Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice Cube at Club Mohawk

December 14, 2008-When I found out that
Ice Cube was coming to Austin, I had to go. You may be asking, “What’s a guy like you doing at an Ice Cube concert?” Well my profile states that I like ALL types of music and I really do. Anyway, I got into Rap and Gansta Rap because my kids grew up with MTV. I also found MTV interesting and entertaining not to mention this was music history in the making. Of course MTV played music videos but then introduced rap music. Many of the rappers were sampling songs from music I grew up listening to and now my kids were listening to a new version of that old song. Then “YO! MTV Raps” came out and all hell broke loose. Gansta Rap was introduced to the mainstream audience.

All this sound familiar? Whether you’re my age or grew up in the MTV generation, Rap music was here to stay.

Ice Cube or O’Shea Jackson, is on my short list of must see rappers along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Sugarhill Gang, RunDMC and the Beastie Boys. He can be credited for getting rap from the street to mainstream USA in the late 1980s. Ice Cube was the lyrical brains behind MWA which consisted of : Dr Dre, Easy-E, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Ice Cube. In 1990 he went solo and in 1993 he teamed up with WC and Mack 10 to form Westside Connection. Ice Cube also has a successful movie career with credits in "Boys in the Hood," several "Friday" movies, "Barbershop" and "Are We There Yet" to name a few movies. If that wasn’t enough, Ice Cube established his won Lench Mob Records label.

The Mohawk hosted the show this night. In one of my previous blogs, I stated that I really like the Mohawk and its tri-level set up. The night was cool and breezy but nice for a December. The tickets for the show were $25, a little high for me, but it was Ice Cube! I positioned myself on the patio above the audience and facing the stage. The crowd really didn’t come in until Ice Cube took the stage at about 9:30 PM with an estimated 400 packed fans.

I really liked this show because Ice Cube does an excellent job of engaging the audience. He talks to the crowd and the crowd happily responds. DubC, Ice Cube’s partner, would ask Ice Cube a question and then Ice Cube would respond and ask the audience the question. The audience would respond and then Ice Cube would use the answer as an introduction to the next song. Ice Cubed sang for about two solid hours but we could all have gone all night.

Note: Personally I don't use the same language that you hear on gansta rap music but I understand the artistic value and impact it provides to song and message . If you are offended by such language, do not listen or view the videos. Thanks.

To get an idea of the sense of the actual show click on the YouTube video by bluntedviewz .

Ice Cube performed all my favorites songs and a couple of songs from his new Raw Footage CD

Gansta Nation

Today Was A Good Day

Check Yo Self

We be Clubbin’

You Can Do It

Fuck The Police

Why Me?

I Got My Locs On (Raw Footage)

The sound system was pretty good that night but Ice Cube kept asking for more volume. He frequently would use the sound of a shot gun cocking and firing throughout the concert. Plus the thumping sound of the bass in the music mesmerized the audience into mindless submission, me included.

Now there is plenty of free parking if you get to the Mohawk before the show but watch out for people who guide you to an available parking spot and then ask for a "donation." I’d stayed away from those guys and parked in another free location.

I do have a complaint about the Mohawk restroom in the inside bar area. You have approximately 300 men, most of them drinking, trying to use a restroom with two urinals and one stall. Wow!

Overall one of the best concerts/shows I’ve been to ever. I strongly recommend that you catch an Ice Cube show next time he's in your area. You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Third Annul Rock Y Roll Dia

Commentary: I am sorry I didn’t publish this blog sooner but there are some events that lead me to delay this review. I believe that this may be the last Rock y Roll Dia. Shortly after this event, their website,, was suspended for non-payment. The associated website, , and myspace page, rockyrollradio , were also suspended for non-payment. I was hoping that the issue would have been resolved by now but it has not. In my blogs, I like to link to the events, the bands, the sponsors and the clubs so that you can get a sense of what I experience. But if I link to Rock y Roll Dia or Rock y Roll Radio, at this time you will get a blank screen. I am really disappointed that these websites may no longer exist because I am a strong supporter of both enterprises. I depended on these and other related sites for exposure and access to new music, band info and events. They were my main source of information and now I will have to seek other sources which may not be local and international in scope.

Nov. 1, 2008-I attended the 3rd Annual Rock y Roll Dia on Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead, a Mexican cultural event that celebrates and remembers family and friends that have passed. The event took place at club The Mohawk and is presented to showcase Latin Music and to raise funds for two Austin, Texas based charities,Latinats and Cine Las Americas. Latinitas is an online bilingual non-profit publication focused on empowering Hispanic girls through media and technology. Cine Las Americas is a multicultural, non-profit Media Arts Center dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding and growth by educating, entertaining and challenging the diverse Central Texas community through film and media arts.

This was my first time to The Mohawk and I was impressed. I like the indoor/outdoor layout of the club because it gives you three vantage points for listening and viewing the b
and and events. There is an indoor bar with a big screen television and a small room with stage for lounge acts. The outdoor layout includes a stage with ample room for the audience, 200 plus, to stand or dance, a patio overlooking the stage on the right and a second more elevated spacious patio facing the stage with a lounge and bar. The elevated patio was the VIP section and I was fortunate enough to score a couple of VIP tickets compliments of Rock y Roll Dia and Gwizsk Design. The VIP treatment included a Dia Muertos shirt, free drinks sponsored Tito’s Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea and free food. What a deal! And the music was included. Life is Good. . The line up for the event featured: Monte Negro, Charanga Cakewalk, Los Hollywood, Mexican Dubwiser and headliner, Los Amigos Invisible.

The opening act was Monte Negro, a bilingual rock and Latin alterna
tive band. I first saw Monte Negro back in August on the Circo Rocktastico tour at Antone’s, which also featured The Morakestra, The May Fire and Astra Heights. Monte Negro is based out of Los Angeles, California and consist of four talented individuals. I have expressed my appreciation for their music personally and through myspace. I spoke to guitarist, Jason Li Shing, at Rock y Roll Dia and told him I thought he was an exceptional guitarist. When I hear a Monte Negro song, for me the guitar is the focal point of the song. I like the band’s energy and presence. They really get into the music and the audience responds as well. If you haven’t figured it out let, I really like this band and already purchased their latest CD, "Cicatrix", and will go see them again when they return to Austin. My favorite songs are “Give Me Love,” “Lejos,” “Don’t Let Down,” and “Pena Collective.”

Charanga Cakewalk,
the second act, an Austin based band is also a top favorite band of mine. The creative genius behind Charanaga Cakewalk is Michael Ramos, a multi-talented musician who has worked with John Mellencamp, Lila Downs, Paul Simmon, Patti Griffin, The Bodeans and The Rembrandts to name a few associations. Charanga Cakewalk is very unique in sound, it’s a lounge mix of tejano, flamenco folklorica, merengue, salsa, garage rock, ska and reggaeton. It has a nice mellow sound and beat. The music makes you want to dance or at a minimum tap your toes. I first became familiar with Charanga Cakewalk through Music Entertainment Television (METV) in Austin, Texas. I saw a video entitled “Celina La Negra” and I went WOW! I hadn’t heard that type of music before and the woman dancing in the video made me go double WOW! I had to know more and I had to find the CD with "Celina La Negra." Lucky for me, Charanga Cakewalk had just released "Loteria de la Cumbia Lounge" and added it to my collection. I also knew that I had to see Charanga Cakewalk live and did so at Pachanga Latino Music Festival in May. They were great and will see them many times over when I can. This night their performance was exceptional as well. Charanga Cakewalk plays on a regular basis in Austin and I strongly recommend that you catch a show. My favorite songs are: "Celina La Negra," "Tu y Yo," "Mexicanos."

"No te Aguites"- Los Hollywood

The third act was Los Hollywood, a San Diego, California based band. The band consist of Heidy,
lead vocal and guitar, Gustavo, drums, and Marcos, on bass. The band combines rock and pop music in both English and Spanish. Los Hollywood played in the lounge adjacent to the bar. The lounge was small but packed. I had heard the bands music on and really liked them. They played a short set which included my favorite “No Te Aguites” plus “Te Quireo Tanto” and “Inside My Mind.” One thing that you have to know about Los Hollywood is that this year they won the Myspace Latino Battle of the Bands from the west coast area. All their myspace friends feverishly voted for them, including me, to win the title. I did speak to Heidy and expressed my appreciation of their music and ask her where I could get their music, Heidy informed me that a CD will be available in early 2009. Heidy is a very friendly soft spoken young women and Los Hollywood will go far with their music. I would go see them again and purchase their upcoming CD.

The last act and headliner was Los Amigos Invisible. They are a band from Venezuela, now based in Brooklyn, New York and have a strong fan base throughout the world. They blend a smooth funk, soul, 80’s pop, salsa and meregue music. Los Amigos Invisible consist of six talented individuals and have been together since the early 1990’s. This night they played a long set which the audience just loved. Everybody crowded the stage and the first floor level. The floor was packed and the fans were dancing and jumping up and down to the music beat. The band played song after song and the crowd would cheer with each new song. I had heard many of Los Amigos Invisible’s songs on CD but when they started to play, the quality of sound and performance was exceptional. I thought to myself, “This is going to be a great night and memorable performance.” I was not disappointed and based on the crowd’s reaction and response, we were all in agreement. Los Amigos Invisible are a must see musical group so put them on your list of groups to see. I did buy their DVD, "Los Amigos Invisibles Live," and have been enjoying it on a regular basis. My favorite songs are: "Sexy," "Groupie," " Ultra Funk," " Caramelo y Chocolate."

Mexican Dubwiser is a DJ from Monterey, Mexico now living in Los Angeles, California. I came across Mexican Dubwiser on MySpace and immediately liked his mixes. I met Mexican Dubwiser and found him to be very friendly and very unassuming. A really nice guy and gladly played my song request. If you link to his myspace page, you'll see he plays for many major artists and events. If you have an oppurtunity to say Hi to Mexican Dubwiser, please do.

Rock y Roll Dia was a huge success. The acts were outstanding, the Mohawk was an excellent venue and everything went smoothly. I met several people from other Texas cities who drove hundreds of miles to specifically to see the Amigos.

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

De Los Muertos at Red 7

October 4, 2008-I went to the Red 7 with the intent of seeing De Los Muertos play that night. Someone recommended I go see them because they thought I would like them. So I go to Red 7 and find that the doors don’t open till 9:00 PM. I always show up about an hour early to find convenient parking, check out the club layout to find the best vantage point for watching and listening plus talk to the musicians. I had an hour to kill so I decided I get something to eat. I cross the street to the corner, 7th and Red River, to get a hotdog and coke. The hotdog was OK but if you’ve ever eaten a hotdog from a New York street vendor, it just didn’t compare. Well anyway, I still have time to kill so I try to find a place to buy a cup of coffee. I walk up and down 6th Street to find a coffee shop but with no luck. 6th Street needs a “coffee shop” for us coffee drinkers, a Starbucks or independent shop. It’s 9:00 PM, I walk back to the Red 7 and pay my $15 bucks to get in. I thought $15 was pricy because club prices average from $5-$10. The line up for tonight was Mice and Rifles, Tito and Tarantula and De Los Muertos.

The first band was Mice and Rifles, a five member band from Austin. I first saw Mice and Rifles at Club De Ville, an METV sponsored event, back in February on a cold and rainy day. Now I will admit that I’m partial to Mice and Rifles because I’m acquainted with their drummer, Patrick Estrada. Patrick and I have bumped into each other at various places plus I know him as the drummer for Maneja Beto as well. Mice and Rifles has an Indie, Country sound with a hint of rock. I like Kevin Brinkkoeter’s strong voice and the steel guitar in their music. Mice and Rifles plays around town on a regular basis so catch them if you can. I do want to thank the band for a “free” copy of their latest EP “All Kites Up” and band button. Kevin gave away the CD because he felt that if you have to pay to come see them, he should give you something in return. My favorite songs are "Telegram,""American Victory" and "Storm."

The second band in the line up was Tito and Tarantula. I really hadn’t heard of Tito and Tarantula until a few days before the event. I discovered Tito worked on the soundtracks for "Dusk to Dawn" and others movies directed by Robert Rodriguez. So you’ve probably heard their music but like me just weren’t aware of it. The band’s songs are heavy and dark and combine Rock, Rock-a-Billy and Surf influences. That night Tito Larriva, lead vocal, was under the weather but still put on a fantastic show. The guy who really enhances Taratula’s sound is Steven Medina Hufster. Steven plays a mean guitar and knows how to work the audience. The drummer, Alfred Ortiz, I know I had seen somewhere before but just couldn’t place him. It turns out Alfred is the animated drummer in Julieta Venegas MTV Unplugged video. The band played a long set plus an encore. The crowd was really into the music, was elbow to elbow and friendly. At the encore, Tito invites the audience onto the stage. It got to the point where you couldn’t see the band for the people. It was a fun show and the music was fantastic. I had a warm fuzzy feeling and it wasn’t alcohol induced because I’m not really a drinker. I think the fact that I was standing next to Patricia Vonne had something to do with it, “you had me at hello.” I purchased Tito’s current CD “Back Into The Darkness” that night. My favorite songs are “Come Out Clean,” “Monsters” and “Machete.”

Qoute inside CD cover: "If Only We Could Use Our Evil Powers For The Good Of Mankind"

Note: Tito and Tarantula is touring Europe right now but you can hear Tito and Tarantula’s music and an interview with Tito Larriva on hosted by Paul Saucido.

The third band, De Los Muertos, from San Antonio, consist of six members. De Los Metros plays a combination of “Honky Talk, Surf, Blues… and Texas Punk” music. I liked the band and music but it was almost a continuation of Tito and Tarantula, except with a gruff voice. I want to make it clear that this is a compliment on my part. Their music was also dark and heavy at times and would have appreciated them more had Tito not played that night. Plus by the time the band took the stage it was already 1:00 AM and finished at about 2:00 AM. I’ll have to see De Los Muertos again because I liked them and they deserve their own stage. My favorite songs were “Wanderer,” “Coming Down Now” and “This Changes Everything.”

This was my first time to Red 7. The venue is small, fits 150 people comfortably, and was dark. They also have an ample outdoor patio with stage. They did have a DJ playing outside and I have to apologize to him because I didn’t get his name. I was really disappointed with the club’s sound system. The sound/music was neither clear nor sharp. As for parking, I parked under the IH-35 overpass between 6th and 7th Street. This location is two blocks from Red 7 but I won’t park there any more. I left the club at about 2:00 AM, which is about the same time all the clubs are closing. I had to work my way through a lot of people, some drunk. Then trying to get out of the parking lot was difficult because of all the traffic and people. Park around 7th and Red River for ease of exiting downtown

Friday, October 31, 2008

Este Vato Debuts at the Flamingo Cantina

October 17, 2008-Went to the Flamingo Cantina to specifically see Este Vato, an Austin band just forming and plans to debut in 2009. I met Este Vato on myspace when they asked to be my friend. Shortly afterward, they put a song, El Poder, on their player and asked for feedback. I listened to the song and liked the combination cumbia/urban rap song but the tempo was just a little slow for my liking. A week or so past and they put an improved, more upbeat version of El Poder that I liked better. A bulletin followed later personally inviting me to come see them at the Flamingo Cantina. They explained that they hadn't planned on debuting so soon but an opportunity came up and they took it.

That night I met Rocky Reyna, leader and bassist for Este Vato and Exeter, plus a cool guy. He explained the band's visions and goals. Many times the vibe I get from the band members helps determine whether I like the band or support the band by attending their shows and more importantly whether I buy their merchandise or music/CD.

Este Vato opened the show with a short set if five songs. Rocky explained the band's situation and future plans to the audience . The five songs were good. They were a combination of cumbia, urban rap and rock with a heavy bass and drum beat. If you've ever been to a Mexican wedding or tejano dance you'll know what I mean. This beat is what carries your body around the dance floor. This effect was visible on the dance floor this night. The crowd was dancing, swinging and swaying to Este Vato's beat. Overall, the set was good considering the band and songs not being fully developed. I look forward to future shows and music.

The second band was Subrosa Union. A three piece band, originally from El Paso, Texas and now based in Austin, which plays rock/Latin funk/reggae music. This band really caught my attention. Subrosa Union is also a myspace friend and had not had an opportunity to see them up till now. This band rocked the house. Their music had a contagious energy and beat and you couldn't help but let the music take you. My favorite song was 24/7 4:20 Every Day. I bought their four song CD for a small donation and will put it into my music library. If you can catch a Subrosa Union show, I strongly recommend it and you will not be disappointed.

The third band was Bombasta from San Antonio. I first saw Bombasta at the Pachanga Music Festival at Waterloo Park in May during Latin Music Month sponsored by the Austin Latino Music Association. They blew me away with their music and sound. I'm a sucker for a musical group that has a horn section. Bombasta plays a combination of Latin, cumbia and funk music. They remind me of Ozomatli. I became an immediate fan. I met the bassist, JP Leal, a friendly guy, and told him I really liked their sound and asked JP what side of town he was from, since I'm originally for SA too. Now this night, I didn't feel Bombasta like I did for Panchaga. They were OK but didn't bring their A game. I was disappointed. Maybe there were outside factors the band faced before arriving at the Flamingo but I would still go see them again. I hope next time I see them they bring their merch/CD to sell because I wanted to buy.

The last band was Bubba Hernandez and the Super Vatos also from Austin. I had seen Bubba's name in the Austin Chronicle under club listings but didn't pay too much attention. So when I found out that they were also playing, I go excited because I was curious as to what they sounded like. At the club I saw this older guy, about my age, with long hair and derby hat walking around. I thought to myself, " I've seen this guy before at other shows and venues" and to my surprise that was Bubba. The Super Vatos were super. They played with a heavy base and percussion rhythm and beat. They describe their music as "Fiery Bilingual Cumbia-based Pop Rock Songs of Intrigue, Naughtiness, Heartbreak and Other Steamy Delights." Wow! Now I'll tell you who Wow-ed me that night and that was the conga/bongo player, Clemencia Zapata. If you get a chance to see Bubba Hernandez and the Super Vatos, go see them because you'll have a good time and feel like you're at a party. I did purchase their new CD "Dancing En Fuego" and my favorite songs are Hero and My Big Charanga.

This was my first time to the Flamingo Cantina and I found it a small venue but quaint. You can get really close, side view, to the band or further back, front view, depending on preference. I moved back and forth several time to get a different perspective of each band.The sound system was adequate. The club's sound system, for me, enhances or detracts from me appreciating the band and their music. One feature I liked about the Flamingo Cantina was that it had some place to seat. It had carpet covered stair like seating. Most clubs have no seating except maybe at the bar. I parked at the Austin Convention and Visitor's Bureau parking lot which is lighted, covered and is one block south of 6th Street.