Kendra McKinley, Dan Juan, Hod and the Helpers at Moe's Alley
Moe's Alley presents a showcase of under the radar goodness from KENDRA MCKINLEY, DAN JUAN, and HOD AND THE HELPERS. $7 Advance, $10 Day of Show Doors 8:00 PM, Show 8:30 PM http://www.kendramckinley.com/ https://danjuanband.bandcamp.com/releases https://hodandthehelpers.bandcamp.com/ ABOUT KENDRA MCKINLEY: "Kendra McKinley is a rising star in San Francisco." - Annie Bacon, SF Critic "Her 1960s chamber-pop sound and strong, undulating vocals -- which slightly resembles St. Vincent (Annie Clark) -- will make you feel like ditching work to skip through a field of sunflowers with your new lover." - Melissa Hellmann, The Bold Italic "...McKinley is no throwback act - her sound may echo the past but she belongs firmly in the present." - Nick Schneider, The Bay Bridged Kendra McKinley perceives a song like a painter views a blank canvas: an opportunity to expand an audience's mind, to wash their thoughts in brilliant hues of blue and violet, scarlet reds and effusive orange. Inspired by the past but not chained to it, McKinley's music spans the diverse spectrum of pop music. She echoes the intricate vocal arrangements crafted by Brian Wilson, fractures the narrow definitions of a genre like St. Vincent, and recognizes storytelling as the key aspect of a great tune the way the best singer-songwriters have for generations. Raised on a healthy dose of The Beatles and musical theater, McKinley realized from an early age that her future would lie in the arts. It's no surprise, then, that she took up classical guitar while at UC Santa Cruz, and that a jazzy, bossa nova-tinged debut album would emerge alongside her studies. Entitled Chestnut Street, the record established McKinley as a striking new voice on the local music scene, a singer-songwriter with a penchant for pop melodies and intricate vocal arrangements. Soon after graduation she became a full-blown troubadour, traveling around Europe with her guitar, eventually landing in San Francisco where her charming eccentricity was immediately embraced by the famously eccentric Bay Area arts scene. It didn't take long for her to become a fixed favorite in rock venues, coffee shops and art galleries across the city. In contrast to the low-key Chestnut Street, upcoming sophomore album Treat is a full-band extravaganza, a grand production featuring uncountable, interlocking vocal harmonies, sweeping Phil Specter-sized arrangements, and melodies drenched in sunshine psychedelia. Produced in part by big brother AJ (lead guitarist for San Francisco's own Battlehooch) and engineered by Andy Freeman, the record captures Kendra's love of '60s pop without succumbing to mere tribute. McKinley goes beyond homage and into innovation, sounding like no artist past or present. ABOUT DAN JUAN: Dan Juan's playful name embodies the band's lighthearted approach--they set out to have fun, and it shows onstage. That's why you won't find any trace of them online; foregoing self-promotion was an intentional move. "We're not trying to market ourselves," says guitarist and vocalist Dan Talamantes. "The object is not to make money, but to have as much fun as possible. We want our enjoyment of it to translate to the audience's enjoyment of it." The lineup features Talamantes on guitar and lead vocals, Tyler Larson on lead guitar, Jeff Wilson on bass, and Alex Bice on drums--four friends in their mid-20s who are taking time out from more ambitious projects to "make the band we've always wanted." The resulting sound is a mix of alt-country with indie-rock. Influences include Wilco, Neil Young, Dr. Dog, and Gram Parsons. They're not attempting country revival, per se; according to Talamantes, the country aspect is "more of a texture than a template." The members of Dan Juan are active contributors to Santa Cruz's creative community. When they're not organizing Boulder Creek's annual Do-It-Ourselves Festival, the four multi-instrumentalists are involved in various local pursuits, including Steep Ravine, Dos Osos, and the North Pacific String Band, to name a few. Dan Juan is a more of a hobby project, an intentionally stress-free creative outlet. The band name is a cheeky reference to the literary Don Juan, inspired by a nickname for Talamantes, who moonlights as a journalist and a private investigator. "Dan's kinda like this aging hipster type of dude," Wilson explained. "We're all getting older, but we're still in the prime of our youth, so it was just a funny play on that mystique." -Katie Small, GOOD TIMES SANTA CRUZ ABOUT HOD & THE HELPERS: Hod And the Helpers is the alt-folk outlet of singer/songwriter Hod Hulphers. Their lovely, 1970s-sounding songs - owing as much to the intimacy of Will Oldham as Randy Newman's smart-ass character studies - ask the listener to pay attention to their simplest activities, relishing their chores as if they are free time. There's an empathetic pathos to their music, a self-conscious bitterness rare in modern songwriting. Hod and the Helpers began in 2013, when pianist AJ Marquez approached Hulphers about working together. From there, the group continued to expand beyond Hulphers' erstwhile solo project And Hod, featuring the talents of the Helpers - AJ Marquez, Dan Potthast, Greg Braithwaite, and Jeff Stultz.