On and Off the Record

By Michel Miller 03/14/2013

Spencer the Gardener

Breaking My Own Heart
STGSpencer Barnitz, an enduring figure on the local music scene, (yes, we know he’s from Santa Barbara, but if anyone’s an honorary resident, he is) offers a cheerful and poignant record themed mostly around loneliness, on this, his seventh release. The artist, who has performed at more than 500 backyard parties throughout his career, weaves multiple genres into a wholly unpretentious collection of pleasing, celebratory songs. A non conformist whose vocal tone at times seems ironic — think Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) —  Barnitz occasionally strays into the unwelcome waters of annoying repetition, but fortunately finds his way back to shore before it’s too late. With a very capable stable of local musicians backing him — especially the sublime horns that seem to shape-shift to accommodate the cross-cultural meanderings of these tropical, ice-blended arrangements — Barnitz gives us his quirky, playful take on solitude, heartache and moving on. 

— Michel Miller  

Available on iTunes, CD Baby and spencerthegardener.bandcamp.com.
Spencer the Gardener will perform at Amigo’s in Ventura on Saturday, March 16.

Blues Bullet

Rough Cut
BBThrow-all-caution-to-the-wind, sweaty, dirty, foot-stompin’, hip grindin’,  raucous, Texas roadhouse blues that compel good people to do bad things (and writers to use excessive punctuation). Frontman Joe Billingiere has the chops — and we ain’t  talkin’ facial hair — necessary to consistently hit the bulls’-eye on Blues Bullet’s flak-jacket-optional first full-length release. The guitarist for metal outfit Crypt Infection was raised on the blues and it shows. His technical skill and natural feel combined with a rock-steady rhythm section — Thom Thomas on bass,  Richie Smith on drums — catapult this trio out of the everyday bar band category. Recorded live in one day (! !) at Grammy-winning Brotheryn Studios, there is nary a dull song in the bunch and the all-original cuts, though recorded speedily, are anything but rough. 

— Michel Miller

Some tracks available at www.soundcloud.com/joe-billingiere.
CD available at Blues Bullet live performances and next week at Salzer’s.
See Blues Bullet at The Hub on Saturday, March 16.

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