Arcata Eye Scene

A-town art, music, theatre. Mostly music. Updated Wednesdays.

Josh Duke: Bonus Tracks – Aug. 21, 2007

Saturday night was a real treat for me. I got to witness creativity in a more pure form, as local and abroad frontmen decided to coalesce together and give us a more intimate and serene taste of their creative juices flowing in a more natural, acoustic setting. The solo acoustic show at Jambalaya was a chance to see our favorite singers branch out in ways unfettered by such things like rhythm and bass. We had a smattering of talent for our evening, some local, some not, and if we were at a contest of odds, I’d have to say that our hometown boys won the contest (in my humble opinion).

Seemingly, as though by the drawing of straws, Bret Bailey started off our night with a delightful mix of tunes ranging from his Que La Chinga days to his most recent efforts of the rock ballad The Common Vice. Despite the fact that he can’t learn more than one harmonica chord, he does pretty well.

Clinging to the shadow of his previous, more successful band, we all tapped our feet to the familiar tunes that we never thought that we’d hear again. Almost reminded me of the time I saw the Scorpions, and they opened and closed their set with “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” That aside, his main success of the evening came from the simple idea that when your repertoire of instruments changes or diminishes, then the instruments that remain must adapt. He slowed the pace down on some Chinga songs; he sped it up on others. He was aware of his place. He even threw in a comical number, “Hippy Hatin’ Me” all got our chuckles up, and got me wanting to request other classics like “Up to my Nuts in Sluts.” To me though, in my own fantasy, his performance yearned for a reunion that’ll never happen, and we, the fans, will suffer more for it. This town ain’t the same without the Chingas. But then again, that’s just my own fantasy.

The second act of the evening was this guy named Robert Szeles from L.A.’s Kiss the Girls. This guy knew how to own the stage, belting away on his guitar, crooning melodically. And while he was quite astute in his abilities, it is for performers like him that I have such a critical eye towards solo acoustic shows like this.

Singing, he was great, but with his guitar work, it was as though he were playing exactly as he would were his band there with him. The result was a washed out, boring sound, that could have otherwise made his performance more dynamic, present and perhaps just interesting enough to keep me from ordering my fourth vodka collins.

Nick and Heather Riffbroker provided the middle of our evening with their solo (?) performance. And they were alright – kinda cute for a couple. But despite Nick’s striking similarity to Cat Stevens, I still had to resist the urge to call up Chris Perreira and ask him when his next open mic session was. The music was a bit choppy and ultimately too generic for me to catch a hook. I’ll actually admit that I started to doze off during their show, a first for me. Congratulations, you weren’t bad enough to keep me awake.

Clay Smith of The Rubberneckers showed up in fine form, accomplishing the same task that Bret did; musical dynamics thrust upon previously recorded material. Even after knocking over music stands and bunching words together, he offered a much more personal and intimate feel that let us all peer into the creative side of Clay, unfettered by the constructs of a band or inner ear equilibrium. He ended our evening with a song called “Kill the Children,” a slow, soft ballad that cradled us to a comfortable yet disturbing crescendo.

Saturday, being everything it advertised itself to be, left me with the desire for more. I want to see another night like this. Get Melissa from The Ravens, or Pablo from Dragged by Horses. Hell, even drag out Daryl Price, whatever happened to him. It was just nice to finally see an evening where the audience and the performer were both equally challenged in their work.

Joshua Duke maintains a music blog at bonustracks.typepad.com. E-mail comments regarding this column to fun@arcataeye.com.

The Republican Duck Hunters fire back
We were shocked as shit to see a review of our show in the Eye (see Aug. 14 issue).
And the headline no less.
The exposure got us talked about on the radio again as well.
And that schtick of only negative reviews is a refreshing and new approach to critiquing. I’m surprised you aren’t syndicated already.
So thanks again and oh, by the way when I was “shoving the mic” down my throat I was imitating your mom.
RDH

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