Bees make honey
To escape the never-ending doggie debates, a bill of fare at the True Love Coffeehouse promised brief respite. Though the opening act, Local Honey, had not impressed on a pair of CDs, the trio came across much more effectively onstage.
The focal point of Local Honey, singer-guitarist Teresa Esguerra, has the kind of idiosyncratic voice that brings other highly individual stylists to mind, from Nina Simone to Macy Gray (for the record, she sounds like neither). Esguerra most likely would get a hearty thumbs down from Simon Cowell and company, but her voice does a serviceable job. As does her guitar playing—her strumming was more rough-hewn than technically brilliant, but occasionally a strange Steely Dan chord would pop out of the mix, giving the impression that she knows what she’s doing.
The remainder of the trio is a mixed bag. Drummer Nathan Beier, perhaps better known around town as performer Naked Nathan, proved to be a good listener, following Esguerra’s twists and turns with the right rhythmic subtlety. The same can’t be said of bassist Kim Robinson, whose inability to hang back and find the right groove provided a jarring note; too often, Robinson tried to drive the beat by sheer force, like Motown bassist James Jamerson pumping a Martha & the Vandellas raveup, when the song called for a light Jimmy Garrison touch.
Esguerra’s songs, many of them quite interesting in their own right, were marred by being presented in such an inappropriate setting. Too bad. A few minor adjustments, and Local Honey could be really interesting.
This weekend marks the inevitable Memorial Day weekend Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. Now, we have nothing against it; Dixieland jazz enthusiasts should have a place to go to tap their toes to the latest renditions of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and the Jubilee has gone to great lengths in recent years to incorporate such non-Dixieland forms as blues and zydeco. That said, an encounter with a Dixieland clarinet-playing (and clown-portrait painting) dentist years ago—who had an apparent antipathy toward such modern dental aids as anesthesia and painkillers—left this former root-canal victim of his with a serious revulsion toward anything involving a banjo and clarinet on the same stage. However, if that’s your mug of brew, there’s lots of it going on around town.