Friday, April 4, 2008

Feel Good Friday: John Cruz, Island Style

A few weeks ago I hipped you to a band called Bag Of Toys, a great local acoustic surf rock band that I saw at the Red Devil Lounge. They were great, I bought their CD, and I have been digging on their music since then.

So I was excited to learn that they were playing last night at The Independent and opening for a dude named John Cruz, with whom I was not very familiar before. But Hawaiian chill acoustic guitar singer/songwriter is right up my alley, and I'd been listening to his stuff on myspace all week and digging it.

Well after last night's show I can honestly say that John Cruz is probably the best Grammy winning singer/songwriter/acoustic guitar slayer that no one has ever heard of. Bag of Toys was very good, but John Cruz fucking killed it. Dude came out and played his entire set by himself. No backup, no band, nothing: just him and his acoustic guitar, for over an hour. He was incredible, especially considering how hard it is to be that good when you are doing it all yourself, and don't even have a percussionist making a beat for you. Then he brought Bag Of Toys out to back him on on a couple of songs, and they ripped it. John even broke his bottom guitar string but kept on going without missing a beat- he played 2 more songs with only 5 strings, then did his solo encore with the lead singer from Bag Of Toys guitar- great stuff. We drank, we danced, we had a wonderful time. I bought both his CDs and would see him again in a heartbeat if he played anywhere near where I was.

Anyhow, his most famous song is "Island Style", and although it cannot be embedded, by far the best version of it is the video on his official site which you can check out here. Seriously, I challenge you to listen to it/watch the vid and not be in a better mood. No really. Go watch it and then tell me you are not in a more chill, better place.

Through the power of embedded video I can share with you him performing Island Style here, and below with fellow Hawaiian native Jack Johnson at the 2007 Kokua Festival.

But make no mistake, he ain't no one trick pony. Lots of great tunes, both jammin' ones and beautiful ones- "Shine On" is a particularly beautiful love song. And in concert he just rocks the living shit out of the acoustic. I talked to him after the show and he was just as humble and chill as you would expect from a Hawaiian dude.

I think World Champion surfer Kelly Slater says it best:

"Anyone I play John's CD for, everyone says, I love that, I need to have that, what is that, who is that? I'm like, come on man, that's John Cruz, what are you talking about? You gotta get this CD. It is just a matter of people hearing him and getting him out there that way because it's the type of music that speaks to everyone."

Couldn't have said it better. While I absolutely love finding new, kind of unknown artists, it is truly saddening that artists like John Cruz, whose music is better than 99% of the crap on commercial radio, is a virtual unknown, but everyone constantly hears and knows about no talent ass clowns like Ashley Simpson.

If you are into the chill, the acoustic, the surf, good ass singer/songwriter, the Hawaiian, then check him out and add his music to your arsenal, for real.

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