Just say 'Yes'
I think my first real introduction to the art of guitar noodling came when I took my one and only guitar class at Orange Coast Community College. At the time, the University of California system required one music credit to graduate, so I figured guitar would be a cinch, considering that I'd been sight-reading music for piano since I was 5 and knew enough chord notation to play most of the Grateful Dead catalog.
The first day of class, I found myself surrounded by leather-jacketed guys with long, fluffy hair carrying really nice electric guitars and tiny amps in case they got a chance to plug in.
These boys could play . . . or, at least, they could play really, really fast. The room was abuzz with high-pitched guitar twiddles and whines -- notes were held and bent for no apparent reason as the studious performers struck increasingly odd poses.
Just imagine every guy you've seen "trying out" a guitar at Guitar Center, and then imagine all those guys in the same room. That was this class.
What I now understand is that those poor, misguided boys were just trying to sound like Yes. By far the best of the late '60s progressive rock bands, Yes mixed guitar-noodling virtuosity, surreal lyricism, complex musical textures and Jon Anderson's powerful falsetto vocals to create a masterful, mysterious sound epitomized by such classics as "Owner of a Lonely Heart."
Over the band's 35-year history, Yes has successfully managed to meld their old sound with exciting new elements (with only a few legal battles among band members in between). Thus, they keep their old fans happy by never selling out, while bringing new fans into the fold and inspiring legions of soulful youngsters.
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m., Target Center, 600 1st Ave. N., $45.75-$59.75. 673-0900.
Nick Lowe is perhaps best known as one of the highest profile producers of punk's early days, working with The Damned, Dr. Feelgood, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Wreckless Eric among others. Those familiar with his work also know him as a brilliant songwriter with a wry, self-deprecating style that's both endearing and intimate.
Lowe's newest release, "The Convincer" falls musically between country-rock and torch-song balladry. This laid-back, feel-good record is full of stories of seduction and romance. And, for this tour, Lowe is performing all-acoustic sets, making these intimate little songs even more so.
Friday, Sept. 10, 8 p.m., Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 1st Ave. N., $15. 335-8181.
Who ya' gonna call?
Paranormal psychologist by day and prolific songwriter by night, multitalented Sean of the Sean Thomas Eugene Band is just as likely to exorcise a bar as he is to play in one.
In fact, when my brother-in-law thought his house was haunted, his first thought was to call Sean to check it out. I never got the full story of what happened, but it apparently involved a very freaky incident with a homemade Ouija board.
Normally, STE is a one-man project, consisting of over 11 self-released albums of near-acoustic love songs and ballads. For this show, Sean's joined by two other musicians to fill out the parts of songs that even a man with paranormal powers would need eight arms to perform on his own.
Thursday, Sept. 9, 9 p.m., Terminal Bar, 409 Hennepin Ave. E., $3. 623-4545.
Holly Day can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.