Cio Cio San is the best thing to come out of the Riverside, CA. area since Mr. T. Cio Cio San is a crazy rock and/or roll band consisting of members: guitarist/writer Rob Halbert, lead vocals/guitarist/writer Andy Ralph, vocals/bass Steve Martinez, and drummer Brian Wurzell. Their sound is reminiscent of a raw, early Weezer. They've been on the legendary Ska Parade, the last bastion of the alternative scene on west coast radio.

An account of my first Cio Cio San show:

I saw them live at the Noise Attic, a crappy little hang out for teenagers on Saturday nights. There were about 90 people there, and everyone in the house was wearing a Volcom T-shirt, except me and my entourage. The first three bands were a collection of crappy skate punkers whining about god-knows-what. 

Then they came. And totally killed me. 

The music was awesome; an incredibly soft and heartfelt voice lingered over a loud crushing guitar. In the back you could hear -- at perfect volume -- beautifully simple drums and an elaborate bassline. Every song they played had a special meaning to someone in the crowd, as a strained voice would cry out as the next song was announced. I loved everything I heard and truly felt a part of something while there.

The people on stage were perfect rock stars, yet they were still tangible and fragile beings. Steve was all over the place, and in his face you could see the music. Andy's countenance had a sly, playful look of confidence and his eyes were those of... well, someone who has really neat-lookin' eyes. Brian, the drummer, had a goofy look of satisfaction as he bobbed his head left and right and pelted away at the snare. Lurking in the back somewhere, the guitarist -Rob- rolled about in between the other members of the band like a giant human pinball. Collectively, they were amazing, and I'd kill to see them again.

Cio Cio San have one EP out, with six tracks. You can get it, and a bunch of other stuff about them, at

Ciò-Ciò-San (pronounced with cho- as in choke) is the heroine of Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly. She, the Butterfly of the title, is the young Japanese girl who falls in love with the imposing and faithless gaijin from the American navy, Lieutenant Pinkerton. (The opera is set in the nineteenth century after Meiji and Perry had opened up Japan to the West.)

She is a fifteen-year-old geisha in Nagasaki when she is introduced to Pinkerton, and has secretly adopted Christianity, so has been rejected by her family.

He sails off and she, with their new baby Sorrow, faithfully awaits his return. When he does, however, three years later, he has a new European wife, Kate. Ciò-Ciò-San tops herself after singing a suitably moving farewell (Piccolo iddio!), using the seppuku dagger that her father had also used. Its inscription is Con onor muore, chi non può servar vita con onore: To die with honour, who can no longer live with honour.

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