After falling some thirty feet off a windmill and landing on his head, Maraca Five-O rhythm guitarist Matt Stemwedel sustained a serious brain injury, which kept him comatose for three days last June. Following months of extensive physical therapy, the local surf rocker is slowly re-emerging as his old, wily deadpan self, though he hasn't quite regained the kind of motor control in his hands necessary to pummel away on a six-string, Duane Eddy-style. Not yet, at least. "I don't know how long it's gonna take," frontman Steve Gray says with optimism. "But one of the reasons we kept the name Maraca Five-O alive is because we believe that he'll be back in the band. If we didn't think that, then we'd go with some other band name. So right now we're just calling it Maraca 'Five-O' with Five-O in quotes, 'cause it's not quite the same thing." Performing live for the first time since Stemwedel's accident, Gray, bassist Theron Melchior and drummer Mike Behrenhausen would never call their show at the Climax Lounge on Saturday, November 23, with Break Channel and Monofog, an outright charity event. So leave your pity at the door. But Maraca "Five-O" certainly won't complain if loads of people show up, buy tons of beer, and -- all in support of a fallen comrade -- groove to an evening of exceptionally exotic surf music. With its trademark coil-shaking, gut-driven sound, the "Five-O" now boasts collaborator Paul Fonfara (Woven Hand, Painted Saints) on guitar, clarinet and saxophone, as well as reliable utility-fiddler Kelly O'Dea (Tarantella). As part of the Smooch Records family, Gray and company have earmarked a new road-surf scorcher called "Tits and Asphalt" for inclusion on the upcoming sequel to Radio 1190's Local Shakedown compilation. We'll see what the FCC has to say about that.
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