Spirits in the Basement 5/1/2010

"A coalition with a mission" is the tag line of the hip hop group, Spirits in the Basement. We think this description is spot on.

With nine members and more joining every month, Spirits is what we would advise you to invest in, if we were E.F. Hutton. Unlike other large groups whose members are on stage solely to add girth, each member of Spirits is a talented performer who can hold their own as a solo act. In fact, that's how founder Zack Bateman came to recruit several of the members.

Spirits has a positive message that speaks of moving forward without violence: trading guns for knowledge and hopelessness for hope. This message is set to dope-ass beats that mix and meld genres and make it hard for you to sit down during the performance. Lyrics that are thought-provoking or fun share the stage with catchy choruses. The groups' musical influences are evident in their songs and can run the gamut from Public Enemy to Tom Waits to Stevie Wonder.

As diverse as the songs are the members themselves, who unintentionally appear to represent every stereotype, while representing none at the same time. The nerd, the b-boy, the suit, the rock star, the thug - all seem to fit together perfectly like wooden map pieces on stage.  On and off stage, you can tell that these guys actually like and care about each other, and their message.

Spirits in the Basement is nothing you expect, and everything you want in a hip hop group.

Keith Sheppard 4/17/2010

As soon as he begins to play and sing, you're inclined to ask aloud, or at least to the person next to you, Why isn't this guy on the radio??

Why, indeed.

Keith Sheppard has everything you need to succeed in music, except the time to pursue it.  As Assistant Chief Instructor/Executive VP of West Wind Karate/Kung Fu Schools, husband and father of three, Keith has had his hands full for the past 16 years. Still, he manages to find time to write and perform occasionally, and we're all the luckier for it. Usually backed by his band, Sheppard's Krook, Keith delivers a more intimate performance when he takes to the stage alone. There is a definite loyal following that tries to catch Keith whenever he goes "unplugged." We've jumped on the bandwagon.

From toe-tapping grooves with driving rhythms to haunting tales of love lost and found, Keith's music has many convincing facets, and you wonder - where does he hide all of this emotion? His otherwise calm and cool exterior belies the depth of his writing.

Whether on his guitar or keyboard, Keith accompanies himself flawlessly. When he plays an instrumental piece, you don't mind, as he is a master of his craft. Still, you can't help but wish for a temporary blackout in the hopes that Keith would perform a cappella, such is the crystal-clear beauty of his voice.

He may not be on the radio yet, but with his music on iTunes and his foot in the door of many bay area venues, we're hoping that the world will soon get to enjoy the diversity and perfection of Keith Sheppard's music.

The musical bar could use a lift!

Ian Tattenham 4/3/2010

There's something, dare we say, magical that happens when Ian picks up a guitar. We're not talking about the kind of magic that conjures up knights and dragons and fairies. We're talking about the kind of magic that weaves itself around you and eases you back into your chair; the kind of magic that dispels your worries and makes it perfectly fine to sit still and let the music sweep you wherever it wishes.

Guitars love Ian the way muscle cars love great mechanics. In his hands, you can hear them saying, Yeah, this is how I was meant to be played! Ian takes all genres and makes them his own, from Nine Inch Nails to Sarah McLaughlin, and all points in between. His originals are simple, complex, sweet and spicy all at once. His vocals are polished and his range will keep surprising you.

A mixture of Jack Johnson and John Frusciante on steroids, we have to concur with several audience members about Ian's sound:

"Ian's music is what acoustic guys on the radio would sound like if they had balls."

Magic, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. I still have "earworms" from his performance stuck in my head. He was...and is amazing.