Arriving at 9pm there was a rare Rickshaw line formed outside. Inside the soon to be packed room, Oakland’s Mark Gergis was spinning the ultimate in obscure world music treats. I couldn’t name a single song he played. I’m not even sure I could name the country of origin for many of the songs. There seemed to be at least some offerings from Thailand, India, Cambodia and Syria. Projected over the stage there was an hour long mix of wild 80’s Cambodian VHS recordings.
Nick Waterhouse moved to San Francisco from Orange County and we are lucky to have him. He’s that rare guy so very dedicated to the classic R & B sounds. He has a great ear for it having practically grown up at the Distillery studios in Costa Mesa. He wants to recapture those magic sounds and he seems completely determined. This was a tough night to be an opening band, but he came out strong and confident. His band, The Tarots delivered some great grooves courtesy of a crack sax player, and there were some magic vocal moments from the “backup” singer on the right (Natalie I believe). Check them out at the Elbo Room July 22nd.
While wandering through the fantastic Bali exhibit at the Asian Art Museum this week I was impressed to find a multitude of Sublime Frequencies discs available in the gift shop. I can’t say enough good things about Seattle’s Sublime Frequencies record label. The label was created by Alan Bishop (of Sun City Girls) and Hisham Mayet, and to date they’ve released more than 50 recordings (and videos). More recent contributions have come from Mark Gergis (of Monopause and Neung Phak fame but also DJ for tonight’s show). These guys explore all corners of the globe to bring us amazing music that would otherwise go unrecognized by the world at large.
Take Group Doueh (pronounced “doo-way”), a band whose leader has been churning out psychedelic guitar bliss in the Western Sahara since the ’80s. Influenced by local Saharawi music but also Jimi Hendrix, the blend is jaw dropping. The group played their first gig outside the Sahara in 2009 when they toured with Syria’s Omar Souleyman. This was their first ever US tour (with only a dozen shows). The guitar master, Bamaar Salmou aka Doueh, began the evening on a beautiful homemade instrument – the body like a large violin painted in bright colors. The neck could have been some electrical conduit perhaps? I think it had 3 strings . . . but it sounded like 12.
The keyboardist (Doueh’s son) played a Yamaha electric organ that seemed to have all the drum sequences as well. It was hard to see the singers as they started off the evening seated on the floor. Slowly they emerged one by one, 3 women in hijab. The primary vocalist is Doueh’s wife, Halima, and she completely entranced the audience with her intensely spiritual, hypnotic voice. After several songs Doueh switched to a Stratocaster and immediately made me question his devotion (and mine). Is he a follower of Funkadelic as well? He threw in the occasional Hendrix samples and played behind his head but clearly his inspirations are all over the map. Truly one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Hopefully they will return. Maybe in Golden Gate park? Maybe with some drummers? Yeah . . . I’m ready.