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It’s a Bird! It’s a Trane!


After seeing The Lords of Dogtownlast week I've decided to grow my hair... and stop combing it. With everyone sporting high-'n'-tights these days and even dippin' digits into the greasy kid's stuff, long, unruly hair may actually be returning to the counterculture middle finger it once was when kids dug The Sweet, the Nuge, and The Stooges all at the same time.

What struck me about the movie and its preceding documentary, Dogtown and Z Boys,was how this urban guerilla movement almost didn't happen. Somehow it did and spawned attention in the magazines that first hipped me to punk. Without this subversive surfer innovation and desire I might have wound up a Frampton fan. Whew.

Thursday, July 7, So-Cal's Groovy Ghoulies blew back into the Bug Jar along with Chixdiggit!, The Teenage Harlots (starring ex-Priests bassist Father Blood), and The Teenage Bottle Rockets as part of their Teenage Kicks Tour. I arrived in time to catch the tail end of the Chixdiggit! set. These guys have been around forever but still look like elementary school extras from the set of The Wonder Years. The Ghoulies use the same three chords --- forwards, backwards, inside out --- and somehow keep the tunes from blurring. Minimal guitar breaks and that fantabulous 4/4 beat, baby.

Dirty rap legend Blowfly's profanity preceded him and I expected a raw and raunchy show perhaps with tracks and keyboard (like an X-rated Wesley Willis) the following Tuesday at the Bug Jar. What I didn't expect was probably one of the best funk bands I have ever seen live. The predominantly white, funkified quartet laid down a deep, deep shag for Blowfly to wiggle his toes in. The thing is, clean lyrics would have never flown with funk this whiplash, solid, and filthy.

Los Straitjackets put on an amazing show with MC Kaiser George and The World Famous Pontani Sisters the next night at Milestones. Their Summer Twist Party show was tons a fun with all its twistin', twangin', bumpin', and grindin'. Soundman MDG had the sound pumpin'. Surf isn't always the most visual music to catch live what with its limited choreography, but these Nashville cats (with Rochester homeboy Jay Smay masked and on drums) are like a comic book come to life... with dancing girls.

The same night Danielia Cotton rocked The Montage Grille. This gal rocks rootsy and solid. I can't get enough of her voice. Her pride and genuine shyness was endearing and meshed well with the storytelling within her songs. Rumor has it she's coming back in September. Don't miss it.

MusicFest's lineup was the best it's been in its 11-year history --- despite kinda overlooking the old school a little and the late-afternoon monsoons that closed down each day. Walking through the crowd it seemed like Mayor Johnson's dream for this fest has finally come true. I was particularly jazzed by two little girls in the front row for the amazing John Legend. They were arguing over the image on my buddy's T-shirt. One thought it was Coltrane the other was sure it was Charlie Parker. Whaddya know? Two 13-year-olds who have heard of both Trane and Bird. We're gonna be alright.

Little Charlie and The Nightcats swung mightily for the Monday-night crowd at the Montage. The band was dressed keen and Little Charlie blazed as slick frontman Rick Estrin jived and spewed a bucket of one-liners between vicious railroad honks on the harp.

Still more blues last Thursday the 21st with Duke Robillard playing the blues with a little jump and swing in George Eastman's backyard. Robillard strapped on a Strat and copped a squat to play with a classic T-Bone shuffle that might as well be his at this point.

The tent that was set up for the rain that never came kinda obscured the band and muffled the sound slightly, but the vibe was cool with folks dancing all over the patio and more sprawled out in the sunshine on the lush green. It was a Kodak moment.