Culture vulture

Jason Lytle dishes up the good stuff.

Jason Lytle dishes up the good stuff.

Days of weekend past
Aside from working with my band for a few hours a week and insomniacal headphone explorations of the Hawkwind back catalog, Culture Vulture hasn’t done much music lately. Oh, sure, the Gorgeous Armada will usually draw me into the nightlife, and Emmylou Harris or Motörhead appearing within a day’s drive will inspire me to lock up my bicycle, fuel up the Echo and head for distant concert halls. But most evenings will find me on the couch at home with a cup of tea and the lovely I. Daphne St. Brie, our feet propped comfortably on twin corduroy hassocks, the cat Benny nestled cozily between us, while some insipidly “humorous” and/or ludicrously violent TV show flickers away the hours. Not that Entourage, or Desperate Housewives, or the Sopranos, or The Real World, or CSI: Miami or My Super Sweet 16 are bad or anything, but it’s nice to be reminded that there is a world of wonderful live music happening.

Take for instance last Friday night. Two of my favorite people were throwing a party commemorating the 5th anniversary of their first real date: A milestone worthy of celebration, and a good excuse to drive to the city. The fact that my brother-in-law Al is skateboarding buddies with Jason Lytle, the man behind the music of Grandaddy, and that Lytle was going to be playing a rare and basically private concert at the tiny Edinburgh Castle Pub added a nice dose of musical excitement to the event. Lytle, for those unfamiliar with his music, is a recording genius, a master of composing and constructing beautiful, intricately layered, electronically interwoven genre-defying rock songs in his home recording studio. I heartily recommend checking out Grandaddy.

On this night it was just Lytle, his acoustic guitar, a brush-wielding drummer and his plaintive, mostly falsetto voice. Lytle, who is a shy but affable blue-collar dude offstage, was in fine form, playing a broad selection of his own tunes and tossing in the odd cover or three; George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” were treated to heartfelt, good-humored renditions. The highlight was Al’s vocal debut, singing the guitar part from “Gentle Spike Resort” to accompany Lytle’s vocalization of the recording’s synthesizer part, in a rendition dedicated to Al’s fiancé, Adriane. Beautiful, goofy and poignantly romantic—a favorite combination of mine.

The next morning we lingered over coffee and conversation with Al and Adriane before hitting Whole Foods for a deli-counter lunch eaten on a windswept hillside bench at Lafayette Park overlooking the Bay. Then it was back to Chico, arriving just in time for Culture Vulture to bike downtown to check out the final night of the CAMMIES at the Senator. Deerpen: awesome. West by Swan: colossal. The Makai: stupendous.

Luckily, I ran into my pal Paige, who reminded me of the Spark ’n’ Cinder benefit for local School of the Americas prostester Dorothy Parker at the Women’s Club. If you have any doubt about the vileness rampant in the current administration, the fact that it is imprisoning a 78-year-old woman for expressing her political views ought to open your eyes.