A Triple Threat of Concerts Showcases the Club’s Coming of

Maybe Santa Barbara’s allure as a West Coast concert stop is
exploding. Maybe the broader music biz is trusting SOhO to throw
successful shows. Or maybe the live music club’s shot-callers are
boldly taking risks in hopes of bringing much-needed diversity to
our town’s live music scene. But whatever the reason — and it’s
likely a combo of all three — SOhO is shining like never before,
opening its stage to rappers, indie rockers, and fringe jazzmen
while keeping the rock, straight-ahead jazz, and jam-band roots
that made it many people’s favorite venue in the first place. And
there’s no better example than this coming week, when Digital
Underground gets hip-hopped on Sunday, August 27; Matt Costa and
The Watson Twins drop their up-and-coming singer/songwriter gems on
Monday, August 28; and the Karl Denson Trio delivers its
mind-bending, danceable jazz on Thursday, August 31.

Digital Underground’s Money B

by Matt Kettmann

The emerging world of 1990s rap was blessed by the presence of
Oakland’s Digital Underground, a hip-hop group that blended social
commentary and humor with Parliament Funkadelic beats and the
notion that rap could be fun. Thanks to the efforts of main members
Shock G and Money B, a whole generation of rappers grew up to
“Doowutchyalike,” “Freaks of the Industry,” “Same Song,” and “Kiss
You Back,” songs that inspired an exponential number of bands. And
there was “The Humpty Dance” too, arguably one of the most popular
songs from the ’90s. (They also launched the career of the late
Tupac Shakur, but that’s another tale.) I recently rapped with
Money B.

Was there any reason that you decided not to go the
gangsta route in the mid ’90s, when that was the fad? Being from
Oakland, you guys had the street cred.
We had to be
ourselves. If you know us, we aren’t robbing people and shit like
that. We hung out with porn stars, partied, got high, and kicked
it. … I’ll still shoot you, but I ain’t gonna rap about it.

I read you’ve been working the last couple years on this
Sex and the Studio DVD project, which shows the
intersection of the rap and porn industries. Why the
Adult stars and rock stars, we keep the same
hours. We stay up all night and party. And every porn star wants to
be a rapper and every rapper wants to be a porn star. We have
common interests.

Back in 1991, you guys did an anti-Gulf War song called
“Time 4 Peace,” where you talked about the disproportionate number
of blacks on the front lines. Is that still the case?

Definitely, but I don’t think it’s just blacks. It’s minorities,
but even more so it’s poor people, people who don’t have any way to
get out from where they’re at. So they join the military to get out
or get a scholarship or to make some money, not so much because
they have pride in the country. If you got money or your father is
a senator, you get an office job or get to run the radio

Since hip-hop has gone mainstream, is it still the CNN
for the black community?
I have to say that it’s something
different, with the popularity of rap and the technology of the
Internet, because before, if you hadn’t been to Atlanta, you didn’t
know anything about Atlanta. So you got these records and you told
your story about what was going on. But now you can go to MySpace
and say, “Hey, I wanna meet someone in Philadelphia.” Rap still is
[the CNN], but it’s not the only way you can find out. Like you
said, it’s so mainstream, it’s corporate and people push it to be
what they want it to be.

Do you ever get sick of doing “The Humpty
Nah. When we’re doing a show, I love it. I would
say the only time I’m not so much into it is if I’m at a club and
I’m hanging out and it comes on and everyone starts looking at me,
it feels like I’m working. When you’re not working you don’t want
to work. If I’m just hanging out at a bar, and someone goes,
“That’s ‘The Humpty Dance’ — come on, man!” I’m like, “Yeah, humpty

The Watson Twins

by Brett Leigh Dicks

A lot of things in life come by chance, but for The Watson Twins
music isn’t one of them. After graduating from college, Leigh and
Chandra Watson took to the road and the Kentucky natives were soon
performing as Slydell and calling Los Angeles home. A one-time
performance with Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis evolved into a
collaboration that yielded one of this year’s most enchanting
recordings along with six months of touring. Leigh recently talked
about their musical evolution.

When I think of Kentucky, images of rolling hills and
bluegrass music and church choirs and horses and Emmylou Harris
spring to mind. Was that your experience of growing up in Kentucky
or did you spend your youth hidden in your room listening to Pearl
Jam and Nirvana?
The roots of our musical experience
definitely started with a church choir! But we also grew up
listening to Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, and all
those other amazing singers. Our mom listened to Pearl Jam and
Nirvana and she paved the way for us appreciating all different
types of music. And I am definitely influenced by the beauty of the
place, with its rolling hills and horse farms. So you weren’t too
far off. The only thing you missed was bourbon!

I was raised in a musical prison of Andy Williams and
Ray Conniff, so I’m deeply impressed with your mother’s
My mom has a really wide musical taste,
but she did shield us a little too. I remember getting into the car
once and she was listening to the Violent Femmes and when a song
that had some profanity in it came on she kept turning it down. It
was “Add It Up,” which has that line “why can’t I get just one
fuck,” and my mom would turn it down every time the line with the
f-word came around!

You make music with your twin sister and surround
yourselves with your musical friends. That bond seems to be an
important part of your musical experience.
It always has
been. I feel so lucky to be able to play music with my sister, who
is also my best friend, and to have created a record with two other
close friends. It’s a dream come true. This is really a family
affair and that’s how it feels when we play. It’s a lot more fun to
play your songs with people you know so well.

Karl Denson

by Ethan Stewart Saxophone wizard Karl Denson makes his
way back to Santa Barbara for the first time in more than a decade
next Thursday, August 31. Finding fame as an acid jazz pioneer with
DJ Greyboy and the Greyboy All-Stars in the mid ’90s, Denson has
been blowing minds and making people shake their money-makers for
the past seven years as the lead horn and vocalist in the Tiny
Universe band. But as they wrap up a studio album, the Universe is
not currently touring, giving Denson time to “clear my head and
unfreeze my mind.”

During the hiatus, Denson has gone back to his roots in
classical jazz and formed his own trio, much in the same vein as
the jazz band Blackened Red Snapper, a quintet that he once called
home. Joined by organ maestro Anthony Smith from the Global Funk
Council and drummer Brett Sanders (big brother of current Universe
drummer John Statten), Denson characterizes the new direction as a
“balance between the real sit-down, intricate stuff — you know,
classical jazz — and the occasional feel-good dance tune.”

The trio invades SOhO for what Denson anticipates will be an
assigned-seat jazz experience, heavy with original songs penned by
Denson and Smith as well as a smattering of covers. For Tiny
Universe and Greyboy fans worried that they may not dig on the
current Karl incarnation, Denson offered this preview of the
upcoming show: “It’s going to be fun, man. … Sure it’s more classic
material but the dance stuff is there too. It’s just a more heady

As for the future of that beloved Universe, Karl said they will
definitely realign to produce even more impressively soulful tunes
than ever. “We have been trying to do the Santa Barbara thing for a
while,” explained Denson, a San Diego native, “but just have never
worked it out until now. It would be nice to have something that
was in a close proximity to home that we could hit every few
months.” Quite frankly, S.B. jazz fans should be so lucky.


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