Chatty at the Delta
Rob Roy looked depressed. The KDVS icon was sitting at Delta of Venus in his bowler hat with a characteristically clashing tie and sport coat, like a renegade mixture of Dr. Who and the ultra-violence practitioners of A Clockwork Orange. “I don’t know if he’s doing much,” Roy said, staring bleakly up at the stage while the performer, N. Lannon, knelt and disappeared from view, fiddling with a variety of loop pedals and sound effects on the wooden floor of the patio. “I’m not feeling it.”
It was true that, although Lannon’s recorded music is terrific, the live set on the Delta of Venus patio wasn’t quite working. When Lannon’s set began, the audience was only paying a modicum of attention. By mid-set, it was in the throes of full-volume conversation.
It seemed, therefore, that the average audience member might agree with Roy, although it also might be noted that Roy’s assessment of the show might have had more to do with his mood than with the evening as a whole. Then again, the fact that I and those in my immediate vicinity (including local songwriter Jeff Pitcher and Carquinez Straits’ Jed Brewer) were conversing healthily during Lannon’s performance certainly said something. He just wasn’t getting our attention.
After a moment, Lannon reappeared. Standing again, he was illuminated from floor lights that made him appear thin and towering while the breeze slowly shook the bamboo behind him. There was a sense of Elliott Smith and Nick Drake in his playing: a fragile, keening quality that would be effective under certain conditions and before certain audiences. Apparently, these were not the right conditions or the right audience.
“You know, when Jacob Golden performs, he really gives the audience everything he has,” Pitcher said, referring to Golden’s recent performance at Old Ironsides. “This guy has great songs, but he’s just not giving me anything.”
Of course, this is one of the principal gulfs in musical performance. There are those who simply perform music and those who entertain. Of course, these two camps often cross, but there are many more instances where they do not. Lannon is a performer, but not an entertainer. That’s not necessarily anything to be critical about in the end; it’s just a fact of live music. Local bands with musical chops and entertainment value (the Knightmares come to mind, for one) represent a rare breed, indeed.
Incidentally, Delta of Venus’ Down at the Delta acoustic roots-music series is amazing. This, it seems, is where Sacramento’s Americana scene has gone. Find out more at www.deltaofvenus.org.
In other news, James Cundiff’s band Frakas has changed its moniker to Bypassing Oblivion and has finished its debut full-length CD. As Cundiff described the music, it’s “like Social Distortion with a dash of Green Day thrown in for good measure.” Look for that soon.
Meanwhile, on your radio dial, KXJZ’s Blue Dog Jam—which plays on Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.—is looking for local music. Bands that fall in the contemporary, alt/indie, classic-jazz, blues or world-music categories (in other words, National Public Radio music) are encouraged to send their CDs to Carl Watanabe, Capital Public Radio Inc., 7055 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95826.
On another dial location, KWOD 106.5 deserves kudos for playing occasional local music during its daytime programming. It was nice to hear Kevin Seconds’ voice pop on the air for a moment this past weekend introducing An Angle’s “Green Water.” More of that, please.