20th Annual

Starry Plough Murder Ballads Bash

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Music starts at 8:45 pm


Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave in Berkeley


"Murder's as near to lust as flame to smoke." - William Shakespeare

The world is awakening, the autumn leaves fall (in some parts burn), and the bards return to the Starry Plough with songs of murder, misery, death, and despair at the 20th annual Murder Ballads Bash. Are you lusting for something different in the night? Come join the entire gang(sters) for this evening of murder which has fascinated us (whether we be story tellers, artists, musicians, children, or just plain folks) since Cain killed Abel. Deck yourselves in your holiday best. Though not currently required, masks have always been appropriate at Halloween.

This year's show features these performers in the following order starting at 8:45. Don't miss a bit of it.

Roger Brown and Leslie Thorne of the OUT OF TOWN COUPLE can be found playing at venues both in and out of town. While playing together at a bar in Point Arena, they were dubbed the "out of town couple", and the name stuck. The band swings with the blues, and will cheerfully execute some uplifting songs of homicide and grim death. BYOC (Bring Your Own Coffin). https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063765801918&eav=AfZ8nwEhl--RgwltodnllzvIkhVqHakkCq-9f6pk72gbzJF0TD8S-JXHGLLeiMV8MjE&ref=py_c&paipv=0&_rdr

Oakland songwriter JOE RUT’s new album STOLEN TOOLS AND STEREOS is filled with his quirky sense of humor underpinning a heartfelt, richly lyrical and subtly hallucinatory Americana/Alt-country tapestry. It's deeply American music, although the border guards seem to have been bribed with psychedelics to look the other way. But there is more to him than country/folk roots. His fans have compared him to influences as disparate as Todd Snider, Jason Isbell, and Josh Ritter (on the folky end of the spectrum), and They Might Be Giants, Frank Zappa, and the Meat Puppets (on the other end). His live shows have earned him a cult status, among those in-the-know, as a crafty guitarist, and a songwriter who disarms the listener with humor while striking to the heart of the matter no matter how light or, in this case, dark it may be. https://joerut.com/

Oakland trio THREE DRINK CIRCUS'S repertoire is full of tales of love, lies, and liquid courage. Strap in and listen close: you won’t want to miss their whiskey-soaked stories, shivery harmonies, and unique instrumentation, especially when they touch on murder, despair and other unsavory things. Amy, Aislinn, and Eric plan doing horrible deeds with their instruments of terror the likes of ukuleles, accordian, washboard, bells, kazoos, and a very sharp musical saw. https://www.facebook.com/ThreeDrinkCircus/


The ever-unpopular HAPPY CLAMS bring their own brand of quirky, punk driven rock'n'roll and attitude. This molluscular trio, led by Paul Pot and powered by the driving rhythm section of bassist Gail Todd and drummer Rawbird, will pound out some of their originals and covers of murder and misery songs. Though it's not known to many, they do have a tender side as well, but it probably won't be on display at this event. www.thehappyclams.com

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. Taking her musical cues from the heavily rock influenced Bakersfield sound, and her lyric inspiration from her favorite songwriters Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, Laura began writing songs in 2008. In our 2020 video Ballads Show she performed her haunting GHOSTSHIP, a song about the Oakland warehouse club fire that took the lives of friends of so many in the bay area. Perhaps she may perform it when she takes the stage with BRYAN KILGORE of the Vultures. Whatever they choose, we will be in for a deadly treat. https://laurabenitezandtheheartache.com

It’s a little bit front stoop, a little bit backwoods, it’s the art motel on a long stretch of highway, it’s LORETTA LYNCH! Let this city quintet with the country heart break yours into tiny jagged pieces and lift it up again with the ease of a shot glass. Lush three-part harmonies, raucous surf-tinged guitar and tongue in cheek, the East Bay Area’s own alt-country outfit plays stirring songs that reach the shady grove in all of us. A little tear in your beer, a little knife in the back - think the Wailin’ Jennies’ crankier cousins at a warehouse hoedown. It’s Americana Noir. Members Val Esway and Ari Fellows-Mannion founded the Murder Ballads Bash so long ago. http://www.lorettalynch.com/

The UNDER TRIO is Sara Jayne, Sean Valentine, and Mr. Andrew. This trio plays "folk" music around the Bay Area. Sara Jayne grew up in a household filled with soul music and it shows every time she sings. She is the co-host of the Starry Plough open mic. They are normally very nice people. https://theundertrio.bandcamp.com/album/field-recordings

BUNNY NUMPKINS AND THE KILL BLOW-UP REACTION started as backing band for a puppet, but eventually went on to simply make quirky pop. They are from Oakland, California and have played gigs in Oakland, San Francisco, & Berkeley at underground events such as The Bunny Jam and The Finch Gallery and clubs like the Elbo Room, The Starry Plough, and The Stork Club. Their fearless leader has been known by many names (so many we don't remember which one he is) and was the empresario of many festivals at The (now Thee) Stork Club in Oakland. https://bunnynumpkins.bandcamp.com/

Once a respectable member of the community, MIKE DINGLE is a man gone astray. His group, the "Third Thursday Band", has been making a nuisance of itself all over San Francisco for years now. All you have to do is look over your shoulder and there they are making an infernal racket of so many songs that you have grown to love over a lifetime. You may try to stop yourself, but you can't help but listen. I've been listening to Mike talk lately and he says he's working on something special for this show. He likes long songs by Bob Dylan. https://www.facebook.com/people/Third-Thursday-Band/100063696691117/

JENNIFER BLOWDRYER was part of the bay area punk scene with "Jennifer and the Blowdryers" and the "White Trash Debutantes". She is an author, poet, actress and singer/songwriter. She lives in New York City where she plays with her band Blowdryer Soul. She's stopping by for a number or two accompianed by Paul Wexler and Paul Pot . https://soundcloud.com/jenniferblowdryer


Keep checking here for updates and please, vote.

Click here to watch the entire 2020 Virtual Bash