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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on June 29th, 2010, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 11, Issue 16 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 11, Issue 16

Motown comes to the Central Coast

Spend a night with the Booker Tease

By HENRY HOUSTON


Soul jam
The Booker Tease, a band for all ages, will get your foot tappin’, and, as the set progresses, you’ll find yourself on the dance floor bustin’ a move.
PHOTO BY HENRY HOUSTON
It wasn’t just any night at O’Sullivan’s in Santa Maria; it was the owner’s birthday, so there was a light feeling among the pub crowd. With an Irish name like O’Sullivan’s, it was fitting that they would have a band on the stage performing in the Irish idiom, and it went over perfectly: People were dancing around as if it were St. Patrick’s day.

After the loose stylings of Craic House (who performed their traditional Irish set with acoustic instruments), it was time for the Booker Tease—a band that covers the songs Booker T. and the MGs released on records.

With a Newcastle in hand, and a yearning for rhythm and blues, I was ready for the Booker Tease.

After setting up their instruments, they ripped into “Hip Hug-Her,” which is a band favorite. There was no introduction, but none was needed; the song said it all. It said who the band was and it asked, most importantly, “Why aren’t you dancing?”


He’s got the beat
Drummer Miles Brown and guitarist Keith Kurczewski shared a love for Booker T. and the MGs, so they decided to place their Indie Rock band on hold for a while to play the tunes of Booker T.
PHOTO BY HENRY HOUSTON
Next came “Soul Man”—a song originally released by Sam and Dave and covered by the Blues Brothers. The crowd began to sway with rhythm, and, once the song ended, an impressed member of the audience, clad in black, jumped onto the stage.

“I just want everyone here to know that I’m a soul man,” he said, while the audience clapped vigorously in support for the band.

The set continued, though, and guitarist Keith Kurczewski approached the microphone.

“This is a song that Booker T. didn’t perform on the record,” he informed the listeners coolly drinking their beer. “But Booker T. was greatly impressed with Burt Bacharach.”

In a matter of seconds, the band began playing “I Say A Little Prayer.” And instead of horns carrying the melody (a Bacharach trademark) or Dionne Warwick’s voice ringing out, Arnold Feher—who carries the responsibilities of Booker T.’s organ—performed the piece flawlessly.

The Booker Tease next unleashed a song Booker T. may not have admired as much Bacharach: “Spanish Bombs” from the Clash’s great album London Calling.


All together now
Keyboardist Arnold Feher is classically trained as a pianist. Instead of using his scales to warm up to play Chopin, though, he’s taken in the groove of Booker T.
PHOTO BY HENRY HOUSTON
It’s tough to match the audacity of the Clash; it takes grit, determination, and a bit of insanity to even think about covering something from them—look at M.I.A., who sampled the Clash’s “Straight to Hell” on her hit song “Paper Planes.” Who knows what she’s thinking?

But the Booker Tease pulled it off. Feher’s organ subbing in for Joe Strummer’s vocals perfectly emulated the late singer, and the rest of the band performed with the same feeling. Drummer Miles Brown nailed the gunshot entrance, Kurczewski delivered raw strums, and Tim Farrell, who also plays bass for PCPA and SLO Symphony, impeccably played the grumbling bass line.

Even though the band is an accomplished group of musicians who definitely know how to get an audience to dance, they face frequent obstacles in booking since they lack a singer, which many think is necessary.

The night they played in O’Sullivan’s, however, they temporarily fixed that problem.


Book this one
Anyone interested in dancing to the cool tunes of the Booker Tease can see them on July 10 at South Bay Library in Los Osos at noon for free. The band will also perform at the Odd Fellows Hall in San Luis Obispo at 6 p.m. Admission is a $10 donation to benefit the SLO Child Development Center.
The band had just finished playing “Slim Jenkin’s Joint,” a fast-paced piece that features legato keyboard work, and a member of the audience jumped on the stage—yes, the same guy who proclaimed he was a “soul man”—to say he was a “son of a preacher.”

 The Booker Tease, being quick-witted, asked the fan to return to the stage, so he could sing the song.

 The rest of the set continued, attracting more people to dance—including the owner of the pub and myself—to the cool sounds.

Of course, every entertainer knows to never give away the hit in the beginning, and this is a creed the Booker Tease lives by, as apparent with their final song of the set.

The minute the band began to play one of the most famous instrumental pieces of all-time—as well as the most hip and cool song ever written—“Green Onions,” just about everyone in the pub put down their beer, either in their stomach or on the table, and danced away the night.

Intern Henry Houston is on a mission from God. Send him encouragement via the arts editor at scone@santamariasun.com.




Weekly Poll
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