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Stories by Andrew Hamlin

Clarinetist down!

Ben Folds brings his new concertos to town for the San Diego Symphony

From the Ben Folds Five through solo projects and rubbing shoulders with William Shatner, Regina Spektor, and Weird Al Yankovic, pianist/composer Ben Folds likes to keep folks head-scratching. In concert with the San Diego Symphony, ...

Vanessa Carlton navigating parenthood while on tour

How chill I am

Singer, songwriter, keyboardist Vanessa Carlton brings her new stark tunes from her album Liberman to the Casbah on Sunday, January 24. She took questions over email on working with producer Steve Osborne (New Order, U2), ...

Music Complete a slow obsession

New Order still hooks without Peter Hook

They’re missing Peter Hook. Without his bass leading the charge or waiting to, everyone lays back. Cool lapsing into cold. Heatless — but seamless — groove slipping between disco, disco with electronica synth touches, razor-chop ...

The Serious Chicken

Seattle surf-pop act Tacocat's at Casbah Monday night

Seattle’s Tacocat — singer Emily Nokes, guitarist Eric Randall, bassist Bree McKenna, and drummer Lelah Maupin — brings their surf/pop/throb/costume riot to the Casbah on December 7. Ms. Nokes sat for some email questions. Which ...

Everclear's Art Alexakis talks addiction from a Starbucks

Thank you, universe

Art Alexakis, leader of Everclear, brings the band to the Music Box on Saturday, November 21. Alexakis took time out from hunting down a Starbucks in Greensboro, North Carolina, to take a few phoner questions. ...

Herstorical L7

Los Angeles grunge girls reunite for a night at San Diego Music Thing

L7, the loud and raunchy female quartet featuring guitarists Donita Sparks and Suzi Gardner, bassist Jennifer Finch, and drummer Dee Plakas, formed in 1985, broke big in 1992, broke up in 2001, and reunited last ...

The Cult's Ian Astbury checks in from Texas

Tripping over the moment

The Cult, fronted by Ian Astbury, invades House of Blues on November 19, stumping for their new album Hidden City, the final installment in a three-album trilogy. Astbury took questions over the phone — and ...

Talk of claws, casseroles, confinement, and alcohol

Barrence Whitfield's back Under the Savage Sky

Won’t say the guy’s name, but he was a drug dealer with a name fitting that occupation. He held down an all-nighter DJ slot at the campus station, and I sat up with him once ...

Chemistry of Garbage

Shirley Manson and bandmates arguing over title of new album

Shirley Manson’s back together with her Garbage bandmates Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker. They hit Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on October 6. She took some trans-Atlantic phone questions from the Reader. What ...

What it was like to sit next to Lester Bangs for six years

Lester the person

On October 6, rock critic Jaan Uhelszki appears at Grossmont College, spotlighting her friend and fellow critic Lester Bangs, who grew up in El Cajon and attended Grossmont. Uhelszki took some questions from the Reader. ...

They invented punk rock

This Is the Sonics

Something burning this white hot, might out-vie language itself. For those joining us late, the Sonics started out in Tacoma, Washington, as teenagers. They invented punk rock — and anyone who doesn’t believe that can ...

Barlow-fi

Lou Barlow talks about Brace the Wave and this week's gig at his beloved Casbah

Lou Barlow grew up in Massachusetts and stumbled into Dinosaur Jr., which helped define an era of alternative rock when they weren’t marinating in backstage passive-aggression. Solo, Barlow started Sebadoh, pioneered the entire “lo-fi” thing, ...

Dumb Numbers — one part vegemite

Aussie noisemaker Adam Harding enlists American allies for new record, Belly Up show

Dumb Numbers’ Adam Harding, late of Australia, likes to make music with his funky friends, who include the Melvins, David Lynch, and Jesus Lizard’s David Yow — when he isn’t shooting videos with many of ...

Summer of Love — the gospel

Vanilla Fudge's Spirit of '67 injects new life into some classics

The rap is short! That’s a sop to you “rap-is-crap”-ers out there (God, so tedious). The rap is also funny and over after the first cut, so it’s out of the way quick. More urgent ...

Kate Pierson's Guitars and Microphones

B-52s singer's new solo record revolves around positive activism

“Mister Sister,” hymn to a cross-dressing or possibly transgendered “you” who escapes to “everyone’s party wish list,” makes even more sense in the wake of the Surpreme Court decision in June, which applied specifically to ...

Sacri Monti skate, but they’re no skate band

Stoke for krautrock

“The only fans that come up to you after the show are music nerds or prog-rock dads.”

Young Goodman Gano

Violent Femmes frontman talks religion and rock with the Reader

If you don’t know of the Violent Femmes, you surely know “Blister in the Sun,” so popular I once heard a frat-boy chug-a-lug singalong with it at my college — which doesn’t have frat boys. ...

Mommy, look, a pirate!

Like dust in the wind, them wayward sons of Topeka, Kansas, blow into the San Diego Fair

Kansas, the wayward sons of Topeka, carry on at the San Diego County Fair on Friday, July 3. And we’re told to watch for a new album in 2016. Founding guitarist Rich Williams took some ...

The Ting Tings' Super Critical

Not too critical...it is disco

Disco! Disco! Disco! Okay, provisional disco. With Andy (of all people) Taylor of Duran Duran at the board and onboard with song scribbling, the world’s two most creatively obnoxious long-in-the-tooth juvenile miscreants spend a half-hour ...

Ticket to Write taps into rock journalism’s main vein

“The big struggle to emerge in the film is print journalism versus the Video Age.”

Bryan Ferry's Avonmore

Just for fun, try singing this set’s “Send in the Clowns” along with Paul Simon’s “Late in the Evening,” or versa vice. Pretty much the same song, yeah? Gets me each time around. Ferry, of ...

Spoon and the Tasmanian Devil

Indie rock act remembers past San Diego shows while looking forward to two nights at Observatory North Park.

Wilder times for Grossmont High alum

"Yeah, he was always a Country Dick kind of guy. He lived and died rock and roll.”

San Diego’s Eliot Wilder fooled around Grossmont High and then L.A. and ended up in Boston. His latest work, Quartet, fuses classical and hip-hop. He took questions over email. What was the music scene like ...

OK GO's artistic turn-ons

Interview with drummer Drummer Dan Konopka

OK Go pop-rocks stunning, single-take videos featuring everything from wait-a-minute optical illusions to chorus lines on Honda electric mini-scooters. They play House of Blues on May 1. Drummer Dan Konopka took some email questions. What ...

Neil Diamond's Melody Road

"Nobody dies. Nobody takes drugs. No sobs in the darkness."

“Would that make it a better song?” Lou Reed asked a caller into an NYC radio show. Caller wanted to know if the dead girl in “Street Hassle” was real. Lester Bangs didn’t print the ...

They Might Be Giants rocks science

The problem with confetti

“The frightening afterbirth of grunge lives on with bouncers enforcing photo policies with the death penalty.”

John Mellencamp's Plain Spoken

That leadoff track adds up everything in its unequal-length verses, the pieces of a life, the happier bits fallen out, rotten pieces in a too-humid jigsaw — and every equation equals no peace. That’s the ...

Guinness played its part

Having gigged with everyone from Robyn Hitchcock to R.E.M., Scott McCaughey brings his Minus 5 to Balboa Theatre downtown on March 24. He took some email questions from the Reader. What San Diego music memories ...

Appropriate language

Gang of Four just released the year’s best album so far, What Happens Next. They play Belly Up March 25. Guitarist Andy Gill chimed in over email. What are your memories of playing San Diego? ...

Hot space and the Juice that gets you there

Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood will launch you from your seat with their latest record

Let’s talk about space. I could talk about the sticky funk (not stinky — funk’s already a mite impolite), the stickwork (Billy Martin so light on the skins I do believe he’s learned from writing ...

Leonard Cohen's Popular Problems

“Slow” opens and sets the tone — not, oddly enough, a tone of “slow” but a statement of intense personal vision, with humor, with openness, but only partial openness. This is how I’m doing things, ...

Heaven & Earth, by Yes

“Wimps,” Robert Christgau sneered, comparing them to Talking Heads — who were wimps, he proclaimed, without “vagueness or cheap romanticism.” But that was ’77; the Heads (whom I love) left us; and four Englishmen, fronted ...

Stevie Nicks's 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

The too-expensive deluxe version, which this isn’t, adds two of the most righteous songs, including one about a rendezvous with God; neither version omits the weakest cut, “Cathouse Blues,” an arched cat back before the ...

Redeemer of Souls, by Judas Priest

A wonderful friend of mine, gay, wants to know what the new Judas Priest album is all about (lyrically). I tell him that (lyrically) it’s about blood, glory, bloody glory, steel blades, fighting and dying ...

Press the button

Bassist Peter “Hooky” Hook, best known for his work with Joy Division and New Order, split from his former bandmates in a rip heard ’round the world back in 2007. He’s currently touring with his ...

Bite the Hand, by Three Minute Tease

Anton Barbeau’s second album with his Three Minute Tease (no hyphen) comes dedicated to his great friend and all-around under-hyped genius, Scott Miller (late of Game Theory, late of the Loud Family, late of the ...

Minus the disco ball

Vince Clarke, the keyboardist/non-singing half of synth-pop duo Erasure, called in to the Reader having “just arrived in Chicago.” His half-continent connection’s a bit scratchy, with dropouts, but he seems alert and earnest. He looks ...

Erasure's Violet Flame

Vince Clarke promises us a disco extravaganza on this tour, and truth to advertising, this new set’s got plenty of shake. The slip-sliding slightly less-than-booming bass beat, a legacy from the new EDM and the ...

Barb Jungr's Hard Rain

Some of the righteous ones, this season, hurt to listen to. Barb Jungr’s been threshing splendor out of Dylan, Cohen, and a few others, many seasons now, and so this one comes acutely calibrated. She ...

Billy Hart's One Is the Other

“He’s not a metronome,” volunteered one of my resident jazz experts on Billy Hart, age 73, who’s logged time with Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz, Chico Freeman, and three of Miles Davis’s straightest-up hardest-rockin’ sets. And ...

Late-night Nirvana

RedRumsey’s hazy and macabre memories of old SD.

“I found a dead body in the doorway. It was gone in the morning, and no one believed me.”

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

The misogyny trilogy still rankles, lyric-wise anyway, although “All the Girls Love Alice,” which can’t even decide if Alice’s customers rank with the young girls or “middle-aged dykes,” seems to have grown some cred of ...

I need a bigger amp!

Nik Turner, Hawkwind founder, amphetamine mystic of space rock, nominally of England but probably from a few solar systems over, has been known to sport full-head makeup, paisley camouflage, and alien armature. But according to ...

Ian Anderson's Homo Erraticus

Ian Anderson’s second solo album since quietly deep-spacing the Jethro Tull band moniker, and to boot his third excursion into his avatar Gerald Bostock, a child prodigy turned troubled adult. Only this time Bostock mostly ...

Potluck with Tori Amos

“I usually am backstage furiously learning something before I walk on.”

Unraveling the Lovebirds

“Not sure if there was a specific point. Just like loads of relationships...it kind of gradually happens before your eyes but when the time came it seemed to come from nowhere.” That’s Lindsay White, half ...

Dizzy for Neruda

San Diego jazz guitarist and singer Chuck Perrin admits that he wasn’t initially transfixed by the poetry of Pablo Neruda. “I do not speak Spanish,” he explains, “[so] I didn’t really come to appreciate the ...

People just call me "Lee Fields"

Soul-funk cooker brings his Memphis stew to Casbah Monday night

Lee Fields, bringing his stomp-down soul funk revue to the Casbah on June 30, doesn’t so much mind being called “Little JB” — in homage to James Brown, in whose shadow all soul-funk revues do ...

More on the midway

They’re a working band. But they’re still in high school. They’re coming to the San Diego County Fair this year. Twice. And, they are not afraid to bossa nova. Half Moon Portrait, with guitarist/singers Ari ...

Devo from the ground up

“We were self-effacing metrosexual Yoni worshipers who always left our hotel rooms clean.”

Forged in the horror of the Kent State shootings, bolstered with bracing irony and a handful of religious and pseudoscientific screeds, Devo (short for “de-evolution”) took showmanship, synthesizers, and science fiction to the masses. They’re ...

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