CMW In a 1,000 Words- Cupcake/Chippy Nonstop, Lydia Lunch, Aloe Blacc, Beams, Sunshine & The Blue Moon, Vaquero Negro, Maria Robot, Troker, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, Julian Taylor, Sc Mira, Harry Manx

Lydia Lunch.jpg

Submitted by Lenny Stoute & Sammy Jay Copeland
Photo at right: Lydia Lunch

CMW round our way was a fairly sedate affair, with the notable exceptions of the Cupcakke/Chippy Nonstop and Lydia Lunch shows. The former was a feast of raw, sex funky rap witticisms that had its share of squirm-making moments at the Mod Club. Billed as  Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, the show at Hard Luck Bar was a full-on career retrospective from 1977 to the present. Thing is, LL's output has veered from shrill No Wave to sludge rock to Goth psychedelia and beyond. All that was delivered in the mostly sludge rock style, robbing the material of its original intent. All of which didn't seem to matter to the newbies in the crowd. As she remarked to an overzealous fan near the end of a fairly shambolic show, "If this set makes sense to you, then you’re about as fucked up as I am.”

Aloe BlaccAloe BlaccBest Voice In Show belonged to Cali folk-soul singer Aloe Blacc. His set at The Sheraton was the essence of charm, professionalism and instant rapport. Keys to the left of him, geetar to the right, he reeled off a string of likeable, at times anthemic and certainly singalongable tunes including "Live My Life" "The World Is Ours" and "Love Is The Answer", closing with an emotional, pop-jazzy reworking of "What A Wonderful World." At one point he offered that he liked to make music that makes people happy, makes them feel good. Mission accomplished as the usually screwface industry crowd at a 7 pm show were seen to be with arms unfolded, animated, applauding, even a few mouthers of lyric. Marvin Gay would have been proud.


A crew getting less than deserved was Beams  A widescreen folk roots sound, songs with great storylines, explosive finishes and gritty playing was not enough to hook a chatty Wednesday night crowd at Lee's Palace.  The hometown band didn't let that drag them though and had a great time playing for each other with an admirable energy. The banjo player was Best In Class and must be seen and heard and the band performed in front of a banner carrying the Seventies anarchist slogan Eat The Rich. Nice to see.

The Horseshoe was perfect for the SoCal psychedelia. of Sunshine & The Blue Moon. Made sense the Thunder Bay five-piece  leaned heaviest on the tunes off current album Welcome to The Future, which has their deepest grooves and sharpest songwriting, all much appreciated by the up for its fan base.

Vaquero NegroVaquero Negro

The Mexican showcase was skewing diverse this year with Mexico City's Maria Robot carrying the torch for EDM, with "Desierto" and "In My Head' lingering longest, Guadalajara's Vaquero Negro checked in with a mashup of funk-rock and rap that was hit and miss, while Guadalajara all-instrumental sextet Troker was Best In Class with catchy, cleverly arranged funkadelic jazz. ably assisted by a turntablist. Troker tours around the world and the road polish showed as they easily won over the Casa Mexico crowd, then kicked up the bar a little higher. No risk of folded arms here..

Grown Up Avenger StuffGrown Up Avenger Stuff

North Carolina's Grown Up Avenger Stuff brought the power trio ethos to the Rivoli. The family affair made up of veteran axeman John Thomsen and his sons: Hunter (bass, vocals) and Tyler (drums/percussion, vocals). This show they were walking a line somewhere between Wolf Hunt and vintage Soundgarden, and the small but absorbed crowd was treated to some superior power riffage. Sent us reeling back into the street with the cobwebs all blown out.

Julian Taylor BandJulian Taylor Band

Still rocking' da house, self-described 'pilgrim of funk, soul and roll,' Julian Taylor Band put on a strong and engaging performance at Lee's Palace show, moving smoothly from the balladic 'Bobbi Champagne' to the zippy 'Zero To Eleven,' and taking the house with them.

sc Mirasc Mira

Vancouver post-garage leather rockers Sc Mira lit up the Horseshoe with synth-driven 'death pop' ditties like 'Breaking My Skin', "Give It Up' and "Your Hair', to a tres receptive crowd. Being it was the last gig of their Drug Warm Coma tour, there was dancing and there was a lot of playing close to the edge and at times, the band seemed genuinely moved by the reaction. as lead singer, Sadye Cage blurted, " We’re so damn thankful you give a shit about the music we make."

Harry ManxHarry Manx

Snuck out of CMW to Hugh's Place to check the inimitable Harry Manx with Devah Quartet, a four-piece string section emphasizing the cross-cultural connection no matter how strictly structured the tune. Manx is a Canadian musician who blends blues, folk music, and Hindustani classical ragas in a sound you might call Mississippi masala. He studied for five years in India with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt,  the inventor of the 20-stringed mohan veena, which has become Manx's signature instrument.[2] It looks like a guitar on roids and sounds like a slide guitar crossed with an alto sitar.

So when he plays something like 'Baby Please Don't Go', the song you think you know takes a while to merge from the fantastic filigree around it. Ditto for his take on 'Crazy Love', which revealed hidden depths of emotion and mystic longing courtesy of that ol' mohan veena. His originals like 'Bring That Thing' and 'I'm On Fire'  are born of twisted, whimsical little narratives sent to music that could just be folk'n'blues in other hands. Harry, he effortlessly bridges the gap between the East and the West, delivering the song with the soulful aspects of both intact. The most otherworldly show of the weekend.