Music: Old School

Danny James gets weird in West Marin

Danny James, center, known in the late 1990s as a member of the garage punk band The Cuts, will perform with his band this week in Point Reyes Station.

Born and raised in Oakland, musician and songwriter Danny James has always gone about making old-school music that pushes modern-day boundaries. From his proto-punk origins to his current ’70s-inspired glam-rock project, James’ voice has stood out in the crowded Bay Area scene for his explosive musical presence and energetic arrangement of psychedelic-pop pastiches.

James first turned heads locally in the late 1990s as the singer, songwriter and keyboardist for the garage punk band The Cuts. Through a string of well-received albums, The Cuts denounced the bland sheen of the era’s pretentious pop-punk and dialed the clock back to the heyday of acts like the Stooges, erupting onstage with hard-worn angst while edging towards New Wave electronic flourishes.

After The Cuts disbanded in 2006, James spent several years looking to re-invent his sound, and found an R&B and funk aesthetic inspired by Bay Area icons like Sly & the Family Stone. At first, the new project was called Danny James & PEAR, though in 2013, James dropped the fruit from his moniker and titled his debut album PEAR when it was released as a cassette by Burger Records. Recently reissued, PEAR is an epically brazen master class in the last 50 years of rock ’n’ roll. Some songs soar with psyche-rock acidity, others strut with synthesized electro-pop wizardry and still other tracks seem to spin like a disco ball.

This week, the ambitious elements will be on display when James performs with his band, featuring members of Oakland’s Once & Future Band, in Point Reyes Station. The show also features songwriter Danny Vitali, along with the talented DJ Sam Swig, who will be spinning vinyl. A percentage of the door sales goes to West Marin community radio station KWMR.

Danny James, Saturday, Feb. 17, Old Western Saloon, 11202 Hwy. 1, Point Reyes Station; 9pm; $15; 21 and over; 415/663-1661.


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