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July 6, 2006

Heading: The Hum, Reality, by Bob Doran photo of Bubba Sparxx

A few weeks back I was looking at some CD on the Rhino Records website and came across a rant by this guy, Bob Lefsetz. I'd never heard of Lefsetz; I've since learned that he's a "Santa Monica-based industry legend." I honestly do not remember what he was writing about that day, some insider observation about the music biz, but I liked his savvy uncompromising style, and I ended up adding my e-mail address to "The Lefsetz List," an irregularly delivered collection of opinion pieces, and responses to same, from a who's who of music biz readers ranging from executives and famous musicians down to dyed-in-the-wool fans.

I don't read all of them. Sometimes he's just talking about his ski trips. He goes off on satellite radio rants regularly, which is a world I know little about. And he talks a lot about how the majors are clueless, particularly when it come to the new digital paradigm. That was the topic for one that came in June 14, subject: "Reality."

"You might not be aware of it, but there's this act Chamillionaire that's got a huge hit record, "Ridin'," he noted, and he was right, I've never heard of Chamillionaire, but apparently they have sold close to a million CDs and over half a million downloads, which, for the uninitiated, is what you get from iTunes and the like.

"Wow, isn't this newfangled Internet great?" writes Lefsetz, mocking the smug music execs. "We're replacing our physical sales with files, the transition is going smoothly, finally, we've got things under control."

Then he points to data from something called the "BigChampagne TopSwaps chart," where they track music swapping via peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads. That hot song "Ridin'" had been traded 3.5 million times, and Lefsetz notes, "Chamillionaire ain't even at the top of the swaps chart. That place is held by Bubba Sparxxx, with 'Ms. New Booty,'" a thumpin' song about "booty rockin' in the playa's club" (with a couple of different versions) that, according to BigChampagne, was on 5,517,560 hard drives as of the end of May — by now who knows how many peeps are into it.

That's reality: Millions are listening to Warren Anderson Mathis, an angry looking tattooed guy from Georgia aka Bubba Sparxxx (yes, three "X"s, can you guess why?), and unless you're one of those who already has tickets to his show Saturday night at the Mateel, I'll bet you've never even heard of the southern-style rapper whose latest disc, The Charm, was produced by Big Boi from OutKast.

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Lefsetz uses the stats to launch into another rant about clueless execs (drop me a line and I'll forward it), but his letter mostly jumped out at me because big Bubba is playing here in a show produced by Diamondback. D-back stalwarts The Moonshine Bandits share the bill (they dropped a new one, Prohibition, last week); others include Celly Cell, Lower Class, Lil Sic, Jay Tee (of N2Deep) and our own Caveman. Warning from Ole: advance tix please, "No at door sales at this time."

I'm guessing that mega-event will offer stiff competition to the show at Indigo the same night (July 8), featuring the notorious nasty rappers and defenders of the First Amendment, 2 Live Crew. Memo to Rev. Donald Wildmon from the American Family Association, who went after the Crew: In reality all you did was help them go platinum.

It's looking like a Black Uhuru-esque summer, what with Don Carlos backed by (Sly and Robbie) on Saturday at the upcoming Reggae on the River (in August) and another former B.U. lead vocalist, Junior Reid, singing this Saturday at Mazzotti's, backed by something called The One Blood Band, which as far as I can tell is the Reggae Angels. Sorry if this is unclear, but the folks who are putting this show on did not even spell Junior's last name right. (Too much smoke?)

Jambalaya brings in the fine local bluegrass outfit Huckleberry Flint for after-dinner entertainment on Friday, July 7, then on Monday, July 10, it's the return of The Shiftless Rounders, a really good old timey duo from Maine who stop by these parts occasionally on their rambles. Coming up next weekend at the Jam (July 16), more old timey from The Wiyos who also play "vaudevillian ragtime blues and hillbilly swing."

Looking for something with a more political slant? Head out to Beginnings in Briceland Wednesday, July 12, for the KMUD benefit featuring Anne Feeney, Dave Lippman and "The Singing CIA Agent," George Shrub.

The latest issue of hip Brit music mag Wire includes a (quite favorable) review of the latest CD-R by Samoa's infamous droners Starving Weirdos. If you're ready for something really different, catch them this Friday, July 7, when they open for the "Totally American and Totally Wasted US Pillage Tour 2006," featuring two major American noise rock bands: avant/metal maniacs Lambsbread and übercool NYC-based rock deconstruction trio Magik Markers.

Also in the rock demolition vein: the Arcata debut of Big Days of Tundra, a mathy hardcore duo that includes a former member of Brutally Handsome Gentlemen, sharing a Saturday night Alibi bill with Oakland stoner rockers Damnweevil, who tell me that they "play loud sludgy heavy metal and wage all-out war on our own livers." Why? "The voices in our heads insist."

Sunday at the Alibi: local avant-folkies Universalia Jane, and from NYC, Zs, with "music that is variously categorized as no-wave, post-jazz, brutal-chamber, brutal-prog, and post minimalist." Post-reality would be OK by me.

Bob Doran

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