I know I'm not the only one who misses all those cool free shows at the dearly departed Bar-BQ-Bar. Well, Olde 64, the current occupant of that hallowed downtown space, is looking to revive that live tradition every Monday night, beginning this week.
The shows are being booked by Foundation Presents' Marshal Rones. Besides working for the mighty booking company that powers the Social and the Beacham, he's a local musician, so that could add some good street-level cred to the proceedings. To that end, he's taking inquiries; so interested musicians can email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) with an EPK or music links.
Olde 64 shows will be listed on the Social's website (thesocial.org). Music starts at 10 p.m. unless otherwise noted and, though the shows are free, donations are always welcome. And I'm about to get into one of the artists you can catch at Olde 64 later this month.
After many years of pursuing individual efforts, West Coast underground rap kings Blackalicious are back in effect and will be dropping their first album in a decade on Sept. 18. Imani Vol. 1, the first of a trilogy to be rolled out in the next two years, is a class return that features a notable and musically robust guest cast including rappers (Lateef, Lyrics Born, Watts Prophets' Amde Hamilton), singers (Zap Mama, Imani Coppola) and bands (Monophonics). It's big enough news on its own, but even bigger considering the context of serious health issues (rapper Gift of Gab has been reeling from kidney failure since 2012) that have defined their latest chapter.
In the ramp up to the big release, they rolled through and shined their light brightly (Aug. 11, the Social), though not necessarily in ways expected. Gift of Gab's famously dense rhyme architecture is a technically demanding thing requiring not just advanced skill but peak fitness, which wasn't always there for him. Besides rest breaks where support MCs Jumbo (of Lifesavas) and Lateef stepped in to carry the action, Gab's flow, though fluid, occasionally lagged, faring much better a cappella than alongside the unforgiving rigidity of programmed beats.
But this time the story isn't about the finer points of execution. This isn't some immaculate fairytale where the hero rides to sweeping and perfect triumph. It's the one about the real-life heroism of getting back up after being knocked down and close to out. And that sheer grit and indomitability of spirit was a sight worth seeing. From both attendance and vibe, it's clear that Gift of Gab's verses have carried many in this room over the years. This night, I think Orlando returned a little bit of that strength.
Renee Is a Zombie (Aug. 14, Ethos Vegan Kitchen) is the solo vehicle of Renee Arozqueta, a now-local multi-instrumentalist originally from the Florida panhandle who is self-described as "anti-folk." I'm not sure about the fidelity of that tag – in not just her case but ever – but she is a singer-songwriter. Although that's one of the most generic categories out there, she carries some undeniable distinction.
On the fundamentals, Arozqueta's solid, with pop melodies that are accessible, natural and pretty. More than that though, she's a legitimate one-woman band who has better coordination than many solo bands I've seen and greater instrumental range than almost all. Furthermore, she's a loop artist who uses a more intriguing and classical array of instruments than most loop acts do, including accordion, ukulele, glockenspiel and flute alongside the typical guitar and drums. And besides the instrumental construction, she uses loops to create multi-part vocal harmonies, adding yet another dimension.
At one point during the show, she wove her voice and nearly all those instruments – some of them in multiple parts even – into a single song. Yes, impressive. No question, she's got a pretty compelling hook, especially the more arcane edges with accordion, bells and flute. But, don't mistake, this is earnest music, not some parlor trick. The execution just makes it that much more interesting live. As always, see for yourself at her last local show before going on tour on Aug. 31 at Olde 64.