Can we get a miracle?
Jam bands get a bum rap.
Not everyone can put up with the loose, open-ended song structures that these bands use as springboards for long, spiraling instrumental solos. It’s the antithesis of punk rock, power pop and other genres with more rigid song constructions, and it often requires a listener’s meditative openness to what’s coming next in the moment to appreciate its beauty. (Which is somewhat like jazz, but typically without the sophisticated harmonics that inhabit that genre.)
And then there’s the cliché of the unwashed, stoned-out Deadhead begging for a miracle outside the gig, and once inside, spiraling like a dervish to an unseen rhythm. Sure, you still can spot those ’60s diehards, but jam-band audiences tend to be as much a normal cross section of fans as any other audience you’d care to dissect, albeit one with perhaps a greater herbal appreciation.
Anyway, you locals who dig long, woolly jams are in for a real treat. You may not recognize the name Izabella, but it’s a new band formed from a merger of Four Guys From Reno with veterans of Uncle Harlen’s Band and Home at Last. Sean Lehe, the singer whose prayer-flag-in-the-wind guitar solos provide the band’s Jerry Garcia element, played in Home at Last with Lucas Carlton (drums) and Murph (guitar, bass); the latter also played with the Chicago-based Freddy Jones Band. They’re joined Brian Rogers (bass, guitar, percussion, vocals), Andre Fylling (keyboards, vocals) and Sam Phelps (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals), formerly known as Four Guys From Reno.
If you’re curious, Izabella will be playing two nights at Marilyn’s on K—an acoustic show on Friday, September 21, with the Hurricanes, and an electric show the next night (Saturday, September 22) with the Bennys. Both shows are at 9 p.m.; tickets are $6.
Yeah, I know, I’ve made fun of hippies in the past in this space, and once I really pissed off a bunch of String Cheese Incident fanatics after someone tried to dose me with a cupcake at one of their shows. I tend to like formal structure in pop music, and I’m old enough to remember the crispy critters who haunted Northern California in the wake of the so-called Summer of Love for a couple of decades afterward. But I have a warm spot for jamming when done well, and Izabella promises to become one of the genre’s A-list performers.
As for this weekend, Harley White brings the second and third performance of his annual White Noise International Music Festival to two local venues. Friday’s show features Seventy, a fine power-pop band for which White writes songs and plays bass; it also features singer-guitarist Vinnie Montoya, lead guitarist Scott George, keyboardist David Van Dusen and drummer Larry Schiavone from the more country-focused Tattooed Love Dogs; also on the bill are the most excellent Ancient Sons and Radio Orangevale (all for 8 bucks). The show’s at Old Ironsides at 9 p.m. Saturday’s $6 show, which features DJ Epik and Chuck Taylor, starts at 10 p.m. at the Distillery. (The first show of the series was Saturday at Cesar Chavez Plaza, with Funkengruven, the Harley White Orchestra, New Dimensions featuring Steve Gundhi and Le Grand Rogers, the Clark Goodloe Trio and Erinn Anova.)