By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Tony Ware
By Emma Silvers
Anyone who's ever caught a Bayonics show at the Elbo Room, 12 Galaxies, or El Rincon can testify that this ten-piece Latin hip-hop band is no joke when it comes to producing sweaty exuberance among audiences. Mixing urban elements with traditional rhythms, they're equally comfortable playing mariachi, salsa, or reggaeton, often with a jazzy, brassy, and superpercussive feel. Based in the Mission, Bayonics have become as vital to that neighborhood's live music scene as avocado-infused salsa verde is to the area's taquerias.
Zeph & Azeem
J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science
Alex 'Zanders' Andreas — Boom Boom Room
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SF Weekly 2007 Music Awards Staff
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Bay Area instrumental Latin hip-hop outfit Saoco combines Cuban rhythms and aspects of popular reggaeton and timba. Led by energetic Cuban national Leyder "Dos Four" Chapman, Saoco deploys an upbeat sound that's drawing increasing attention from fans of the aforementioned musical genres and beyond. Chapman's breathless raps — sung mostly in Spanish — ride jaunty keyboards, staccato drumbeats, live turntablism, and taut backing vocals to create the sort of music that lends itself to dancing. Chapman's stage presence only further stirs up a fervent musical party. Salsa lessons and a dance partner are highly recommended at Saoco shows.
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The Martin Luther Experience
Martin Luther isn't shy about paying tribute to influences like Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Prince, and Sly & the Family Stone in his heartfelt, meandering-yet-insistent ballads and funk jams. Though the Roots affiliate doesn't perform live or release albums as often as many would like (other than a 2006 live album, he hasn't had a record since 2004's well-regarded Rebel Soul Music), he remains committed to the activist messages of his music via his MySpace blog. Luther even has a lead role in Julie Taymor's Beatles-themed film Across the Universe, which seems consistent with his throwback, idealistic charms.
Born in San Francisco and raised in Oakland, Kev Choice has been studying piano for more than a decade, earning music degrees at Xavier University and the University of Southern Illinois. All along, Choice has performed with rap ensembles, composing tunes that draw equally from Bud Powell, McCoy Tyner, EPMD, and Nas. Recently he has been putting the finishing touches on his first full-length, The Broken Mold, which melds the soul-sampling grooves of Kanye West with the conscious rapping of Blackalicious. Live, Choice performs with a six-piece band, offering a genre-busting mix of soul, jazz, and rap, which led to Lauryn Hill requesting his services as musical director for a recent show in New York City.
The music of singer Jennifer Johns reflects teenage years spent falling in love with contemporary hip-hop while cultivating pristine pipes through classical training with the Oakland Youth Chorus. In addition to similar-sounding artists like De La Soul and Lauryn Hill, Johns, who started singing in church at age 3, finds inspiration in influences ranging from Sade, Nina Simone, and Paul Simon to Rudyard Kipling and West Indian music. After forming her own label, Nayo Movement Music, she released the 2004 EP heavyelectromagneticsoularpoeticjunglehop and later shared stages with the likes of Common, Mos Def, Blackalicious, and Mary J. Blige. Her recently released sophomore album, Painting on Wax, features contributions from Panama Kaz Kyzer of the Team, Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, and Zion-I.
Since forming in '05, Monophonics quickly made a name for themselves, keeping the big, horn-driven instrumental funk sound of the '60s and '70s alive with countless gigs around the Bay Area and beyond. The seven-piece released its debut CD, Playin and Simple, in September, a disc that calls to mind Tower of Power, among other greats. Monophonics have played and recorded with members of the Funky Meters, Galactic, and Soulive, and also collaborated with local DJ crew 4One Funk on a side project called 4One Phonics. The band frequently plays at Mojito and the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco.
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Andy Cabic's rustic folk project Vetiver is touring with the Shins right now, but don't worry — the countrified melancholy that defines this band is far too earthy and subtle to ever end up on a Zach Braff movie soundtrack. The band's most recent release, 2006's To Find Me Gone, was a highlight of the new-folk movement, a collection of wistful, dusty summer evening melodies that evoked traditional Americana, '60s British folk, and West Coast easy listening. The band dreamily follows its musical nostalgia without sounding retro: There's not much freak to its folk, just a warmly off-kilter sensibility that makes Cabic's music a vital continuation of the traditions he invokes.
Throw together a country-blues-loving guitarist and a metalhead drummer and you get the Dodos, a fascinating psych-folktronic duo. On their debut CD, Beware of the Maniacs (released at the end of 2006), guitarist and singer Meric Long layers evocative feedback over pretty acoustic picking, while drummer Logan Kroeber mixes primitive, thumping beats with intricate pitter-patter. The propulsive results recall everything from John Fahey to the Akron/Family (with whom the duo is currently touring). That's not even mentioning Long's voice, a sweet clarion call like Elliott Smith without all the heroin and suicide; or Long's lyrics, which chronicle complex relationships with acuity. Here's hoping these Dodos don't become extinct anytime soon.