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Santa Maria Sun / Music

The following article was posted on February 27th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 51

A musical brew

North Star Steam brings musical alchemists to Lompoc for a Steampunk fundraiser event

BY JOE PAYNE

The Information Age has been very good to us, allowing the unbridled pursuit and expansion of art and culture in any direction, with all of human history to draw upon as we jump into the future. One sub-cultural meme in particular has been the subject of much creativity and attention due to its creative outlook on the past, present, and future.

Steampunk.


MIND OF MUSIC:
Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Drew Norman presents his character and music under the guise of Professor Gall at North Star Steam’s “Shore Leave at the Shammy” event.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NOCTILUCENT ARTS

And what may Steampunk be? There’s no definitive answer, but in essence, Steampunk is a fantastical genre expressed largely in literature, costumed play, and other visually creative endeavors, which combines the steam-powered Victorian past with a punk rock futurism. Even then, Steampunk can mean much more than just a top hat festooned with gears and some green flight goggles; it’s an open-access genre that allows people to put a creative twist on the past and their present life.

North Star Steam, a local Steampunk-themed social group, is holding a special event to celebrate the subculture and everything Steampunk, including—oddly enough—pirates, who are welcome members to the Steampunk universe.

The event is going to highlight the music of two creative musical acts: D.on Darox & The Melody Joy Bakers from Ventura, and the one-man show of Professor Gall from Portland, Ore. Both groups (neither of which labels itself as Steampunk) feature a blend of distinct styles, a trait that’s led them to be adopted by Steampunk groups—such as North Star Steam.

“There’s been a lot of bands that have come out recently that are doing it because of the Steampunk movement,” said Drew Norman, the creator and mild-mannered alter-ego of Professor Gall. “But we were just already doing what we thought was cool and retro that way.”

Norman, when performing as Professor Gall, relies on guitar, banjo, and a stomp box, a percussion instrument he stomps on while playing his guitar or banjo and singing. He’s usually accompanied by a Dixieland-esque ensemble of drums, upright bass, horns, and clarinet.

“I am inspired by mostly traditional music like traditional jazz, New Orleans-style jazz, a lot of different artists,” he said. “That’s the general kind of sound; it’s basically just a mixture of folk and jazz.”

His self-described genres are “junkyard folk” and “nefarious jazz,” pigeonholes that could also fit the likes of Tom Waits, another notoriously elusive artist when it comes to genre definition. D.on Darox and The Melody Joy Bakers perform what they call “ragged gypsy blues,” certainly combinations of old music turned new.


Getting steamy
North Star Steam presents “Shore Leave at the Shammy,” a fundraiser event featuring D.on Darox & The Melody Joy Bakers and Professor Gall live on March 2 at 8 p.m. at Wicked Shamrock, 143 North H St., Lompoc. This is a free concert. More info: reverbnation.com/professorgall.

“I think it has to do with just the general concept in Steampunk, in reusing technology of the past and carrying it forward,” Norman said. “I feel like we are doing the same thing with the music; we are taking the old tradition and futurizing it.”

Finding inspiration in older styles of music and mixing separate styles together is a kind of musical alchemy that’s popular among contemporary independent artists. Often, but not always, these kinds of groups will play exclusively acoustic instruments, as do D.on Darox & The Melody Joy Bakers and Professor Gall.

“I think it’s a truer sound,” Norman said. “I think, over the history of music, there was more of a craft about it.”

For the ear not steeped in the nefarious jazz genre, the tonal choices these bands make might prove shocking—but that’s much the point. The kind of music you will hear at the “Shore Leave at the Shammy” event is a celebration of everything fringe. The kind of crunching dissonance you will find is an expression of the freedom of the genre, which is just as at home on a Dickensian street corner as it is up on a stage.

Good music, good food

A Live Outdoor Concert titled “Rap~Reggae~Eats” is open to the public with no admission fee on March 2 at 3 p.m. at Potter’s House, 2125 S. Broadway, Santa Maria. More info: 361-0060.

Trio No. 1

The Lompoc Concert Association completes its 2012-13 season with a performance by The Prima Trio on March 2 at 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 925 North F St., Lompoc. Cost is $25. More info: 737-1809, mollyfgerald@gmail.com, or primatrio.org.

Wine down at Lucia’s

Lucia’s Wine Co. offers an open mic featuring wine, poetry, and live music on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at the tasting room, 126 East Clark Ave., Orcutt. More info: 332-3080.

Mamma mia

The Chumash Casino and Resort presents ABBA, The Concert, a musical tribute show on March 7 at 8 p.m. at the Chumash Casino Resort: 3400 E. Highway 246, Santa Ynez. More info: 1-800-CHUMASH or chumashcasino.com.

Maverick music

The Maverick Saloon offers live entertainment, including the country music of Dusty Jugz on March 1 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at 11:30 p.m. “Concert on the Deck” featuring Teresa Russell is March 2 at 3 p.m. Dusty Jugz perform again on March 2 at 8:45 p.m., followed by “Late Night with guest DJs” at the saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez. More info: 686-4785 or mavericksyv@aol.com.

Contact Arts Editor Joe Payne at jpayne@santamariasun.com..