During a time when most artists seem afraid to speak out politically in either direction, seven-piece San Diego dance band Liquid Blue has gone the extra partisan mile and recorded a political album.
Titled Supernova, the album has brought them much closer to the world of politics than they had counted on.
"One of the songs-"Real'-is a song about heroes, and it was a dedication to [presidential candidate] Ralph Nader, as well as other great justice fighters," said keyboardist-songwriter Scott Stephens, who called from Lisbon, Portugal, where the group is beginning a 10-week tour.
"[It's] a song about... people who fought corrupt systems for the betterment of the common people," Stephens said, mentioning Nader's name along with the likes of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.
After completing Supernova, Liquid Blue "sent a copy to Mr. Nader and thanked him for his work." Between plastering towns with posters and public speaking appearances, Nader and his staff found time to actually listen to the album-a collection of self-described "world pop" that mixes western melodies with Arabian and East Indian sounds.
The Nader people came across the song "If You Gotta Ask,'" Stephens explained, and the tune, with the group's Nikki Nova on lead vocals, made a surprising connection. "They felt it would be the perfect theme song for Nader's campaign," Stephens said.
Although the perennial election martyr won't command as much media coverage as Bush or Kerry, Liquid Blue's song will still be heard by millions through TV news shows and rallies.
"Without a doubt, Nader is the best candidate," Stephens said. "He is not tied to big corporations and is incorruptible."
Despite his belief in Nader, however, the musician is also a realist. "It would take more than a miracle for him to win," he admitted. "Our two-party, corporate-driven system does not allow room for independent thinkers. Without the big bucks from special interests, an honest people's candidate like Ralph has little chance."
Liquid Blue hopes to participate in Nader promotional events, but due to their continual touring-they will play more than 200 gigs this year, mostly in Europe-it may not be possible.
Having performed in more than 60 countries, Stephens and Liquid Blue have gotten a chance to see first-hand how the rest of the world views America. "We always seek out the people of these countries and try to engage them in conversation," he said. "I can tell you that since Bush went into office, things have become ugly. The decisions being made by this administration will come back to haunt us for generations.
"It will take years to heal the wounds."
In search of William Hung
Java Joe's has long had a reputation in San Diego as a spot where talent gets discovered, as witnessed by the likes of Jewel, Steve Poltz and Jason Mraz.
Hoping to speed the discovery process up a notch at its new incarnation as Java Joe's Pub in College Area, the club has begun its own American Idol-style search for a vocalist, called Java Joe's Idols & Idiots.
Tongue-in-cheek lounge singer Jose Sinatra will play the role of Ryan Seacrest, mediating between artists and a three-person panel of judges. "It's about interpreting music," said Sinatra, who noted the contest would be held every Monday through the end of May, with each week focusing on different styles of music. For the initial rounds, artists will perform karaoke style; for the finals, they'll be joined by live musicians.
"It's different singing to something prerecorded and then having to deal with a group of musicians, so that could separate a few people out right there," Sinatra explained. "In the meantime, the regular crew of contestants will have to learn a different song each week, set to a theme. Might be country, might be The Beatles, might be something local."
There will be one male winner and one female winner, and while the prizes were still being determined at press time, Sinatra notes that titles of "Tonsel Titan" or "Vocal Vixen" will be bestowed on the winners of what is hoped will be an annual event.
Switchfoot continued their success on April 27 by winning six Dove Awards (the gospel music version of the Grammy). The band's first big hit, "Meant to Live," won for Best Rock/Contemporary Song, and an album track "Ammunition" won for Best Rock Song, while their album, The Beautiful Letdown, won for Best Rock/Contemporary Album. Frontman Jonathan Foreman also picked up two awards for songwriting, as well as one for album production. While the band didn't perform at the ceremony, you can still watch them win when the UPN network airs the Awards show May 28.
SDMusicMatters.com will host a CD-release party at The Casbah May 8 for a new compilation of local talent, aptly dubbed On The Verge. On hand will be Irradio (who are also celebrating the release of their latest album, Make Up For The Inaugurated), as well The North Atlantic, This Holiday Life and Rayleigh Scattering. As great as this lineup is, the album's even better, with additional tracks from the likes of Scarlet Symphony, Skydiver, Kramer's Rule, Buckfast Superbee and Spell Toronto.
The new live album from '80s Brit rocker Joe Jackson, Afterlife, was recorded in part at his 4th & B show last August.
It seems San Diego will, indeed, finally get a House of Blues downtown. But over at the beach, the Catamaran Hotel's Cannibal Bar is scheduled to close in the next year when the venue is converted into a day spa.
Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker has started a new label, La Salle Records, distributed by Atlantic Records. His first two signings are The Kinison and The Nervous Return, and Barker's own side project with Rancid's Tim Armstrong-The Transplants-will also record for the imprint.
Pop-rockers Static Halo finally release their sophomore CD, Save It For The Ages, on Earthling Records this month and will hold a CD-release show at The Casbah May 6 as part of the free 91X Loudspeaker Showcase.
Straight No Chaser will stage a CD-release show for their album The End Of Now at the Che Café May 5.
There is no truth to the rumor that the Grey Boy All-Stars, with guitarist Mike "Elgin Park" Andrews, will be adding "Mad World"-the No. 1 U.K. hit for Andrews and singer Gary Jules-to their set. The All-Stars will, however, be returning to 4th & B on May 14.
According to bassist (and M-Theory Records head honcho) Eric Howarth, alt-rockers Caution Children have split.
SBE Records has released On The Road Again, the second album from jazz quartet Road Work Ahead. The all-star band features guitarist Peter Sprague, drummer Jim Plank, bassist Bob Magnusson and pianist Bill Mays.