JAPAN JAM: The High Sierra Music Festival in
Quincy, California, has been the coming-out party for many a band.
Following last year’s event, the buzz was all about a group from
Japan called Meltone. The quartet left a lasting
impression playing on top of an RV in between stages. Ripping into
an extra-funky version of Deodato’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”
(better known as the theme from 2001), Meltone had the
crowd in the palm of their hand. “At High Sierra the audience
really cut loose,” exclaimed front man Shinichiro

Tomita started Meltone, he said, “not to become famous but to
help strengthen Japan’s jam-band community.” Improvisational
American music has always made a deep impact on the Land of the
Rising Sun, ranging from Miles Davis to the Grateful Dead to Phish.
The latter two have heavily influenced the free-ranging spirit of
Meltone. Tomita’s guitar work draws comparisons to early Jerry
Garcia with an aggressiveness complementing the fluidity.

Meltone makes its second sojourn to the U.S. in support of its
sophomore album, Wonderful View. One only needs to hear
the opening track, “So,” to understand the magnitude of the band’s
potential. Aside from their instrumental prowess, the lyrical
effect is one-of-a-kind, blending Japanese and English. They’ll be
playing SOhO tonight, July 6, with the dazzling L.A.-based
Seismic. With another high-octane jam-band led by
ace axeslinger James “Laker” Lake, audiences
should be advised to screw their heads on extra tight.
— Tyler Blue

AKIMBO AQUÍ: On Saturday, July
8, Casa de la Raza welcomes Akimbo and the
Fucking Wrath, two underground rock bands you
should have heard about. With sounds inspired by the Who, Black
Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin, Akimbo has been touring Europe and the
United States for the past six years, and will be playing songs off
their latest album Alternative Tentacles, which came out
this year. The Fucking Wrath arose to challenge contemporary ideals
of music; or, as they say, “The end of your life will be but a
speck in our all-trampling awesomeness up the decadently delighted
forgotten souls of many.” — Megan

FLYING FINGERS: Banjo wizard Chris
has been living and breathing bluegrass since
starting his first band at age 14. Moving to Santa Barbara from New
York in 1998, he quickly established a reputation with the ensemble
Wild Sage. In 2003, the ambitious string-master
pulled together an all-star cast for the Chris Cairns

Inspired by the lonesome sound of traditional bluegrass as well
as the more progressive elements of “newgrass,” the quintet is
ready to swing from the branches of SongTree. Leading the
supporting cast is mandolin maestro Tom Corbett,
who recently taught Tom Selleck to play ukulele. Mahala
“Haley” Fortner
brings gorgeous vocal harmonies to the
table. Prolific multi-instrumentalist Bill Flores
claims to have played just about every West Coast venue at least
once. Last but not least is SongTree organizer Tom
anchoring the bottom end with his wicked upright-bass

Come join the fun this Sunday, July 9, at the Live Oak Unitarian
Universalist Congregation, 820 North Fairview, in Goleta. The show
starts at 3 p.m. and tickets are $15. They’ll be selling advance
copies of their new CD, Cannonball Run, which doesn’t come
out officially until September. — TB

WHAT ELSE? The Tearaways come
to the James Joyce tonight, Thursday, July 6, for a free show in
support of their new album Beat Yer Own Mersey. … SOhO
unleashes the mellow fury of the Barefoot Natives
on Monday, July 10, the humorous Hawaiian duo of Willie K
and Eric Gilliom
. … DJ RAP spins at the
Wildcat on July 13. … Two Live Crew gets funky at
Velvet Jones tonight and then the locals rock it on Friday when the
Hairbrain Scheme, Giant Squid
, and Mass Infusion hit the stage.
— Matt Kettmann


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