TIGERS BY THE TALE: New Yorker-philes are a strange breed. Those of us tending to drink that Kool-Aid covet the magazine, considering it the go-to source for what needs to be known in this insanely info-overloaded age, even if it means catching up on a month’s worth of issues on a plane. We might idly thumb through untold numbers of other magazines, reading bits and pieces, but the New Yorker seems the authoritative mothership of magazines, and a happily time-sucking reading experience.
And so, when the New Yorker suddenly came out with one of its blissfully long, seemingly rambling, but actually focused and comprehensive profiles of the great norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, in May, the sensors of importance zoomed upward. Of course, to say that a New Yorker profile somehow anoints and elevates the band’s importance would smack of ethno-centric fooey. Anglo media has yet to give proper credit and inkage to the splendors of Mexican regional music (which we can hear on our radio dials locally via Radio Bronco), or to other Latino music beyond pop-style stars. The band formed in the ’70s by the Hernández brothers—Sinaloans in San-Jose—is a super superstar band, not only in Mexican regional music but in American music in the broadest (and truest) sense. Their accordion-enriched and corrido-strengthened show at the Santa Barbara Bowl six years ago still sizzles in the memory.
All of which is to say that when Los Tigres makes one of their stops in Santa Barbara, tonight at the Chumash Casino, it will be one of the hot tickets of the season, no matter what side of the Hispanic culture fence you’re on. For a good primer, consult your New Yorker pile.
RADIO WATCH/LISTEN: On a bad day in America, in many of her cities, the commercial radio dial can seem like a depressing cultural blandscape. In the present formatted, corporatized radio realm, “Classic Rock” can seem like a party in a mausoleum, distrustful of any music under 30 years old, “Today’s Country,” to quote George Jones, can seem like “Today’s Crap,” and “Smooth Jazz,” to quote another observer (okay, me), sounds like “jazz with the jazz taken out.”
Just when all hope seems lost, goodness, mercy, and musical substance can be found by steering down to the left end of the dial, where noncommercial sources still enliven the cultural conversation. Of course, the trade-off is the tradition of pledge drives, which fall upon us around this time. Our grand local college radio station, KCSB (91.9 FM, kcsb.org) will soon hold out its hand, in early November, and there are few worthier causes, given the station’s invaluable contribution to the community (and growing cyber-community).
Jazz lovers, for one, can find regular sustenance on the left end, including such KCSB shows as Steve S.’s Joyful Cosmos on Monday nights, longtime jazz champion Stanley Naftaly’s Jazz Straightahead on Wednesday mornings, Marta Ulvaeus’s delectably rangy Roots to the Source on Sunday afternoons, and other newcomers to the schedule. Every weekday morning on San Luis Obispo’s KCBX, Neal Losey spins jazz on the venerable Morning Cup of Jazz, and the grid also includes Fred Friedman’s Jazz Liner Notes late on Thursday night, and The Last Jazz Show and The Cutting Edge late on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
A random list of this radio fan’s current favorite shows from the Left End: Dee Jay Dubbel Em’s Smoooothe Beatzzz, the noise fest with ironically oily deejay interjections, (Thu. aftertoon, KCSB), The India Show (Sat. afternoon, KCSB), the well-organized trad jazz celebration Club MacKenzie (Fri. at 7pm, KCBX), The Global Village (weekday mornings on KPFK), and Modern Times (KUSC, Sat. at 10pm, Alan Chapman’s all-too-rare contemporary music showcase).
Oh, and when heading over the 154, check out Harold Camping’s Open Forum, carried on Santa Maria’s KHFR, 89.7. Whatever your spiritual or sectarian persuasions, the vet preacher broadcaster’s cadence and timbre are hypnotic sound sources. Call me crazy.