A little bit non-Wal-Mart country, a little bit noise

Supremely sorry I missed the NorCal NoiseFest this year. For some reason, October going into November is a time of year when my best intentions go sideways, and I even forget to dress up like Danny DeVito and go trick-or-treating, and then suddenly it’s almost Thanksgiving and I’m scratching my noggin and going, “Uh, what happened?”

Anyway, if you or I sleepwalk through this November, we’ll miss the 30th annual Festival of New American Music at Sacramento State. Nope, it’s not NoiseFest, but it is a sort of under-publicized but, for lack of a better term, cutting-edge event—although its roots are in the serious music or concert hall tradition, rather than in an aesthetic that evolved from post-rock experimental impulses. The festival begins the day after Halloween and runs through November 11 this year, and the best part is that it’s free. This year’s featured composer is Pauline Oliveros, and other featured performers include the San Francisco ensemble Earplay, pianist Sarah Cahill, marimbist Nancy Zeltsman, trombonist Scott Whitfield and vocalist Ginger Berglund; works performed will include Cahill playing a piece by festival director Stephen Blumberg. If those names are unfamiliar to you, check the Web page, www.csus.edu/music/fenam, for more information and a schedule of events, and to find out who they are. See you there.

Speaking of dog-scaring sonics, one of the better exponents of amplified noise in the area, the Orland-based Nothing People, recently released a 7-inch single on the Sacramento-based indie S-S Records. I’m guessing it’s available at Time Tested Books. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this trio perform, but the last time I heard ’em, I walked out of the club thoroughly trepanned. You can check Nothing People out at www.myspace.com/nothingpeople.

And speaking of heads, last week when I stopped into Honey—a salon at 818 19th Street—for a haircut, there was a CD sitting on the counter by local country quartet Rowdy Kate. The band recorded the eight-song disc, titled EP, at Station to Station, Dana Gumbiner’s studio in Grass Valley. The CD provides a fine showcase for singer Keri Carr’s voice, which is reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt’s, especially on “Los Laureles,” a song Ronstadt has recorded and the disc’s lone Spanish-language number.

Other covers include tunes associated with Tammy Wynette (“Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad”), Emmylou Harris (“I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” and Gram Parsons’ “Return of the Grievous Angel”) and Loretta Lynn (“Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ [With Lovin’ on Your Mind]”). The CD also contains three fine originals: “Female and a Man’s Best Friend” and “Honky Tonk Sin” by guitarist Geoff Miller—who’s not only a fine writer, but an excellent master of the Fender Telecaster, with cool licks all over the record—and the closing track “Hung Over,” which was penned by Miller, Carr and acoustic guitarist Robert Sidwell. It takes a certain amount of guts to juxtapose your own material up with songs by writers of high caliber on a country record, and Rowdy Kate pulls it off. If you’re a fan of non-Wal-Mart country music, you owe it to yourself to pick this record up at a local record store, or at Honey, where Carr’s the proprietor.