The Local Scene--From the man on the street to Lovers and Strangers, the music is all around you.
Thursday, June 3, 1999
The other day, I was taking a break from the perils of life, sitting in front of Borders Books, Music and Caf, when a man walked past carrying a guitar case. Since I was sitting on the ground, my view of said case was perfect. It was old, beat up and taped in many places, and it somehow beckoned me. "That is a great guitar case you got there."(Great? Well, that was the first thing that came to mind.) The man stopped and turned around.
"You play?" he asked, slowly walking back toward to me.
"Nah," I said. "I just write about it." The damn case was mesmerizing. He put it down gently onto the ground and snapped it open, revealing an acoustic guitar matching the case as far as looks were concerned.
He took the guitar out of its case, tuned it and began to play, and just like that, he put on a one-man show in front of Borders. What really got me, was the extreme familiarity with which he played his instrument and the story it told of a very long, very intimate relationship between the two.
"The man," by the way, has a name, Jay Dancing Bear, and he is a local musician, living in Pacific Grove. Every once in a while you can check out his talents at Juice ''n'' Java. I''ll keep you updated on the exact dates.
If you were at Doc''s on Thursday night to watch Netwerk Electric open for Dick Richie, you witnessed a smooth lesson in improvisation since Dick Richie opted to open instead, giving Netwerk Electric the headliner. Kind of like musical chairs that can leave your head spinning. The news definitely caught me by surprise, especially when it turned out that D.R.''s drummer, Charlie Sutter had left the band only two days before the show on Tuesday (let personal reasons be the cause). Needless to say, the band screamed for a drummer who could sit in and quickly adapt to the Dick Richie sound. None other than Mike Staples, former percussionist of Nectar of the Gods, answered the call. All''s well that ends well, and the evening was still a blast. The band is nevertheless in need of a new drummer to keep the beat, and though there have been talks going on with, and I quote, "somebody very, very good," the job may still be up for grabs...
The excitement continues on into the weekend with Doc''s Nightclub having its final show on Saturday. Headlining this very sad, but historic evening will be MoCo''s very own Lovers and Strangers. Kind of hard to say anything new about a band that has been around (and quite successfully so) for the past 14 years. Talking to Ray Bertolino (vocals/guitar) a few days ago, I got a better understanding of how things have changed on the local scene.
Says Ray: "Fourteen years ago, people still went out to see live bands. We used to play in front of packed houses, sometimes up to 600 people. That has changed drastically. Not only do people seem to want to stay at home nowadays, but all the music like hip-hop, techno and house for example, doesn''t need a band anymore to be played. You get a DJ and that''s that."
Playing with Lovers and Strangers will be V.E.R.A., another well-known local band, and after all is said and done, the party will continue on in the form of a rock jam (karaoke for musicians?) So if you''re in the mood to play, bring your stuff and get to it. How does that song go? "Save tonight and fight the break of dawn. Come tomorrow, tomorrow I''ll be gone." I will bring tissues for all who may need them, and one last time: See you at Doc''s.
Lovers and Strangers with V.E.R.A. opening, Saturday, 9:30pm, Doc''s Nightclub, 694-4241.
We do have some out-of-towners returning to the BlueFin Caf on Friday. If you didn''t catch Five a.m. in February, you should give them a try this time around. The five-piece band, hailing from Sonoma County, plays a cool mix of pop/rock influenced by artists such as Van Morrison, R.E.M., Santana and Sting to name a few. Listening to their 1997 debut release, Fade To Light, though, you can detect a slight country twang now and then. It''s definitely feel-good music with a rich sound and some interesting lyrics. At least Sonoma County seems to think so. Five a.m. has not only accumulated a solid, ever-growing fan base by being voted as one of Sonoma County''s best bands by the Sonoma County Independent''s readers poll, but has also won the North Bay''s 1997 "Battle of the Bands." Enough with the accolades, come see and hear for yourself.
Five a.m., Friday, 9pm, BlueFin Caf, 375-7000.