Music News

Critic's Choice

After seven grueling years of personnel changes that took the band from a modest trio to a sprawling octet, Askimbo (which takes its name from a nonsense word coined by former guitarist Geoff Orwiler) finally stopped wandering the wilderness and settled on four permanent members: brothers David and John Simpkins, bassist and trumpeter, respectively; drummer Zach West; and Medicine Man, a righteous frontman who not only sings well, but blows a mean harp, to boot. It was as if the Lord had smiled down upon the miserable party outfit and spake thus: "For thou art Askimbo reborn, my chosen funk children. Thou shalt serve as beacons in the firmament of hippie heaven to shed light upon the healing nature of the extended jam boogaloo." And so it was. Askimbo brought forth an infectious, jazzy, ska-based, reggae-influenced amalgamation replete with Latin grooves, and God saw that it was good. So did local promoter Jay Bianchi -- enough to showcase the frisky foursome at the upcoming Rock for Tibet concert, Friday, July 9, at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, with Freak Street Project, Bop Skizzum and Demon Funkies. That's four bands for five bones, brethren -- with a share of the proceeds helping to raise awareness of Tibet's ongoing struggle for independence. Not to harsh on anyone's buzz, but ever since China invaded that peaceful nation in 1949, "Democratic reform" has included not only a vast network of prison and labor camps, but the bombardment of monasteries and the systematic torture and extermination of over 1.2 million Tibetans, as well. Yet somehow throughout it all, His Holiness the Dalai Lama keeps smiling, promoting compassion and world peace -- and taking time out once in a while to shake his serene tailfeathers, which certainly wins more hearts and minds than all that other bullshit.