The April 18 entry in the “upcoming shows” section of Candye Kane's MySpace page is a tad more ominous than the usual concert listing you'd expect to see for the voluptuous blues singer. The “show” it denotes is Kane's pancreatic-cancer surgery at UCSD Thornton Hospital.
On Feb. 22, Kane—the former adult entertainer from L.A. turned San Diego musician and activist—went to the ER with abdominal pain. A CAT scan showed a cancerous tumor on her pancreas.
Since revealing her illness on her MySpace blog, there has been an outpouring of support from the local music scene and beyond. Benefit concerts across the country—including at least three in San Diego—have been lined up to help pay for living expenses and medical bills.
The first San Diego show will be Sunday, April 20, at O'Connells and will feature Lady Dottie, Mojo Nixon and Joey Harris, among others. The second show—May 5 at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge—will feature a variety of acts (including Sue Palmer, Billy Watson and Ruby & The Red Hots) before the third show (featuring Steve Poltz, The Truckee Brothers and others) goes down on May 14 at The Casbah.
Meantime, Kane's been busy recording songs—including standards like “At Last” and “I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)”—with guest players at PH Studios in Escondido.
“I felt like it was important to do this,” Kane wrote in a recent blog post, “because if something did go wrong in surgery (which it won't!!!) at least I have recorded some of my all-time favorite songs.” —Nathan Dinsdale
Joanie loves samplers
Who'll buy the cow when the milk is free?
“My answer is hopefully someone,” laughs Joanie Mendenhall.
The San Diego singer/songwriter will give away free two-song samplers during her April 16 show at the Belly Up in order to preview her upcoming solo album—the first since her excellent self-recorded debut, Secretary Waltz, four years ago. The sampler includes “Empty Your Heart” and “On a String,” the title track of the new full-length tentatively due out in July.
“It's been so long since I've released something,” she says. “I'm really excited to give a little taste of the new stuff, to let people know that the new album is on its way.”
It's not like Mendenhall's been lazy. She plays in her boyfriend Matt Curreri's band, the Ex-Friends. And she and her friend Angela Correa joined forces for a terrific big-band-informed side project called The Low Standards, which took them to South by Southwest in 2007.
Mendenhall and Correa are also releasing a split 7-inch together to preview their separate upcoming solo albums. That's the reason for the Belly Up gig, which also includes a performance from Correa (as Correatown). The ladies did all the artwork for the 7-inch themselves, including hand-screening the packaging. Mendenhall says she's stoked to have something out on vinyl, which she claims offers a totally different experience than compressed MP3s through iTunes.
“I've put so much into my recordings to make them sound really good that it's hard to take when people listen to my music through computer speakers,” she explains. “Vinyl is a symbol of good sound. It says, ‘Please listen to this in a way that sounds like it should.'”—AnnaMaria Stephens
View from a stool, Part I
It was clear from the outset that strange things were afoot April 13 at Che Café. There wasn't a sound to be heard as I walked down the wooded trails that lead to the favored enclave of college-age music enthusiasts and vegan-food connoisseurs.
Was there even a concert going on tonight? Shit. I hoped I had the right date. Thankfully, there was a volunteer sitting at the ticket table.
“Do you know who's on right now?” I asked.
“I don't know anything about this show,” the guy said. “They asked me to be here, so I'm here.”
The muted atmosphere was induced by David-Ivar of folky French troubadours Herman Dune, whose sparse arrangement included a couple of microphones and a semi-hollow guitar plugged directly into the PA. Ivar attracted a small audience of super-fans whose desire to be polite may have gotten the better of their impulses to sing along to cute-yet-melancholy tales of world travel, reminiscent of a stripped-down Jens Lekman. Or, as the guy standing next to me put it, “Like Leonard Cohen, but two octaves higher.”
It was an odd prelude to an even more bizarre performance by eccentric British singer/guitarist Scout Niblett. Taking the stage with a white Fender Mustang, dressed in a maroon thrift-store sweater and a black satin dress with a slip showing, Niblett looked like a female counterpart to Kurt Cobain. Since her catalog is filled with sublimely awkward song structures and intensely personal lyrics, it was fitting that the show was packed with unpredictable moments.
Niblett has a captivating voice and, within the eerie spaces between her vocal abstractions and rocking out, she is capable of flooring an attentive audience.
However, on this night, unidentifiable forces were aligning against her. By the third song, a monitor had blown, forcing Niblett to stop the set. After recovering, she soldiered on, albeit cautiously. What followed was a serendipitous cover of TLC's “No Scrubs,” along with another misstep due to monitor problems, a plea for song requests, yet another halted song due to lighting issues and other moments of ramshackle charm and bewilderment. During one of the various mishaps, Scout noted, “Everything's been weird today.”
What a fitting comment.—Todd Kroviak
View from a stool, Part II
Aging rockers with adolescent kids and Roth IRAs crammed into the Belly Up for X's “13 x 31” anniversary tour on April 9 to cheer on the punk icons during a set that lasted exactly an hour.
X was always one of the most polished and professional-sounding bands in the scene, and that hasn't changed.
Though he's getting long in the tooth, John Doe remains lean and mean and occasionally flashed the youthful smile he showed off in Patrick Swayze's Road House. Exene Cervenka, on the other hand, looked downright frumpy in a black button-down dress with a white collar. Throw on an apron a and switch out her mic stand for a steaming kettle, and she'd look right at home on the kitchen staff of a Budapest hotel.
Only Billy Zoom has eluded the ravages of time. Throughout the show, he posed for photos while effortlessly playing his guitar. As one balding reveler near me shouted, “It's like he's not even trying!”
But when those strangely mournful notes from Zoom's guitar drifted above Doe's rumbling bass line to introduce “More Fun in the New World,” the whole place was transported. It's a seemingly happy-go-lucky number, but the guitar tells the sad truth of the song because we never did get that new world we were promised.
All we have, Zoom's guitar reminds us, is our nostalgia, which is another kind of trip altogether. But at least we went somewhere, right? —Jim Ruland
Universal, the new Hillcrest club, opened its doors with an April 12 party. Owned by EnDev, the same company that owns Stingaree, Bar West and the in-transition Sidebar, Universal brings a new level of class to Hillcrest. The design is sharp and sexy with dim lighting, red leather booths, a moderate-size dance floor and a large wraparound bar.
The party carried over to Dish, Universal's adjoining restaurant. Though Dish wasn't finished, the framed peacock feathers and applewood floor made everyone in the place reevaluate his or her home-flooring scheme. The shared patio between Universal and Dish offered a spot for the smoking crowd, a fire pit, group seating and, most important, a bar. I was told that there's a dress code that will be “strictly enforced,” but it won't be quite as rigid as some downtown spots.
Overall, the place looks like it'll be a hit—a sentiment not shared by everyone. Leaving the bathroom, I overheard a drunken conversation between two drag queens with one slurring to the other, “Girl, I give this place 15 months before Hillcrest chews it up and spits it out. You know those gays can be so finicky!”—Justin Roberts
Among the local bands with something to shout about this week, Americana outfit The Grams will celebrate the release of their latest album, Love Factory, with an April 16 show at Anthology. The two-time San Diego Music Award winners feature more than a dozen guest musicians on Love Factory (self-billed as a concept album that's presumably about a factory that manufactures love), including Anna Troy, Michael Tiernan and Jane Lui.
Funk rockers Bedford Grove up the ante with not one but two CD-release shows (one for the kiddies on April 19 at SOMA and another for the 21-and-overs on April 23 at Anthology) to commemorate the unveiling of Welcome to Our Side of Town.
On April 17, the mad geniuses behind the Skull Control DJ collective will celebrate their second anniversary of turntable tomfoolery at Live Wire. According to Mario Orduno, the club night was started by “three best friends [Orduno, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell] who hate DJ culture but love records.” The result is an event that—according to resident CityBeat hipsterologist Kinsee Morlan—has become “ridiculously popular among the hipster masses.”
On a completely unrelated, less-hipster and only semi-local note: No More Kings, the L.A. band that waxed off on The Karate Kid with “Sweep the Leg” (and waxed on with the song's gloriously viral music video), will hit up the Wave House in Mission Beach on April 19 to celebrate something called the CSTV Collegiate National Championship.
Ostensibly, the event—scheduled to air May 25 on CBS—features college students competing in a variety of “sports,” like beach volleyball, flowboarding and competitive eating. But all I'm hoping is that Ralph Macchio and William Zabka make an appearance. —Nathan Dinsdale
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