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Music of Times and Places


COLOMBIAN MUSIC, THE RICHEST KIND: You may have heard Juanes — the pop sensation from Colombia — doing his charismatic thing at the Chumash Casino a few weeks ago. You may know Colombian sexy-popstress émigré Shakira. To get a truer, rootsier taste of Colombian music, proceed to the UCSB MultiCultural Center on Friday to check out the L.A.-based Very Be Careful. As heard on the band’s third and latest album, ÑACAS (Downtown Pijao), they make a mighty, accordion-driven and rhythmically fiery sound.

Led by the brothers Guzman (bassist Arturo and accordionist Ricardo), VBC is stoking the flames of the Afro-Colombian style known as Vallenato, dating back to the early 20th century, and a beloved sound the brothers heard, growing up in L.A. in the ’70s. Who woulda’ thunk that this music would make for one of the hottest tickets in town this week? They’ve been building a diversified fanbase from rock and world music corners, including the likes of Ed Ruscha and Joe Strummer (who invited them to open for him at the Troubadour).

SPANK YOU VERY MUCH: From a very different set of roots — rising up from a proudly disreputable, impure musical gene pool — the Austin, Texas-based Asylum Street Spankers return to SOhO on Sunday. The Spankers — aka ASS — are no strangers to town, having played the Mercury Lounge and SOhO many times, making their blissfully nasty and old-fashioned music (’20s and ’30s is a favorite era). They’re always good for a laugh and a dance, a snort of ribaldry, and an American musical history lesson. The band is led by the artist known as Wammo and sassy vocalist Christina Marrs, with a rotating cast of fine pickers, fiddlers, and washboarders, and recently released a live DVD, Reassembly (Spanks-a-Lot Records). This is one of few bands for whom a live DVD makes poetic sense: they put on a real, bona fide, italics-worthy show.

OTHER SOhO SHOW BIZ: Plenty of strong singer-songwriters are making the rounds these days, whether or not the labels or radio are noticing. Quincy Coleman is one of them. Coleman, who has gotten a buzz from KCRW airplay and exposure from a song in the film Crash, plays SOhO on Tuesday, and it should be a good, full opportunity to experience her unique blend of retro roots — alt-country, old-timey music, Hot Club vibes, salty soul — and some new x factor. About to release her way cool album Come Closer, Coleman pulls it all together into a tidy post-Americana package, thanks to her bold voice and confident, curious musical brain.

IDAHO SWING VOTE: Late February in Moscow, Idaho means jazz time, when the annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival takes over the University of Idaho and the cool small college town surrounding it. Jazz luminaries, student bands — mostly from the greater Northwest — and a complement of fine jazz musicians from Russia, the land of the other Moscow, pour in.

The recent festival was the last under the guidance of Dr. Lynn Skinner, in charge since 1977 and a close ally with Hampton when “Gates” decided to lend his name and energies to the festival — instantly raising the bar and luring world-class players to the Palouse yearly. This festival is big on inviting returnees, making the line-up a déjà vu scenario, but who can complain when the “house band” features guitarist Russell Malone, pianist Benny Green, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton?

The featured performers this year included the fine pianist-singer Dena Derose, young-at-heart octogenarian James Moody, Jack Jones, and Slide Hampton leading the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band (with Roy Hargrove in the ranks). Lurking, luminously, in the wings was the great pianist Hank Jones, who was ostensibly being paid tribute to, but was so characteristically self-effacing and low-key, he kept deflecting the deserved spotlight. Jones, now 88, may be jazz’s humblest hero. (Got e? fringebeat@aol.com.)



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