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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Print: Adam Stephens' Near-Catastrophe, and the Soulful Holiday Sounds of Grillade

Posted By on Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 9:38 AM

click to enlarge adam_s_van_column.jpg

From SF Weekly's latest print music section:

Broken, Not Shattered: Adam Haworth Stephens awoke to shouts. His drummer, Omar Cuellar, was at the helm of their tour van, yelling that the vehicle carrying Stephens' band and its gear was sliding out of control on ice and snow somewhere on Interstate 80 in Wyoming.

Stephens, best known as half of the primitive S.F. folk-blues duo Two Gallants, sat up and looked out the window as the van careened toward a slope on the center divider. This thing is going to flip, he thought.

And it did. The van slid down the embankment and tumbled, side over side, several times, nearly crushing the front of the cabin. Luckily, Stephens -- who had been lying across a bench seat in the back -- was wearing his seat belt. As the vehicle tumbled, his thin frame was thrown toward the side window, which shattered as the van rolled.

Grillade: The Christmas season has inspired some compellingly soulful music -- whether by the illustrious likes of Marvin Gaye and James Brown, or curios such as Honey and the Bees' bells-propelled "Jing Jing a Ling." You just need to dig a little to find the season's real spirit.

San Francisco's Grillade ensemble -- producer Keelay, singer Ragen Fykes, and rhythm section the Park -- has just released its own addition to the valid holiday vault, "Just A Sad Christmas." Originally slated for a Christmas-themed compilation project that petered out, it's a cover of an obscure late-'60s, single-only release by the Soul Duo. Bluesy and cut through with a damp melancholy, the lyrics deal with estrangement and somber feelings during the season of goodwill: "Green, red, and blue are the colors of the lights and decor I see/Gray, [grim] gray and black are my moods 'cause you're not here with me."

Also, we recommend shows from Dan Hicks and Army.

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Ian S. Port


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