by Josef Woodard

Kenny G being played on KCSB last
week? It was an oxymoronic “what’s wrong with this picture?” moment
on the airwaves, hearing the king of anti-jazz cheese being spun on
one of the West Coast’s most proudly independent — and
alternative-minded — non-commercial stations. No worries: DJ
Sarvatma was playing G as a ploy to hector
listeners into calling and pledging $$ during the station’s annual
pledge drive. Soon, real music returned, such as the mind-altering
Gonzalo Rubalcaba version (or remake) of “Besame
.” This kind of great music is exactly what
alternative radio is made for.

Pledge-drive time for non-commercial stations can instill fear
and avoidance for many listeners, but it is also a time when a
station like KCSB can rightfully toot its horn and tout its
virtues. KCSB is an especially strong and free-range alternative
station in Southern California, with a delightful blur of diverse
programming compared to many more patternized left-end

This listener’s long fave list is still topped by the
long-standing India Show. Jazz-wise, the
programming includes adventurous riffs on Thursday afternoon’s
double-header of Impressions and Pedal Point and an enticing new
addition: The Friday Riff. For more old-school goods, proceed to
Stanley Naftaly’s venerable mainstreaming Jazz Straight Ahead and
trad jazz grooves (plus speechifying) of Doc Jass’s Jassdom Hall
(jazz’s original spelling).

Officially, the pledge drive is over, but stragglers (like this
columnist) can still donate to the station, and it’s one of the
worthiest causes in town, especially now that webcasting is
expanding the range exponentially. We need the KCSBs of the world
more than ever in this age of corporate-choked, clear(cut),
channeled control of the airwaves. Tune in, turn on, drop in.

GUITAR WIZARD DEPT.: At year’s end, when all
the votes and emotional responses are tallied among the local
guitar nerd contingent, the prize for the hottest electric guitar
night of the year will undoubtedly go to Jeff
, who blew rafters and synapses at his recent
Arlington show. But the second place may well go to Sonny
, the Louisianan guitar virtuoso deserving of
wider recognition, who makes his Santa Barbara debut at Saturday’s
Sings Like Hell show at the Lobero — or at least his debut as
himself. Landreth, who has been a coveted sideman while also
developing an exciting solo artist career throughout the years, has
already been on local stages lending his licks to his old
boss/comrade John Hiatt, and just recently to another employer,
Jimmy Buffett, at the Bowl.

Neither of those gigs, however, prepares the listener for what’s
in store with Landreth’s own music, as hotly demonstrated on last
year’s sizzling live album Grant Street (Sugar Hill). It’s an
hour’s worth of scorching hybrid-style music by Landreth and his
longtime trio (also Hiatt’s group), with blues, rock, Bayou spice
(as on “U.S.S. Zyedoldsmobile”), and rock-jazz fusion, bound to
make you a fan if you’re not one already.

Actually, like Beck, and even more like his friend Eric
 — from neighboring Texas — Landreth has an uncanny
way with touch and tone, and he makes his thick-toned,
distortion-laden guitar sing with sweetness and heat. Landreth has
devoted himself to the cause of the slide guitar, and come up with
one of the more exciting and inventive variations on that
challenging, special guitaristic art form. Few slide guitarists
have pushed the practice to new places, but Duane
, Dave Tronzo, and Landreth earn
their seats at the top of the heap. All guitar fans, and music
fans, period, are encouraged to check out this highly musical

SOUL MAN ALERT: We don’t get enough
high-profile soul music in this town, apart from occasional R&B
action at the Chumash Casino. That lack gets some righteous
rectification with the arrival of supple and seductive vocalist
John Legend at the Arlington on Friday. (Got e?


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