Don’t call it luck
Here you go: the recipients of the 2004 Sacramento Area Music Awards, or Sammies
This is year No. 13 for the Sammies. We’ve been hunkered down in our bat cave on 20th Street for weeks, burning jinx-removing incense, oiling ourselves up with lucky winner unguents and High John the Conqueror root, eating po’ boy sandwiches and counting the ballots while fingering our mojo bags. So, without further adieu, what follows are the winners of this year’s Sammies.
2004 Sammies Readers’ Choice awards
Simply put, Jackie Greene is a phenomenon—a 23-year-old singer-songwriter who can hypnotize a crowd with his acoustic guitar and his original but very Dylanesque folk songs and can then strap on a Fender Telecaster and slay the same crowd with Texas-style blues. (Greene won the Blues Sammie last year.) Obviously, this chap won’t be a local secret for long. —J.G.
“Power pop” usually means four guys with vintage amps and clothes who are trying to reinvent the Beatles. Honeyspot manages to be power-pop, in every sense of the word, without sounding the least bit retro; the quintet’s hard-rocking tunes are the kind of irresistibly sugarcoated confections that will keep you humming for days, which is to say that these lads rock. —J.G.
Yes, Las Pesadillas makes country music—if the country you’re talking about happens to be located somewhere near the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube River. That is to say that this band’s offbeat mix of Eastern European-sounding weirdness and mutant Central Valley twang brands it as our very own Camper Van Beethoven, or Ween—and that’s worth a howl at the moon. —J.G.
Metal fans who showed up at the Sammies showcase to see Bipolar unleash its ripping blend of hardcore and metal may have been crestfallen to find out the band had broken up that afternoon. We’re hoping the recognition of winning this year’s headbanging Sammie will motivate Bipolar’s members to hammer out their differences and keep on rocking. —J.G.
Blues is a feeling, and Omar Shariff is a W.C. Handy-award-nominated blues and jazz pianist who can translate pure feeling into beautiful music. Shariff has been around town long enough to make the jump from upstart (he’s originally from Texas, and he lived in the Bay Area for a while) to local legend, playing a style he calls “blues to the bone.” —J.G.
Call Me Ishmael
From the evidence turning up on local club stages, densely structured and emotionally rendered progressive rock is back in style. And Call Me Ishmael, in a couple of short years, has moved to the front of the local pack with its original mix of post-Pink Floyd psychedelia and contemporary Radiohead-flavored rock stylings—which garnered the band a New Band Sammie last year. —J.G.
How can you argue with a band that contains the local king of waffles? Well, you can’t. Best to scarf that Belgian, drool maple syrup on your Roddy Piper T-shirt and make for the pit next to the stage. If you like earnest, dead-serious straight-edge punk on a mission to save the world, this is definitely not your group of yobbos. —J.G.
Out of a field of very talented and promising local laptop texturalists, Dusty Brown has emerged as this year’s electronica winner. (Brown also won last year.) Brown’s rippling electronic soundscapes and insect funk clearly have struck a resonant chord with local tech fans, who also seem to adore how he juxtaposes his hard electronic sonics against the atmospheric soprano voice of Jessica Brown. —J.G.
Though ¡Bucho! may be about as authentically “Latin” as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, there’s no question the band has tapped into a groove somewhere between Taco Bell and the Caballo Blanco. ¡Bucho! combines that groove with the smart songs of frontman Gerald Pease, three horn players and enough funk to animate booty from Midtown to Rio Linda. Or even Galt. —J.G.
Four Guys From Reno
What’s this? We couldn’t find four guys from Sacramento to win the jazz Sammie? Truth be told, Four Guys From Reno are actually three guys from Sacramento—a keyboardist, a bassist and a drummer—who specialize in mixing contemporary jazz with reggae, world beat and other forms. And that definitely sounds smooth enough to pass muster at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, don’t you think? —J.G.
When fans tell you that you are “the next big thing since the Partridge Family,” you know you’re ready to give up the funk and tear the roof off the sucker. Mama’s Pride is fronted by twin sisters Kimberly and Tiffany, and the group has such a rabid fan base that this is its third Sammie; it won the same award in 2002 and 2003. Time to give that bus a Piet Mondrian paint job. —J.G.
Brotha Lynch Hung
Though Brotha Lynch Hung’s most recent recordings were on a various-artists compilation album, Uthanizm, he’s still enormously popular in these parts. Part of that may come from his connection to hip-hop royalty—Master P, Snoop Dogg and C-Bo. But most of it is due to the effect of his character, which taps into a classic horror-movie vision for its resonance. Everyone loves a cannibal, right? —J.G.
2004 Sammies Critics’ Choice awards
Perhaps best known for his work with major-label export Sweet Vine (and now on hiatus from his new band, Looking Star), Hans Eberbach has a voice that lies somewhere between those of Van Morrison and Elvis Costello. It’s a jazz voice placed firmly in a rock context, and one that is as unforgettable as it is well-known in this town. —C.K.
Being a professional voice coach gives Larisa Bryski a kind of credibility that not many local musicians have. She delivers on that cred every time she grabs a microphone. She’s most often backed by her able band, and her music is like an updated, female-fronted Aerosmith. It’s that rocking, and her voice is more than up to the task. —C.K.
Texas-born Shariff’s music, according to his own press kit, offers a “fiery discourse on life, livin’ and women.” A regular performer at the Torch Club, Shariff’s hot, rocking blues gets feet movin’ and booties shakin’. —C.K.
There are musicians, and then there are passionate musicians. Mike Farrell lives, breathes and eats music: It is in his soul. One minute into any performance, and the audience knows that fact. A veteran of many local bands, Farrell is now a regular member of Th’ Losin Streaks, a lo-fi garage-rock outfit that regularly performs at Old Ironsides. —C.K.
Erik Kleven’s upright bass is a fixture in this town and on the national stage, and his résumé includes the Camellia Symphony Orchestra, Henry Robinette, Freddy Fender, Bo Diddley, Cab Calloway and the Music Circus. One wonders if he doesn’t sometimes slip into “Hello, Dolly” while supporting the country stylings of Fender, or pick up a strain of Johann Sebastian Bach with Calloway. —C.K.
It’s difficult to watch Hella’s Zach Hill perform without smiling. Hill’s performances are by no means funny, but the smile is there nonetheless. It may be more of a nervous response to too much stimulus, and a kind of logical disbelief: Is all of that noise coming from that one lone drummer? To be sure, it’s almost impossible to believe, but it’s true: Hill is that good. —C.K.
A producer as well as a musician, Tony Passarell’s credits include performances with John Tchicai, John Ehlis and Scott Amendola. Passarell is one of the few musicians on the local scene able to improvise with a sense of fluidity and grace, a style that fuses a strong sense of melody with an able and inventive performance style. —C.K.
It’s hard to imagine a Sacramento music scene that did not include the ubiquitous “Dark Lord.” His résumé reads like a who’s who of local (and national) musicians, and his songs have even been covered by indie-rock darlings the White Stripes. This is the territory of beautiful heartbreak and sublime sadness. —C.K.
In a world of endless Top-40 dance music, Shaun Slaughter seems an exception to the rule, if only in sheer diversity. How can you not be impressed by a DJ spinning—yes—Top 40-friendly music, but also LL Cool J, 2 Live Crew, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Fischerspooner and Gravy Train? Catch his act at Old Ironsides’ Vicious or the Townhouse’s Fuck Fridays. —C.K.
Sometimes it seems pointless to continue to call Jackie Greene a “local act,” but the fact is that Greene’s roots are certainly planted firmly in local soil. The 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter has been compared to such heavy hitters as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and has toured with such luminaries as B.B. King and Taj Mahal. —C.K.
From the epic (in a good way) vocals of D. Scott Sault to the epic twin guitars of Robbie Percell and Robert Cheek, Quitter certainly has turned a few local ears toward an epic sound much bigger than the local stages the band frequents. Sender.Receiver captures the band’s full Radiohead-meets-U2 epic grandeur. Simply put: It’s an epic record for an epic time. —C.K.
Hall of Fame
Good news: This charming and ever-popular folk duo is no longer eligible to win the Folk Sammie this year, because even Jackie Greene might have a hard time winning against it. Xenophilia is on hiatus right now, because Amy Anne is a new mom, but musical partner Xeno is still up to his usual weirdness at the duo’s Web site, www.xenophilia.com. —J.G.
Dilyn Radakovitz, Dimple Records
Nothing against the big chains and Wal-Marts, but local independent record stores tend to be the places you’ll find the CDs recorded by the musical acts we’ve honored through the Sammies. Dilyn Radakovitz, who runs Dimple Records, a chain of five stores spread around the metro area, has built her stores on paying attention to local tastes. —J.G.
Most people know Brian Wheat as the longtime bassist for Tesla. But he’s also an entrepreneur who owns a recording studio; he will be launching a record label soon, too. Last year, Wheat partnered with SN&R to produce the CD Searching for Sammie: Sacramento Unplugged. This September, a second volume will be released, Searching for Sammie: Sacramento Amped. —J.G.