Music : Sound and the Fury

A week on the scene

Culture clashes

You know it's a surreal week on the live-music front when The Mars Volta and American Idol's Bo Bice work the same stage in a span of 48 hours.

The Mars Volta, much hailed, prog-influenced spinoff of El Paso's At the Drive-In, will open for System of a Down at the SBC Center on Friday, August 12, while the American Idols Live Tour rolls into the same arena two nights later. Bice will be one of only 10 Idols finalists showcased at this concert, and of course, he didn't even end up winning the wretched thing. But Bice is the attraction: Forget that he's America's biggest cracker since Travis Tritt; forget that he takes his fashion cues from old .38 Special videos; this man's true cultural achievement is stubbornly towing Ides of March's dilapidated hit "Vehicle" into the 21st century. For that, we will forever curse his absurd name.

A better bet for music fans will come this weekend in the form of legendary roots reggae trio Culture. The group was formed in Jamaica in 1976 by frontman Joseph Hill and a year later released its classic debut Two Sevens Clash (subsequently listed by Rolling Stone magazine among the "50 Coolest Records"). Culture has since recorded more than 30 albums, and is often credited with helping to define the sound and style of Rastafarian reggae.

Much of the group's success is attributed to its searing rhythms and the conscious lyrics of Hill. In a 2002 interview, Hill waxed poetic on the connections between his music and the Rastafarian movement: "It's not about religion," he said. "It is the hope of a nation. See, a person's freedom and liberty is just as equal as a religion. Without freedom or liberty it makes no sense to start religion, and without respect to each other, you ain't gonna get no freedom or liberty."

Culture visits San Antonio on August 13 with a performance at the recently renovated Kingston Tycoon Flats Patio. For more information contact (210) 731-9838. ...

Finally, local instrumental-pop trumpeter and romantic vocalist George Morín takes his band JazzSúave into the Fountain Grille (2121 N. St. Mary's) for a rare gig on Friday, August 12 from 8:30 p.m. to midnight.

- Compiled by: Gilbert Garcia and M. Solis