Liverpool Rocks to the Bongo Beat, and a plug for Kevin Kane!
I got an email about some shows that will be happening in Liverpool (and London) in the next while and while I won’t be able to attend, I thought I’d use this space to tell you a bit about the man organizing them and some of the artists who’ll be there whom you should check out (if you’re able to get to the ‘Pool).
My friend Ralph Alfonso runs a great little indie label called Bongo Beat, based in Vancouver. Ralph is also an excellent poet and jazz cat who produces and writes the great RALPH poetry magazine and has made records with his jazz combo of the same name.
Ralph Alfonso, librarian of cool…
Ralph has a great pedigree in alternative music, having been the manager of the Diodes back in the Toronto punk rock scene of the mid-seventies, they ran the infamous Crash and Burn club. Since then he’s given a lot of his day times to graphic arts and promotion for various Canadian record companies working everything from Metal Queen Lee Aaron to Payola’s Paul Hyde.
While working for Vancouver’s Nettwerk Productions, Ralph started up his own Bongo Beat label which slowly developed into something quite wonderful. An artist friendly micro-label that gives release to great music, often with graphics by Ralph himself. Last year, I was particularly happy to hear that Bongo Beat had released a new solo album by Vancouver’s Kevin Kane (founder member of the excellent Grapes of Wrath).
Kevin Kane, outstanding in his street…
The album is called How to Build a Lighthouse and I’m a big fan of it, particularly the song “Last To Know” which chunkles and jangles like Big Star and the Posies but ultimately is pure Kane. I was a fan of one of Kevin’s earlier releases, Neighbourhood Watch, and he produced one of my favourite Zumpano albums Look What The Rookie Did.
And for full disclosure, I have done solo acoustic shows with him and even traded guitar solos and backing vocals with him on an album he produced for our mutual friends, Star Collector.
In addition to re-releasing Meryn Cadell‘s legendary Angel Food For Thought, Bongo Beat just re-released a seven year old Kevin Kane EP that I had never heard before called Timmy Loved Judas Priest (the title should trip the memory of fans of the movie Heavy Metal Parking Lot). So I ordered it from iTunes (why not support both Kevin and Ralph!) and I have to say it was worth it. The EP is basically a bunch of low key acoustic covers of songs like “Borderline” (the Madonna song), “Our Lips Are Sealed” (GoGos) and even Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows” and Kraftwerk’s under-appreciated gem, “Neon Lights” (one of my all time favourite Kraftwerk songs!). He is helped on a few backing vocals here and there, notably by Neko Case and Veda Hille. Have a listen to it at iTunes or wherever you usually go, then order it.
But all of this came up when I got an Audities digest mention of an “International Pop Overthrow” show in Liverpool (and one in London) later this month (May). I think it’s a safe bet that this sampling of some of Bongo Beat’s “wares” would be a great introduction to his excellent label if you’re over in the UK. And just because I’ve spotlighted Kevin Kane, don’t ignore the others on these bills, Dave Rave and Adrienne Pierce are great too, as is Ralph himself and while I’ve never seen Ari Shine, his new CD sounds cool.
Here’s what Ralph Alfonso sent out:
Thursday, May 22, The Intl Pop Overthrow Festival
The Cavern Club, 10 Matthew St, Liverpool
Bongo Beat Records Showcase
8:30 Adrienne Pierce
9:15 Kevin Kane
10:00 Graham Brown
10:45 Plastic Heroes
11:30 Ari Shine
12:15 Dave Rave
Friday, May 23 , The Intl Pop Overthrow Festival
Lennon’s, 23 Matthew St, Liverpool
Bongo Beat Records Showcase
2:00 Adrienne Pierce
2:45 Kevin Kane
3:30 Graham Brown
4:15 Plastic Heroes
5:00 Ari Shine
5:45 Dave Rave
Saturday, May 24
BBC Performance Space
“On The Beat” with Spencer Leigh
7-8pm (Bongo Beat segment)
(broadcast starts at 6:30)
* free admission
Then there’s this LONDON afternoon show in Covent Garden!
Sunday, May 25
Club night: Jealous Of The Daylight at the Gardening Club
Venue: The Rock Garden
Address: 6/7 The Piazza, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8HA
Time: from 2pm to 7pm
** Expect 5 pound door fee