Semi-able-minded rock critics can pomp their top circumstances for the Annual Ball (a.k.a. Street Scene), but where oh where will San Diego's best musicians and music impresarios be when the clock strikes Scene? We asked various S.D. musicatti for their “Top Three” picks of this year's festival...
Jason Mraz - Singer-Songwriter/Mesh Cap Metrosexual
1. Michael Franti
If I wasn't going to be in Japan during this year's Street Scene, I'd be first in line for Michael Franti and Spearhead. We listen to their new CD [Everyone Deserves Music] every night as pre-show music. It's the most uplifting and satisfying album of the year. I'd want to be in the crowd hip-hopping with my hands held high during “We Don't Stop!”
2. Arrested Development
They're back with a whole new show of positivity and classic favorites. We played together recently and they blew me away.
Thanks to their recent film, I'm Trying to Break Your Heart, I've been turned into a Wilco fan. I'm a late comer to their greatness, I know, so this would be my first show. I think Wilco knows what's up. They're an important act and will make history in rock 'n' roll.
Buddy Blue - Premiere Roots Musician/Crotchety Old Dewd
I must qualify my choices by saying I continue to bemoan the vulgar pandering to lowest common denominator musical taste and sensibility evinced in the last few years of Street Scene, formerly among the greatest roots music fesivals on the planet. With that unpleasantness out of the way, my top three choices would be:
1. Allman Brothers Band
Once upon a time, the greatest blues-jazz-rock band ever to roam the planet. Lacking Duane Allman and now Dickey Betts, this is a diminished group even with the presence of the fine guitarist Warren Haynes, but I'd still walk a mile to hear Gregg Allman's singing and Butch Trucks' drumming.
2. The Skatalites
Even with the deaths of several key players, The Skatalites remain an institution and ultimately the prime architects of modern Jamaican pop. Their catalog of hits has been plundered to death by every great and not-so-great second- and third-wave ska band to come down the pike, but to this day, no one has ever done it better and no one ever will.
3. Yonder Mountain String Band
Fanstasic modern bluegrass executed with dazzling musicianship and wonderful spirit, although I could do without the 30-minute hippie jams.
Scott Riggs - Rock 105.3 DJ/Crash Davis of Rock Radio
Their rise and fall and rise again in popularity is testament to the fact that you may not always be great, but you might have moments of greatness. One of my favorite bands of yesteryear (until they released the song “Stand”), I'm anxious to see if they still have the passion that made them such an incredible band or if they just talk about it.
2. Sex Pistols
Never Mind the Bullocks, I want “Anarchy in the U.K.”! One of the bands that forged the English punk movement and impressed upon my youthful self that punk was more of a lifestyle than a haircut. I can't wait to see if this mischievous band of miscreants is still angst-ridden or just old and crabby.
3. Flogging Molly
Often described as punk with an Irish folk flair, Flogging Molly's music is fantastically fun and drenched in a few pints of Guinness. Throw in an accordionist, mandolinist and a fiddle player (‘cuz fiddlist just isn't right) for good measure and you've got all the right ingredients for an amazing music feast.
Lisah - A.M. Vibe Vocalist/Surname Amnesiac
1. Love with Arthur Lee
Oh my god, Love for sure! I think that is just amazing they are gonna do this. It's been way too long. Here is a band that got overlooked big time. Love is one of the best bands ever-go listen to them.
2. Sex Pistols
Because Johnny Rotten is one of the sexiest men on earth. Yes, I'm very serious! Man oh war, I love him. I'm scared to death of him, but I love him. And, yeah-it's the Sex Pistols. Who wouldn't?
They have been working hard for years and they are great band. I like the fact they have been loyal to each other over all this time. And that is not easy to do in this business. They are truly gonna be legends. I have a lot of respect for that band, and that is very rare for me to say these days.
Adam Gimbel - Rookie Card Vocalist/Alpha Metrosexual
1. Love with Arthur Lee
There is no one from the 1960s still playing that is as cool as Arthur Lee. Love's songs still sound ahead of their time and Lee is smart enough to have a young backing band (L.A.'s Baby Lemonade) to bring the rock because most people his age can barely stand for an hour let alone shake maracas and dance like he does.
2. The Skatalites
Sad to see original members dying off one by one (I miss little Roland Alphonso playing that sax that was taller than him) but vintage Jamaican ska is still probably the greatest music ever made.
3. REM/Sex Pistols/Wilco
Attention Street Scene organizers: please send me instructions on how to clone myself so I can watch these three bands headline separate stages at the same time. Why? Why!? WHY!??!?!?
Jaime Valle - Latin Jazz Guitar Impresario
1 & 2. Peter Sprague & Pass the Drum and Gilbert Castellanos Quintet
Two wonderful, world-class jazz artists that happen to live in San Diego!
3. Burning Spear and his Burning Band
The killer reggae groove of Mr. Winston Rodney.
Peter Sprague - Jazz Guitarist with Bitchin' White Man Afro
1. Nickel Creek
In the late '70s and '80s, I led a band called Dance of the Universe Orchestra and the bassist for a while was a fellow named Scott Thile. [Mandolin prodigy] Chris Thile is his son. I once visited the family up in Idyllwild when Chris was 6 years old and I heard him tearing it up then. This kid was so off the charts, it was apparent to me that some magic was destined to happen. Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I met Sean and Sarah Watkins, the other two members of Nickel Creek. We all formed a now-and-then group called The Strummers that fuses some of their roots with our jazz thing and collectively we've come up with a pretty wicked mix of flailing guitars, fiddle and saxophone. Not only do they play up a storm, they're some of the kindest young folks walking the planet. These folks are the absolute real deal...
2. Gilbert Castellanos
This cat plays up a storm and always chooses great tunes and has a crack band.
3. Steve O'Connor and Stream
Steve was one of my early guitar teachers and he composes and plays beautifully. His band Stream was one of my favorites growing up and I can't wait to hear the latest incarnation.
James LaValle - Album Leaf Mastermind/Superstar to Some
Just got into them recently. Really good record. The movie is even better! Got mad respect for those fellas after watching that.
2. The Skatalites
Actually, I just saw them while I was on tour in Belgium. They were awesome-old and still laying down the grooves. Very inspirational, especially if you're a dub fan. ‘Cause that shit is O.G.
3. De La Soul
What can I say-De La Soul, the Native Tongue crew. Saw Blacksheep and Jungle Brothers at the Casbah not too long ago, and that was great. Once again, I use the term O.G.
Tim Mays - Casbah Owner/Hippest 40-Something Dude in Town
1. Flogging Molly
‘Cuz they usually give me shoutouts when they're on stage and also because I've never not been completely blown away by them.
2. Sex Pistols
Never got to see them. Did a show with Johnny Rotten and PiL once but that's not quite the same. Plus, I'd like to take my 10-year-old son Keith to see them.
Seen 'em a million times and they're always amazing. Watching Billy Zoom stand there with his spread-leg stance, smiling face and silver-sparkle Les Paul always does it for me.
Jaime Davis - CityBeat's Uber-Hip Sales Coordinator
(pictured in front of her painting of Jack White)
1. De La Soul
You have to have hip-hop in the mix, which makes De La Soul's spirited dance grooves at the top of my list. Maybe I'm just a sucker for two MCs and a DJ, but my prediction is that this deeper shade of soul will prove to you that De La Soul is (not) Dead.
Drum ‘n' bass isn't for everyone, but there is no doubt that Deiselboy is one of the most talented DJs spinning. His dark, mysterious bass lines will be drawing me to Electronica Avenue on Sunday night.
They led me to other great bands (Nirvana) and took complete control of my perception of quality music. For every reason listed in this paper, I won't be missing this show.
Justin Pearson - Locust Bassist/Nicest 6-Foot Insect in Town
1. The Sex Pistols
Even though they are old and burnt out, I cut my teeth on that shit.
2. Bad Religion
Because I love Mr. Brett. That guy rules.
3. Mix Master Mike
That guy is awesome. I wish I was there so see him do his thing. Oops, thang.
Mario Escovedo - Dragons Frontman/Leather-Clad Superhero of Rock
1. The Distillers
A crazy kitty cat with a voice and band that roars like a lion. Grrrrr...
2. G Love and Special Sauce
For the name alone!
3. Sex Pistols and Wilco
My two favorites in this race.