An Introductory Guide to Redwoods Music
Get to know the local label and artist collective ahead of their show at The Casbah
Dani Bell and the Tarantist | Photo by Kristy Walker
Seeing a show by The Redwoods Revue is guaranteed to be a little different than most other live shows you’ll see this year. Technically, each “Revue” showcase is a lineup of four or five different artists or bands, all of whom have their own unique style or aesthetic. But stick around for a few sets and something interesting sticks out—a lot of the same musicians will end up playing throughout the night, creating something of a vocalist rotation backed by a team of instrumental ringers, some of whom show up for one or two sets, and some whose gift of musical endurance deserve some kind of award. Like an athletic trophy, perhaps, but with a bass or a drum kit instead of a ball.
The Redwoods is a label, which releases music from a half-dozen artists or so, but it’s more than that. It’s something more like San Diego’s answer to Motown or Stax, in that it has its share of dynamic and unique star players along with a house band of sorts to keep a signature groove rolling throughout its varied releases. The collective has built up a strong reputation locally, and their Revue shows almost always sell out, and with good reason: There’s not a moment throughout the evening that isn’t highly entertaining.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick and easy guide to the Redwoods’ acts, five of whom will be onstage Friday at The Casbah.
Apple Music categorizes Cardinal Moon as “country,” though that doesn’t quite cover the range of sounds they create. There’s a bit of twang, certainly, but there’s also rock, soul, pop and a bit of surfy guitar for that matter. And it all comes together quite nicely.
Birdy Bardot is arguably the most “rock” of the groups in the Redwoods collective, but Birdy’s style of rock is definitely one that goes against many tired contemporary trends. There’s some trippy, garage grit in her sound, but at her best she makes a uniquely infectious brand of pop that reminds me a little of Nancy Sinatra’s collaborations with Lee Hazelwood.
The Midnight Pine
It’s been a few years since the last album by The Midnight Pine, and I can’t help but think that we’re due for some more haunting alt-country and indie folk featuring the stunning vocals of Shelbi Bennett. (Side note: they do an enchanting cover of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)”.)
Jake Najor and the Moment of Truth
Jake Najor has been playing drums in countless bands in San Diego pretty much as long as I can remember going to 21-and-up clubs like The Casbah. But he’s also got his own funk ensemble called Moment of Truth, which released their new album In the Cut earlier this year. Be prepared to get down.
Dani Bell and the Tarantist
The member of the Redwoods family with the most arresting visual presence—they’re rarely onstage without birdlike masks on—Dani Bell and the Tarantist play super-fun indie pop with elements of psychedelia and classic, ‘60s-style pop and R&B.
Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact
Rebecca Jade and the Cold Fact aren’t playing the upcoming showcase at The Casbah, but Jade is nonetheless a core member of the collective. She has a stellar voice, a quality that all the Redwoods vocalists share, but the Cold Fact’s sound is deeply funky, raw and upbeat. Even though they’re sitting this one out, they’re well worth seeking out next time around.
The members of The Redwoods are involved in various other local bands that technically aren’t affiliated with the label, but are still worth seeking out, such as Boychick (Dani Bell), The Heavy Guilt (Al Howard), The Havnauts (Shelbi Bennett), Kate Bush cover band Baby Bushka (Bell and Bennett), and The Rosalyns (Birdy Bardot). Needless to say, all of the talented people in this collective are making a lot of music well worth seeking out. So it’s awfully generous of them to pack as much of it into one night as they possibly can.
Other Recommended Shows This Week:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Live (Embarcadero Marina Park South, August 9-10): Leave it to the San Diego Symphony to do a classic album right. Stuart Chafetz conducts this performance of The Beatles’ 1967 psychedelic masterpiece, complete with sitars, kazoos and all.
Prince Daddy and the Hyena (House of Blues Voodoo Room, August 11): The name’s a bit silly, but this band delivers a rowdy, maximalist punk rock sound that should appeal to fans of Titus Andronicus and The Hold Steady.
Devotchka (Music Box, August 14): Denver-based Devotchka have made a career out of creating unique fusions of sounds—indie rock, punk, folk, dark cabaret and any number of other styles all swirl together in a unique and dramatic presentation. That would be enough to stoke most people’s curiosity, but I’ll do you one better. The songs aren’t just interesting, they’re excellent.