All that toe-tapping, uh …
You’ve gotta love a newspaper that gets so deeply into this city’s yearly Dixieland jazz-gasm that its tumescence for the olde-time tooty-toot even spills onto its real-estate pages.
From section L in last Saturday’s Bee: “With toe-tapping music filling the air throughout Sacramento this weekend at the annual Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons community at Westshore is continuing its jazz-themed concerts in honor of the big event.” Gosh darn.
Now, to be fair, this was in a “special advertising section,” which means that an ad copywriter was responsible for that particular cheesy masterpiece. Still, it begs the question: Does the Bee have a boilerplate Jazz Jubilee story it yanks out of a file every year, with this year’s appointed scribe filling in a few personal observations around the florid paeans to “toe-tapping” jazz and changing the name and photo caption in the obligatory “70-something lady doing the parasol dance” feature? One wonders.
In other long-weekend news, U. Utah Phillips caught that westbound freight to the promised land. Phillips, 73, the Nevada City-based folksinger, storyteller, political activist and champion of the homeless, died the Friday eve of the Memorial Day weekend in his adopted hometown. He’d been suffering from congestive heart failure for the past few years, and his big old heart finally gave out. To its credit, the Bee did break out of its annual detour to Storyville on the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee to run a good-sized Phillips obituary.
Phillips, through his music, his performances and his actions (e.g., his working with Nevada County’s homeless population), provided a connection to a part of society that many of us would prefer to ignore. We’d rather indulge in diversions—tapping our toes to music from a bygone era, ripped from its whorehouse context, in a restored old-city quarter cordoned off from the public drunks and other destitute folks who sleep in the bushes along the riverbank, with police and security guards ensuring we won’t have any unscripted encounters with them. (And lest you think I’m assuming any moral high ground, I include myself in this.)
Those folks sleeping in the bushes and shuffling along the gravel and creosote-stained railroad ties were Phillips’ people, and his death marks a real loss—especially given the economic and social upheaval emanating from Pennsylvania Avenue for the past seven years and change. And while the trend seems to be toward further separation of the haves from the have-nots, it’s noteworthy that some people are dedicated to reminding us that we’re all connected in this great tapestry.
People like Utah Phillips. Goodbye, and hope no rail bosses messed up your sweet ride into the sunset.
Since this week’s column seems to be brought to you by the number seven, it’s incumbent to mention the band Seventy, which is playing on Saturday, May 31, at Old Ironsides, to celebrate the release of its new album, Moods. The eight-song, half-hour-long set provides a nice taste of the quintet’s clean metallic brand of power-pop, with songwriter Vinnie Montoya’s melodic tunes stretched to the four-minute mark and delineated by electric-guitar tones ranging from abrasive to bell-clear, with a bit of wah-wah thrown in. Throw harmony vocals on top, and it makes for a solid confection. Of course, it does help to have a power-hitting lineup to put this style of pop-rock across, which Seventy has in Montoya and Scotty George on guitars, Harley White on bass, Dave Van Dusen on keyboards and Larry Schiavone on drums, with everyone providing vocals. Listen at www.myspace.com/seventy.
Yeah, these guys have been around seemingly forever, some as members of the more-countrified Tattooed Love Dogs. Nevertheless, in our constant search for the new, it’s easy to overlook a really good pop band.