In due time, all things pop music eventually get recycled. Punk, girl bands, new wave, rockabilly, jam bands, metal, fusion, funk — you name it. Granted, some artists merely repurpose rather than recycle. Moby’s first big record comes to mind, and so does Idiot Glee and his experiments with doo-wop. Then there are some bands (Alice Cooper, Kiss, the Stones) that recycle themselves repeatedly. And sometimes, within all of this genre malaise, are bands that become slave to the old-school and appear to go backward in time. Some take new instrumentation or modern production back with them, but they are still traveling museums of music made before they were born.
R&B and soul are prime examples of this phenomenon, because the genres have attracted a wide range, from club deejays and failed disco stars and flamboyant teen-idol types to musical fanatics who work very hard to walk, talk, dress, and sing as if they were a needle-drop on a platter from 1962. Think Amy Winehouse.
Winehouse embodied the jagged hurt of R&B, which she famously wore in public like a burning dress. For a short time, Winehouse was on top of the renaissance of old-school authentic R&B and soul. So what does San Francisco musician Nick Waterhouse bring to the banquet? A debut CD that sounds as if cut on a sunny Harlem afternoon years ago. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are my measure for old-school R&B purity, but Waterhouse takes it to a new level. He sings like a pre-Invasion Eric Burdon, and he makes horn-band records with that one-microphone-in-a-big-room sound. Boy bands take note. Yes, it’s been contorted into musical confection by some, but with realists such as Waterhouse, R&B no longer has to pretend to be something that it’s not.
The Allah-Las and Black Carl also perform.
NICK WATERHOUSE & THE TAROTS: Soda Bar, Thursday, December 1, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $8, $10.