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SAN JOSE ROCKS REVIEW: Jefferson Starship, Count Five, Syndicate of Sound

Brad Kava Blog - San Jose Mercury October 22, 2006

I have to confess to being more than a little skeptical about the San Jose Rocks concert held last Friday, and the claims some were making that San Jose is slighted by San Francisco as a rock and roll city.

Let's be honest, in music at least, San Jose is to San Francisco what Cincinatti is to Chicago or Anaheim is to Los Angeles. BUT (and a big BUT here), the event was great. No one overstated the case. The show was entertaining, the venue excellent. I felt more than a little proud of my 20 plus years in San Jose. And the history park that housed the show may be the best untapped venue in Silicon Valley. (Photos: me. 1. Kantner on stage..he's so much shorter than I remembered.?2.the tower above the stage. 3. starship on stage) This thing so surpassed my expectations that I'm looking forward to the next San Jose Rocks show, even if I'm unemployed and have to hold my finger up outside hoping for a miracle $100 ticket.

The Count Five and Syndicate of Sound gave credible performances, showing off the garage band sound that made them key one-hit wonders in the best garage band "Nuggets'' album collection. The New Arrivals were solid, but made me long to see pianist Tom Muller go wild with Chuck Berry. Creedence Revisited and People front man John Tristao gave a powerful, authentic rock performance.

?Starship, with original member, Paul Kantner, and a great female singer, Diane Mangano, channeled the energy of the original band's singer, Grace Slick. The food was great and authentic, right on down to the piles of Ho Hos and Ring Dings for dessert, the staples of the suburban munchies diet. (Were those green specks in the brownies or just my imagination?)
In a dressing room interview, Kantner, who kept talking about the green stuff himself, was nostalgic for his early days in San Jose. It was a suburban haven in which to start, away from the threatening beatniks of San Francisco.
He suggested that Virgin Airways new Jefferson Airplane-named jet should have taken its innaugural cruise to Amsterdam. He remembered taking his first acid trip in Holy City, in the Santa Cruz mountains, and making the trip from San Jose State to Santa Cruz in 20 minutes to see a girlfriend.
Did he feel anything special for this gig?
"It's a gig. They are paying me."
Ah, a true 21st century rocker.
So the big question now is, who will San Jose Rocks bring in the future, after the obvious names: the Doobie Brothers, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks and Smashmouth?
I have a few suggestions and I'd like to hear yours.

1) Guitar string maker Dean Markley.
2) Blues rocker Charlie Musselwhite (who plays the rock harmonica on INXS's "Suicide Blonde" and whose newest disc sounds like Led Zepellin with Tom Waits.)
3) Trapt, Dredg: the next generation of rockers
4) Jamie Stewart with IBOPA and XIU XIU. He is the nephew of the Kingston Trio's John Stewart, son of Billy Joel producer Gary Stewart, and has made some of
the wildest indie rock around. (see my earlier post, where Xiu Xiu was picked as best band by an Italian list maker)
5) Bob Gallien, whose amplifiers grace stages around the world.
6) Dave Barrett, whose School of the Blues is the only school in the country devoted to the music.
B7) June Stanley, whose JJ's Blues started off so many big name South Bay musicians.
8) Robben Ford, guitarist, who did more time here than Kantner.
9) Jerry Garcia, who lost part of his finger in an ax accident in the Santa Cruz mountains.
10) John Lee Hooker, master of the never-ending boogie.
11) Robert Hayes, the manager who tapped movies and commercials for local bands and made Smash Uouth a two-hit wonder.
12) Robert Berry, who would have been in Emerson, Lake and Palmer forever, if his name was cooler.
13) Greg Kihn, five-hit wonder rocker, deejay
14) Burt Bacharach: Do I really need to tell you why???
OK. Let's hear yours.

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