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[whitespace] Oliver Brown Have 'Ukulele Will Entertain: Oliver Brown turned out multifaceted riffs for 'Melée Electrique' at the Actors' Theatre Dec. 2.

Notes From The Underground

Fateful SCAM:
The Santa Cruz Artists Movement makes a big show of politicizing an art community

By Matt Koumaras

MELÉE ELECTRIQUE at the Actors' Theatre Dec. 2 came courtesy of the Santa Cruz Artists Movement (SCAM). Jennie Urbach-Teague and Rosy Nolan assembled this impressive hootenanny, and every seat was taken.

"SCAM is a nonprofit group in pursuit of congregating and politicizing an art community in Santa Cruz," Nolan (of Cherry Ames and Estrella) explains. The fledgling collective is working with another nonprofit group, In the Aisles Production, in an effort to spawn a space for artists, musicians and dancers.

I arrived for Act II of the nine-performer event. Urbach-Teague's acoustic guitar was a bit out of tune, but her amazing control of vibrato could make ice melt in Alaska. Ukelele deity Oliver Brown added things up humorously with a splendid version of "Tropical Storm." Brown is fully aware that it's his civic duty to take a simple rock riff and carve it into a beautiful gem. I don't know why Alanis Morisette was cast as God in Dogma, because Nolan's performance was much closer to divinity--her chiseled acoustic progressions and wispy vocals made a stunningly universal impression. Joel Robinow's nimble acoustic strumming built some high and sturdy forts on guitar. His "I'm carrying the weight of humanity" vocals on "This Old House" made the Ouija board conjure up a slackified Leonard Cohen. Robinow's duet with Luke Geniella on cello had dynamics that pulled heartstrings apart like a wishbone and achieved a mastery that could only be regarded as impeccable. The finale featured mistress of ceremonies Maggie Simpson doing a funny impression, complete with accented English, of Nico, the Velvet Underground's femme fatale.

On a Wire

Live Wire rocked way past the midnight hour Dec. 2 at the Catalyst. The addition of Matt on lead vocals for a few songs was a nice experiment that allowed Marc to roam around the stage and crank out six-string licks that kill. Andrew's supersized drumming rode and simultaneously tamed the lightning. Plus, the band no longer had a deer-in-the headlights look onstage; now they have a musical confidence that runs over that deer with a big, mean metallic machine.

No One played your basic connect-the-dots melodic punk in which guitar and bass played the same shapeless lines without any gutsy variation. The band's version of "Hotel California" held time captive and illuminated the fact that I had checked into a hellish pop-punk motel and I could never leave. I only caught two songs from the Sneaky Creekans. That was two too much. However, they do deserve some credit for somehow fusing Korn-styled hip-rock and bubblegum '90s ska--two genres I despise with a passion.


Exploding Crustaceans, Loadstar, the Huxtables and Boy Kicks Girl play the Catalyst Thursday; the What-Nots, Sin in Space, 40 Acre and Spike and Princess play Callahan's Friday; also Friday, Burlacitus Undertow, Stellavision, and Grab Ass play Skinny McDoogle's; Naked Ape and Chaos Lounge play the Aptos Club Saturday; a "warm the homeless" benefit takes place at the SC Vets Hall with Yaphet Kotto, the Great Divide, the Missing 23rd and Android Lothar Sunday.

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From the December 8-15, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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