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[whitespace] Knitters Critters

Quintessential urban punks X and roots hero Dave Alvin get into (two-)step at Palookaville show

By David Espinoza

THERE'S SOMETHING to be said for one-night stands--musically speaking, that is. While permanent bands often lose steam over the course of a few albums, one-time collaborations have no pressure to keep making more music. You just go into the recording studio, get busy, and boom, you're done. No guilt-ridden phone calls to make the next morning.

For the seminal L.A. punk quartet X, it's been roughly 15 years since the band shacked up (OK, got together) with Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin to record the strictly country Poor Little Critter on the Road as the Knitters. But some fires never completely go out, and the alter-ego of X found itself reunited on the Palookaville stage Nov. 30--and in front of an impressively large crowd at that.

Warming things up was founding member of X John Doe on acoustic guitar and Alvin on electric playing two mellow country-folk tunes before they brought out the rest of the band. Doe's better half, singer Exene Cervenka, got the most cheers from many who recognized her as one of the earliest punk-rock goddesses, still sporting the same frazzled, streaked hair as she did back in 1980.

For their part as the most famous guy-and-gal punk-rock duo, Doe and Cervenka pulled off the country harmonies with ease, singing with the gusto that first propelled them to the top of L.A.'s underground punk scene so many years ago. To this it should be added that while other punk bands of X's day burned out or reformed as watered-down versions of their former selves (the Clash and B.A.D. II), Doe, Alvin, Cervenka and crew would be wise to acknowledge they have rekindled a sound that they are particularly good at. So while the punk-rock days may not be what they used to, the country days have just gotten better.

Fly Like an Eagle

Sometimes a little help from your friends is all you need --a lesson learned by local songwriter Ariel during the seven months it took to map out and record her first solo CD, My Art Is a Bird. The 22-year-old vocalist (also of Mayim) enlisted a slew of local musicians, including Jim Norris, Bill Walker, Daniel Lewis, Barry Phillips and many more, to play on the 11-track album.

The stage has been the native Santa Cruzan's second home since she started singing at age 5, doing children's songs with her famous mom, Linda Arnold. Despite her longtime musical career, My Art Is a Bird is Ariel's first try at producing and recording a full album.

"I had a plan in the beginning, but had never done anything like this before--it ended up being a crash course in communication, music and production," she says.

The next step?

"I'm going to drown myself in performing," Ariel says. Her CD-release show is at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center Friday beginning at 8pm. Tickets are $10 (or $20 for a ticket and CD), available in advance at More Music (458.2438).

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

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