Buskers are few and far between on the sidewalks of Long Beach but for one day only, a handful of bands have the approval of the city and a few electrical outlets at their disposal. There seems to be an unintended theme of family bands this year, real and fake, whether that means siblings in harmony or a lingering generational legacy hovering just above the fretboard. Buskerfest is the culmination of Long Beach's stellar outdoor concert series and they are closing out 2013 with a roster loaded with some local bands. Support your neighbors. Here's a group of bands that you should be sure to catch.
Brother C and Sister J
Who'd have thought the heyday of guitar/drum duos that play an unhinged Bo Diddley rumble would last so long? Brother C and Sister J took their cues from that Detroit duo that pretended to be siblings in the early '00s. Brother C even has the tight pants and vocal quaver that drives all the girls crazy. The differences come in the little things. His guitar sound digs more into a Texas blues with a funky twang that keeps things moving and Sister J is a much more capable drummer than that other disbanded group. She pummels an even tempo and does more than just let her hair blow in the wind. This set will likely have a lot more heavy riffs than the other.
Gypsy jazz instantly makes anything Woody Allen writes twice as madcapped. That's a cinematic fact. So perhaps when Hedgehog Swing hits the stage you'll receive a text from someone having an affair on a boat or maybe just Alan Alda. Guitarists Luca Pino and Gage Husley have clearly been studying the Reinhardt handbook. Their strum and swing is nimble and tasteful. The addition of a clarinet to that sound sometimes takes things a little too far into the Klezmer corner but that can be forgiven. This is a nice alternative to the more rocking offerings on the bill.
The newest generation of Ritter kids are mostly recognized for being the children of John (Three's Company, Problem Child) but it is often forgotten these days that John was known to many as the son of Tex. The singing cowboy had a string of hits in the 1940s and his granddaughter Carly is returning to those roots. The gentle songstress has a patient lower register and penchant for love songs with an easy going band that combine a pleasant early evening sound. Maybe she'll even cover grandad's "I Dreamed of A Hillbilly Heaven."
These scruffy, plaid-clad rockers have a Mersey Beat-friendly vibe with a hay-flecked tinge and three members with names ending in "ustin." Their thoroughly modern rock sound features democratically dispersed lead vocal duties and spacey guitars. It is kept grounded by a steady backbeat swaddled in soothing dynamics and rich harmonies. With a new album in the can, the Fling are poised for radio domination.
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He's My Brother, She's My Sister
This vibrato-riddled, sibling-led band has a good time vibe that should make for a nice closer. The thrift store ensemble features a greaser bass player (completely with spinning bass), slide guitarist and a percussionist who stands atop a bass drum outfitted with tap shoes. The raucous, full-throttle band lives up to that sort of instrumentation with a perpetual stomp. They seem like the kind of group that might rattle the top of your head with a pair of mallets if they thought it would get a nice, hollow sound and you'd probably smile while they did it.
For detailed information on Buskerfest-- set times and directions, etc. click here.