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HICKS WITH STICKS NEWS #202, December 24, 2008

San Francisco Bay Area Twang Calendar Highlights
Bands / Clubs

Jesse Jay Harris Quintet @ El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF 6pm free

JJ Schultz/The Fancy Dan Band (CD release)/Stitchcraft @ El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF 9pm $5

The Harkenbacks @ Cafe Royale, 800 Post, SF 8pm Free
Cafe Royale

5th Annual Johnny Cash B-Day Bash: Johnny Dilks & his Country Soul Brothers/The Royal Deuces/The Mighty Slim Pickens/The B-Stars/Pat Johnson & the Creeps/Old Time Youth/Sweet 'n' Low's @ The Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF 8pm $10

Twangfest: Poor Man's Whiskey/Stiff Dead Cat/Lucky Buck & the Winners/Flatt Lonesome/Rhythm Rangers @ Mystic Theatre, 23

Saturday, April 25
Ron Thompson's Recovery from Pneumonia benefit
The Mojo Lounge
3714 Peralta Blvd
Fremont 3-8 PM
Bluesman Thompson is the real deal.

Full Calendar


Hicks with Sticks News typically reports 3-4 new bands in any given year.  The number has increased so much in 2008 that we've stopped counting.  Now we measure them by the ton.  Meet the outstanding "Class of '08."

Kami Nixon and the Skiddy Knickers serve up country rock with a touch of humor and classical flute (which she teaches.)  Former Tubes guitarist Bill Spooner joins Kami in her fearless quest to conquer the mundane in the 21st Century.

Another new sighting on the HWS band-o-scope is
King Cab out of mighty San Leandro.  King Cab hasn't been around long but they've practiced well and are having their CD release party at Starry Plough on January 17th.  Hear "(I Wanna Be) Evel Knevel" and more of their high energy country on MySpace.

Miss Fire and the Detonations
Th e Twang Tens out of South San Francisco and Miss Fire and the Detonations from SF are new bands that, along with the more established Los High Tops, are forming a Bay Area Axis of Surfabilly.  The fast rising Miss Fire has already climbed the rockabilly food chain to a plum appearance at Viva Las Vegas in April '09.

Hi-Rhythm Hustlers are an old school jump swing band that played their debut show in November to a packed house at the Starry PloughHi-Rhythm Hustler Indeed!This band would normally fall outside of HWS's twang orbit, but their members, Rockin' Raul Castro, Mitch Polzak, Mike Walz and Naughty Jay Laude are all certified hillbillies in one way or another.   They played their Starry Plough show with the Royal Deuces on December 5th and two weeks later they played the Uptown when Eddie Nichols brought Royal Crown Review into town. 

Dancers, and the bands that play to them, never really go away, and dancing at clubs itself makes a resurgance every 10 years or so.  The last big Bay Area dance scene folded in 1999, and recall that one of the biggest dance crazes ever was during the other Great Depression, so the stars are in line for a resurgence.  The Royal Deuces have been shifting from rockabilly to danceabilly since they reorganized three years ago, and Big B and his Snake-Oil Saviors, who have been around barely three years themselves, have made it to the big stage at Rancho Nicasio (Friday, Jan 23). 

Retrobates Indeed!Ever-danceable western swing is on the up-tick with the 2008 addition of the
Country Casanovas, who play every Wednesday at Pissed Off Pete's in SF's outer Mission, and play last Saturdays at the 7-Mile House on the Brisbane/SF border.  The other new western swing band, the Lonestar Retrobates, plays every third Sunday at 19 Broadway in Fairfax.   These, along with the western swing bands Big B, Lost Weekend, the Saddle Cats and Tommy Thomsen are making the West Coast seem like West Texas, not to mention the Western Swing Hall of Fame in Sacramento.  Bob Wills would be proud.

A Mighty Lynch Pins
Band MeetingThe Mighty Lynch Pins have really come together with the addition of Eric Reedy (B-Stars) on stand-up bass.  Ashley Hall and T. J. deVroede hold the front line and compose the original material for this band which notes on their MySpace page that murder ballads make them horny.  They've just published their first YouTube video, which was produced at Pacifica Community Television.

Sheila Groves and Flatt Lonesome have been honky-tonkin' around Sonoma county.  They made at least one trip to SF in '08, and will be making more in '09.  Sheila is mainly keeping busy with her promotion company and booking the Mystic in Petaluma. 

Kit and the Branded Men features Christina Lopez who'd sang two gigs with the short-lived Sure-Fires, and Glen Earl Brown Jr. from GEBJ and the Dickens.  They're fans of '50s-'60s country from the likes or Ray Price and Porter Wagoner.  Christina was a frequent guest in Glen's former band which seemed to have no end of trouble finding a guitarist.  Darryl Pretto settled in quickly as the branded guitar playing man as country licks continue to find their way into his jazz stylings.

Rowdy Kate
Rowdy Kate from Sacramento is out of the HWS footprint, but they have been finding their way to the Bay Area so deserve at least an honorable mention.  Oakdale, on the way to Yosemite, isn't Bay Area either, but the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit has been winning new fans with the three Bay Area shows they played in '08.  Expect their return soon in support of their new CD.

49 Special and Nell Robinson & Red Level have reached on the edge of HWS consciousness because they are bluegrass bands that venture beyond trad-grass.  Both have been known to sneak a country song or two or three into their sets, just as Jeanie and Chuck's Country Roundup does, depending on the audience.  The Burning Embers started doing more twang in '07 and by '08 country had taken over many, if not most, of the wards in the Embers' asylum.

The California country band
Rancho Deluxe isn't new but HWS hadn't counted them as a Bay Area band until finding out that half of their core duo, guitarist Jesse Jay Harris, lives in SF.  Cassidy Crowley isn't particularly new either but they did trim down to a trio in '08 and changed their name from The Buckshot Boys, though to add to the confusion they couldn't rewire MySpace where they use the best of both names: Cassidy Crowley and the Buckshot Boys.

2008, THE YEAR OF NEW BANDS (cont.)

The Kitchen Fire and The GoldDiggers are two of the more rockin' alt-country bands to break through in 2008.  Joanna DeJarnett fronts the Kitchen Fire while Ted O'Connell (Crooked Roads) is on point for the GoldDiggers.  The GoldDiggers, a six-piece, join Big B as one of the few twanging bands with a keyboard.   Having two rockin' styles and being pals often leads these two bands to play together, as they are January 2nd at the Starry Plough. 

Also new to HWS, and rockin', are
the Sacred Profanities out of Berkeley, the Midnight Trio from Livermore, and the Wiggle Wagons and Shitkickers from San Jose.  Only the first three are new; the Shitkickers have been around long enough to have issued two CDs, yet they finally got their visa and were allowed to leave SJ to play SF this year. 

Fancy Dan Band has been more than a pleasant surprise.  No one in the quartet is a veteran of any other Bay Area twang band, yet they've come together to make a welcome addition to the Bay Area urban hillbilly scene.  They are one of a few bands that is successful at finding new audiences such as the Mission District BoHo crowd at the Makeout Room, the South of Market regulars at Hotel Utah, and, though they're not a folk band, the kinder, gentler people at the San Francisco Free Folk Festival.

Heartache Valley Girls , Whiskey Richards and John Kirk and the Not Pat NevinsAll-Night Boys are more relatively new bands making waves in '08.  Pat Nevins and Ragged Glory, a Neil Young tribute band, is another.  Does everybody know that Canadian-born Young has lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains most of his life?  Nevins, who sings just like him, carries the torch for this major contributor to the California country sound.  Mini Valerie

Valerie Jay isn't new but she is back after a three-year maternity leave.  Motherhood spelled an end to the Valerie Jay and the Americanos phase of her music career.  She restarted the '08 phase where it began, as a solo performer, but she's built a new band for 2009, Valerie Jay & the New Americans, who play the Black Rose Pub in Santa Rosa on January 17th.

Whew.  That's about 27 of them.  Just following the links will be a half-day project for anyone wanting to dig deeper.   As we've known for years, the Bay Area has the largest roots country scene outside of Austin.  Can there be any doubt now?  And can there be any doubt that HWS has a lot of updating to do to its
Bands and Photos pages.  Fear not, new bands, we'll get to them.


The Sweet 'n' Lo's are in the studio and posting songs on their
MySpace page as fast as they record them.  Meanwhile, the world waits to see if corporate lawyers will come a-knockin' as they did with the K-Tels, the Comsat Angels, Thomas Dolby, and the Bay Area's own Naked Barbies.  Name infringement can get rough.  Mattel, Communications Satellite Corporation and K-Tel, a company best known for its cheesy '70s compilations (not available in any stores!), have all sent their lawyers after bands.  The Bay Area's own Dolby Labs made life tough for the man with the 80's hit "Blinded Me with Science."  Find more about the Dolby and Comsat name infringement cases at 4 Minutes of Fame. The irony is that the Sweet 'n' Lo's aren't a raging punk band or a band that would associate somebody's pet product (Barbie) with (gulp) nudity. The Sweet 'N Low company needs to hire the Sweet 'n' Lo's, not sue them...  Next, it's all a matter of what we choose to pack into our brains.  According to a recent survey, 56% percent correctly identified Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol, but only 21% knew where the words, "... government of the people, by the people and for the people..." originated.  The survey, which anyone can take, is designed to test Americans' knowledge, or lack of it, in civics ...   Don Burnham, patriarch of the band family known as Lost Weekend, has released a video for our times.  His lesson for a downsized world is that he should have bought "Apple and Google and Gold" ...  The Pleasanton Hotel, a funky and fine old dinner/dance venue in the Diablo Valley will close January 1st.  Dave Crimmen will play the last show there on December 27th...  


Gupta Callmenerdy,
A Guy Who Made One Mistake
"Signing The Onion's photo release has ruined my life."


Alfredo "Al" Cacabreccia,
Director of Sales, The Onion
"We basically blew it by getting into the newspaper business.  Me?  I'm quitting to run the moustache ride at Coney Island."


Peggy Sue Doormat,
Self-Esteem Counselor
"The Onion stands for progress.  Remember that when they started using my picture, they were depicting women as fools back when no one else would!"

"Area Man Sheds No Tears over The Onion" isn't a side-splitting headline, but it's a couple of giggles funnier than anything that's appeared in the weekly that doesn't know satire from filler.  

The hard-copy version of started with great promise, but now local advertisers are abandoning it as its all-intern staffing policy drives the writing into the ground.  After downsizing from 56 to 32 pages, the Onion's hardcopy concept seems to have worn paper thin.  Bimbo's, the Elbo Room and the Rickshaw Stop are the last three live music venues advertising in the Onion's "A.V." pages.  That's less than 4% of the Bay Area's regular club advertisers...  Opry West, which produces a live, televised music variety show with a strong roots Americana flavor has had to reschedule December's show to April.  Follow the link for more.

And happy receeding of the
diambigulation everyone.

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