Last year when Billboard magazine marked its 50th anniversary with a list of the 100 best selling artists of all time, The Beatles topped the list followed by Madonna, Elton John and Elvis Presley. Down at No. 83, in between Bee Gee Andy Gibb and Nelly, came the soft rock combo, Air Supply. Australian singer Russell Hitchcock and British guitarist/vocalist Graham Russell first met in the mid-'70s when both were in the cast of an Aussie version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Something clicked and they decided to form a band. By the end of the ’70s, they'd recorded four albums and had found some success down under, but were unknown elsewhere.
Then in 1980 they released Lost in Love, a collection of songs that caught the attention of Clive Davis, founder and CEO of Arista Records and (for better or worse) an unstoppable force in pop. He remixed the album's title track (probably not personally) and released it as a single in the U.S., hitting No. 3 on the Billboard charts. Two more album tracks released as singles, "Every Woman in the World" and "All Out of Love," hit Nos. 5 and 2 respectively, the record went double platinum, and Air Supply was established as a marketable commodity. More sweet, soft hits followed in the '80s, even into the '90s, but by that time the band had more fans in Japan and Southeast Asia than in the States.
Thirty plus years after forming, they're still on the road. A world tour that recently took them to Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar and Brazil, finds them working the Indian casino circuit stateside, including a show Friday at Cher-Ae Heights Casino, before heading for Mexico, then home to Australia. Did I mention that they're about to release a new album? They do not seem to be out of love. Coming soon to Cher-Ae Heights (Dec. 5) another flash(pot) from the past, Great White.
Elsewhere Friday night, the jamband scene's favorite one-man-band, Keller Williams, brings his guitar and his bag of tricks (looping devices, FX peddles, etc.) to the stage of the brand spanking new music room at Humboldt Brews. I was at HumBrews last Thursday to see The Mother Hips play the first show in the venue and I have to say I was impressed, both by the band (they rocked) and by the space. The layout is good with a bar towards the back and an elevated space above it so you can see over the dancers. The sound system sounds great (as it should) and since the space is separate from the main bar and restaurant, the old problem with a hubbub of voices interfering with the music is gone. Incidentally, Keller is joining forces with a Colorado-based nonprofit, Conscious Alliance, who are engaged in a holiday meal drive gathering funds to feed the needy. Throw down $15 bucks for the cause and you can take home an exclusive tour poster designed by Michael Everett. You might also pick up Keller's new disc, Odd; unless of course you've already downloaded it - he gave it away track by track via a Web site promotion he called "The Once A Week Freek."
Meanwhile, around the corner at the Jambalaya, The Fickle Hill Billies jam on what they describe as "original tunes that blend grooving rock 'n' roll with psychedelic flavored jams reminiscent of the '60s San Francisco sound."
More SF jamminess Saturday night at HumBrews: Jemimah Puddleduck, a soulful jamband from the Bay Area led by guitarist Mark Karan. He generally makes his way as a sideman, working in the past with everyone from Delaney Bramlett to The Rembrandts and touring with Bob Weir's RatDog and with The Other Ones (in the Jerry role). J. Puddleduck assembles a few more notable sidemen, drummer John Molo from Phil and Friends, keyboardist John "JT" Thomas, who works with Bruce Hornsby and bassist Bob Gross, who played behind Delaney Bramlett and Albert King. Expect high-level psychedelic blues (and I'm guessing at least a couple of Dead tunes).
Friday night at the Riverwood, Bay Area blues harmonica master, Phil Berkowitz and his band, The Dirty Cats, play swingin' dirty blues including tunes from Phil's new CD, All Night Party. (Loreen wants everyone to know the party will not, in fact, last all night.) He's bringing along guitarist Charles Wheal and bassist Steve Wolf, two cats who worked for years backing another fine harpist, Mark Hummel.
Saturday night at the Red Fox, That's How We Roll presents the 2nd Annual Scorpio Bash (which is to say Reba's birthday party). It's a hip hop thing featuring Aesop from Living Legends, plus Cadence, Myka 9 and Magic Heart Genies, pairing Myka 9 and J the Sarge.
Don't wait until Black Friday, start your holiday shopping on Sunday when The Crafty Mavericks present Handmade Holidays: An Indie Winter Fair at the Bayside Grange. You get a combination of alt. crafters and alt. music with the ubiquitous one-man-band Mister Moonbeam and Monster Women spin-off Clean Girl and The Dirty Dishes plus ATL's Michel Sargent working his slide projector. Note: This is not a nighttime thing; it runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Fiddler Hanneke Cassel returns to the Arcata Playhouse Monday, Nov. 23, joined by guitarist Christopher Lewis and cellist Natalie Haas, who played on Hanneke's just released disc, For Reasons Unknown. Born and raised in Oregon, Hanneke worked the contest circuit in her younger days, winning the U.S. National Jr. Scottish Championship twice. In ’98 she won a Berklee College of Music Strings Award, which took her to Boston to study at the prestigious institution and expand her horizons. Her take on new acoustic music has a decided Scottish/Celtic bent, but with touches of bluegrass, even Chinese music.
Bluesy singer/songwriter/guitar-slinger James Hunnicutt stops off in Eureka Tuesday, Nov. 24, for a show at Nocturnum as his All By My Lonesome tour (named for his latest album) winds its way back to his home base in Washington. If Hunnicut's name sounds familiar, it might be because he's also played in Wayne "The Train" Hancock's band. As you might guess, this time out he's playing his lonesome songs solo.
Another Wayne "The Train" alum hits Nocturnum Wednesday (would that be Thanksgiving Eve?): Guitarist/vocalist Grizzly Izzy Zaidman, former leader of speed metal/bluegrass cult band Unclefucker, now heads up Izzy and The Kesstronics, a Brooklyn band playing rootsy garage rock with hints of rockabilly and surf music.
As Izzy explains in an eloquent rant on MySpace, The Kesstronics are "last of a dying breed" born and raised in the musical cauldron that is New York City. "As your babysitter's car horn blows 'La Cucaracha,' your 5-year-old ears hearing the new Sugar Hill Gang song two miles from Sugar Hill, living in fear with your ears pinned open for the footsteps of your daily violent crackhead confrontation, later to relieve the tension at a Cro-Mags show with people with similar concerns. The merengue playing at the bodega where you buy malt liquor for your high school hooky sex party, desperately trying to figure out what the F your Trinidadian weed dealer is talking about. Exploding manhole covers, pigeons cooing on your window sill, voodoo drum circles in your local park, finding the courage to finally confront your friends and say, 'Hey, I like the sound of the banjo and fuck all y'all if you don't!' This is a small glimpse into the world of what molds a musician born and raised in NYC. Laugh, because crying will get you nowhere."