What is the deal with coffee and comedians? Whether it's comedians in a coffee shop or in a car getting coffee, they just seem to go so well together. Maybe it’s the alliteration. Maybe it’s the nervous energy.
You sit, you sip, you laugh — nervously. Heart attack? No problem. Still clapping.
This Saturday, there will be a comedy show so chic it isn’t being held inside a coffee shop but ABOVE it. In order to get there, you have to go to the doorway located behind Dagny’s Coffee Company on Eye Street and go up the stairs until you reach a hallway housing Mesh Cowork spaces. What did comedy do to you, coffee? Et tu, café?
Comedian Margaret Haggard, the winner of the 2015 Oil City Rumble, is one of the event’s organizers.
“I actually work out of the Mesh Cowork space,” Haggard said. “It’s a place for people who usually work remotely. You can go and get a permanent desk (there) or you can just work at a table in the middle of the room with other people. It’s a way to get out of the house, basically, or to stop (having to go) to places like Dagny’s or Starbucks and actually have a place (of your own) that has really fast Wi-Fi.”
“You can pay a daily rate if you just want to drop in or you can pay a monthly rate and have your own desk. There’s different options. It’s really cool, the fact that it’s above Dagny’s to begin with. It’s a hip little place, especially for Bakersfield.”
“...So we decided we were going to do a comedy show (there).”
In lieu of finding a venue, Haggard and her partner-in-mirth, Joe Alaniz, basically decided to make their own in one of the cowork space rooms. After two successful experimental test runs, Haggard and Alaniz leveled up and booked this weekend’s show in one of the 50-seat capacity rooms. In line with the communal aspects of the spaces themselves, other comedians have offered to help with the show; from setting up the sound equipment to setting up chairs.
To once again paraphrase Jeff Goldlum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm in “Jurassic Park,” himself a character that enjoyed a good laugh: “Comedy finds a way.” And also like that movie, audience members get to examine comedic DNA.
“We’re doing a comedy Q&A afterwards,” Haggard said. “So we’re going to have the comedians go up for a panel afterward and the audience can ask questions about their comedy, about their method, about their lives… anything. Nothing is off-limits.”
And even though Haggard isn’t performing, she said she’ll still be at the show, “running around, putting everything together, taking pictures.” The heavy lifting will be done by comedians Daniel Betts, Michael Zalusky, Alyssa Suggs and Tad Whaley.
To reference another movie, I simply love the “build it and they will come,” aspect of the whole affair. There’s a certain hardscrabble spirit that Bakersfield artists seem to embody: a strength of purpose in doing what it takes to be heard. Reminder: seating is limited so don’t wait on getting tickets.
Caffeinated Comedy with Tad Whaley, Michael Zalusky, Alyssa Suggs and Daniel Betts, 8:30 - 11 p.m. Saturday at Mesh Cowork, 2005 Eye St. Ste. 6 (upstairs from Dagny’s Coffee Company, entrance on Eye St.); $12 admission, limited seating; eventbrite.com; Comedian Q&A after the show; all ages, but listener discretion is advised; parental supervision for children under 18.
Tall Dark Album Release with Sleeping Pills (Tampa), Verses & Bridges (Los Angeles), and DJ Ill Flow, 9 p.m. Saturday at Sandrini’s Public House, 1918 Eye St.; $5; 21 and over
Bill Clifton’s Chicken & Whiskey Band (Fresno) CD Release Party, 6 - 8 p.m. Sunday at O’Hennings Bar, 1312 Airport Dr.; free admission; 21 and over
We are in the middle of a sort of new music renaissance right now with the staggering amount of new albums being released lately. It seems like every other week there’s another CD release party happening and trust me, this is a VERY GOOD THING.
Sleeping Pills, a groovy goth-tinged band based out of Tampa, will be at Sandrini’s this Saturday along with local sonic adventurers Tall Dark. Both groups have brand new releases: “Mirror in the Window” and “At the Tone,” respectively, with Tall Dark presenting the event as their proper “Album Release Party.”
I have to say, I really dig these releases. The songs on “At the Tone” are quite straightforward in their arrangements, melodies and execution but with some weirdness lurking just under the surface to keep the ears perked and engaged. The whole E.P. can’t be more than 15 minutes long and the longest track — my personal favorite, the closer “Through the Eyes” — is also the most ambitiously fascinating. It’s spooky and rolls with dark, spinning, carnivalesque doom.
With “Mirror in the Window,” and especially its title track, it appears that Sleeping Pills have added a bit of The Smiths to their dreamy gloom. The Sleeping Pills have graduated from Sisters of Mercy-type goth bombast to a hazy shoegaze style, filled with echoed vocals and guitar, tight drums, rumbly bass and sharp, almost weepy synths. The beginning of the track “Smoke and Mirrors” straight up took me back in time to Bam Bam’s.
Seriously, if you were — or probably still are — a fan of late 1980s Bakersfield underground music legends The Lonely, or of the local alternative music scene in general at that time, listen to this album on Bandcamp.com. You will flip out.
Verses & Bridges will also be performing that evening. It’s the newest project for Ryan Golob, the former guitarist of the beloved SoCal space-funk trio Jamstain. The band dissolved in 2015 after a fatal automobile accident took the lives of Golob’s bandmates, brothers Aidan and Ainsley Hubbard. DJ Ill Flow will open with a set of his own and join Verses & Bridges on theirs.
While Fresno’s inimitable Mofo Party Band might be dormant at the moment, co-founder and lead guitarist Bill Clifton has put together a group with the fantastic name Bill Clifton’s Chicken & Whiskey Band. This Sunday, he’ll be at O’Hennings Bar celebrating the release of their debut CD, “To the Country.”
“I enjoy going (to Bakersfield),” Clifton, 68, said via phone interview. “The folks there are really receptive and friendly. It’s just like going to a friend’s house, you know?”
The trio’s name evokes grease and soul and that’s an admittedly apt description for their style according to Clifton, even if he’s not completely sold on the name. Yet.
“You know everybody likes it but me,” Clifton said. “I didn’t name the band, my drummer (Craig Carter) came up with the name and started spreading it around. Everybody loved it and I couldn’t go back on it.”
Performing in over a dozen nations for four decades (25 years with the Mofo Party Band) has given Clifton the chops and the personality to engage, entertain and move an audience.
“I think the CD is a little extension of myself. (There were) some things I wanted to explore on my own,” Clifton said. “I think it’ll be a pleasant surprise for people. It’s stuff that’s been on my mind for years and I wanted to get it out.”
Stoney LaRue: Live 8 - 10:30 p.m. Friday at Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd.; Tickets: $15; buckowens.com; 328-7560
Country artist Stoney LaRue returns to Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace this Friday in support of his newest single “Hill Country Boogaloo,” a thick and soulful slab of Stevie Wonder-influenced Red Dirt country music that’s already cracked the Top 10 on the Texas Regional Radio Chart. His upcoming full-length album “Onward” will be released in the fall.
LaRue has a lot of different layers as an artist and like his contemporaries Casey Donahue and Josh Ward, is blazing a trail without the aid of a major label. He’s a straightforward entertainer with a heck of a voice and a heck of a resume. If you like a bit of a kick with your country, this is the show for you: caffeinated.