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May 24-31, 2006

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Mule Train

Mule Train: Coming to a lagoon near you (skullheads not included)

Mūz

Don't Call It a Comeback

By Bill Forman


BLATANT SELF-PROMOTION DEPARTMENT Every now and again, we at Metro Santa Cruz must promote our own. Fortunately, we don't have a talent like Buxter Jake on board, which would require a paper to devote at least a story a month to promoting his many promotions. Nevertheless, we must succumb to blatant self-promotion this week as Mule Train, featuring our own Paul Davis, returns to Santa Cruz for a hoedown at the Blue Lagoon Friday, May 26. If you want to get yourself psyched for the show, you can also check out the second iteration of Davis's Someday Coming Down podcast. It features a new song from Davis as well as tracks the Two-Man Gentlemen Band, the Crooked Jades, the Kitchen Syncopators, Rum and Rebellion, Ladytown, Levi Fuller and Emily Jane White. Check it out at the Warning Sign Records site.

THAT WAS THEN BUT THIS IS NOW What a weird retro couple of weeks it's been. Last Wednesday, Müz trekked up to San Francisco's appropriately sweltering Red Devil Lounge to see, of all things, ABC. Now before you go making jokes about shoulder pads and little bald people, let's just remember that 1982's Lexicon of Love was a pop masterpiece, as both of you who own it are sure to agree. The band's later devolution into record-company-driven self-parody was made up for by a live show that counts as a serious return to form, with frontman Martin Fry turning in a stunning performance that bodes well for a new album expected out this summer.

Moving further back in time, the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium came alive with the sounds of classical Indian music earlier this month. "Times have changed," mused a smiling Ravi Shankar, noting how audiences no longer applaud after he tunes up. Still, there was plenty of applause to go around for Shankar, his daughter Anushka and a host of accompanying musicians during a Santa Cruz Civic performance that made the traditional music of India sound totally compelling and accessible to these Western ears.

While Anushka's playing may have shown more speed and precision, there was something in Ravi's phrasing, in the way he would bend the notes, that expressed not only mastery but also profound soulfulness. Combine all that with the accompaniment of tabla master Tanmoy Bose, whose playing is a force of nature only slightly less powerful than your average ocean, and it's easy to see how this music turned the Beatles' heads inside out.

Which, of course, brings us to the White Album Ensemble's performances of Let It Be and Abbey Road at the Rio Theatre. George was probably the most transcendentally inclined of the lot by the time of those last two albums, and Ken Kraft's renditions of "I Me Mine" and "Here Comes the Sun" were among Saturday evening's most powerful moments. But then there were so many, including Dale Ockerman's wailing Hammond over four electric guitars on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," and some truly phenomenal vocal performances by both Alan Heit and Richard Bryant. Now that the White Album Ensemble has played the Beatles entire post-touring oeuvre, there's not much ground left to cover for a band that will go down in history as one of Santa Cruz's finest. So be sure to catch them with the Santa Cruz County Symphony on June 3.

Santa Cruz Symphony and the White Album Ensemble, Sunday, June 3, 8pm, Civic Auditorium, 305 Church St., Santa Cruz.


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