Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment

November 30, 2008
Sacramento Single: Two Sheds' "WTF"

twosheds1_small.jpgCaitlin Gutenberger had never been in a band, hadn't really sang - certainly never in front of anyone - had never written a song.

She didn't have the experience but she did, however, find she had a musical connection with husband, bassist Johnny Gutenberger and his Jackpot bandmate Rusty Miller.

"Johnny and Rusty had some downtime and I wanted to learn to play drums so we'd just goof off and we had this real chemistry," she says of the collaboration that eventually became Two Sheds.

"So I wrote a few songs and then switched over to guitar and Rusty started playing drums."

Yes, it really was that simple.

"I was freaked out at first - I never thought I could write songs - I was an English major, used to writing things that were longer," says the 27-year-old singer.

"But then I got over the hump and wrote a handful of songs really fast.

That was 2004 and in the years since, Two Sheds, also featuring James Finch Jr. on guitar, has released a album (2006's "Strange Ammunition") and this year's digital-only, self-titled EP.

The music, grounded by Gutenberger's soft yet decidedly assured voice, is a mix of ghostly folk-pop and bouncier indie rock.

With Two Sheds geographically divided - the Gutenbergers live in Sacramento, Miller and Finch live in San Francisco - it's sometimes difficult to get the band in the same room for anything other than a show.

Still, the members of Two Shed are planning on spending some quality time together in 2009 with plans for a tour, a South By Southwest appearance and a new album on the calendar.

The new record, Gutenberger says, is still little more than a hazy notion.

"Second records are weird because the first one is just a big solo barf," she says with laugh.

"I have a lot of ideas that are all over the place but I really don't have a clue what it will sound like - we'll see what happens in the studio. I just want it to be (recorded) in a cozy environment with no pressure."

Two Sheds

Song: "WTF"

Style: Upbeat yet moody, wistful pop

Behind the song: The track's sunny sound belies its dark take on a particularly bad spell and a chorus which, yes, is acronym for "What the #$• !."

"Have you ever had one of those days or weeks or months where a bunch of bad things happen?" Gutenberger asks.

It's just, perhaps, a rhetorical question but the her viewpoint is disarmingly straightforward.

"Honestly, it's just one of those stupid choruses because I couldn't think of anything else to sing," Gutenberger says.

"I wanted to think of a more lyrical, nuanced way to say that but this is what came out instead."

Initially, "WTF" was a slow, meditative song but, over time, evolved into something faster and brighter.

"We just started playing it fast at practice because we wanted it to have this Tommy James & the Shondells sound - very 'la la la' with a quiet little heartbeat," she says.

"It just ended up being very fun."

See them: Tuesday, December 9th at Luigi's Fun Garden,

1050 20th Street, Sacramento. The 8 p.m. show is all-ages and $5 at the door. Chelsea Wolf and the Parson Redheads are also on the bill.

On the Web

Listen to "WTF" here

November 28, 2008
Sacramento Philharmonic YouTube's it...

Well.... it was only a matter of time. The Sacramento Philharmonic has discovered the charms of YouTube.

The video is a quick hit by Sacramento Philharmonic conductor Michael Morgan in preview of its "Bach to Blues" concert tonight at the Guild Theater (and running through Sunday in Orangevale and Roseville - see below).

The orchestra will be joined by the Paradise Church Baptist Choir for the performances. The selections to be performed include J.S. Bach, Aire in G, the Concerto for Violin and Oboe, and the Cantata No. 61 ("I Have Enough"), with baritone Zachary Gordin. The Baptist choir will sing gospel music.

Tickets are $25 general, and $15 for students.

For ticket information call (916) 732-9045 during business hours. Tickets will be available at the door at the Guild Theater, Magic Circle Theatre and at Temple Or Rishon prior to the concert.

The schedule:

Guild Theater
Friday, November 28, 8pm
2828 35th Street, Sacramento

Magic Circle's Roseville Theatre
Saturday, November 29, 8pm
241 Vernon Street, Roseville

Temple Or Rishon
Sunday, November 30, 3pm
7755 Hazel Avenue, Orangevale

November 26, 2008
Modesto orchestra head tapped for Pasadena job

The Orchestras of Pasadena has appointed Modesto Symphony Orchestra head Paul Jan Zdunek as its new chief executive, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

The Orchestras of Pasadena, a 2007 merger of the Pasadena Symphony and Pasadena Pops, drew a lot of attention recently as one of several music presenting organizations forced to cut back on programming due to the downturn in the financial markets. A marked drop in contributions was cited by the presenter as the reason for cancelling two recent concerts. Both of its co-executive directors were also let go as a result of financial issues.

November 25, 2008
A violinist makes a poetic statement...


It's curious how the memory of a performance can grow in stature the longer it stews in the brain.

It's now been two days since I saw the violinist Jorja Fleezanis perform as soloist in Ernst Chausson's "Poeme." This was during the 50th anniversary gala of the UC Davis Orchestra on Sunday evening.

And I can't keep the sonic image of Fleezanis making short work of the "Poeme" out of my mind.

Maybe it is the fact that Fleezanis owns one of the most melodic and clear tones of any violinist I've heard in quite a long time. And so, it's no mystery that her career has taken her from associate concertmaster at the San Francisco Symphony to concertmaster at the Minnesota Orchestra, (a post she has held since 1989).

On Sunday Fleezanis showed the Mondavi audience how excellent technique allows you to nail down the tone and many expressions demanded of this tricky and patently French work.

If you are a violin lover, and you don't know about Fleezanis, keep your eye out for this great instrumentalist. You will not be disappointed.

Below are some recordings to get you started.

"Beethoven: Complete Sonatas for Piano and Violin." With Cyril Huvé, fortepiano (Cypres, three discs).

"Aaron Jay Kernis: Brilliant Sky, Infinite Sky." With Sanford Sylvan, baritone, Daniel Druckman, percussion and Robert Helps, piano (CRI).

"Richard Strauss: A Hero's Life." With the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Eiji Oue (Reference Recordings).

"John Tavener: Ikon of Eros." With the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Paul Goodwin (Reference Recordings).

"Stefan Wolpe: Violin Sonata." With Garrick Ohlsson, piano (Koch International).

November 24, 2008
San Francisco Symphony at 13? How Eurocentric!

Well, it's that time of year again when Gramophone Magazine releases its top 20 list of orchestras.

And as is the norm with this British-based mag the rankings skews to the Euro side -- with only 7 of the 20 on the list U.S. orchestras.

Which goes to show that lists are all in the eye of the beholder.

And as opinions eyes go, perhaps Europeans think what happens on their continent is better than what happens in the Americas?

How else to explain how great orchestras like the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and the Boston Symphony orchestras missed making the top 10?

The Top 10
1) Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam
2) Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
3) Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
4) London Symphony Orchestra
5) Chicago Symphony Orchestra
6) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
7) Cleveland Orchestra
8) Los Angeles Philharmonic
9) Budapest Festival Orchestra
10) Dresden Staatskapelle

... and the Next 10

11) Boston Symphony Orchestra
12) New York Philharmonic
13) San Francisco Symphony
14) Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
15) Russian National Orchestra
16) Leningrad Philharmonic
17) Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
18) Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
19) Saito Kinen Orchestra
20) Czech Philharmonic

November 24, 2008
Sacramento Single: Happy Mayfield's "Happy"


The collaboration started a decade ago in a Sacramento High School classroom.

Lee Bob Watson was a musician but he was also a substitute teacher and, sometimes between classes, he found himself talking music with one of his students.

That student, Derek Taylor, had a band called Bucho and he invited Watson to come check them out sometime.

Watson did and, now 10 years later, the teacher and the student are bandmates in Happy Mayfield, which releases its debut CD Friday at Old Ironsides.

The four-piece, based in Sacramento and San Francisco, connects its members' electric influences to craft an oddly compelling hybrid of folk, soul, hip-hop, world beat and rock.

For Watson, who's played with the likes of Jackpot and recently released a solo album, it's an affirmation of how music can define your life. The birth of Happy Mayfield, he says, came at a point when he'd started to question the very act of making music.

It was 2004 and, back home after a stint teaching English abroad, Watson reconsidered his path: Playing endless bar gigs, touring on the cheap and subbing to make ends meet.

"It'd been 10 years of the grind of doing music and so I took a hiatus and stepped away for a minute - I just had to take it all in and ask myself, 'is this what I want to do?'" It's a crazy life."

Finally, he decided yes - but with a catch.

"I wanted it to be fun and positive, I wanted to find something that was uplifting."

That meant sifting through the sounds that got him interested in music in the first place - old funk, soul and jazz.

Watson, already writing and recording music for his 2007 solo CD "Aficionado," set aside songs that didn't quite fit that album's Americana vibe.

"Sometimes I'd write something that was more upbeat and dance-oriented, so I put them aside and waited until the time came when I would have the proper band."

The time arrived when Watson approached his old friend and student.

Watson had jammed with the members of Bucho before and now he wanted them to give his songs new life.

"The first batch I wrote came out pretty realized but I'm an old school cat and I knew that ... they would bring in some more contemporary influences."

By this point Bucho had disbanded and Taylor was living in San Francisco, playing drums with his old Bucho bandmate Josh Lippi and pal Ben Schwier in The Park, an ensemble that combines funk and jazz with hip-hop and R&B.

Taylor was ready to play.

"Lee used to burn us mix CDs and really opened my eyes to old (music)," says Taylor, whose Bay Area band now backs up neo-soul and pop acts such as Alice Russell and Nino Moschella.

"I loved his songwriting - when he had this Happy Mayfield idea, it just seemed totally natural."

And, although Watson already had the songs, Taylor says, Happy Mayfield has transcended the sum of its parts to create not just a sound but a sense of place,

"We're all from California and we all have this genuine love for soul and dance and that kind of cross-cultural sound."

Bassist Josh Lippi sees Happy Mayfield as unmistakably "authentic" but also something larger-than-life.

It's like we all are (playing) as these alter-egos," he says.

"Lee Bob's coming from this folk singer-songwriter background but in his heart of hearts he's this real James Brown kind of soul singer."

Dana Gumbiner was also struck by the band's dramatic flair - both on stage and in song.

"Lee Bob has this real cinematic way of looking at music, it's almost theatrical," says Gumbiner, who produced the Happy Mayfield record at his Grass Valley-based Station to Station studio.

And with songs that touch on everything from love and religion to outlaws and inspiration, it's Watson's viewpoint that keeps it fresh.

"It's like Happy Mayfield became this character with a sub-narrative on subjects" Gumbiner says,

"That's what makes it click."

Still, although Happy Mayfield may be Watson's creation, the singer-songwriter says the rest of the band is force that makes it breathe.

"This is all happening because the band is hitting its stride," he says.

"They've played with tons of different people and they bring a playfulness to the music that pretty much goes beyond any boundaries."

Happy Mayfield

Song: "Happy"

Style: Jazzed out, Booty-shaking funk

Behind the song: The track, which references everything from street poet/ R&B singer Gil Scott-Heron to the El Camino High School-run station KYDS 91.5, chronicles Watson's lifelong musical journey - and sets the mood for the rest of the record.

"I wanted to write a bio for the band so I started writing down things and it occurred to me that it was a song - a declaration of principles," he says.

"This song became a genealogy of Happy as a character - why I feel the way I do, why I feel I have the right to say this."

See them: Friday at Old Ironsides(1901 10th St, Sacramento); the 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $7 at the door. Friendly Creatures and Casual Fog are also on the bill.

On the Web:

Listen to "Happy" here:

November 21, 2008
Lots of turkeys over at KCRA 3


Just kidding!

The folks (anchors, co-workers, producers, camera people) over at KCRA 3 got an early start Thursday morning on their Thanksgiving turkey drive. Working with the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, the local TV station set out to collect 500 turkeys in one day to help make the holiday dinner brighter for those in need.

Well, the day began at 4:30 a.m. By 9, the station had surpassed its gobbler goal. What started off as Turkey Thursday 500 ended up being Turkey Thursday 3,000! (The station collected 2,766 birds.)

Said news director Anzio Williams in an e-mail: "We put out the word, and the public responded in a very big way."

Not only to the turkey call but calls for cash. An additional $4,000 was donated as well.

Even new-to-the-area anchor Gulstan Dart (pictured) got in on the drive, accepting donations.

Next up if you're looking to help families in need? "The Run To Feed the Hungry" is at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. If you're interested in running/walking/strolling before the big meal, click here.

November 21, 2008
Musicians unions in hot seat....

Who knows how many times this has ever happened in Northern California?

According to Film Music magazine, the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed a lawsuit in federal court against three state musicians unions. The suit alleges that the unions blacklisted seven union members who had resigned from union membership.

The lawsuit names American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Locals 7 (Orange County), 47 (Los Angeles) and 581 (Ventura County).

The allegations include that the unions refused the musicians access to a rehearsal hall, hindered efforts to find employment, and fostered discriminatory policies in contracts with several local symphonies.

Under the state's Right To Work law, payment of dues is strictly voluntary and members cannot be discriminated against by union officials or employers for their union status.

Local 47 did not comment on ongoing litigation when contacted by the magazine. Officials for Locals 7 and 581 did not respond to requests for comments about the lawsuit.

November 20, 2008
Weekend benefits with a fashion theme

This weekend there are several fashion-themed events that also afford the opportunity to give back to charities and other organizations doing good work. Take a look:

  • The Doubletree Hotel (2001 Point West Way,Sacramento) will be the site for Sunday's Fashion in Motion show, which will benefit the local Derek's Wish organization and Padres Contra El Cancer (Parents Against Cancer), an organization whose spokeswoman is actress Eva Longoria Parker. Derek's Wish was founded by Cyndie French, whose son, Derek Madsen, was profiled in The Bee as he battled and finally succumbed to cancer. The Fashion in Motion show will feature Bay Area designer Richard Rivera and his Fashions by RJ collection. Tickets are $40 general, $50 for the cocktail reception and show admission. They can be purchased at or at the door. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the show starts at 5:30 p.m.
  • Saturday is the traditional Community Shopping Day at Macy's Downtown Plaza, which is a benefit for various local organizations and charities. Here's how it works: Purchase a shopping ticket for $10, then take advantage of the store's sales. There also will be cooking demos, fashion shows, makeovers, complimentary restaurant samplings and live entertainment.This year, Macy's is offering an added incentive. Spend at least $25 and you'll receive your $10 back. Groups benefiting from the event include the Save Ourselves Breast Cancer Organization of Sacramento and the Roseville Rotary Club Foundation. Special shopping hours for the event are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
November 19, 2008
Conductor Alsop snags top mag prize


Musical America magazine has picked its conductor of the year and the winner - Marin Alsop - comes as no surprise.

Alsop makes a big impression wherever she conducts. In Baltimore, as artistic director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, she has reenergized ticket sales. And the fact that she became the first woman to lead a major American orchestra in that role has spurred much interest in that orchestra.

More importantly, for those of us in Northern California, she has been the fearless musical leader of the Santa-Cruz-based Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. She has been the artistic director at Cabrillo for the past 17 years, and in that time she has been a tireless champion of new works. For lovers of contemporary music it is a joy having this festival within driving distance of Sacramento.

If you are curious as to Alsop's merits as a conductor, a listen to her
a recent Naxos recording of Brahms Symphony No. 3, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, will make a big impression. It's a powerful account, and I think it is a must-have recording.

Among those that were also given awards were composer Christopher Rouse (Composer of the Year), and Yo-Yo Ma (Musician of the Year).

November 17, 2008
One dress can make a difference


The little black dress can do a whole lot more than just hang in the closet, ready for work or play. That said, tomorrow night's "Little Black Dress" event will help local women dress for success by supporting the local St. John's Shelter with an attire facelift, if you will, for the organization's "Depot Boutique."

Tuesday's event - from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Arden Hills Country Club & Spa - is the first of three phases to help women at the shelter, which focuses on homeless women with children in crisis. They need clothing, furniture and other essentials as they transition back to real life, which often includes a job interview.

That's why the Little Black Dress event asks attendees to bring a piece of contemporary, professional clothing to donate to the boutique.

The fashion show will feature clothing from Article Clothing Boutique and Salon, plus makeover tips from Hollywood artist Jeff Jarwin and wardrobe consults by "Presenting You" owner Stephanie Cumberland of Sacramento.

"Swag" bags? But of course. Tickets are $20 with a clothing donation and $35 without. For more information: click here.

Arden Hills Country Club & Spa is at 1220 Ardens Hills Lane in Sacramento.

November 16, 2008
Sacramento Single: Autumn Sky's "Our Little Boy"


Autumn Sky had 150 songs from which to choose so when it came time to narrow the selection down for an EP she wanted to pick songs that represented her range of musical loves and influences.

"A lot of pop, a lot of toy pianos and little bell sounds," Sky says. "(But) then there also my angry songs and things that are serious."

Just six songs long, "Diminutive Petite" packs a Goliath-sized wallop and is an aural history of Sky's musical progression. The Orangevale resident started playing piano as a child and, by the age of six, already had already written a several dozen tunes.

She eventually moved on to the cello and then the guitar. Now, a voice major at American River College, Sky is studying voice and jazz, Recently, she and a group of classmates formed a jazz combo which, she says, has had a major impact on her songwriting approach.

"It's difficult (because) I don't really know jazz chords so it makes me respect my limits - it's made me more creative and more respectful of all the people who came before."

Sky, who grew up performing in worship groups, also credits church as an important, if subtle, influence.

"I don't write Christian music, per se, but spiritually definitely influences what I choose to write and how I write about," she says.

Simply put, she says, her faith helps her set a personal songwriting standard.

"I would never write a song that I wouldn't my little brother to hear."

Sky will release a full-length album in April. Her EP will be available Thursday at a Luigi's Fun Garden CD release show or online at iTunes or

In the meantime, listen to "Our Little Boy" at

Song: "Our Little Boy"

Style: Slow, melancholy torch song

Behind the song: "It's a very sad song about a woman who is regretting a decision she made to not follow a romantic interest."

But, by the end of the story, Sky says, the woman's decides to live with her choice - and any lingering sense of remorse.

"I wanted it to have this wistful, melancholy feel," Sky says.

Recorded at Sacramento's Hangar Studios, Sky recorded the song in just one take with piano player Evan Palmer and drummer Kayla Schureman, both from the local band All on Seven. It was record

"We've played it live so many times we were able to just go in there and capture it," she says. "I think that gives it a really cool, organic feel."

See her: Thursday at Luigi Fun Garden (1050 20th St, Sacramento) with Lynus and A Happy Medium. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door.

On the Web:

Listen to "Our Little Boy" here:

November 13, 2008
Will fashion/beauty rebound in Roseville?


As reported in today's Bee, the Westfield Galleria in Roseville is operating on optimism that someday, somehow this slumping economy will turn itself around and clothing, jewelry and even a bar of soap will be hot commodities.

The massive expansion includes 48 stores opening this week; 52 in the coming months.

Even though I'm based in Sacramento, I'm particularly excited about two openings: LUSH, which sells handmade soaps and all things that smell good, and H&M, a Swedish clothing chain that has stores on practically every corner in San Francisco and finally saw the light that we could use one in this area.

If you've never been to an H&M, it's one of the best clothing stores for saving a buck and walking out with something really cute. True, it's targeted at a mostly younger fashion crowd (both men and women) but, hey, anyone can pull off a great scarf, jacket or jeans. So this is definitely a new store to check out.

LUSH will probably do very well. A hunk of soap won't break the bank and you can buy blocks of bubbly in pretty much any size. The shower gels and skin-care products are also reasonably priced.

On the high end, women do love their Louis Vuitton bags. But I'll reserve forecasting how this store will attract customers. Same thing with Tiffany and Co. Remember, in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Audrey Hepburn's ring was a fake!

Back in Sac and on a sad note, many of you probably already know that boutique owner Jessica Horton is closing her Dara Denim store in midtown.

Jessica says inventory levels are getting low, and she's set to do a big push for Thanksgiving weekend. Her closing date? Should be Dec. 7.

"The economy is a motivator.," she says. "The store is not as busy as it used to be. I can't even afford a manager!"

Another more personal factor is that Jessica's husband, Jerry Horton, is the guitarist for the well-known band Papa Roach. That means about nine to 10 months of travel a year.

"My husband travels a lot and our daughter is almost 3 years old," Jessica says. "She's saying 'I miss Daddy'." Nuff said. Take the entire family on the road!

Dara Denim opened Oct 10, 2003, and Jessica admits it's been emotional since she made her decision to close the boutique.

"It's been stressful, constantly thinking about the next big thing and the next season. My brain is tired, too," she says. "As for my customers, though, I'll miss them very much."

In addition to finding a lot of great clothing on sale during the liquidation, the next few weeks are a good opportunity to stop by and wish a great retailer - and mom - good luck. The store is at 2404 K St.

November 11, 2008
California Musical Theatre Meeting Canceled

The California Musical Theatre board of directors canceled a special meeting set for this afternoon. CMT has been receiving national attention since last week's revelations that artistic director Scott Eckern donated $1,000 to a Yes on Proposition 8 campaign fund. The proposition, which was passed by California voters, bans same sex marriages in the state. The CMT board was due to meet and discuss negative publicity generated from a proposed boycott of the theater by theater artists and professionals. Eckern has issued an apology concerning his contribution which was published by
Eckern has also donated $1,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which works to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The CMT board has not scheduled a new meeting.

November 10, 2008
A last on-air date for Dave and Lois


OK, so it's not a huge surprise, but KCRA 3 has an official sign-off date for longtime anchors (and husband and wife) Dave Walker and Lois Hart.

Their last air date? Nov. 26, the day before Thanksgiving. And will they be thankful for having Black Friday off for a change? Maybe do a little shopping?

"This station and this market have been truly fortunate to have Dave Walker and Lois Hart as news icons for the past 18 years," said KCRA 3 President and General Manager Elliott Troshinsky in an e-mail to the media.

"Not only are Dave and Lois top-notch journalists, they are quality people. We are grateful for their leadership and contributions as key members of the KCRA 3 News Team. We congratulate them on their retirement. They've earned it."

No kidding. Not only have Dave and Lois worked elections, breaking news, goofy weather/sports transitions, but they've been longtime figures in the community, hosting benefits. Their coverage of New Year's Eve in Old Sac was always one of my favorites, but I let them do the work while I sat on the sofa!

As part of the fond farewell, KCRA 3 has dedicated a web page to the couple's retirement. The public can take part in the retirement celebration by logging on to page contains an interactive timeline that allows viewers to follow the careers of Dave and Lois. Viewers can also watch a variety of congratulatory videos from members of the KCRA 3 News Team on the page.There is also a "digital signing card" where you can leave congratulatory messages to Dave and Lois.

"It's going to be a bittersweet next few weeks," said KCRA 3 News Director Anzio Williams. "Between now and their last day, we are going to celebrate their unparalleled accomplishments and extraordinary careers that have not only had an impact at this station and in this market, but also on a national level."

What do the twosome have to say about their stint in Sacramento?

"Not many people get to have this much fun for so long - covering news, being a part of the first draft of history. And for those of us in broadcast news, not many people have been so fortunate to work at one of the most respected and consistently top-rated television news organizations in the nation. We'll always be a part of KCRA 3, and thankful to our friends and colleagues here."

Dave and Lois also will be feted with Lifetime Achievement Awards this Saturday in San Francisco by the Northern California Radio-Television News Directors Association.

Dave and Lois's final sign-on, sign-off will be the 6:30 p.m. newscast two weeks from Wednesday. Then, at 11 p.m., anchors Edie Lambert and popular newcomer Gulstan Dart will host a behind-the-scenes special.

An interim KCRA 3 News anchor line-up will be announced shortly. My money (a small bit of change) is on Edie and Gulstan taking the chairs.

November 9, 2008
Sacramento SIngle: Park Avenue Music's "Tufts"


Sometimes, Jeanette Faith admits, it gets a little confusing. She and husband Wes Steed had a band called Park Avenue Music and then that evolved into the side project Hearts+Horses. But now Park Avenue music has an album out that's called - you guessed it -"by hearts+horses".

The differences, Faith explains, aren't just about words.

"Park Avenue Music was very structured: Song, song, song," she says. "But then we started Hearts+Horses, it was just improvising, even when we were recording.

"I don't really like writing songs or lyrics - they usually sound forced," she says. "I wanted to break away from that and create a soundscape, a mood."

Now, Faith says, the focus is on of-the-moment sound and emotion.

And, yes, that spontaneity also happens on stage.

"The shows can be really great - or sometimes just a lot of noise," Faith says. "It's kind of scary but it's also kind of exciting."

Faith taught herself to play piano as a child and is also an accomplished cellist and singer. Now, as she plays the keyboard or piano and Steed turns the dials on a modular synthesizer, their music reflects a deep love for everything from jazz and classical to pop and new wave.

"I'd like it to have more of a modern, classical sound but it doesn't always turn out that way," she says. "It usually ends up sounding like a soundtrack."

But that's OK, too.

"I always wanted to be a score composer - that's where my songs come from, I'm always seeing movies in my head and just telling that story."

Park Avenue Music

Song: "Tufts"

Style: Dreamy, delicate and exquisite

Behind the song: "I just sat down at the piano and started playing and the mics were there and Wes just happened to record it," Faith says. "(Later), I added melodica and Wes added drums and effects on the vocals."

The piece grew out of an image playing in Faith's head.

"It's a story about this girl, driving around the block. She's dropped this guy off and the (relationship) that isn't turning out the way she wants it to and she's thinking it's going to change, that's it's going to get better," Faith says.

"Finally, she realizes, 'this is stupid - I'm just driving around in circles'."

Musically, that translates to something ethereal and sad but also uplifting.

And, Faith says, because it was recorded live on a whim it's also imperfect - but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's not the ideal recording but I'd rather keep the (song's) original feeling. When you try to rerecord it never turns out as good as the demo," she says.

"There are some mistakes in it but I don't care. It gives it a freer sound, It's real, it's raw."

On the Web: or

Park Avenue Music will release another record later this year. Until then, listen to"Tufts" here:

November 7, 2008
Bang it out with drummers from Korn, Coheed & Cambria

Dream of becoming a famous drummer? (Insert drummer joke here). This weekend you'll have the chance to learn what it really means to pick up the sticks when Korn's Ray Luzier, Coheed & Cambria's Chris Pennie host a drum clinic on Sunday at Skip's Music (2740 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento.)

The clinic is part of the Show No Mercy Tour and sponsored by Sabian ABX, a company that makes high-decibel cymbals.

You've been warned - bring your earplugs.

For more information,

November 7, 2008
Michelle Obama: Looking forward to a stylish White House


I loved it today that first lady-elect Michelle Obama attended a parent-teacher conference in Chicago sans makeup with a baseball cap and a ponytail. On Election Night, she wore a striking red-and-black dress from designer Narciso Rodriguez, which debuted during Fashion Week last month in New York.

You can check out how the runway version matched up to Michelle's interpretation in the pics above. Obviously, Michelle added a sweater because it was an outdoor celebration of her husband's presidential victory.

There's a bit of six degrees of fashion separation where Michelle fits in nicely, but almost in a tragic way. Designer Rodriguez was virtually unknown 12 years ago, but it was his pearl-colored silk design for Cerruti 1881 that was worn by Carolyn Bessette when she married John F. Kennedy Jr. in September 1996.

Fast forward to this election year, er years, and Michelle wears a design by the same designer.

Of course, there have been many comparisons already made in fashion circles that Michelle Obama will inspire a fashion rejuvenation and style made famous by the Kennedys, in particular first lady Jackie Kennedy.

She's already made the sheath dress - even an economically friendly version from White House/Black Market - look effortlessly stylish when she appeared on "The View." And, it's almost unheard-of to see a woman in Washington, D.C., going sleeveless!

Anyway, the 44-year-old Michelle will certainly bring her own thoughts about entertaining, especially with children in the "house." And, if nothing else, she shops online at J.Crew. For that alone, she gets this fashionista's vote.

Next up? Which designer or designers will win the coveted job of creating her inaugural ensemble (for the swearing in and the balls). We'll keep you posted.

November 6, 2008
LGS, Jonah Matranga play benefit for Luckie Strike drummer

Just a reminder, tonight is the LGS, Jonah Matranga, Two Sheds benefit for Luckie Strike drummer Liz Beidelman.

Beidelman is battling brain cancer and all proceeds will go toward her medical costs.

The show marks the first time the all-original LGS lineup has played together in 10 years.

The show starts at 9 p.m. tonight at Harlow's (2708 J St, Sacramento). Admission is $10-20.

For more information: (916)441-4693 or

November 4, 2008
The Major General scoop on Pirates of Penzance...


Want to get a taste for what the Sacramento Opera has in store in its upcoming production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance"? Then attending a talk by conductor Timm Rolek and a performance by star Julianne Gearhart may be the ticket to enjoying this deft and taut satire on military mores.

The opera talk begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, (6151 H St., Sacramento). Gary Briggle, who will stage direct and perform the Major General role, will also be part of the opera talk.

Admission is $10 for general and $7 for Sacramento Opera subscribers. Tickets are available at the door. There is free parking at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center. For more information, call (916) 737-1000

November 2, 2008
Sacramento Single: The Generals' "Trains"


Matt Sertich and Kirk Janowiak have been playing together for more than 15 years so when the pair's latest band, The Generals, was suddenly whittled down from three to two, the old friends took it in stride and decided to remain a duo.

"The idea just seemed kind of fresh," says Sertich, who previously played with Janowiak in Pocket Change and Zero to Heaven.

"We just have a really good chemistry - we write really well together," Sertich says.

With a shared love of 80s rock and British pop, Sertich (guitar, keyboard, vocals) and Janowiak (drums, keyboards) started writing songs after Zero to Heaven disbanded in 2005. They played its first show, with bassist Blane Barker, in 2006.

Now, Sertich says, no bassist is no problem - even on stage.

"We just program the bass into an iPod - the strings and other stuff, too," he says.

"It's awesome and it doesn't take away from the spontaneity when we're playing live."

The Generals released its debut album "Save Me" earlier this year and plan to enter the studio this month to record another. In the meantime, check out "Trains" at

The Generals

Song: "Trains"

Style: Spacey, reflective rock

Behind the song: "I'd just made a lot of changes in my life at the point when I wrote this song," Sertich says. "I lived ... near the train tracks and every night I'd hear the train go by. It shook the house but it was really very comforting."

That song, he says, is about a past relationship and changes he's made in his life since it ended.

With a swooping melody, "Trains" hits its rhythmic stride mid-way through the song - just like a locomotive gaining speed..

"It starts off pretty soft but once that pre-chorus hits it sounds really big."

On the Web:

Listen to "Trains" here

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