Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A day late, a dollar short

Looking over the wreckage of the past week, the thing that sticks out is how much great music I missed. But with a thousand-plus bands playing over a mere four nights, of course, there's little I could have done.

Thankfully, there are a few resources at my disposal to continue swinging, and keep everybody entertained. I direct you to some of the in-studio performances that took place during SXSW at our local KUT public radio station (don't bother listening to anything other than these archives at KUT this week, since they are having another infernal fundraiser -- and, yes, I am a member). Among others, they've got live cuts from British singer Beth Orton, an underappreciated talent who has a voice to match her powerful lyrics, female Outlaw Jessie Colter, who is Waylon Jennings' widow and the mother of Shooter, and my man Billy "Mr. Sexuality" Bragg, who has a humble voice but an intelligence and integrity that impresses me everytime I come across the guy. You might remember Bragg hooking up with a little outfit called Wilco on some Woody Guthrie tunes for the Mermaid Sessions.

With Real Player, you can hear Orton, Colter, and Bragg.

Then there's the small matter of the following dispatch from the Dengue Fever show at Caribbean Lights that I hyped the other week. My editor Raoul at the Chronicle killed the review, having doubled-up the assignment (and as punishment, because I blew another assignment, which I'm too shamefaced to discuss, but will admit). Anyways, Dengue Fever, which can be heard here at KUT, did not live up to the hype:

"For fans of global pop, the chance to catch Dengue Fever capping a public-radio sponsored showcase helmed by The World’s Marco Werman was supposed to be a special treat. Unfortunately, the LA-based sextet, fronted by the strong-lunged if petite Cambodian singer Ch’hom Nimol, did not seem to be firing on all cylinders; especially in contrast to set-up man Lenine, whose band of Brazilian sparkplugs threatened to set the stage afire. Singing in her native Khmer, Nimol sounded fine, but she looked distracted during the late set, and never really connected with her audience. The band worked hard – in the case of bassist Senon Williams, perhaps too hard – to pick up the slack, laying down the swinging Bollywood-meets-Ennio Morricone dance-psych Dengue Fever is known for. They tackled “Sni Bong,” from last year’s album Escape from Dragon House, and “Lost in Laos” off their debut. David Ralicke on sax added a ska bounce in places, and fans of Indian music might have detected an Asha Bosle lilt to Nimol’s vocals on “Flowers,” a Cambodian movie number from the late ‘60s. Most impressive was seeing band leader/guitarist Zac Holtzman, a California homeboy, take a turn singing in Khmer. But keeping with Dengue Fever’s overall performance, he was efficient without being inspirational. Shortly thereafter, without much ado, the night came to an end."

If still inclined, you can hear Dengue Fever on KUT here.


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