Wanda Jackson Call her the Queen of Rockabilly, call her the First Lady of Rock’n’Roll — whatever title you bestow upon her, Wanda Jackson is, undoubtedly, a living legend. She was encouraged by no less than Elvis Presley, who she dated, to shy away from the gospel she had sung as a child and give rock’n’roll a shot. As a result, she developed one of the most rock’n’roll voices of all time, a throaty wail that truly put the party in “Let’s Have a Party,” the biggest of her many hits. She later delved into country, where she was equally successful, a constant presence on the charts from the mid-1960s through the early 1970s. She hasn’t stopped performing, recording with everyone from Elvis Costello to the Cramps, and hasn’t stopped touring. And, even after returning to her gospel roots, she hasn’t stopped rocking, as her appearance at Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara on Sept. 1 will most definitely prove.Velvet Jones, 423 State St., Santa Barbara, 965-8676.

Sham 69 Taking your name from graffiti written above a public urinal? Now that’s punk. Sham 69 formed in England at the flash point of the punk revolution in 1975. Why haven’t as many people heard of them as, say, the Clash? Well, that’s hard to say. But plenty of those who did hear the band went on to start the working class street punk movement that followed the dissolution of the Sex Pistols. After scoring a handful of British indie hits and having their shows sadly invaded by neo Nazis, the group turned to a more bloozy rock sound, influenced by the Stones and the Faces. The band dissolved in 1980, only to reappear in later in the decade, with a different lineup. Since then, members have come and gone — including leader Jimmy Pursey; guitarist Dave Parsons is the last remaining original member — but the band’s songs remain anthems for old and new punks alike. Shout your throat raw when Sham 69 plays the Ventura Theater on Aug. 31.



HorrorPops Sounds like a sugary breakfast cereal, huh? Well, it’s not, although the members of the Horrorpops do look as though they sprang out of a box of Count Chocula. The tattoo-adorned, pompadour-sporting Danish sextet formed in 1996 to play campy, revved-up, B-movie psychobilly — something guitarist Ken Nekroman was already doing in his group, Nekromantix. What set HorrorPops apart from his main project was the presence of singer-bassist-zombie greaser pin-up Patricia Day, adding a dose of strong femininity to a hyper-masculine genre. And they also have a pair of go-go dancers who join them on stage. If that doesn’t scream “must-see live show,” nothing will. HorrorPops perform at Alpine on Aug. 29.

El Gran Silencio Cumbia, hip-hop, rock, ska and reggaeton — nothing is off limits to El Gran Silencio, for more than a decade one of Mexico’s most unique and adventurous bands. But their sound is more than just a multi-stylistic hodgepodge: It is a reflection of the youth culture of their hometown, Monterrey. Coming together in 1993, the group’s primary goal has been to preserve the urban folklore of their native region while giving voice to the invisible fragments of a society that is largely unknown to those on the outside — a place where people have “accordion shaped hearts.” Judging by their large international fan base, they have certainly been successful in bringing the spirit of Monterrey to the world. Fueled by a live show brimming with non-stop energy, the quintet brings “Chuntaro Style” to the Ventura Theater on Aug. 26.


Gin Blossoms Now there’s a name you haven’t heard for a while. Back in the early ’90s, the Gin Blossoms infected modern rock radio with their syrupy-sweet, influenza-level catchy power pop, scoring an impressive series of hits with “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” “’Til I Hear From You” and “Follow You Down,” songs with hooks anybody who heard them once a decade ago certainly still remembers to this day. When they initially decided to call it a day in 1997, they had released a successful follow-up to 1993’s New Miserable Experience called Congratulations… I’m Sorry and seemed destined to establish themselves as a dominant songwriting force. But then, it all just sorta ended. Four years later, the band reunited (minus drummer Phillip Rhodes) almost as suddenly as it dissolved and has been touring and recording steadily ever since. No other big singles have yet emerged from their reunion, but if history is any indication, one is certainly on the way. In the meantime, catch the Gin Blossoms at Constitution Park in Camarillo — yes, Camarillo — on Aug. 18.

Timmy Curran A headline about Timmy Curran appearing in any Ventura County publication could read: LOCAL BOY DOES GOOD. Curran was born in Oxnard, in the beach community of Silver Strand to be exact, and at age 18 was voted “Most Favorite Surfer” in an international poll of surfing aficionados. A few years later, he was ranked sixth in the world. As tremendous as his accomplishments on a surfboard are, however, Curran has always wanted to do more. He began playing guitar at 13 and writing songs at 16, but it wasn’t until he was in his mid-20s that he finally gathered up the courage to perform them for other people. After being encouraged by his wife and brothers, Curran used his clout as a pro surfer to release an EP on indie imprint Record Collection. After that, he scored a gig opening for the Foo Fighters in Australia. Now on the even-more-indie label Foe, Curran’s anxiously awaited debut full-length is slated for release later this year. And after all this, he still finds time to make it back home. Curran performs at Zoey’s Café on Aug. 17 and 19.



Pelican Good instrumental bands were practically a thing of the past when Pelican emerged from Chicago in 2003. And good instrumental heavy bands were almost non-existent. With 2004’s Australasia, the band leapt to the forefront of a rising genre: instru-metal. Except, calling Pelican “metal” is something of a misnomer. The group incorporates elements of post rock, art rock and indie rock into its dense, concrete-thick soundscapes. And despite not having lyrics, their songs are evocative, with nature themes driving their slow building compositions. But the band does not skimp on the heavy and the hard, creating a sonic palette appealing to virtually anyone combing the outer reaches of the rock stratosphere. Pelican smashes Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara on Aug. 11. Velvet Jones, 423 State St., Santa Barbara, 965-8676.

Summer Shine Rarely does Ventura get a dose of indie pop this big. The organizers of the Summer Shine Fest are hoping to change that, though, by opening up an area that usually embraces hardcore and mook-rock to more sophisticated sounds. Appearing at the concert on Aug. 11 are out-of-towners the Tyde, the Japanese Motors (fronted by pro surfer Alex Knost) and Tom Brousseau, as well as locals Franklin For Short, Maria, Catwalk and Pam & Teri, among several others. And there’s a dance party afterward! It all happens at Mai’s Café.



Ventura County Fair Oh, the smell is in the air. The corndogs. The barnyard animals. The rollercoaster fumes. Yes, it is time for the Ventura County Fair. And as always, the sounds of joy, stomach sickness and throwback rock’n’roll will, for seven days, waft over the city. This year’s entertainment lineup follows the usual fair format, with all popular genres represented: country (Tanya Tucker, Jo Dee Messina); ’80s arena rock (REO Speedwagon); ’80s pop (the Bangles with the Motels); stuff for old people (Tony Orlando, the Beach Boys minus Brian Wilson); and kinda-sorta relevant modern rockers (Hinder [pictured] and Papa Roach). The fair is nothing if not consistent, which means after barely surviving the Zipper, gorging yourself on cotton candy and watching the pig races, you can go kick up some dirt on that big-ass lot, whatever your taste may be. For a full list of performers and times, go to www.venturacountyfair.org.

English Beat When most people think of 2-Tone ska, groups such as Madness and the Specials leap to mind first, usually. But the best of that bunch was arguably the English Beat, and that judgment is made solely on the basis of their 1980 debut I Just Can’t Stop It, which is not only one of the best ska records ever, but one of the best alt-music albums, period. Boasting influenza-infectious confections such as “Twist & Crawl,” “Stand Down Margaret” and the immortal “Mirror in the Bathroom,” as well as barnburners such as “Click Click Click” and “Two Swords,” it is a monumental mash-up of reggae, punk and pop, one that hasn’t quite been matched since. The band went on to have a couple more hits, including “Save It For Later,” and leader Dave Wakeling also found success in General Public. But it is the Beat that reigns supreme, and on Aug. 3 at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, they will prove that is still true, more than 20 years later.






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