GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BAD NEWS: Whether or not you were in attendance at Alberta Cross’s sold-out January 15 tour stop at Muddy Waters Café, chances are you’ve noticed things are afoot at our favorite Haley Street coffee spot/venue. Since that fated Friday-night show—and the small but mighty police stopover that narrowly shut it down—it seems the Club Mercy/Muddy Waters love bond might be broken, at least for now. Due to capacity issues with the shop and fire code regulations, the Mud has since had to give up a series of Club Mercy booked shows, including this Saturday’s Frank Black performance (now taking place at the Hard to Find in Goleta) and February’s Entrance Band show (recently moved to Jensen’s Mainstage), which both venue and booker claim would have brought more people than Muddy’s capacity can handle.
While I’m all for fire safety, the news still comes as a sad surprise for those of us who have come to savor the thrill of catching big-name acts from within Muddy’s cramped room. (Recall, Mercy was responsible for bringing Beach House, Girls, and Billy Corgan and Dave Navarro to the venue in recent months.) The turn of events is also drawing some all-too-necessary attention on downtown Santa Barbara’s lack of all-ages venues, an argument long lodged by touring musicians, S.B. players, and fans. As for what happens next, no one knows for sure, but I’m all for starting a charity fund to expand the Mud, should anyone care to donate. —AC
SMOKE ’EM IF YOU’VE GOT ’EM: If you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what’s hot in hip-hop, the name Freddie Gibbs will probably ring a bell. Born and bred in Gary, Indiana, Gibbs is already being hailed as the best new artist of 2010—and he’s got a backstory to boot. Following a troubled upbringing, Gibbs went from college football star to downtrodden drug dealer, later finding music as a way of expressing his frustrations with the system. Gifted with a keen way with words and an imaginatively distinct delivery style, Gibbs was able to work up a grassroots following, and is now busting onto the mainstream’s radar with a flurry of hype behind him.
This Saturday, January 30, at Velvet Jones (423 State St.), Gibbs headlines a night of eclectic musical offerings that’s being dubbed the Saturday Night Smokeout. Together with roots reggae acts One Two Tree, Dylan Schmidt and The Rhythm Souls, R&B crooner Radio3000, and singer/songwriter Jillian Leigh, Gibbs will no doubt deliver a performance to be remembered, not to mention some much needed hip-hop in our live-music community. For tickets and info, visit velvet-jones.com. —AC
JEWISH GOSPEL: When guitarist, singer/songwriter, and Santa Barbara resident Rob Raede traveled to Memphis for a wedding three years ago, he caught more than the bouquet; he returned on a mission to bring the passion of African-American gospel and soul music to the Jewish faith. The result, his band Soul Aviv, will perform at Congregation B’Nai B’rith (1000 San Antonio Creek Rd.) this Saturday, January 30, at 7:30 p.m. Raede describes his visit to the 4,500-seat Bountiful Blessings Church as a kind of conversion experience, albeit one that left him more, rather than less, attached to his original faith. “When I heard the way these people sounded, with their 50-person choir and a rock band on the altar, I turned to my wife and said, ‘I don’t know exactly how this is going to work, but this music is for me.’” With two CDs out, and three great singers, Soul Aviv has a timeless yet contemporary sound and carries the message of Tikkun Olam, which means to repair the fullness of existence to its primal state of oneness. —CD