MEXICAN CAF SOCIETY: Some of us latecomers first got hip to the captivating and restlessly creative Mexican band Cafe Tacvba through the bubbly-fresh yet offbeat soundtrack to Amores Perros. Catching up with the band’s rich musical scene-in-motion via records (including the sparkly new one, Sino) and live performances-at the Majestic Ventura Theatre a few years ago-only deepens one’s fandom. They return to that venue tonight, a show that ranks high on the “check it out” index.
NEW MUSIC HARMONIC CONVERGENCE: For aficionados of the new and experimental music scene, next Thursday, December 6, presents a good news/bad news scenario. By semi-unfortunate cosmic coincidence, three events from the far left end of the musical spectrum fall on the same night. It’s a happy problem.
Start your evening at the Contemporary Arts Forum at 6:30 as part of a hip new Santa Barbara yuletide tradition, the local edition of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night.” New York new music-maker Kline has presided over this holiday tradition on the streets of N.Y.C. for many years, and it has spread to multiple cities, including Santa Barbara as of last year, courtesy of Iridian Arts. The concept is simple, hypnotic, and audience-participatory: a crowd of whatever size parades down the street with boomboxes booming Kline’s loopy, minimalist score in varying degrees of phase and focus. Last year’s musical trip, from CAF up State, through the courthouse Sunken Garden, and on to Alameda Park, was a delectable experience. Cost: free. (For an idea of the resulting musical fruitcake, get thee to Myspace-myspace.com/unsilentnight.)
At UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall at 8:00, the Ensemble for Contemporary Music (ECM) presents the first of a few concerts during the academic year. Directed by Jeremy Haladyna, ECM gives concerts that are always good for a refreshing taste of contemporary music, the classical world’s bizarrely neglected stepchild. The program includes music by Ned Rorem, Charles Koechlin, Edison Denisov, and Andre Jolivet.
Next Thursday’s biggest news is the long-awaited return to Santa Barbara by the great, iconoclastic, and fun-loving phenomenon known as Eugene Chadbourne, who has been amusing and befuddling audiences around the world for three decades, in Shockabilly and countless other contexts. Although he has shown up in Ventura in the last several years, Chadbourne hasn’t made it up this way for many moons. Local old-timers (present company included) fondly recall wacky performances at Pluto Books in Isla Vista a decade ago, and at Rockpile Records in Goleta a decade before that, where he played his electric rake and thumbed through the records for cover song ideas.
Based in North Carolina and a family man when not on the endless road, Chadbourne plays banjo and wild electric guitar and takes on politics and pop and roots music (unplugged) with a wild, twangy humor. At the Victoriaville festival in Quebec last May, in duet with Kevin Blechdom, the avant-Americana romper room ended up in a mock gunfight, turning the dueters into faux-duelists. “That’s the way we do it in America,” mugged Chadbourne, before departing stage left.
This may, in fact, be Chadbourne’s debut performance in Santa Barbara proper, and he arrives as special guest of the increasingly important biweekly “Experimental Music Night” at Reds. Local improvisation-minded musicians/deejays/promoters Colter Frazier and Rob Wallace have been bravely keeping the experimental fires burning in town. Next up: L.A.’s veteran post-free jazz blower Vinny Golia at Reds on December 20.
TO-DOINGS: Jazz fans would do well to make haste to SOhO on Monday, when the excellent N.Y.C.-based guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg brings his trio for his S.B. debut. As heard on his dynamic album The South of Everywhere (Mel Bay Records), Kreisberg is the “real jazz” real deal, with 21st-century spices. Also at SOhO this week, we get not one but two category-busting pop eccentrics, from radically different stylistic corners and GPS coordinates: Issa (the art-popstress formerly known as Jane Siberry) comes on Sunday, and Jonathan Richman on Wednesday. We’ll see who wins in the quirky sweepstakes.