Chatty redux

I wish my mailbox was a bit more predictable. Writing a savagely honest and critical review of a local band sometimes won’t elicit more than a considerate note from the band thanking me for some constructive criticism, or a perplexed “I hadn’t thought of that” comment from a fan. Such notes are, of course, refreshing and far from the norm.

What’s sometimes more perplexing is overreaction from relatively innocuous reviews. Case in point: a review of N. Lannon’s show a few weeks ago at the Delta of Venus in Davis [“Chatty at the Delta,” SN&R Clubber, August 25]. It wasn’t necessarily a bad review of either the band or the venue, but it did note that the audience was very actively talking throughout the performance. Surprisingly, I received a larger-than-normal batch of mail in response to the review, most in a basically indignant tone that implied that I somehow got it wrong or that I should have been to some of the other events at the Delta to get a better handle on the crowd there.

On the second point, I say fair enough. And so I returned to the Delta of Venus last week to witness the performance of one of the most interesting of the new moody folksters, the Los Angeles-based Summer at Shatter Creek.

It may be that the Delta is so damned comfortable, or perhaps that the students have recently returned from their summer vacations, or that it was a warm night and the beer was flowing, but the Delta is, despite protests to the contrary, a chatty, chatty venue. That’s not to say there weren’t listeners in the audience—a close-knit cluster of music fans surrounded the performers and listened intently during the sets—but the talkers vastly outnumbered the non-talkers.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as one goes to the Delta understanding that this is the status quo. It isn’t a place to go to sit quietly and listen to quiet music. (Even a quick word with music booker and KDVS DJ Michael Leahy supported this general line of thinking: “These people are used to listening to bluegrass,” he said, “and you can talk over that.”) Summer at Shatter Creek tended to be quiet, moody and beautiful. Unfortunately, it was relatively difficult to hear over the chatter. It was a shame, as the same band in a quiet theater setting might have been revelatory.

Of course, the scene at the Delta might change as the weather grows colder and the bands move back inside. In the cramped confines of the Delta’s interior, there’s less room for the sheer number of people to keep up a steady murmur of conversation. It’s possible that the infamous ratio of talkers to non-talkers might tilt toward the latter.

I’ll keep going either way. There’s just no other venue around Sacramento where one can see the kinds of acts the Delta is booking. And, frankly, it’s not such a bad thing being able to fade into conversation from time to time. Find out more at

A quick congratulations to Cake trumpeter Vince DiFiore and his wife, KTTV Los Angeles Capitol correspondent Gina Garcia, on the birth of their third son last week. Good news!