A new year brings new bands and festivals

The Lousy Monkees are, from left, Bruce Brashear, Larry Thompson, Charles Martin and Tom Miller.

Special to the Sun
Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 11:57 a.m.

It's a new year, Gainesville is re-populated once again, and we're officially ready to get music in 2010 started off with a bang. The spring is always an exciting time for music in Gainesville because you see lots of bands coming out of their shells, or lots of new bands getting more shows because they don't have to fight with Gator football.

It's also a time where you see smaller festivals popping up in and around Gainesville. In the coming months we'll have a couple of home-grown festivals, the first being the AM/FM Gainesville Music Showcase, which will be a one-day, 12-band festival with some of Gainesville's best local musicians, and the second is the Harvest of Hope Festival which is a weekend-long event dedicated to hard rock. Heck, we even have Wanee coming up in April. But for now, let's concentrate on what's going on here.

Friday night at Common Grounds marks the triumphant return of The Lousy Monkees. Yes, believe it or not there is a band in Gainesville brave enough to take on the pop craftsmanship of the Monkees' music and it just happens to be The Righteous Kind. This fun-loving four-piece made up of Charles Martin, Tom Miller, Larry Thompson and Bruce Brashear normally get their kicks with psychedelic rock 'n' roll, but ever since their Halloween debut of the Lousy Monkees they've tried to switch gears with some of the most lovable pop songs of the '60s. They're really the only band in town I could think of for the job.

The Lousy Monkees not only re-create the look of the band but its infectious sound too. Keep in mind The Monkees weren't real musicians, but that doesn't mean their music lacks the tools necessary for great rock 'n' roll. The Monkees had some of the best songwriters in the history of rock and pop music working for them, like Goffin and King, Neil Diamond, John Stewart of the Kingston Trio, and Boyce and Heart. Their tracks were also recorded by the elite group of session musicians in L.A. known simply as "The Wrecking Crew." Chances are if you've heard a rock song from L.A. in the '60s, they recorded it. The Wrecking Crew worked for The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, The Mamas and The Papas, and Simon and Garfunkel to name a few. So there's a pure musical pedigree to The Monkees sound, even if the guys never played a note. That's what drives Charles Martin and the Righteous Kind to play their music. Clearly, from some of the other covers I've heard from the band, they have a deep and expansive knowledge of what well-constructed music sounds like, so dismiss the idea that these guys idolize a band that never was; they have their idols. But to play dress up? The Monkees are a great fit. If you see them you'll get compelling theater, songs you can sing-along to and, most importantly, a whimsical experience guaranteed to make you smile. Try not to smile when they play "Daydream Believer." I dare you.

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On Saturday night at Common Grounds check out the best band to come out of Orlando in well...ever. The Legendary JC's play blues, soul and funk music like few I've heard. They re-capture the thick, horn-drenched sounds of Memphis and blend them with some funky riffs from the '70s for a truly retro experience that never feels forced. They aren't a cover band. They're just a band rooted in music from another era, and we're lucky for that. As a blues enthusiast, I'm a sucker for rhythmically driven music, so anyone looking to do a little head bobbing and toe-tapping should be at this show. Oh yeah, and for you guitar buffs there's a solo or two thrown in for good measure.

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Morningbell will play their first show of the year at The Atlantic on Saturday night. With their new album "Sincerely, Severely" garnering lots of attention from various online music blogs and Web sites, and a four-star review from allmusic.com, let's keep our fingers crossed that 2010 is the breakout year for Morningbell. They work hard to constantly give Gainesville new music that's not only cerebral but visceral. If you haven't seen this band, then you're simply missing out. They'll be playing with The Footlights, Queen of Spain and Nighty Night.

Other notable shows for this week are Benny C and The Jam at The Backstage Lounge on Friday night and Shotgun Diplomacy at 1982 Bar on Saturday night. Enjoy the new year with some live shows.

Contact Dante Lima at lima.dante@gmail.com.

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