Positively State Street

Past, Present, Future

Jon Bartel

RESPECTING THEIR ELDERS: The term “ambidextrous” usually refers to the ability to use both hands equally well. However, the term can also mean “unusually skillful.” And we advise that you keep that second definition in mind when you watch Santa Barbara’s Ambidextrous take the stage, as these young musicians with old souls are talented at nearly everything they try. Lead vocalist Michelle Williams channels the greatest soul singers with her amazing range and sensual soul. And guitarist Andy Kushner stands out with his impeccable blues and funk sensibilities-he isn’t afraid to shred at times, either. Overall, these locals create a sound that’s part Led Zeppelin, part Parliament, and part pure Janis Joplin. In addition to their wealth of influences, their energy simply makes them a damn fun band to watch. Come funk around at The Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave.) on Thursday, March 13. Visit myspace.com/mercurylounge for details. -Tyler Vickers

GOING GA GA FOR GAVIN: Gavin DeGraw‘s bio is a lot like his music-it may be cliche, but it’s catchy nonetheless. Born in the tiny town of South Fallsburg, New York, DeGraw went to New York City as an adolescent anxious to make it in the music biz. While waiting tables in Hell’s Kitchen, he managed to make a name for himself playing pubs, restaurants, and pretty much anywhere else that would have him. After garnering some success with his self-released live CD, he scored a record deal, recorded 2003’s Chariot, and ended up with three hit singles that catered to contemporary rock fans around the world. Playing radio-ready rock with just a touch of raw country twang, DeGraw is probably best known for providing the theme song to the hit tween drama One Tree Hill with his anthem for self-acceptance “I Don’t Want To Be.” This year, DeGraw drew on his training at the prestigious Berklee College of Music to record Gavin DeGraw, a more personal, classic-rock influenced album that is set to be released later this year. In the meantime, check him out at the Majestic Ventura Theatre (26 S. Chestnut St.) on Saturday, March 15. Visit venturatheater.net for details and tickets. -Mollie Vandor

MEN IN BLACK: Upon first listen, singer/songwriterJon Bartel seems to channel an Old West frontiersman, banjo-plucking his way through simple tales of chain gang-inspired heartache and bemoaning love that once-or never-was. Yet, upon further inspection, Bartel’s music is an indisputable product of the 20th century. In the storied tradition of many folksters before him, this San Luis Obispo resident is infused with truly American influences: There’s the hard-drinking rebelliousness of Johnny Cash, the folksy plaintiveness of early Bob Dylan, and the angry sorrow of Elliott Smith. What’s more, Bartel’s included some of the genre’s most characteristic instruments-banjo, harmonica, fiddle-that add an authentic and melancholic twang that’s much appreciated by listeners. Bartel will perform a set alongside Micah Gardner, a Bakersfield native who’s more hardline country than Bartel, but with the same world-weary sensibilities, at Elsie’s (117 W. De la Guerra St.) this Saturday, March 15, at 9 p.m. Call 963-4503 or visit myspace.com/jonbartel for more details. -Joel Aurora

DON’T KEEP ME WAITING: None of us like to wait when we are “In the Mood,” which is the title of a dancing and singing big band review show that is headed to the Granada for two days and three shows next week. On Tuesday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m. and again on Wednesday, March 19, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., The String of Pearls Big Band will play the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and many more, with the assistance of 22 singers and dancers. Although this show is clearly aimed at the set that remembers this music from when it was first popular, younger folks should not let that stop them from checking it out. Visit granadasb.com or call 899-2222 for info and tickets. -Charles Donelan

The Devil Makes Three

YOU, ME, AND THE DEVIL MAKES THREE: With the exception of the harmonica, the standing bass and the banjo are the instruments most often associated with old records and hoedowns of long ago-but not anymore. The rhythmic trio who make up The Devil Makes Three have managed to go back in time and snatch the essence of ragtime from the 1920s, Parisian jazz guitar of the ’30s (think Django Reinhardt), 1950s rockabilly, a smidge of ’80s punk, and still forge ahead, creating an edgy, modern record that will surely draw an audience to Stateside (1114 State St.) Restaurant and Lounge. Though the band’s songs borrow from several decades before them, they are decidedly non-genre specific, aiming to produce the atmosphere of a punk show, even without the presence of a drummer. With song titles themed after Jack Daniels, such as “Old Number 7,” it’s no wonder the three achieve the result they’re after: ruckus shows, dance- and-sing-a-longs, and fans who like to party in a rowdy and spirited fashion. The Devil Makes Three will park their tour van outside Stateside Restaurant and Lounge on Thursday, March 20, and hit the stage at 9 p.m. For more information, visit statesidesb.com or thedevilmakesthree.com. -Lisa Engelbrektson


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