Mellow Folk Trip
Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell debuts at Fernwood this weekend.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The man who calls himself Nabob Shineywater feels that it is hard to have moments of revelation inside city limits. There, amongst traffic lights and buildings that obscure the sun, he says, almost every endeavor requires wads of money or a certain social status. In a post about an upcoming show on his band’s Web site, Shineywater, a member of Brightblack Morning Light—a band that epitomizes what some describe as “shoegazer folk”—describes the venue as “LA, Southern California Babylon System.”
In addition to his band, Shineywater organizes eclectic music festivals in rural places. Three years ago, he put on a music event in the Northern California hamlet of Bolinas, titled Quiet Quiet Window Lights, featuring his band along with other cult artists like harpist Joanna Newsom, Bonnie “Prince” Billy and neo folkie Devendra Banhart. Shineywater, a native of Alabama with a Southern drawl, says the name of the event sheds light on the nature of the music gathering. “Quiet Quiet refers to how music doesn’t have to be a big party hoedown,” he says.
After a successful first outing, Shineywater returned to Bolinas last year with a lineup that included Banhart, Currituck Co. and Peggy Honeywell. For the third installment, he decided to move the event to Big Sur—in part because Bolinas has banned camping on nearby beaches, and also because, Shineywater says, “Big Sur itself is generally magical.”
Like the artist curating the event, now dubbed Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell, the lineup is interesting and eclectic. One of the 11 artists scheduled to play the two-day festival is Michael Hurley, a veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s who collaborated with acid folkies the Holy Modal Rounders. There’s a member of the emo rock band Lungfish (Daniel Arcus Incus Ululat Higgs) playing trance music on a Jew’s harp, a piano-based band from France (Women & Children) and a blurry hard rock band called RTX, fronted by Jennifer Herrema of indie rock legends Royal Trux.
One of the most popular bands on the bill, along with Shineywater’s Brightblack Morning Light, is Vetiver, a psychedelic folk outfit led by Andy Cabic and Devendra Banhart, a musician who has been garnering mounds of accolades for his solo releases like Rejoicing in the Hands.
Even Shineywater has a hard time explaining what all of these acts have in common. “I see them as being outsiders of something, but I don’t know what they are outside of,” he says.
Organizing Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell is not the only way that Shineywater rages against conventional society. “My daily pursuit is trying to resist the Babylon system,” he says. “I try to do it by taking a big toke of organic marijuana every morning.” Also, though Shineywater’s band was recently signed to indie rock powerhouse Matador Records, the musician has been homeless since October, which poses technical difficulties. “It’s hard to play music, and it’s hard to take a shit,” he says.
Luckily, Shineywater’s fortunes may change this summer when Matador releases his band’s new album titled Brightblack Morning Light. When Brightblack played Big Sur this past summer, it was obvious that the band was moving on from the Mazzy Star-meets-country folk of their debut album Ala.Cali.Tucky. Shineywater, along with bandmates Rabob Hughes and Elias Reitz, diverged from their old sound with the addition of exotic elements like Indian tablas. Shineywater admits that the new CD will be Southern influenced and include gospel singers.
But, if the album is a hit with indie music fans, don’t expect Shineywater to change his eclectic ways. The artist already has big plans for his group after they release the record and tour. “The next phase for Brightblack,” he says, “will be a relocation to an Indian reservation.”
Quiet Quiet Ocean Spell will take place at Fernwood Bar, 24 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1 in BigSur, Friday at 9pm and Saturday at 4pm. Advance tickets are sold out but 50 tickets will be sold an hour before each show. $22-$25/cash only. 667-2422. www.thebrightblackmorninglight.com/oceanspell.html.