Reggae, Esé

The Rasta Farmers plant their first CD

Like many roots-oriented idioms, the parameters of what is considered "true" reggae music are often dictated by stringent dogma. It's a sort of musical fascism that frequently ostracizes bands that don't toe the strict ganja party line. Unfortunately, such narrow dictates usually result in groups that either come off like human jukeboxes, playing an endless stream of covers, or worse, offering up flaccid compositions that inevitably end up sounding like Marley-lite.

Those types of concerns haven't seemed to affect Phoenix's Rasta Farmers. With a membership composed of mostly Chicanos, the group is already a sharp contrast to most of its peers. The band, one of the few Valley rasta combos with a predominately original set list, freely admits to taking traditional reggae and fusing it with elements of rock, low-rider oldies, dancehall, soca, afro-beat and Latin. All this ends up producing a sound that owes as much to P-Funk, War, and Earth, Wind and Fire as it does to St. Bob.

Formed 12 years ago by Ras Patrick -- a self-described South Phoenix pachuco whose life was altered after a trip to Jamaica -- the group's unconventional muse has made it a favorite among a number of communities, especially the local Native American population. Despite their long run, this month marks the release of the group's first recording effort, a 10-song CD titled Black Out. The Rasta Farmers will celebrate the disc's debut with a pair of performances next weekend. Black Out is available at the Rasta Farmers Web site at www. rastafarmers.com or at Zia Record Exchange.

Did Jah know?: Local Chicano/reggae outfit Rasta Farmers will release its first CD, Black Out, later this month.
Did Jah know?: Local Chicano/reggae outfit Rasta Farmers will release its first CD, Black Out, later this month.
Bob's yer uncle: Arizona weirdo Bob Log III will be bringing his freak show to town as part of Nita's Hideaway's 4-1-1 night next Wednesday.
Bob's yer uncle: Arizona weirdo Bob Log III will be bringing his freak show to town as part of Nita's Hideaway's 4-1-1 night next Wednesday.

Rasta Farmers are scheduled to perform on Friday, May 12, at the Montego Jamaican Café in Tempe. Showtime is 9 p.m. The group is also set to play on Saturday, May 13, at Alice Cooper'stown. Showtime is 8:30 p.m.

Log On: Fans of the esoteric and mysterious should hie to Nita's Hideaway next Wednesday for a concept night called 4-1-1. The premise? Four one-person acts, with each bringing one special surprise guest. Organizers are billing the show as a "celebration of the power of the individual -- and the one friend they could con into helping them."

The lineup includes acoustic songstress Cameo Hill, Valley eccentric Vic Masters, Sleepwalker/Year of the Mule main man Jamal Ruhe and notorious Old Pueblo punk-primitive Bob Log III, late of Tucson's Doo Rag.

Log is coming off an especially memorable Valley performance at the Arizona Mills Virgin Megastore last November, where unsuspecting suburban shoppers were caught off guard by his always unsettling act. Apart from his own bizarre shtick (raw, solo Delta blues slide playing while clad in protective outwear and a motorcycle helmet -- think Mississippi Fred McDowell meets Evil Knievel), Log's Virgin gig featured a mid-set appearance by a mysterious masked apprentice, a buxom, half-naked female who proceeded to wow the crowd, including several prepubescent boys looking at Pokémon videos, with her impressive nipple-gonging expertise. Though we're not sure exactly who'll be sitting in with Log for the 4-1-1 show, we suspect he might be taking another trip down mammary lane, and veteran Log-watchers are predicting a show of, ahem, titanic proportions.

Bash & Pop urges fans to bone up on the man by picking up Log's sophomore solo release Trike, a follow-up to 1998's School Bus, both of which are part of his ongoing "Vehicle Series" celebrating various modes of transportation.

4-1-1 featuring Bob Log III, Jamal Ruhe, Vic Masters and Cameo Hill is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, at Nita's Hideaway. Showtime is 9 p.m.

Hope I Die Before I Get Old, Seriously: In the ongoing battle among legendary '60s bands trying to destroy their once-great legacies, classic-rock geezers The Who have announced dates for an extended U.S. comeback tour, their second (or technically, fourth) such endeavor since their 1982 "farewell" tour. Buoyed by strength of last year's acoustic performance at Neil Young's Bridge benefit, a smattering of recent club dates and an apparent desire to pad their offshore bank accounts, Messers Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle (along with schnozzola junior, Zak Starkey) will be making the rounds of American amphitheaters this summer. The group's U.S. jaunt will bring them to Phoenix's Blockbuster Desert Sky Pavilion on August 14. Tickets for the event go on sale June 3.

I hope the warm Arizona evening won't encourage singer Roger Daltrey to appear sans shirt -- there's nothing less appealing than a man trying to belt out "Won't Get Fooled Again" with middle-age paunch hanging over his white-fringed buckskin pants. And I wonder how bad Pete Townshend's hearing has to get before he stops voluntarily standing in front of 50,000-watt Marshall stacks. Age gags aside, I admit to being a blatant fan who will no doubt be front and center for the proceedings. It is The Who, after all. And I fully expect my steely professional demeanor to degenerate into something akin to nervous schoolgirl embarrassment should I get the chance to speak one-on-one with the man behind blue eyes.

In an ironic twist, future classic-rock geezers Pearl Jam have also announced a Blockbuster Desert Sky show. Theirs is set for Saturday, October 21. The group will tour in support of their upcoming album (yawn) Binaural, set for release later this month. Judging by their rapidly descending sales figures, most in the crowd will be shouting for "Jeremy" or "Evenflow" instead of any of the "new" stuff.

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