Music News & Reviews

Island of Black and White: Three gigs in a week in Sacramento area

Island of Black and White is at its biggest configuration with from left, Timmy Picchi, Rebecca Sleeth, Chris Haislet, Nawal Alwareeth and Patrick Picchi.
Island of Black and White is at its biggest configuration with from left, Timmy Picchi, Rebecca Sleeth, Chris Haislet, Nawal Alwareeth and Patrick Picchi.

The bluesy, funky reggae/soul group Island of Black and White spent roughly 315 days last year on stage – 86 percent of a year devoted to performing, putting on improvised shows.

This year promises to be similar. IBW is averaging four to five shows a week in the Sacramento region, said Nawal Alwareeth, who with Chris Haislet has been the core of the busy band. One of those performances will be July 24 at Grace Patriot Wines in Placerville. Another is July 25 at Crystal Basin Bistro in Camino. Find them at the Torch Club in Sacramento on July 30.

“I think the biggest thing our fans know about is … to expect something different every time,” Alwareeth said. “It always depends on the moment, where we’re playing and who we’re playing to, but we always try to keep it fresh, exciting and try new things.”

“It’s all about feeling out the crowd,” Haislet added.

IBW has had a fluid lineup since Haislet co-formed it in 2004 in El Dorado Hills.

Alwareeth met Haislet in 2007 through a Hacky Sack club at Folsom Lake College and fell naturally into the role of band manager. When the group lost its drummer before a show one day, she filled in at the last minute.

“We played the show at Humboldt, two hours, (and she was) on a drum kit for the first time,” Haislet said. “And she nailed it.”

Now the IBW lineup is Haislet (vocals, guitar and piano), Alwareeth (drums), brothers Patrick and Timmy Picchi (percussion and guitar, respectively) and Rebecca Sleeth (bass).

Every IBW show is improvised, with some songs lasting more than 10 minutes with extended jam sessions.

“When we do (an old song) a new way, it keeps us excited, and if we’re excited and we’re having fun, then the crowd’s having fun,” Haislet said.

IBW is all about good vibes and feeling the music, and often play three-hour sets because they get lost in the moment, Alwareeth said.

“Our age demographic goes from little kids to 80-year-olds,” Haislet said. “The kind of music (we play) doesn’t matter. It’s the feeling and the energy.”

Ashiah Scharaga: 916-321-1083, @AshiahD

Island of Black and White

What: The blues, reggae, soul group has several performances this week

  • 6:30-8:30 p.m.July 24 at Grace Patriot Wines, 2701 Carson Road, Placerville; 530-642-8424, gracepatriotwines.com; $5, free for wine club members
  • 4:30-8 p.m.July 25 at Crystal Basin Bistro, 3590 Carson Road, Camino, 530-303-3749; www.crystalbasinbistro.com; no cover charge
  • 9 p.m. July 30 at the Torch Club, 904 15th St., Sacramento; $6; www.torchclub.net
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