santana Band: Carving Out Their Own Sound

Salvador Santana- for the Grateful Web

Salvador Santana has not just big shoes to fill, but legendary ones. His father is rock icon, Carlos Santana. Like many children of musical experts, he has pulled away from his father's instrument and even Santana's classic rock sound.

Recently, I was sent a five track demo by Salvador Santana and his band. It is a sampling of the group's jazz, hip-hop sound. Salvador has chosen the keyboard as his instrument of choice, and he's producing some sweet sounds. Assisting him on this EP, are Emerson Cardenas (bass), Eric Mendez (percussion), Rene del Fierro (guitar), Gene Coye (drums), Carla Holbrook (vocals) and Sam Totah (MC, vocals).

Five cuts aren't really enough to see the breadth of this artist, but I did see a sampling of his choice of lyrics, his writing style, and the avenues he was exploring. Though I found the first cut, "We Rock Da Mike" and the final cut, "SSB," to be self indulgent as some hip-hop can be, they gave me not only a taste of things to come, especially Carla Holbrook's haunting voice, but also framed the album. Both of these songs, like all but one of the others on the EP, were collaborations, and they clearly reflect the influences of MC Sam Totah.

Salvador's hip-hop and Holbrook's R&B create an interesting mix on "Simple Story of Love." That cut is enhanced not only by Salvador's tasty key work but by del Fierro's guitar and, most especially, by Mendez's percussion.

"Another Rainy Day"also pairs Holbrook with Salvador. In contrast, this moody tune is more jazz based, using mainly drumkit and keys, ranging from piano to synth. When del Fierro's guitar enters the mix, it is only to grace the work with suggestions of brightness.

"Electric Moon," Salvador's only solo written piece on the demo again is a tasty jazz-based instrumental. This is where this band shines. Those jazz influences no doubt come from absorbing music all around him as a child and also from his studies at Cal Arts in Calencia, CA.

One thing that was especially unique about this demo was the choice to bounce notes from one channel to the other. This isn't just pumping out guitar from one speaker and keys from another, but to switch keyboard notes (and even sustained notes) from each side in succession. It does a strange trip to your head if you listen to the CD through head phones!

This EP is a precursor to Salvador's full-length self-titled CD out on Tsunami Record Group that is out this year. New band members highlight this new album. Emerson Cardenas returns on bass, but Salvador has added Woody Aplanalp on guitar and vocals, Tony Austin on drums, Quincy McCary on vocals and a second set of keyboards, and Jose Espinosa on sax, flute, percussion, and vocals.

The resulting new sound is heavy with an Afro-Cuban sound. It comes mainly from Espinosa's percussion that complements Austin's drums. That kind of percussion and drum work, for me, has always been at the heart of Carlos Santana's music. It is what drew me to Santana decades ago and what moves me still. But this time, Salvador has dressed it up with hip-hop, R&B, and lots of jazz.

Salvador's bandmates have been amassing their own body of credits before they became part of this band. Tony Austin has played drums with jazz artists like Billy Higgins and Charles Lloyd, as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band.  He also has played with Banyan, Rob Wasserman, John Avila of Oingo Boingo, and Erikah Badu. In addition, his work has appeared on NBC's "Studio 60" and "E-Ring," CW's "One on One" and "What I Like About You."

Jose Espinosa, also known as Crunchy, is a fellow grad of Cal Arts and helped found Ozomatli. A multi-instrumentalist, his work has appeared on recordings with Blackalicous and Black Eyed Peas, as well the films Cheaper by the Dozen, Along Came Polly, Havana Nights, and Any Given Sunday.

Quincy McCrary, founder of the LA act Burning Star and a player in Quetzal, also has had his work showcased in films, including Hook, Batman Returns, Dutch, Clifford, What About Bob?, Home Alone, and Captain Ron. He also has done tracks for the television shows Alley McBeal, Amen, the Arsenio Hall Show, and General Hospital. Though he is manning keys and doing vocals for the Salvador Santana Band, you can be sure Salvador will continue to add his own keyboard stylings.

Guitarist Woody Alpanalp has toured with some of the best ethnic musicians in the world. From 2004-6, he did a world tour, backing master Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. He has recorded and played live with African music legend Thomas Mapfumo. Also, Alpanalp has toured with Grammy award-winning hip-hop/R&B artist Lauryn Hill and jazz great Wadada Leo Smith's ensemble, the Golden Quartet. He also steals away to perform with his own eclectic rock group, Papa Woody.

Emerson Cardenas has played exclusively with the Salvador Santana Band.

Salvador Santana is presenting a new freshness on the musical landscape. Check out his self-titled album and you'll see what I mean.

Laura Reed & Deep Pocket: A New World Sound

photos by Sam Katz- for the Grateful Web

Laura Reed began her life journey half a world away in Johannesburg and Natal, South Africa, steeped in the rhythms of those cities. But it was her experiences in Central America and the Deep South of the US that fleshed out her musical senses. To her repertoire, she collected blues, jazz, soul, heart-rending rock and roll, and R&B influences.

Ending up in the mountains of North Carolina, Reed began crafting these musical bits into songs and sought out others to help her deliver what her mind and voice had to say. In 2006, she formed the band Laura Reed & Deep Pocket with bassist Ben Didelot, drummer Jimbonk Buchanon, and keys player Ryan Burns. As Reed further developed her sound, she brought harmony vocalist Debrissa McKinney on board.

Reed's debut album, soul: music, recorded at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, made a refreshing appearance last October on the music scene. It is a ten song album, backed up by the trombone and sax of the Asheville Horns, two percussionists, and a male backup singer adding tasty deep-well bass to the sound.

The CD is a fine vehicle to showcase Reed's characteristic voice but also her songwriting talent. Though the album has a couple of relationship tunes on it, most of the songs deal with more than the love between two people. Many of the songs deal with deeper connections between people, groups, and the land itself.

The first cut off the CD, "Well," begins the musical journey that takes listeners, as the song says, "Deep, Deep, Deep, Deep like a well." But the words don't get in the way of the music. Much like reggae, the whole musical smörgåsbord that Reed presents draws the listener in to enjoying the good vibe. Only later, do you find yourself humming the tune or repeating the words.

On the song, "Forces at Play," Reed takes a chance by positioning her soulful voice against a trombone and sax that are almost on the same register. At times, you can't distinguish one from the other until you hear the words come. This is all mixed in with Reed's mildly distorted guitar and the bass and drums. The result is a synthesis of soul and rock, mixed into a new sound.

But then in "What's Going On," she produces swamp funk with deep bass backup vocals, reminiscent of the Sopranos' theme and even some of Sly and the Family Stone. Sprinkled among these musical lines are the guest percussionists who add a rich world flavor to the funk.

That swamp funk appears again in "Rise Up," but you are also treated to an Afro-Cuban feel because of Jimbonk Buchanon's drums and Ryan Burns' pulsing organ (a 1936 model-A Hammond he's named Mama Lou). When horns are added, the whole piece rises to an energetic whole, but then, almost abruptly, the song becomes stripped down to a simple guitar, minimalist drums, and some hand percussion. It is a fine piece of music, with a message to rise above the consumer-ridden world ("Turn away from Babylon, and it's concrete fungus") and "walk the path to Zion," attempting to understand other people's lives ("There's many shoes of your fellow man/In front of you to try on now."). This lovely cut is marred by some slurring of the word "push."

Then, Reed shows yet another vocal styling in "Don't Go," a song of a woman begging her man to stay after she has done him wrong. Reed's emotion comes through in a Janice Joplin's bluesy delivery in the beginning, then slips into some early Aretha Franklin, but the vocals that close out the tune are pure Reed. There is also some tasty organ here like some older R&B.

There is much more here that moves through many themes and many musical styles. Her "One World" is a percussion-driven song with beautiful vocals by Reed and backup harmonies and Reed's naked guitar. It is an anthem for unity, respect, and feeding the world physically and spiritually. "Omm Lei Lei" is a song about searching for identity that has a haunting African chant embedded in it. "Praise You" is a multipurpose song of gratitude, and "Tomorrow" tells of the yearning we all have for living a life of love, with a capital L. The album ends with "Chains of Temptation," a song about the struggle to remain faithful to loving the world. As Reed sings, "Got to make it back to Zion," it's a reminder to us all to remember our own commitments to the earth and the people in it.

Soul: music is a refreshingly new sound that is capturing fans every where. Currently touring the US, Laura Reed & Deep Pocket are working with HeadCount, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to register as many young voters as possible so that they can make their voices heard in Washington. Reed and her band mates will also be appearing later this summer at the Gathering of the Peacemakers in North Carolina, August 4-10. On the bill with them are reggae stylist Corey Harris, Dubconscious, the Afromotive, Ras Alan, and Chalwa.