Back to Archives

Quality shows this week

Weekly Volcano critics tell you where to go

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon


COUNTRY kari ehli

“American Idol” runners-up piss me off.  They are so pompous and self-absorbed. I can’t stand the fact that the majority of them haven’t paid any dues and suddenly they are stars.  However, if I had to pick the next “American Idol” it would probably be Lakewood’s own Kari Ehli.  The 24-year-old vocalist was somewhat of a child protégé and began recording early on. On her MySpace page, she has three tracks available, two of which were recorded when she was just 14. While she lists her influences as rockers Heart and Pat Benatar, her sound is closer to Shania Twain or LeAnn Rimes. With shades of rock, blues and country, Ehli reflects the new face of Nashville with the face of an angel. She uses her powerful pipes to belt out self-penned originals with a sincerity that is genuine.  The Kari Ehli Band is as polished as their Tony Lamas as they bring the songstress’s lyrics to full fruition.  They are currently putting the finishing touches on a yet-to-be-titled disc for Mydnyte Records.  From what I’ve heard, producer David Jaedyn Conley has done a splendid job in re-creating her live sound in the studio. — Tony Engelhart

[Oh! Gallagher’s Sports Bar, 8:30 p.m., 7304 Lakewood Dr. W., Lakewood, 253.476.8787]


ROCK the smoking lounge

In the highly competitive world of Tacoma cover bands, it’s difficult to break into the scene. To get gigs at the most sought after clubs, you could easily say it’s all about who you know, but even that isn’t enough. There is just a small handful of cover bands that consistently perform well, behave professionally and therefore tend to have the busiest show calendars. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the motto of many club bookers, so they stick with the bands they are comfortable working with instead of gambling on an unproven band. Recently, however, a newcomer has broken through this glass ceiling and proves to be a major contender in the cover band circuit. The Smoking Lounge, fronted by Jonny Smokes, has the audience in mind when selecting their playlist, which is the only professional thing to do if you’re in the cover band business. They have cast aside pigeonholes of genre, era or trendiness in order to focus on fun party music in general. In a single set you’ll hear artists such as Buck Cherry, Weezer, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, and Twisted Sister bumping hips with The Beastie Boys, No Doubt, Lynard Skynard, and Violent Femmes.

“While many cover bands tend to rely on prerecorded sequences and backup tracks to fill in the gaps, The Smoking Lounge is 100 percent live and organic,” says Smokes. “All the music is made right there and then by the band; all the vocals are happening in real time. No karaoke/Milli Vanilli type trickery going on here.” — Angela Jossy

[The Swiss, 9 p.m., 1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2821]


PUNKABILLY hillstomp

I love Fat Possum Records and the majority of their roster.  The Black Keys, Heartless Bastards and Thee Shams all take blues and give it a garbage can makeover.  One group who should definitely pop a demo in the mail to the rootsy label is Portland’s Hillstomp as they possess a raunchy scuz-blues vibe that is akin to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.  Born in 2001, Hillstomp took north Mississippi trance blues, backwoods Appalachia music and fused it with the energy of punkabilly.  The duo of Henry Kammerer (vocals, harp and slide guitar) and John Johnson (bucket, cans and barbecue lids and vocals) have clearly tapped into the spirit of ’20s and ’30s blues but update it for the modern listener by the way of distorted vocals.  Johnson’s makeshift drum set adds to the authenticity of their sound while Kammerer’s slide is as raw as RL Burnside.  They have two EPs and two full-length discs.  The latest, 2005’s The Woman that Ended the World, is a rousing set of country blues rock stomp.  The album was so good that it beat out The Decemberists and Sleater-Kinney for best local album in Portland’s alternative newsweekly, Willamette Week.  — TE

[4th Ave Tavern, 9 p.m., $3, 210 E. Fourth Ave., Olympia, 360.786.1444]


bubba sparxxx

Timbaland’s finest gone solo, Bubba Sparxxx will grace Tacoma Saturday, March 31, at The South Sound Garage with Silver Shadow D, Dahla and the Funkshop DJs.

Born Warren Anderson Mathis, Sparxxx grew up in Georgia, where a black friend turned him on to New York mail-order mix tapes. His introduction to rap was dominated by the booty-shaking grooves of 2 Live Crew and the brutal truths spit by N.W.A. Later, when he discovered ATL pioneers OutKast, Sparxxx was inspired to write his own rhymes and started battling at school. Sparxxx made a major bang with solo-debut Dark Days, Bright Nights, which featured the single “Ugly” and went gold with the help of Shannon Houchins, a staff producer for Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label. Sparxxx’s “Ugly” video put him in overalls and created some frustration for the Southern white rapper when the public pegged the video as satire. Sparxxx responded that the video depicted his Southern roots.

Sparxxx’s latest, The Charm, comes courtesy of Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon Records, a sub-Virgin label. Sparxxx credits Big Boi’s main game, OutKast, with inspiring him to rap and considers the invitation to release on the ATL pioneer’s label an affirmation of his status as crowned prince of the rap game. — Paul Schrag

[The South Sound Garage, 9:30 p.m., $10 advance, $12.50 door, 933 Market St., Tacoma,]

comments powered by Disqus