Things to Do in Sacramento and Beyond

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


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Chelsea Wolfe was a good girl. The Sacramento singer-songwriter still is actually.

"I don't think I've ever been a rebel - I've always considered myself a good person," Wolfe says. "I believe in honesty and kindness and integrity and kindness.

But...

"I have a dark side that I keep to myself - I only show it through my music. The rest of the time I'm very happy-go-lucky."

Certainly, with its ethereal dirge of guitars, keyboard and strings floating beneath a mournful voice, Wolfe's music is anything but cheerful. Still, its roots have somewhat happier origins.

The 20something Wolfe's been making music since she was nine and she and her sisters crafted "gothic hip-hop" songs in her country musician dad's home studio.

"They were hilarious but some of the songs were kind of awesome considering we were so young," she says.

Now, she adds, it seems as if she's "been writing songs forever."

It took her years to get them out of the house. Wolfe didn't start performing live until 2005, a year after she returned home from Capetown, South Africa where she'd been attending bible school and working with children.

Today, Wolfe says, her Christian faith is still part of her music.

"There are a lot of themes that relate to spirituality," she says. "It inspires the things I write."

Wolfe is currently at work on a new album. It will be, she says, "grittier" than her first CD, 2006's "Mistakes in Parting."

"I'm working with a friend (Sacramento musician) Scott McChane but it's mostly self-produced," she says. "I'm using some of the original demo tracks for the songs so rather than having everything sound so sparkling clean, it has a much more personal sound."


Chelsea Wolfe

Song: "Underwater"

Style: Ghostly folk-pop

Behind the song
: Wolfe's new album follows a delicate thread of self-doubt.

"It's about feeling you're going crazy, like you're lost in your head, attempting to fit into a normal world," Wolfe says. "This song is the first track and it sets the mood. I wanted it to be droning and spacey and moody."

"Underwater"'s narrative draws on the story of the writer Virginia Woolf's suicide by drowning.

"I wanted to explore her situation - what drove her to walk into a river with stones in her pocket," Wolfe says.

"I wanted it to sound like what it felt like when she went underwater."

See her: 7 p.m Saturday, March 14 at the Blackwater Cafe (912 North Yosemite, Stockton).

For more information: www.blackwatercafestockton.com/

Listen to "Underwater" here:


small_smlogojpg.jpg Mike Farrell didn't really want to make music anymore - much less a rock record. But there was the well-known Sacramento guitarist with a batch of songs and some pals who wanted to finally hear them.

"A friend reminded me that I'd made a commitment to do a record," he says. "I sort of reluctantly started the record, not really feeling very confident."

Farrell's brush with a self-imposed musical exile came amid some personal upheaval but as the singer recovered his footing in life, he also regained a sense of ambition - and direction.

"(The new album) was going to be more of a country record (because) as much as I'm a fan of rock, I don't really feel like I have the voice for it," he says.

"That's one of my biggest pet peeves - that I don't have one of those cool, screaming rock'n'roll voices."

Usually that doesn't matter. In Daisy Spot, the Brazilian pop-influenced band he's fronts with friend Tatiana LaTour for example, the songs are decidedly soft and mellow. Elsewhere, he gets by with a little help from his friends.

"In a band like Th' Losin' Streaks I'm not the main focus- I have other people to rely up on to bring the rock," he says.

"To do this on my own is more of a challenge."

So, finally alone behind the microphone, Farrell worked on finding his voice.

"It took a lot primal scream therapy," he says. "I just had to scream it out, get it out and feel comfortable."

Farrell's new album is due in May. Until then, preview a track, "Ain't it Funny" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle.

Mike Farrell

Song: "Ain't it Funny"

Style: Brooding rock'n'roll

Behind the song: The track, produced by Dana Gumbiner, came together in the studio with Mike Curry on drums and Lee Bob Watson on the clavichord.

"The demo was really bare bones and I was very skeptical about how it would turn out," he says.

"But Mike Curry nailed it and Lee Bob - I didn't even have to give him direction - he just came in and nailed it on the spot."

Farrell wrote the song in 1992 yet despite the seven years between writing and recording, he says it's particularly apropos of the times.

"The very first (line) is 'it seems that things won't get much better' which seems to reflect the state of the world right now - I didn't mean for it to be a topical songs but it's really perfect for right now."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/darksunskypilot

Listen to "AIn't it Funny" here:



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Nick Shoman - aka DJ Oasis - bought his first turntable when he was 10; retired from deejaying at the tender age of 13 and then, finally, as he reached adulthood decided to stage a comeback.

"When I started I was inspired by DJ Premier and DJ Kool Herc - the real pioneers (who) could play old James Brown records and old groove jazz records and get people breakdancing," he says.

Once in high school, however, the budding turntablist decided to take a break - discouraged by what he described as a lack of "spirit."

"I could just see things were changing - hip-hop was going in a different direction," he says.

"I just let everything collect dust."

The spark reignited years later when a friend asked Shoman to show him the basics of deejaying.

Happy to be making music again, Shoman also realized he could, perhaps, make some money at this as well.

It wasn't easy, however.

"You could be the best DJ ever but some (clubs) won't give you a chance," he says.

After a few fruitless attempts at getting his set into various Sacramento clubs, Shoman teamed with the Neighborhood Watch, a local coalition of deejays, musicians and artists.

Now, with a little help from his friends, the 22-year-old has performed at Harlow's, the Press Club, Empire and Capitol Garge.

"We're just a group of people who work together - we're friends who give each other a push."

DJ Oasis

Song: "Well Connected (Introduction)"

Style: Jazzed-out noises and pop samples

Behind the song: "This is the first track I did after I started deejaying again," he says. "I wanted to make something that served as introduction to me, expressing who I am."

Shoman mixed the melody from the old '70s pop tune "Baby Come Back" ("I just thought the beat was so crazy") with riffs created on a computer. All those bits and pieces, he says, add up to one voice.

"I speak with my hands because I'm deejay," Oasis says. "I cut up a bunch of different (sounds) to make myself heard.

See him: Wednesday, March 4 at Capitol Garage (1505 K St, Sacramento) with DJ Matt Kelly. The all-ages show starts at 10 p.m. and is $5 at the door. For more information: (916) 444-3633

On the Web: www.myspace.com/djoasis

Listen to "Well Connected (Introduction) here:




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David Shapireau first picked up the guitar to play funky Southern-tinged R&B in high school. Now, several decades later, the 58-year-old musician, building on musical liaisonswith the likes of Norton Buffalo, is finally fronting his own rock'n'roll band, West of Next.

"I've had my own jazz bands before but never anything like this - it's the first time I've ever sung," he says. "I'm enjoying it very much."

The path to this point was long and musically winding. Shapireau moved from Europe (by way of Baltimore) to California in 1972 and quickly became immersed in the Northern California rock scene, playing with, among others, Norton Buffalo, Jerry Garcia and Maria Muldaur

Shapireau's personal set of songs arrived long before he had a band to call his own.

"I just got this songwriting fever in 2002 and had hundreds and hundreds of songs - I finally decided I should do something more with them than just sing them to myself."

And so, finally, after moving to Sacramento in 2008, Shapireau put together a band that reflected his musical aesthetic (everything from western swing and bluegrass to Zydeco), all cut with a diamond-like precision.

"I have a background in jazz composition ... and I needed someone who could play very well technically and read music."

Shapireau found like-minded musicians in guitarist Steve Randall, drummer Tony Dey and bassist Paul Knutson.

Now, West of Next's sound is an amalgation of eclectic sounds, melancholy observations and pop sensibilities.

It is, he says, an equation that adds up to the unexpected.

"The average rock band doesn't usually do it that way."

West of Next

Song: "Something to Go On"

Style: Off-kilter pop

Behind the song: "Most of my songs are about melancholy and loneliness but this is more positive," Shapireau says.

"I just thought that everyone needs something to get them through - we all have our belief system, be it religion or another person."

The song's structure, he adds, diverges from rock's usual verse-chorus-verse framework.

"Most of my songs are usually very Broadway or Beatles," Shapireau says.

"I'm not exactly sure why this one came out different but when you're writing you want the mood to fit the lyrics - I wanted something upbeat but, because of my personality, also a little eccentric."

See them: Thursday at the Java Lounge, 2416 16th St, Sacramento; the all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/davidshapireauwestofnext


Listen to "Something to Go On" here:


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It began as a simple idea: A classic bar band that married rock music with a twist of twang.

Brian Guido, on break from his guitar duties in Grub Dog & the Amazing Sweethearts, decided the time was right to start his own band.

"I'd been writing music but I really didn't know how people would respond," Guido says.

The Regulars, CA's first incarnation fit that rock-meets-country vibe but as members came and went, the music evolved.

The band's current line up, rounded out by Jay Shaner (guitar), Mason DeMusey (bass) and Ross Levine (drums,) has pushed the band in a different direction - the band'ssecond album, "Songs About Love & Depression," is a mix of no-frills rock and hooky pop.

"The songs have progressively been getting more pop-oriented," Guido says.

"There's still some rock involved but not as much of that country twang."

Their name, a nod to the Replacements tune, "Here Comes a Regular," epitomizes the local music scene and the band's place in it.

"Everyone in Sacramento plays in three bands and everyone knows everyone," he says

"We are the regulars. Whether we're playing or not, we go out all the time and see (our friends) play."

The Regulars, CA

Song: "Songs About You"

Style
: Melancholy rock

Behind the song
: "The album is about a certain period in my life - I guess the only good thing that comes out of depression is that it inspires you to write and be creative," Guido says.

"This song is about trying to kill the thing inside of me that makes me feel down."

Guido says he relies on his band mates to take his ideas and make them better.

"I come in with a song and everyone is involved in the process," he says. "Ross adds a lot of music theory to the process. Mason and Jay can really change it up too, (suggesting) we make a part shorter or longer.

"I trust them and just let them do their thing," he says. "It makes me a better songwriter."

See them: Friday at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St, Sacramento). The Tattooed Love Dogs and Kate Gaffney are also on the bill. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $7 at the door.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/regularsband

Listen to "Songs About You" here:


matthewgerken_small.jpgThe name of J. Matthew Gerken's band Nice Monster explains exactly what his intentions are for its music.

"I don't like writing songs that have typical guitar strums - you know, ba-ba-BA-ba bum. I like using odd time signatures and syncopations - that's the 'monster' part, (writing) difficult or interesting rhythms," he explains. "But at the same time I like but at the same time, I really like catchy melodies."

Gerken, along with friends Jefferson Pitcher and Christian Kiefer, is also part of the recent Of Great and Mortal Men project which recently released the highly lauded three-CD set, "43 Songs for 43 Presidencies" (Standard Recordings, $30).

The brand-new, self-titled Nice Monster EP swaps politics for a rich mining of sonic spaces, experimental yet accessible noise pop and complicated emotions.

Nice Monster is rounded out by Jason Roberts (guitar), Greg Aaron (drums), Chad Wilson (bass) and Gerken's girlfriend Heather Phillips (piano, vocals).

The new EP was recorded in the home shared by Gerken and Phillips and the experience, he says, was mellow with a focus on fun instead of technical perfection.

That relaxed vibe was aided by the arrival of a puppy.

"Heather and I were looking for a new puppy and in the middle of recording, a rescue puppy became available," he says.

The presence of Mickey, a Black Lab/Border collie mix, gave the recording sessions a playful mood.

"It was just really fun and created such a relaxed, flexible atmosphere," he says. "The fidelity might not be as pristane as it would be if we'd recorded at a studio but I think the performances are better."

Nice Monster

Song: "Down"

Style: Jazz pop

Behind the song: "It's similar to a lot of Nice Monster songs because it doesn't have a verse-chorus-verse (structure)," says Gerken who cites artists such as John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Wilco and Radiohead among his influences and inspirations.

"Down" starts with a slow, deliberate mood before shifting, half-way through, into something decidedly more upbeat.

"Those kinds of shifts happen a lot (in our songs)," Gerken says. "The texture, the time feel, the meter, even the lyrical topic - it can all change."

The song's subject matter, Gerken says, is a "tongue in cheek reflection" about childhood.

"The first part of the song is about a person wondering why they are the way they are," he says. "In the second half of the song, there's the realization that 'oh yeah, it's because of this stuff that happened when I was a kid.'"

The song's actual lyrics, he adds, are pretty "ambiguous."

"You almost need liner notes to understand them," he says. "I like to leave room for people to make their own interpretations."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/nicemonster or www.nicemonstermusic.com

Listen to "Down" from the new Nice Monster EP here:




The last time James George Serrett put out an album he was having a rough go of it. His wife had just left him and, worse, wouldn't speak to him. So, distraught, Serrett channeled all his angst, anxiety and worry into an album, 2007's "The Most Romantic Fool."

Fast forward to 2008 and things are, well, just as emotionally rough for Serrett - he and the ex still aren't on speaking terms.

Lucky for the 60-year-old singer-songwriter, it simply meant he had another record in him.

"This last year was even harder than the last and so my songs started getting even more personal," Serrett says of his latest release, "Living in Slow Motion."

As with "Fool," the new record is a collection of soft rock power ballads influenced by the likes of James Taylor and Billy Joel.

And while the songs are great therapy for him, Serrett says, he's always a little surprised that other like his sad songs so much.

"I asked my shrink - 'why do people like this stuff?'," he says.

"He told me, '(because) they've been through it and made it through to the other side.'"

James George Serrett: "Living in Slow Motion"

Style: Soft rock

Behind the song: The song, Serrett says, "comes from a personal and painful experience."

"It's about denial and self-delusion and refusing to move forward," he says. "The guy (in the song) is dazed and weaving and holding on to the delusion that she might come back."

And while writing the song was therapeutic, Serrett says, the actual recording of it was eye-opening.

"There's nothing like hearing your regrets blasting from the studio's speakers."

On the Web: cdbaby.com/cd/jgserrett2

Listen to the title track from "Living in Slow Motion" here:



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The members of Tesla have come a long way since their late '80s, early '90s hey day. Then, the Sacramento hard rock band, touring the world on the success of albums such as "Five Man Acoustical Jam" was forced to squeeze recording sessions in between shows.

It was an exciting time, sure, says Tesla bassist Brian Wheat - but tiring, too.

The band's latest album, "Forever More," on the other hand, was recorded in Wheat's Midtown home studio. The five-month process, Wheat says, was considerably more relaxed than all those tour pit stops.

"We were in our own beds every night - this is a much more civilized way to make a record," Wheat says.

Produced by longtime Tesla friend Terry Thomas, the album reflects the band's decades-long work ethos:

"You get the idea, you work it out and then you just go in the studio and do it," Wheat says.

It's a simple enough foundation for the band's working man's rock blues sound but, Wheat says, Tesla has definitely evolved since its early days.

"We've been making records for 22 years and have traveled the world and gone through marriages and divorces and kids and other life experiences," he says.

"Those life experiences translate into your music, of course. We're the same band but now we're seasoned like an old baseball."

Listen to "Pvt Ledbetter" from "Forever More" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle

Tesla

Song: "Pvt Ledbetter"

Style: Emotional, rockin' power ballad

Behind the song: "Jeff (Keith) and Frank (Hannon) wrote this one - it's a fictitious letter to a private in the army, telling him 'we're pulling for you, we support you,'" Wheat says.

"But then, he doesn't get a reply and people start to worry about whether he is alive."

Eventually, it's learned that the soldier died and, ultimately, the song "is about thanking him for that sacrifice he made," Wheat says. "It's very patriotic."

Listen to "Pvt Ledbetter" here:


On the Web: www.teslatheband.com

See them: Tesla performs Jan. 30 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium (15th and L Streets, Sacramento).

Tickets ($29.50) are now available through Tickets.com., at the Convention Center Box Office (1301 L St, Sacramento) or by calling (916) 808-5181.

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With more than two dozen musicians (and their egos), conflicting schedules and a tight production timetable, it could have been a disaster.

Lesa Johnston, co-founder of the Pus Cavern Recording Studio, admits she was worried.

In the end, however, the Pus Cavern Allstars' recording of "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" was as fun and peaceful a project as its name suggests.

"I was concerned - all those egos coming - but the recording sessions ended up being so much fun," she says. "Everyone was just so cool."

The song, recorded to benefit the Sacramento Children's Chorus, is a who's who of Sacramento musicians with, among others, members of the Deftones, Tesla, the Hoods, Far, the Skirts, the Secretions and the Snobs stepping into the recording booth.

Johnston - along with her husband, engineer Joe - had put together local Christmas CDs before but this year, as the deadline approached, she was faced with a lack of material and the gnawing need to get something done.

"We didn't get enough submissions this year (but) I had the urge, I needed to do this (because) at the end of the day we give the money to someone who needs it," she says.

So, w ith the holiday season approaching, the Johnstons called on their friend Dave Buckner. The former Papa Roach drummer, now playing with his own band Last Angels, agreed to produce and quickly decided on just the right song.

"Happy Christmas (War is Over)" is probably the coolest rock'n'roll Christmas song ever," Buckner says of the John Lennon-penned tune (alternately known as "Happy Xmas" (War is Over")).

"It's just not your average holiday tune - it goes much deeper."

With the song decided, Buckner says, everything else just fell into place even as musicians scrambled to meet their tight production schedule.

"There were some scary moments but in the end everyone was extremely easy to work with."

So, no trashed waiting rooms? No outrageous demands? No holding out for the choicest guitar solo?

Nope, not even one tantrum.


"It was one of the loosest, most fun vibes," says Daycare guitarist Sonny Mayugba (pictured above, photo courtesy Sacpress.com).

"It was just everyone learning the song together and not sweating it - we're all older, we're all professionals and it was just about getting down the best song we could."

The Pus Cavern Allstars

Song: "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"

Style: Rockin' around the Christmas tree

Behind the song: Sonny Mayugba, who plays rhythm guitar on the track, says the modern Christmas classic proved to be a difficult undertaking.

"I thought I could just play it by ear but the song is really not that easy - Beatles' chords in general are pretty tricky," Mayugba says. "I had to get the sheet music to learn it and was totally just cramming to learn it in time for the session."

But with the chords finally figured out and parts learned, the gathering became relaxed, filled with impromptu covers and jam sessions.

"Recording studios are usually kind of nerve-wracking but this was almost like playing a live show," Mayugba says. "Everyone was playing - you had five or six guitarists, totally solo-ing their heads off. I think that's why the song comes out sounding so fun - those guys are just having a good time."

Listen to "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" here:



Download "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" for 99 cents at iTunes.com. All proceeds benefit the Sacramento Children's Chorus (www.sacramentochildrenschorus.org).

For more information and a complete list of participating musicians visit www.myspace.com/puscavernrecording


Inspired by his musical hero Neil Young, Sacramento's Christopher Fairman always knew he wanted to be a musician.

He just didn't want to sing.

"I was really against it, I was really stubborn," Fairman says.

The reason? Simple: He didn't think that he could.

"I was pretty bad for a while," he insists.

The 23-year-old Rio Americano High School graduate, however, had one very important fan who thought otherwise.

"My mother encouraged me to do it," he says. "Now I think I'm pretty damn good."

And while his sentiment is, he admits, a little "cocky," it required more than a lot of practice to get to this point - it took a little ease.

"I think, just in life, I let go - and once I let go I didn't care about a lot of things that other people care about, " he says.

"I think that helps, if you don't care what other people think about you then you can let loose."

Fairman released the "Born Broken" EP in 2007 and plans to release a new CD ""85, 87" in the spring.

Produced by David Houston, the music is dark and reflective with a sound akin to Americana crooner Ryan Adams.

"It's like a diary of a year in my life," he says. "The songs are more personal than anything I'd done before."

The album's feel was also inspired by another piece of art, a ghostly, abstract image in shades of moss green, gold and orange that was painted by Fairman's friend Michael Pitcher.

"I don't know what it was, but I saw that picture and it just brought something out in me," he says.

The painting will be the album cover for "85, 87" and the fit, he says, is perfect.

"It's dark and there's so much going on - there are different characters there."

Christopher Fairman

Song: "Pages"

Style: Slow, meditative Americana

Behind the song: Written in just 20 minutes, the song epitomizes Fairman's loose, carefree approach.

"The song is very fluid and when I was writing this, I really didn't know what it was about for a while."

Eventually, the words came into sharper focus.

"It's just very confessional, talking about how I see the world and how I don't always believe in myself," he says. "It's about the pages of the books I could write, I've got a lot to say."

"It's about how sometimes I don't believe in myself really just about the 'pages and pages' of things I have to say."

See him:

Dec. 12 at the Javalounge, 2416 16th St, Sacramento.
The 9 p.m. show is all-ages.

Dec. 19 at the Blue Lamp, 14000 Alhambra Blvd.
The 10 p.m. is 21-and-over only.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/christopherfairman

Listen to "Pages" here:




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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 CDBaby.com.

In the meantime, listen to "Our Little Boy" at www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle.

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: www.myspace.com/autumnskymyspace

Listen to "Our Little Boy" here:



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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: www.heartshorses.com or www.myspace.com/parkavenuemusic

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



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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 www.sacbee.com/sacramentosingle

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: myspace.com/thegeneralsmusic.

Listen to "Trains" here





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With a pedigree that includes Papa's Culture, Seventy and the Original Heads, Harley White Jr.'s been making music in Sacramento for years now, playing everything from jazz and hip-hop to rock.

These days, White's concentrating on jazz but still wearing many musical hats as the songwriter, arranger, stand-up bassist and leader for his big band-styled Harley White Jr. Orchestra.

"Doing the big band - it really covers everything I want to do," White says. "It allows me to do all those things that I'm interested in doing."

And what interests him, White says, is incorporating all of his musical loves - pop, jazz, hip-hop, rock, swing, etc - into one cohesive sound.

White finds inspiration in two music greats.

"Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones are my ideal musicians," he says. "They have hubris - they see the whole picture."

As such, White says he has no plans to release a CD version of his big band work.

"To release a big band record that sounds like a big band record? I wouldn't do it when Duke Ellington's already done it so perfectly," he says. "Those guys were on the road 200 nights out of the year and the music they play sounds like it - it was done so perfectly."

Fans can, however, find the Harley White Jr. Orchestra online as White turns to the Web to release experimental versions of his music. Check out one of those tracks, "Autumn Returns" at www.sacbee.com/ sacramentosingle.

Harley White Jr. Orchestra

Song: "Autumn Returns"

Style: Ethereal, dubbed-out jazz

Behind the song: "This a Harley White Jr. Orchestra song remixed by the Original Heads," White says. "I went into the studio with producer William Prince and we started with a regular square mix - like what you'd hear the band do at a show - and then dubbed it out.

"Dub (music) is what happens when you strip things out - it's about the (concept of) less is more."

Here, less is more means taking out some sounds while giving new life to others.

"You start with a bare bones skeletal mix and then add reverb and delays," he says. "It's about making the music more spooky and ethereal. "For example, there's a horn sound that, in the original version of the song goes "pow!"

Then, White says, lowering his voice to a whisper, "when you dub it out for the remix, it sounds like 'pow, pow, pow."

"It's about finding the subconsciousness of the song."

See them: Friday at the Distillery (2107 L St, Sacramento ) with the C.U.F. and Red Tape; the 21-and-over show starts at 10 p.m. and is $7 at the door.

Or, Nov. 11 the HWJO plays World War II-era music at a Veteran's Day party at Club 21 (1119 21st St, Sacramento). Patrons are encouraged to dress up in their best '40s finery. Admission is $10 and the music start at 9 p.m.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/hwjo

Listen to "Autumn Returns" here:




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It took Jay Shaner a year to record his solo album, "Best Laid Plans." The process, says the Sacramento musician, taught him a lot about what it means to be a songwriter.

"I was working with (other artists) but ultimately I realized that I've come to a point where I have to have the artistic vision for where the music is going."

That recognition of responsibility was freeing says Shaner who also sings and plays guitar in the Cowboy Killers.

"You take music seriously but ultimately you've got to let it go - leave the guitar part alone," Shaner says. "It doesn't need to be pristine it's fine the way it is. I ended up making the album that felt right to me."

Shaner's been playing music nearly his entire life but only started writing his own about a dozen years ago.

It was the Cure's "A Letter to Elise" that inspired him to try his hand.

The sweet, sad pop song moved him, Shaner says, for the way it layered its emotions.

"To be able to say something deep that struck you on more than just a superficial level t the best songwriters write songs that can hit you both a visceral and a cerebral level."

Jay Shaner

"The Astronaut Song"

Style: Quiet, reflective folk-pop

Behind the song: "The song is about regret and coming to the point where you realize you're not going to be the person who, in your grandest dreams, you set out to be - but ultimately, you can still be happy with yourself."

Reconciling the music with the lyrics proved challenging, Shaner says.

"Early in my songwriting life I erred on the side of making things too catchy," he says. "I wanted this to be more melancholy - less dramatic."

To achieve that, Shaner experimented with a less traditional structure.

"I wanted to keep the middle (of the song) more ethereal and textural instead of (sounding like) a melodic break," he says. "So we brought in more drums at the end to make it more intense instead of adding another melody line.

Listen to "The Astronaut Song" here:



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The members of Sacramento's Must.Not.Die are both deejays and musicians. Yes, Miguel Francis and Quinten Larsen, both 24, play records and remix songs but they also create their own music.

"We DJ really fun stuff - a lot of indie, electric dance music," says Francis of the tunes he Larsen spin at clubs such as R15, Old Ironsides and the Blue Lamp. "But the stuff we make is really different - we're going for that whole shoegazer, wall of sound, sample-based sound."

Francis and Larsen, who attended different area high schools, met through their school's theater programs and quickly bonded over a shared love for "nerdy music."

"We geeked out on stuff like Edit and Glitch Mob and then we just decided to start producing stuff on our own," Francis says.

Now the two tap into their other, disparate tastes - Larsen likes groove-oriented hip-hop, Francis prefers indie and math rock - to fashion new sounds.

"We'll work out something from a synthesizer and then create our own melody," he says.
"Quinten's good at laying down tracks and (creating) the rhythm section - I'm more involved in the melody so we'll just throw something out there to see what direction we go in."

They also use music samples in their songs -but with limits.

"We'll use samples as a pop element but when we do they have to be short and unrecognizable by the time we're finished," he says. "We don't want you to be able to tell what song it's from."

The two are currently at work on an EP, which Francis describes as "edgy and rough."

"It has a caustic energy - I'm just trying to represent my world view which is very imperfect, brooding and anxious."

The EP will be released by the end of the year, until then listen to the single "Attachment Interlude" at www.sacbee.com/ sacramentosingle.

Must.Not.Die

Song: "Attachment Interlude"

Style: Surreal, dreamy electro-pop

Behind the song: "This song came out of a break-up," Francis says. "I was really in love but we weren't talking and I was listening to this one Pete Yorn song over and over. There was a small loop (in the song) that asked this question about not talking."

Francis took a three-second sample of the loop and then deconstructed, distorted and sequenced it into a brief, tense melody.

"It builds into this energy and madness that I was trying to convey," he says.

"I just wanted to personify that question of (not knowing) and have it build and build until it finally releases to the point where you let go."

See them: Must. Not.Die deejays Wednesday at Barcode Nightclub & Lounge, 1890 Arden Way, Sacramento. The 18-and-over dance club opens at 9 p.m and is $12 at the door.

On the Web: myspace.com/mustnotdie

Listen to "Attachment Interlude" here:




brighter GOW.jpgEarl Brooks only moved to Sacramento five months ago but he's had one toe-tapping foot in the River City for much longer.

Brooks' band, Ghosts of Wyoming, was born in Seattle - his home for 26 years. But, after meeting Sacramento guitarist Jerry Lewis at a gig, the band slowly shifted to include more parts Sac than Seattle.

"I just woke up one day and decided it was time for a chance so I made my girlfriend mad and told her I was moving," he says

The pair still talk on the phone twice daily and her influence is notable in the lyrics Brooks writes for his rollicking country-rock tunes.

Drawing from true life inspiration, he says, is the only way he can write.

"I can't write from anyone else's perspective but my own," he says.

"I can't sit down and say 'I'm going to write about a truck driver -it just comes out sounding like a 17-year-old's essay."

Ghosts of Wyoming

Song: "I Have a Brain"

Style: Bar room brawlin' Americana

Behind the song
: "I really like this song because it's got a great opening line, 'I was born in a one stripper town," Brooks says.

"That's a running joke with me and my sweetheart - her dad was an oil executive in Los Angeles ... and I grew up in eastern Idaho and Wyoming so the song is about the dynamics of two very different people coming together."

In addition to Brooks and Lewis the band also includes bassist Brad Moore,singer Mary Louise Picerno and keyboardist / lap steel player Brett Lemke.CQ

Much of GOW's music reflects influences such as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Neil Young but "I Have a Brain" also taps into his love for the Flaming Lips.

"There are these two lap steel parts buried in the mix and they just come in and out of the song," he says. "The Flaming Lips have really tweaked my head as far as emotional content and general weirdness. There's a certain joy to their music that's really powerful."

See them
: Saturday at the Ryan Seng Collective, (1301 I St.) The artists' reception starts at 6 p.m., the music starts at 10 p.m. Free.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/ghostsofwyoming

Listen to "I Have a Brain" here:


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Local musician Martin Birke looked far beyond Sacramento to bring an international flair and depth to his latest project.

Birke founded Genre Peak as a electronic pop trio in 2004 but after a band mate moved to New York, he turned to the Internet to add to the core that includes guitarist Christopher Scott Cooper.

The result? Collaboration with influential British bassist Mick Karn (Japan, Kate Bush) and the Spanish electro-pop group Stereoskop as well as a new Canadian vocalist, Tara C. Taylor, found via MySpace.

Now Birke says, Genre Peak reflects its players exhilarating take on collaboration.

"I gave up my rock star dreams a long time ago," says Birke, whose past projects include Casualty Park, a synth pop duo that composed work for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the 1998 Joe Carnahan film, "Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane."

"Now there's a real joy in getting to work with people who have the same ideas I do - I think that's the success of the album."

"Preternatural" is available online at CDBaby.com and locally at The Beat and R5 Records.

Listen to the single "Wear it Well" at www.sacbee.com/ sacramentosingle.

Genre Peak

Song: "Wear it Well"

Style: Densely layered, soaring electro-pop

Behind the song: "This song (originated) from a drum program I created several years ago," Birke says. "I went back to it with the idea of getting a new lead vocalist.

"I was tired of hearing my own voice (because) I always get compared to Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, so I sent the rough demo to Tara," he says.

When Taylor sent him back her vocal demos, Birke knew he'd hit on the right sound.

"I told her, 'this is good - we need to get you down in the studio," Birke says.

"Wear it Well," he adds, served as the album's launching point.

"I hadn't consciously been thinking about doing an whole record but after that song, but that's the track that the album grew from - the rest of it just came so easy."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/genrepeak

Listen to "Wear it Well" here:




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Waltzing melody lines and two-step beat changes - it's easy to imagine swinging through a
ballroom to one of Keith Gray's quirky pop songs. Recording and playing under the Bicycle Rider moniker, Gray crafts indie pop that reflects his love for the baroque and theatrical.

"I'm really into classical music and musicals," he says. "I love Julie Andrews kind of stuff - 'The Sound of Music' and 'Mary Poppins.' "

Although the Bicycle Rider is, essentially, Gray's solo project, the 25-year-old musician has nonetheless enlisted some stage and studio help from drummer Matt Spahn and bassist Todd Coleman.

"They both bring such style and a real presence to what we do," Gray says. "They bring a really warm vibe to the music."

Gray and friends are working on a new album with local producer Matt McCord. The CD won't be out until February; until then, check out the single "Only This Time, This Year."

The Bicycle Rider

Song: "Only This Time, This Year"

Style: Quirky ballroom pop

Behind the song: "This is one of the first ones written, and it helped put me in the direction that I'm going now," Gray says.

While the song's lyrical focus is simple - "It's about family and relationships and hardships and trying to get through them all" - its makeup is more complex.

Gray initially crafted the tune, also featuring Harley White Jr. (bass) and An Angle's Kris Anaya (piano), with a particular sound in mind. The finished song, however, ended up in an entirely different direction.

"I began it with a classical guitar pattern, and then it just started developing into something else - this nursery rhyme just came out." Such evolutions are becoming a familiar part of Gray's songwriting process.

"I find that a lot of the music I listened to as a kid (is) now coming out in my writing," he says.

"I think it works, and I think people (relate to it) because the sound is not completely outrageous - but it's not completely normal, either."

On the Web:

www.myspace.com/thebicyclerider

Listen to "Only This Time, This Year"



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It's homecoming week for Brian Buckley
. The Bella Vista High School graduate is back in town for his 10-year reunion and, to celebrate, brought his band with him.

It'll be Buckley's first time in front of a Sacramento audience.

"I've been playing music all my life but just started playing in front of others a few years ago," he says.

The Brian Buckley Band, featuring Mike McGraw (guitar), Albert Estiamba (drums) and Dan BodemanQ (bass) is finishing up work on a new CD.

"We're done recording and we were very blessed to work with Mark Howard who produced Bob Dylan, the Red Hot Chili Peppers - everyone," Buckley says.

"We recorded at the Mack Sennett Stage - the oldest sound stage in LA; it has 100 foot ceilings and is the size of a football field - the whole thing was pretty unreal."

The album won't be in stores until February, until then you can preview the sound with "My World," a cut off Buckley's self-titled 2007 debut.

Brian Buckley


Song
: "My World"

Style: Epic, orchestral rock

Behind the song
: "I'm a real fan of using separate time signatures - speeding things up and then slowing them down," Buckley says.

"I had the idea of starting the song in a particular way and it just ended up having all these parts - (there's a) an acoustic bit and then the chorus and a B-section bridge followed by a hard rock piece and then a quiet, almost ballad-like ending."

For Buckley, much of the song's success is owed to an appearance from noted session drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell).

"Vinnie really made all those parts stand out," Buckley says. "He makes all those motions with tempo and time changes feel seamless - that's a tough thing to do and he just makes it all seem like a wheel that's just rolling along."

See them: Wednesday at Marilyn's (908 K St, Sacramento). The 21-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. and is $8 at the door.On the Web: www.myspace.com/brianbuckley

Listen to "My World" here:



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]t's nearly impossible to write about politics without being political.

Christian Kiefer admits that much is true.

But still, the Rocklin-based musician says, he and friends Jefferson Pitcher and Matthew Gerken aimed to "minimize the rants and raves" on their new project, the three-CD, all original set "Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs For 43 Presidencies." (Standard Recordings, $30).

"We tried to present songs that would have longer legs than our current political concerns," Kiefer says of the all-original tunes.
"We didn't want this to be politically offensive - it's too easy to take cheap shots."

The project was conceived in 2006 when Pitcher, a former Davis resident now living in New York, decided to take the February Album Writing Month challenge. The annual event was launched in 2004 by a musician who was inspired by November's better-known National Novel Writing Month exercise.

The Rocklin-based Kiefer jokingly said he'd join in, too - by writing sequels to Pitcher's songs. That was before he even knew the subject matter but once he did, Kiefer says, he was amused and intrigued.

The idea blossomed further after the two invited Sacramento bassist Gerken to join them. The three split up songwriting duties, each taking on 14 former chiefs-of-state and then collaborating together on the 43rd song, George W. Bush's "Through the Night."

Throughout, the task proved daunting, Kiefer says, as they tried to layer their songs with political, historical and cultural context.

"Some of the lesser-known presidents were difficult to write about (and) I found myself thinking I should say something concrete about them," Kiefer says.

"Everyone knows George Washington so you can be quirky with his story - you can't do that with Millard Fillmore," he says. "I wanted to teach people something."

While the songs were written in a month, it took the next year-and-a-half to polish the lyrics and fill in the musical gaps.

To help complete the songs, Kiefer, Pitcher and Gerken called on friends such as Sacramento musicians Vince DiFiore, Matt McCord and John Gutenberger. They also corralled a who's who of nationally known indie musicians, including Rosie Thomas, Bill Callahan and Low's Alan Sparhawk.

The Mortal Men project will continue, past the Nov. 4 election, with a song for the 44th president, either John McCain or Barack Obama. And, yes, again, the songwriters will strive to write something that straddles the party line.

For Gerken, it's the only way to ensure their songs will endure.
"(These songs) have to place the presidencies in historical context," he says. "They have to make interesting commentaries that could be challenging and maybe critical - but not whining."

Of Great and Mortal Men

Song: "Washington Dreams of the Hippopotamus"CQ

Style: Brooding, surreal political pop

Behind the song: "This was the first song I wrote and it came together very quickly," Kiefer says of the album's inaugural track about George Washington.
"The song is basically about George having teeth that are not made of wood but actually carved from hippopotamus teeth - which is actually the truth. I learned that in my research.
"It's about how (Washington) basically lived a lie (about his teeth) his entire life and, at the end of his life, he had these nightmares about the hippopotamus (coming) back for the teeth."
It was fun to play around with the Washington mythology, Kiefer says.
"For some reason it really came together effortlessly," he says, laughing. "If it hadn't been so easy to write, I might not have gone on with the rest of the project."

See them: Saturday9/13 at the Fox & Goose (1001 R St, Sacramento).CQ The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is $3 at the door.
On the Web: www.43presidencies.com.CQ

Listen to "Washington Dreams of the Hippopotomus" here:



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Sacramento's Baby! is, with just five shows played a, well, baby of band. But that doesn't mean that the trio doesn't have chops.

Fronted by Roach, formerly of the longtime area punk band, Groovie Ghoulies, it also features Kortnee (Riff Randals, Whiz-Bang!) on bass and Christine (The Pizzas) on drums.

The group is so new, they've only recorded a few songs so far - one of which written specifically for Roach by a Dutch rock'n'roll pal, Jerry Hormone.

Baby!

Song: "You Better Run"

Style: The Shangri-La's amped up on punk

Behind the song: "I thought the song was great when I first heard it," Roach said. "Now I'm trying to get other guys to write songs - I want to release a CD called 'Roach & Her Boy Toys.'"

So far however, she hasn't had much luck.

"I don't think (the guys) are going for it," she says, laughing.

Although the band stayed pretty faithful to Hormone's original demo, they did add a few personal touches to the track.

"We added a real rock ending - I needed it to have fireworks," Roach says.

Hormone, in an e-mail from Rotterdam, admits writing a song, from way across the Atlantic Ocean, was a bit of a challenge.

"I didn't really know what (her) band sounded like yet but I knew - and really dig - Roach's guitar sound from her stuff with the Ghoulies.

"I figured I'd make it a garage-y early 70's glam tune, because it's got these boogie woogie chords that really fit her style."

See them: Friday at Capitol Bowl's 300 Room, 900 West Capitol Ave, West Sacramento. The Enlows and the Boyfriendz are also on that bill. The 21-and-over show starts at 9 p.m. and is free.

On the Web: www.myspace.com/babysactorock

Listen to "You Better Run" here:



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Local jazz musicians Ross Hammond and Scott Amendola had played together many times before but when the two were paired on a recent project, they decided to continue the partnership by forming a duo.

The Lovely Builders is Hammond on guitar, Amendola on percussion and both on electronics and the resulting sound is playful, confident and, as the name may suggest, exquisitely innovative.

The Lovely Builders

Song: "Vote"
Style: Sprawling, free-form jazz
Behind the song: "We had some extra time in the studio and just started playing through some ideas we'd sketched out. 'Vote' just came out of that," Hammond says.
"We wrote it around a rhythmic figure as opposed to a melody or chord progression - Scott is really a mad scientist, he's an incredible, great drummer but he's also into electronics, (creating) lots of sounds - it's like 'where the hell is that coming from?' It's fun, it's cool."
See them: August 25 at the Java Lounge, 2416 16th St. Sacramento.
The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. and is $5 at the door. For more information: (916) 441-3945
On the Web: www.myspace.com/rosshammond

Listen to "Vote" here:



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With banjo, accordion and a stand-up bass, Woodland's Bottom Dwellers conjure sounds of an old ghost town, backwoods bonfires and the long and lonesome open road.
The band, featuring Ivan Sohrakoff (vocals, guitar, banjo), Adam Hancock (vocals, guitar, lap steel), Mark Eagleton (upright and electric bass) and Chris Eynon (drums), has two albums under its western wear belt.

The Bottom Dwellers

Song: "Think I Need a Drink"
Style: Twangy Americana / classic country
Influences: Buck Owens, Neil Young, Hank III
Behind the song: "Every now and then a song comes in and, instantly, everyone knows it's something special," Eagleton says.
For Sohrakoff, the track stood out among the band's rowdier songs.
"We do a lot of songs that are fast-driving, honky-tonk, truck-driving songs and this one was relaxed and laid-back," he says.
See them: Tonight at the Buck Owens tribute at Old Ironsides (1901 10th St); the 21-and-over show starts at 8 p.m. and is $8 at the door. Or, Saturday at Sophia's Thai Kitchen (129 E. St, Davis). The all-ages show starts at 10 p.m. and costs $3.

On the Web: www.bottomdwellersmusic.com

Listen to "Think I Need a Drink" here:



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Knock Knock's latest album "Girls on the Run," released on the band's Wilde Records label, is the perfect mix of beachy, breezy pop and frenetic rock.
The four-piece, featuring singer-songwriter / bassist Allen Maxwell, guitarist Heather Conway, guitarist Mike Cinciripino and drummer Nicola Miller, is on hiatus through the early fall but plans to start working on a new album or EP soon.

Knock Knock

Song: "She Knocks Me Out"
Style
: Punchy power pop
Influences: Indie rock and punk meets classic rock
Behind the song: "It's a really old song (from when) Nicola and I had a band called Slumber Party," says Maxwell. "At some point, in Knock Knock we were going all these old songs and this is one that we ended up using.
"It sounds really different now (because) Mike and Heather obviously put their own thing into it. Mike came up with the intro and then we all added the hand claps."

On the Web: www.myspace.com/knockknocktheband

Here's the player to hear "She Knocks Me Out"



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Sacramento's four-member Desario crafts perfect slices of soft, jangly pop.
The band, with John Conley (guitar, vocals), Mike Carr (bass), Michael Yoas (guitar) and Jim Rivas (drums), is like a Who's Who of the NorCal pop scene - their musical pedigree includes members of California Oranges, Holiday Flyer, Sinking Ships and Rocketship.
Desario's new album, "Zero Point Zero," will be released in October on Darla Records.

Until then, get your sugar fix by listening to "Cane Cola"

Desario
Song: "Cane Cola"
Style: Sweet, melancholy power pop
Influences: XTC, Interpol,the Shins
Behind the song: "We were at practice, and John (Conley) and Mike (Yoas) started fooling around with the two-part guitar interplay you hear at the beginning of the song," explains Desario bassist Mike Carr. "I really liked what I heard - it already sounded like a (finished) song. I just assumed it was a song they had already played in some other band together. I love it - it's one of the band's favorites."
See them: Desario performs at 9 p.m. Friday Aug. 1 at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St.).
On the Web: www.myspace.com/desario

Here's the player to hear "Cane Cola":


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Autumn Sky is one of the rising artists on the local singer-songwriter scene, armed with an acoustic guitar and some bittersweet yet lovely songs. She's got an album coming out in September called "All Which Isn't Singing," and "Sunday Single" brings you a sneak peek with a song called "Rockets!"

AUTUMN SKY
Song: "Rockets!"
Style: Folk-pop with a pointed edge
Influences: Cat Stevens, June Carter Cash, Bright Eyes, Devendra Banhart
Behind the song: "When I first started to write 'Rockets!,' it was going to be a song about how much I disliked the local music scene, and how tired I was of the same old circuit, which never seemed to change," she says. "And worse, (it was) filled with people who never seemed to notice or care. But the chorus changed it from an 'I dislike' song to a 'give me something new' song, which makes it a little less depressing, and honestly, was more true to how I felt."
See her: Autumn Sky performs on July 30 at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St.)

Here's the player to hear "Rockets!":


On the Web: www.myspace.com/autumnskymyspace

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The No-Goodniks have only been a band since April, but the group is already bringing the noise around Sacramento. The No-Goodniks specialize in no-frills pop-punk, just the kind of speedy and melodic stuff that Granny warned you about. Check out the song "So Pathetic" - it'll get you going quicker than a triple shot of espresso.

THE NO-GOODNIKS
Song: "So Pathetic"
Style: Good ol' three-chord punk rock
Members: Jessi Rose (vocals), Tom Hutchinson (guitar/vocals),
Cary Rodda (bass), Skott (drums)
Influences: Ramones, Sex Pistols, X, the Clash, Groovie Ghoulies
Behind the song: "It's basically kind of like a stalker story gone wrong," says Hutchinson. "Jessi the singer wrote the lyrics, and it's about a guy who won't leave her alone, and his attempts at wooing her get more pathetic as time goes on. It's based on various true stories, I guess."
See them: The No-Goodniks perform Friday at Old Ironsides (10th and S streets)

Click on the play button below to hear "So Pathetic":

On the Web: www.myspace.com/thenogoodniksrock

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"Sunday Single Showcase" is set for Thursday night at Old Ironsides, and we've got another evening of live music and artist interviews on tap for y'all. This edition is special for a couple reasons: 1) We're doing the show on a Thursday, instead of the usual Sunday; and 2) we'll be rocked by a band from England called Abdoujaparov, featuring Les Carter (formerly of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine).

But I'm especially stoked about the headliner, Sacramento's own The Evening Episiode. I'm straight up hooked on this indie-electronic band, and if groups like Portishead and the Cocteau Twins rock your world, you'll be hooked too. Check out the clip below of "Red Weather," which really does describe some of the weather we've had lately, but also floats so lovely with Terra Lopez's vocals and the percussion kick from Ira Skinner.

Here's a player to hear "Red Weather":


And once again, here are the details of Thursday's show:

Sunday Single Showcase (The Thursday Edition)
An evening of live music and interviews with the Bee's Chris Macias
WITH: The Evening Episode, Abdoujaparov (U.K.)
WHEN: 9 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Old Ironsides, 10th and S streets
HOW MUCH: $5
INFO: (916) 443-9751

July 4, 2008
Lemmie have it

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The Lemmies are a local all-grrrl punk band that's named in honor of Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister. And the Lemmies' mission is twofold: 1) pay tribute to Lemmy's huge face mole; and 2) rock your world. Check out the Lemmies' song "More" with all its buzzsaw guitars and drum throwdown. But it's all done with a girly touch, like Hello Kitty with fangs.

THE LEMMIES
Song: "More"
Members: Sailor Lane (bass/vocals), Dahlia Deathstrike (drums/vocals), Tuka (guitar)
Influences: Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, Lemmy's gigantic face mole, Iggy Pop, the Clash, Elvis, riot girl bands.
Behind the song: "The song has been around for awhile, mutating and being recycled," says Dahlia Deathstrike. "It's about having mad crushes, falling for dudes and being left high and dry, with your sailboat on an island with one donkey."
See them: The Lemmies perform on Thursday at Club Retro (6521 Hazel Ave., Orangevale)

Here's the player thingy to hear "More":


On the Web: www.myspace.com/thelemmies

June 27, 2008
Been a son

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Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream with this week's "Sunday Single." We're featuring a psychedelic and intriguingly melodic track called "This Thing Called Life" from the Ancient Sons. This band is a local supergroup of sorts, featuring members of such favorite indie bands as Th' Losin' Streaks, Army of Trees and Rock the Light. And fans of the Brian Jonestown Massacre should definitely peep this track. It's a synthesis of sorts between 1960s psychedelia and the spacier side of modern alternative-rock. Far out!

THE ANCIENT SONS
Song: "This Thing Called Life"
Style: Indie-rock with a harmonious, psychedelic streak
Members: Chris Teichman (guitar/vocals), Brad Teichman (bass/drums), David Aslanian (guitar), Matt K. Shrugg (drums), Matt Maxwell (guitar), Justin Pine (tambourine, percussion)
Influences: Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spiritualized, Galaxie 500, Spacemen 3
Behind the song: "I got really sick as a kid," says Chris Teichman. "I had cancer and had to have a kidney removed when I was about one-and-a-half, but I got a new lease on life. This song is kind of centered around a boy's view of looking for hope and trying to grow. It's about hope and redemption."
See them: The Ancient Sons will perform an acoustic set at 5 p.m. Wednesday on LiveWire (Access Sacramento, Channel 17 for Comcast and SureWest cable subscribers).

Here's the player to hear "This Thing Called Life":

On the Web: www.myspace.com/theancientsons

June 20, 2008
Strings and things

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"Sunday Single" is big on bands that truly do something different, so we're happy to say that the Definite Articles have one of the most unique sounds around town. The members of Definite Articles are classical musicians by background, but bring their string instruments into an intriguing indie-pop setting. Check out the all of the cool melodies, plucking and bowing on "Elixirs," which you can hear down below.

THE DEFINITE ARTICLES
Song: "Elixirs"
Style: Indie-pop meets chamber music
Members: Shawn Alpay (vocals/cello), Jon Sung (violin), Arjun Singh (drums), Melody Mundy (viola)
Influences: Electric Light Orchestra, Sufjan Stevens, the Arcade Fire, Matt Pond PA.
Behind the song: "'Elixirs' was written about a girl who I could never quite admit that I had feelings for," says Alpay. "I wrote this song as a means of processing through that, where you're balancing between two different emotions, and you can't quite figure it out which way the seesaw will go. So I left the perspective of the lyrics vague. Are the words coming from me, or the girl? I suppose I still haven't figured it out, even now."
See them: July 12 at the Blue Lamp (1400 Alhambra Blvd.), with An Angle, Bridges and Bright Light Fever.

Here's the player to hear "Elixirs":

On the Web: www.myspace.com/thedefinitearticles

June 13, 2008
Come on, shake shake it

Shakedown is the right kind of band as Sacramento kicks into summer. Its blend of rock and reggae will make you want to kick off your sneakers or Teva sandals and jump around at some outdoor show. Peep the Shakedown song "Love to Get Love" and chill to the upbeat rhythms and and hip-hop embellishments.

SHAKEDOWN
Song: "Love to Get Love"
Style: Rock 'n' reggae, with some hip-hop bump
Influences: Spearhead, Citizen Cope, Living Legends, Blackalicious
Members: Mark Kinyon (vocals/guitar), Bles (vocals), Mike Wilhelm (drums), Garrett Fonda (bass), D.Q. Hayes (saxophone), Mr. Vibe (turntables), A.J. Wilhelm (keyboards)
Behind the song: "'Love to Get Love' is a song I wrote pretty much after we had a line-up change," says Kinyon. "Even though reggae can be upbeat and happy, our older lyrics were kind of downtrodden. I wanted to write something a little bit more uplifting, a little bit more positive."
See them: Shakedown performs on Thursday at Tokyo Fro's 6th anniversary bash (2224 Fair Oaks Blvd.)

Here's the player to hear "Love to Get Love":

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On the Web: www.myspace.com/shakedown

June 6, 2008
Random rapping

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Random Abiladeze (say: Random A-bil-a-ties) is a local rapper and spoken word poet who just dropped an album called "Brutally Honest." His music is all about empowerment and social awareness, and that all comes through on "Never Give Up," this week's "Sunday Single." Check out Random Abiladeze's very on-point rhyme flow and those slick scratches from DJ Rated R from Live Manikins.

RANDOM ABILADEZE
Song: "Never Give Up"
Style: Hip-hop that seeks to uplift and inspire
Influences: Tupac Shakur, KRS-ONE, Nas, Guru
Behind the song: "In this song I felt like I'm standing up for the 916 and I'm not afraid to say it," says Random Abiladeze. "It kind of turned into an anthem that I wasn't expecting. (The hook) of 'never give up, never give in, forever we win, to quit is the original sin,' that's just the way things are going. People are disillusioned, and I want to remind them that you can speak with authority and confidence. That's what I want to inspire in other people."
See him: Random Abiladeze performs on June 20 at 6 p.m. at Dimple Records in Roseville (1701 Santa Clara Dr.).

Here's the player to hear "Never Give Up":



On the Web: www.myspace.com/randomabiladeze

May 30, 2008
Roots rock

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Arden Park represent! Here's a band that's so proud of its roots that it's named, well, Arden Park Roots. The group has a strong Sublime sound, with a mix of rock and reggae that's filtered through Sacramento instead of the "LBC" (Long Beach, Calif., that is). So check out "Sunday Single" and the Arden Park Roots song called "The Hard Way."

ARDEN PARK ROOTS
Song: "The Hard Way"
Style: Rootsy rock and blue-eyed reggae
Influences: Sublime, 311, Slightly Stoopid, Pepper
Members: Tyler Campbell (vocals/guitar), Matt Seidel (lead guitar), Ben Jones (bass), Justin Higdon (drums)
Behind the song: "I had this girlfriend and it was a work relationship, which is always, you know, not a good idea," says Campbell. "All of my friends were saying get rid of her, and she had a lot of negative outlooks on life. People always say everything happens for a reason, and I didn't understand that concept at that time in my life. So learning the hard way is what I was feeling at the time about that girl."
See them: 8 p.m. June 7 at the Underground (2401 Olympus Drive, Roseville)

Here's the player to hear "The Hard Way":



On the Web: www.myspace.com/aproots



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