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Indie Fertility: five local bands you should be listening to

Back 2 Black AC/DC tribute

During a grand entrance Paul Howie, in the role of Angus Young, does a stage leap that accidentally cracks the head stock of his only guitar. Tuning pegs are broken, rendering the instrument out to lunch. Not good. But by the time Howie sorts this mess out he is standing on top of the bar, still hammering out the thundering chords to "Hell's Bells." He tries in vain to re-tune while playing along with Back 2 Black, but no dice. The axe is half-wasted. So Howie plays the rest of the show, solos and all using the bottom four strings only and nobody's the wiser. In fact, the band is still able to churn the cougars in the audience into something approaching a feeding frenzy. "And that gentlemen," I say to my two companions who are still hung up on the opening notes that were out of tune, "is rock and roll."

Jonathan Karrant

Men: this is how to impress any date with your level of breeding and comportment. You may, in fact, have absolutely zero in the sophistication department. You may be a 32-year-old skateboarder without a single pair of long pants to your name. It is entirely possible that you have no clear idea what breeding and comportment actually are. But no matter. Taking her to a Jonathan Karrant gig changes all of that. Mr. Karrant works straight out of the American songbook with a level of manly confidence and jazz suave and bonhomie that was patented by Mel Torme himself. Mel who, you ask? Never mind. Just buy yourself some good slacks and go. Even your date's mom will be impressed.

Jon Goodhue Band

Okay. You got the new Slash album this summer and you were blown away by, well, just how much it sounded like Slash was still flogging the old Gun 'n Roses cow and you thought to yourself, how could this be? When the best hard rock guitarist is reduced to repetition, does that mean all the good licks have been used up? No. It does not. Meet Jon Goodhue: he's an entirely new twist on the old dog. Goodhue's released a new album of material with POD bassist Traa Daniels producing titled All In that kills it. For good measure, I am sending a copy to Slash via his management.

Oh High

Technically, I wasn't even supposed to hear this band, having been invited to the grand opening of a new facility where teens can become rock stars. But the shop also rents out rehearsal space and I accidentally heard a rock band seeping through the walls. Loved the songs, loved the violent energy. Loved best of all that the band played ultra-tight like first-call pros, which as it turns out they are. In other words, this wasn't just another loud-fest guitar wank-a-thon. I waited until smoke break time and found out the name of this band: On High. Coming to a club near you soon. Watch for them. You won't be disappointed.

John Meeks

A modern and local Gram Parsons. John Meeks writes all the music and heads up the band that bears his name. His debut country rock-ish three-song solo demo was recorded in 2008 by Pall Jenkins. In 2010, Meeks won Best Americana Album at that year’s San Diego Music Awards. I asked John once what informs his music, and he said this: "Other great music, whether it is a well-written song, a beautiful melody, an interesting use of rhythm, or a lyrical phrase that rips your heart open and makes you want to lie on the floor.” Man, that's deep.

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Back 2 Black AC/DC tribute

During a grand entrance Paul Howie, in the role of Angus Young, does a stage leap that accidentally cracks the head stock of his only guitar. Tuning pegs are broken, rendering the instrument out to lunch. Not good. But by the time Howie sorts this mess out he is standing on top of the bar, still hammering out the thundering chords to "Hell's Bells." He tries in vain to re-tune while playing along with Back 2 Black, but no dice. The axe is half-wasted. So Howie plays the rest of the show, solos and all using the bottom four strings only and nobody's the wiser. In fact, the band is still able to churn the cougars in the audience into something approaching a feeding frenzy. "And that gentlemen," I say to my two companions who are still hung up on the opening notes that were out of tune, "is rock and roll."

Jonathan Karrant

Men: this is how to impress any date with your level of breeding and comportment. You may, in fact, have absolutely zero in the sophistication department. You may be a 32-year-old skateboarder without a single pair of long pants to your name. It is entirely possible that you have no clear idea what breeding and comportment actually are. But no matter. Taking her to a Jonathan Karrant gig changes all of that. Mr. Karrant works straight out of the American songbook with a level of manly confidence and jazz suave and bonhomie that was patented by Mel Torme himself. Mel who, you ask? Never mind. Just buy yourself some good slacks and go. Even your date's mom will be impressed.

Jon Goodhue Band

Okay. You got the new Slash album this summer and you were blown away by, well, just how much it sounded like Slash was still flogging the old Gun 'n Roses cow and you thought to yourself, how could this be? When the best hard rock guitarist is reduced to repetition, does that mean all the good licks have been used up? No. It does not. Meet Jon Goodhue: he's an entirely new twist on the old dog. Goodhue's released a new album of material with POD bassist Traa Daniels producing titled All In that kills it. For good measure, I am sending a copy to Slash via his management.

Oh High

Technically, I wasn't even supposed to hear this band, having been invited to the grand opening of a new facility where teens can become rock stars. But the shop also rents out rehearsal space and I accidentally heard a rock band seeping through the walls. Loved the songs, loved the violent energy. Loved best of all that the band played ultra-tight like first-call pros, which as it turns out they are. In other words, this wasn't just another loud-fest guitar wank-a-thon. I waited until smoke break time and found out the name of this band: On High. Coming to a club near you soon. Watch for them. You won't be disappointed.

John Meeks

A modern and local Gram Parsons. John Meeks writes all the music and heads up the band that bears his name. His debut country rock-ish three-song solo demo was recorded in 2008 by Pall Jenkins. In 2010, Meeks won Best Americana Album at that year’s San Diego Music Awards. I asked John once what informs his music, and he said this: "Other great music, whether it is a well-written song, a beautiful melody, an interesting use of rhythm, or a lyrical phrase that rips your heart open and makes you want to lie on the floor.” Man, that's deep.

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