Starry Plough Murder Ballads Bash

Saturday, October 28th.

Doors open 8:00 pm, music at 9:00 pm SHARP


21 & over

3101 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, 510-841-0188

SHOW UPDATE: Mama Mia D'Bruzzi has come down with laryngitis and will have to put off her Murder Ballads appearance until next year. In the meantime the fabulous Laura Benitez has agreed to substitute. Yes, there is a substitute for greatness, and that is more of the same.


“Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.”
- William S. Burroughs

You got that right, Bill. Anybody is capable of murder. Husband and wife, king and slave, young and old, shopkeeper, tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief…. all of them and more. Murder is part of the human experience. We may not like it but there it is, right there on the news and writing songs about it has been a tradition since Cain slew Abel. Now in it’s sixteenth year, the ANNUAL STARRY PLOUGH MURDER BALLADS BASH is a tradition in itself. Ten or so gruesome acts of murder, misery, death, and despair will be musically executed for your listening pleasure.

Featuring (but not in order of appearance):

Kneel: Neil Young tribute band formed by John Shiurba (Eskimo, Ebola Soup, Spezza Rotto, dotdotdot), Angela Coon (Ninewood, Toychestra, dotdotdot), and Tom Scandura (Molecules, Surplus 1980), who were thrown together 15+ years ago for a Vaccination Records Rock Lotto Night and never stopped loving Neil Young. Joined by guests Lexa Walsh, Berge Thomasian, Wil Hendricks, Val Esway and Ari Fellows-Mannion.

Maurice Tani is a "rye-to-romantic, supercalifornigraphic" singer-songwriter specializing in a cinema-for-the-blind style. His band, Maurice Tani & 77 El Deora has been the source of untold, but exquisite suffering in the Bay Area for over 10 years. Once you get a sampling of Maurice you will want to see him again at his many local appearances.

Laura Benitez songwriter, lead singer and founder of Laura Benitez and the Heartache, has been making her mark on stage and screen since 2000. She spent several years appearing in soap operas and commercials in Los Angeles before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004. Diving into the region’s rich Americana and Roots music scenes, she first started honing her country music chops when she joined the newly formed Cottonpickers in 2005. She takes her musical cues from the heavily rock influenced Bakersfield sound, and her lyric inspiration from her favorite songwriters Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.

Paul Griffiths is a San Francisco based songwriter/performer. Originally from Manchester England, Paul regularly performs around the SF Bay area and beyond in various configurations, solo, duo, trio and with his full bands "The Scofflaws" and "The Bogues."

Roy Loney and the Phantom Murderers: Roy Loney has had a long and storied career. He was a founding member of SF's legendary Flaming Groovies in the late 60's and early 70's whose album, Teenage Head, was picked as one of the 1000 records you need to hear before you die. In 1977 he formed the Phantom Movers (slightly tweaking their name for this year’s bash) who still continue to perform to this day showing everybody what rock'n'roll is all about.

Macerator: Born like a Phoenix from the ashes of Ralph Stanley, Macerator has risen to viciously and joyfully reinvent American country into a sound they find satisfying.

Ira Marlowe: Ira Marlowe has yet to murder anyone, but this could be the year. In his musical travels he’s been signed and dumped by a major label, garnered numerous awards that seemed like a big deal at the time, and once sang at a circumcision. These days he teaches songwriting at The Monkey House, the Berkeley performance space he opened in 2012, and also at UC Berkeley, the world-renowned university he founded in 1868. Three of the past four years, he’s served as songwriter-in-residence for the SF Mime Troupe, which performs free shows in Bay Area parks, then shakes people down for money.

The Vultures: It you’ve ever seen The Vultures, you are not likely to forget them. They play forgotten classics from old 78’s, many of the bawdy. They also offer some originals in the same vein. They bop! They swing! They swagger. I can’t wait to hear what they dig up for this show.

Z-Trane Electric Band plays soulful Americana rock with hard-won lyrics and lots of jamming, always aiming for the peaks.”

The Happy Clams: Living dangerously on the forefront of the unpopular music scene since 1997, this molluscular trio, led by Paul Pot, will pound out a selection of their original murder songs written over the last decade just for the Murder Ballads Bash.