Stones Throw Soul Tour
Sunday, August 18th 7:00PM
Peanut butter wolf
As a young kid growing up in San Jose, Chris Manak soon realized he needed an escape from the realities of suburbian life in the Silicon Valley. The age of nine was his coming of age. This was the year he discovered sports (Pittsburgh Pirates), video games (Pac man), girls (Anita Balderama), and hip hop (“Rappers Delight”). Alongside partner Sweet Steve, young Chris fashioned primitive mix-tapes (using the pause button) and ran amok at the local roller rink.
He took on the name Peanut Butter Wolf in the late-80s when he realized that, in an odd turn of events, a girlfriend’s youngest brother feared the “peanut butter wolf monster” more than death itself. Wolf and his more conventionally-named counterpart, Charizma, began recording in 1989 when the two were still teenagers. Within three years, the duo signed a contract with Hollywood Basic (Disney) alongside label mates Organized Konfusion and DJ Shadow. Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf were riding high, touring Europe, receiving press in magazines such as Billboard and (a then newspaper format) Urb, hanging with radio legends Sway & King Tech on Wake Up Show and performing live shows with groups like House of Pain, Nas and The Pharcyde. Then, in December of 1993, Charizma tragically lost his life. Stunned, Wolf temporarily gave up on music.
After releasing the song “Just Like A Test” with Charizma for David Paul’s Bomb Hip Hop Compilation early in 1994, Upstairs Records, a label known primarily for house music, approached Wolf to record an instrumental LP. Thus, the Peanut Butter Breaks was born; the record became the Wolf’s calling card, leading to meetings and collaborations with like-minded DJs like Q-bert, Cut Chemist and Rob Swift.
After the release of Peanut Butter Breaks, PB Wolf found himself in demand as a producer. His track for the all-scratching compilation Return of the DJ was labeled “incredible” by The Source magazine. He released a 6 song compilation for South Paw Records in 1995, featuring collaborations with up and coming San Jose MCs. He also produced Kool Keith’s first single as a solo artist “Wanna Be A Star.” These releases, amongst others, led to a picture disc EP for British label 2 Kool Records.
In 1996, Peanut Butter Wolf founded Stones Throw Records. Charizma’s posthumous “My World Premiere” was the single to launch the label. A few highlights in the beginning were the songs “Unassisted” by Rasco, Super Duck Breaks LP by DJ Babu, and hip hop 7” series.
Lately, PB Wolf has moved away from producing (save the odd remix or compilation track) to build the Stones Throw label and to travel as a DJ to Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and across the US. Through his willingness to experiment and provide Stones Throw’s artists with musical carte blanche, he has overseen the releases of Lootpack’s Soundpieces, Quasimoto’s The Unseen, Breakestra’s Live Mix, Yesterdays New Quintet’s Angles Without Edges, Madlib’s Shades of Blue, and Jaylib’s Champion Sound.
Known as Los Angeles’ “Ambassador of Boogie Funk,” Dam-Funk represents the citizens of the Funkmosphere. Headquartered in the Leimert Park section of L.A., Dãm (pronounced: ‘Dame’ as in Damon) spent the last few years cultivating a musical renaissance rooted in the early-’80s styles known as Boogie, Modern Soul and Electro-Funk.
As a DJ/selector, Dãm attracts the most discerning Boogie Funk afficionados within driving distance of his storied Monday-night Funkmosphere parties. But it’s not just collectors at the bar toasting to the melodic sounds. Anyone who grooves to the likes of Slave, Aurra, early Prince, Prelude Records and the like, will get a dose of those groups’ unknown contemporaries – more obscure but equally Funk-worthy.
The next phase of the Ambassador’s mission is his debut album Toeachizown: continuing the classic West Coast tradition into today’s scene with Dãm’s own original “Modern-Funk” compositions. By plugging in his arsenal of vintage synths and drum machines, Dãm channels the galactic harmonies of his inspiration into his own brand of new boogie. Stones Throw Records’ like-minded honcho Peanut Butter Wolf brought Dãm on to the team to glide into the future with his unique, synth and bass-driven vibe. It’s a promising new chapter for Southern Cali space funk.
The Stepkids are three singer/songwriters. “A lot of what excites us about this band is this band itself,” says bassist and keyboardist Dan Edinberg. “It’s not either of us; it’s about creating an entity where the entity itself is what’s important.” As a result, every song on the Stepkids self-titled debut album is written with equal input from each member.
“All three of us write and all three of us sing,” says Jeff Gitelman, who resigned from touring as Alicia Keys’ guitarist to concentrate full-time on recording the Stepkids self-titled debut album. Drummer Tim Walsh continues, “There’s an equal split in the creative process. Any lyric, any melody, any idea could have been done by any of us.”
This approach comes from more than a decade of musical experimentation and experience. Raised on the East Coast jazz and R&B circuit, individual band members went on to share stages with 50 Cent and Lauryn Hill, tour internationally with indie punk band Zox, score movies and commercials and produce solo albums.
The Stepkids groove is a fusion of punk and jazz, West African and 1960s folk, neo and classic soul, classic funk and 20th century classical. The band produce, engineer and record themselves on a reel-to-reel.
There’s no singular icon, no singular sound, and no singular way of making it happen for the Stepkids. It’s psychedelia for the 21st century, where the focus is on the whole.
Myron & E
The vocal duo is something of a rarity. There have been countless solo stars, trios, quartets and quintets, but the pairing of equally talented singers isn’t nearly as common. Sam and Dave, Ashford and Simpson, the Righteous Brothers and the Everly Brothers comprise a short list of standouts. Enter Myron & E.
Myron (Myron Glasper) was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. He sang in choirs and played piano growing up, and was a star athlete in football and track, but found his calling as a dancer. Working with Rosie Perez landed him on the early ’90s sketch comedy show In Living Color. During those years, however, the streets of South Central were no place to foster creativity, so Myron moved to the Bay and began touring as a backup singer, which is where he met E (Eric “E da Boss” Cooke).
E, a native of Newark, New Jersey, got his first taste of music by playing records during family card games and fish frys. As a teen, he began collecting records of his own and DJing, hanging at the Music Factory and Rock and Soul in New York City. After relocating to southwest Virginia, he graduated high school and began DJing parties, which allowed him to invest in an Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard, two Technics turntables and an eight-track recorder.
The two began working together while on the road with the Bay Area’s Blackalicious, and shortly after, E released an independent record as E da Boss. While touring in Finland behind his solo project, E found himself in an impromptu jam session with members of The Soul Investigators, whose work with singer Nicole Willis helped define them as one of Europe’s foremost retro-soul bands.
Investigators producer Didier Selin was impressed enough to leave E with several unfinished tracks. Back in the U.S., E recruited Myron as a singing and songwriting partner, and Myron & E was born.
Myron & E and the Soul Investigators released a string of excellent funk 45s on the Timmion label—starting with 2008’s “Cold Game”/”I Can’t Let You Get Away”—before signing with Stones Throw last year. Since then, Myron & E have been focused on building their live performance, which includes sold-out shows before even having a full-length release and a stellar showing at SXSW. “We showed up to show out and that’s what we did,” E says of their SXSW appearance.
Myron & E are proud to be releasing their debut album, Broadway, this summer. For the album, the Soul Investigators provided demos from overseas with the duo stationed on the west coast writing the lyrics and singing all the vocals. E, in particular, has a practice of sending YouTube links of classic soul and R&B songs to the band to provide inspiration for recreating that vibe. One such link was to Edwin Starr’s “Running Back and Forth.” The Soul Investigators responded with “Everyday Love.”
“I don’t really think there’s anybody else that can do it as good as they can,” E says about the band. “They do it like none other.”
—Ronnie Reese, Spring 2013