The turntable DJ Kid Koala has credentials hip enough to raise your eyebrows and perk your ears. His imaginative platter concertos have opened gigs for Radiohead and the Beastie Boys, salted the mixes for the Gorillaz and the Handsome Boy Modeling School, and created soundtracks that mesh deftly with graphic novels like his 300-page opus, “Nufonia Must Fall.”
The title of his most record, “Your Mom’s Favorite DJ,” is only partially tongue-in-cheek, because Koala is a little dude, a man of Chinese-Canadian descent living in Montreal with a silly streak that spreads his appeal across the age spectrum. He’s made up tours that include a musical involving puppets, about a robot who works in a cookie factory. His first album, “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,” from 2000, is a blend of goofy fun and jaw-dropping technique to rival Disney and Dreamworks, albeit shrunk down to a pair of turntables and karate-quick hand motions.
Here is an excellent primer on the variety of virtuosity of Koala put together by the folks at the Cedar, including three very different videos from youtube. And here is KK’s myspace page. Grab your tickets while you can; right now “standing room only” is all that remains.
On Sunday, the Cedar will feature a pair of guitarists whose ability to unearth the essential roots of American folk, blues, bluegrass and gospel music is so knowledgeable and unerring that you’ll probably get a whiff of peat moss coming from the stage.
My personal favorite of the pair is Jorma Kaukonen, who the hippies will recall (well, if they were really hippies, they probably don’t recall much) as the guitarist for Haight-Asbury standard-bearers, the Jefferson Airplane. That’s Jorma’s guitar blazing the trail for Grace Slick’s vocal on “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love.”
Since then, Kaukonen has been steadily zeroing in on the wellsprings of acoustic music, beginning with Hot Tuna, the messy but frequently sublime ensemble he formed with Jefferson Airplane bassist and longtime friend Jack Casady. Their self-titled debut, performed in a Berkeley coffeehouse, was the first dose many rockers received of roots-oriented gems like “Hesitation Blues” and “Know You Rider,” and featured a rendition of “Oh Lord, Search My Heart,” that signaled the longtime love affair Kaukonen would have for the music of the Reverend Gary Davis.
Jorma bore down deeper into tradition on albums under his own name, beginning with the solo disc “Quah” in 1974 and continuing through the aptly-named “River Of Time,” released almost exactly a year ago on the Red House label. “River” includes a bevy of Kaukonen originals that could have been written 80 years ago, plus covers of Merle Haggard (“More Than My Old Guitar”), the Grateful Dead (“Operator”), the Rev. Davis, naturally (“There’s A Bright Side Somewhere”), Mississippi John Hurt (“Preachin’ On the Old Camp Ground”) and the public domain (“Trouble In Mind”).
Also on the bill is David Bromberg, session man extraordinaire, who has plucked and bent notes for Dylan and Jerry Jeff Walker and a few hundred others, back on tour after a long time off making violins. He and Jorma will alternate solo sets and then come together with the mandolin player from the still-touring Hot Tuna, Barry Mitterhoff.
There are two Sunday gigs. Bromberg will lead off the sold-out 5 p.m. show, and Kaukonen will take the lead spot at 9 p.m., when tickets are still available.
Here are Kaukonen, Bromberg and Mitterhoff performing “It’s Over Darling” late last year.
There are a number of great tracks on youtube of a 1985 concert with Kaukonen and Bromberg. Here is their 24-year old version of “Hesitation Blues.”
Here is Jorma performing the Rev. Davis tune, “Sally Where’d You Get That Liquor From?”
Kid Koala at the Cedar Cultural Center, Saturday at 7 p.m.; tickets are $12 in advance, $15 day of show, standing room only is all that is available.
Jorma Kaukonen and David Bromberg at the Cedar Cultural Center, on Sunday at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $40 general admission and $50 for center section seating. The early show is sold out.