By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Farina began releasing mixes in 1996, with Seasons One(on Domestic) and his ubiquitous Mushroom Jazz series (on Om Records), now in its fourth incarnation. Farina's answer to acid jazz, Mushroom Jazz was the child of a lounge night at San Francisco's Cat's Grille in the early '90s hosted by Farina and longtime collaborator Derrick Carter. The first release in the series, Mushroom Jazz, was followed by 1999's San Francisco Sessions and Connect, both on Om, and 2001's United DJs of America (Razor & Tie). Mushroom Jazz 2 followed in 1998, with the third installment coming out in 2001. The most recent foray into the Mushroom Jazz universe appeared in November 2002 and is more of the same sticky jazz infused with a little more hip-hop.
Farina is still king of both the horizontal chillout and dance-floor hip-house. -- Quetta Carpenter
GUIDED BY VOICES
8:30 P.M., OUTDOOR STAGE
For almost twenty years, Robert Pollard has been the singer, songwriter, souse and Svengali of Ohio's Guided by Voices. The group's revolving lineup is as legendary as Pollard's brew-fueled stage performances, but what the band is most known for is its songs. Hundreds and hundreds of songs, actually. Guided by Voices is as prolific as it is influential; from its 1987 debut Devil Between My Toesto last year's masterful Universal Truths and Cycles, Pollard's quirky, scratchy songcraft has inspired everyone from Pavement to Modest Mouse to the Strokes. Falling halfway in between stadium rock and garage pop, GBV's music crams the grandeur and psychedelic surrealism of the Beatles and Syd Barrett into brief bursts of raw melody that pop and crackle like fireworks. The overall effect is that of classic-rock radio anthems run through a supercollider. Pollard, an ex-schoolteacher, laces his lyrics with streams of consciousness that are at once cryptic, pensive, literate and hilarious.
GBV's current crew, including bassist Tim Tobias, drummer Kevin March and guitarists Doug Gillard and Nate Farley, continues the group's tradition of twisted, guitar-driven pop. Like his contemporary and fellow indie visionary Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, Pollard has a persistence and integrity that have elevated his band from the basement level up to near-legendary status. Earthquake Glue, the fourteenth studio album by Guided by Voices, is due out in August and will surely cement Pollard's position as an elder statesmen - even an icon - of underground rock. -- Jason Heller
7 P.M., OUTDOOR STAGE
Particle was born on a boat in 2000, while playing a party in the San Francisco bay. Since then, keyboardist Steve Molitz, guitarist Charlie Hitchcock, bassist Eric Gourd and drummer Darren Pujalet have made waves in the jam-band world with a multimedia fusion of improvised instrumentals and video and slide shows (crafted by full-time band projectionist Scott MacKinnon), plus something the band's fans call "space porn."
Particle's funk-style thumping, wah-wah guitars and neo-psychedelic stage presentation has made the California band a favorite of the festival circuit, where boys and girls who spin convene to shake their heads and dreads. But it's also one of the few jam bands that's been welcomed into the club set -- maybe because club-hoppers like to dance while watching the pretty pictures?
Moving from atmospheric and purposely aimless to plain old down and dirty, Particle's Linear Accelerator is a studio approximation of the band's live gigs. But there ain't nothing like the real thing: The band's live show is where all the elements come together. -- Laura Bond
MARY BETH ABELLA
NOMINATED IN SINGER/SONGWRITER
6 P.M., DAZZLE
After swerving around the Western Hemisphere for the better part of the '80s (from Philadelphia to Norway to Boulder), singer/songwriter Mary Beth Abella has been in Denver for more than a decade. Unfortunately for local listeners, her nomadic tendencies are acting up again.
"All I know is, we're leaving," Abella says of her impending plan to bolt from Colorado with husband Kevin Kauper. "We're selling our house. We're selling everything we own." After wrapping a calendar of local gigs in late July, the two intend to leave for parts unknown; at the moment, their semi-realized itinerary includes stops in New York, Norway and New Zealand. "We feel we need to shake off this town before we settle someplace else," Abella explains.
Armed with edgily honest material that encompasses both wit and heartache, the singer performed solo in the Denver area from the early to late '90s. To bolster her prickly-soft vocals and hooks, she recruited a backing band in 1999, an outfit that has since included "a rotating cast of characters," she notes. ("People have different needs," she says of the high turnover rate.)
The current lineup -- at least until Abella rips up her fourteen-year-old roots -- includes ex-Rainville bassist Matt Sumner, drummer Chris Budin, guitarist Gerry Hundt and keyboardist Judy Brady. For lower-key sets, the singer teams with violinist Jennifer Kavanaugh. At the Westword Music Showcase, Abella's brother/longtime musical collaborator John -- who produced her glittery, gritty full-length debut, What Happened to the Girls?, last year before fleeing to Los Angeles -- returns to her side on guitar for one night only. Catch Abella while you can. -- Eric Peterson