Down in that hole, digging away
Upon receiving a few e-mails that expressed surprise and indignation this morning, I’ve been thinking about what I wrote in this space last week.
Specifically, I’ve been ruminating over how best to write about acts whose stage presence and sound might be slammed rather mercilessly by certain critics, but for those of us who treasure certain “outsider music” attributes, these same acts possess a streak of greatness that the more conventionally talented acts will never attain.
Sometimes it’s hard to convey that. But here’s the deal: I would rather see a band flail away onstage blissfully unaware of any so-called musical relevance than watch a bunch of bored but more-accomplished musicians going through the motions while looking fashionable.
I remember once talking about music to some cartoonists who were fixated on 78-rpm records. They’d narrowed down their obsession to a short period that commenced with the advent of electric recording in 1927 and ended a couple years later. The records they were interested in tended to be a product of field recordings, where traveling artist-and-repertoire men set up makeshift recording studios in some backwoods town and invited local hillbilly string bands or blues singers to capture on disc what they typically performed at home or at public functions.
Why weren’t records made after that time nearly as interesting? Because the original artists of 1927 or 1928 had no idea what a record or a microphone was. As soon as they heard their own records, or the recordings of others, or observed people making records, the process became corrupted, and the artists began mimicking other things they’d heard. So that lack of self-consciousness became, for some music fans, a desired attribute.
That same attribute is at the core of outsider music’s appeal. Which is why I had a goofy smile pasted on my face the entire time the House of Commons and Bypassing Oblivion were performing. Now, I’m not saying that either of these bands are going to show up on the WFMU playlist anytime soon (www.wfmu.org, for those of you with a curious bent), and they’re markedly different than, oh, Lucia Pamela or Ron Schmeck. But for those of you who hunger for the kind of music that will send wannabe supermodels and their foppish beaus screaming into the night, you can see Bypassing Oblivion live at Capitol Bowl’s 300 Room (900 W. Capitol Avenue, West Sacramento) on Friday, September 26, and Sunday, September 28, at Rusch Park in Antelope, or at Fair Oaks venue The Vent (8121 Madison Avenue) plenty of times in the coming months; check www.myspace.com/bypassingoblivionroxhard for details. (The House of Commons didn’t have any gigs listed at press time.)
Call for art: If you’re in a band that produces fabulous poster art for every gig (I’m thinking about you, Ancient Sons, but there are others), the Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum would like to receive a copy of whatever it is you’re stapling to walls around town. The museum, a fixture inside the Midtown offices of Nakamoto Productions on 20th Street, opens for Second Saturday each month, and its collection of 2,500 items, many of them from the 1960s poster-art heyday, draw a steady crowd.
Other wanted items Newhall mentioned include posters from Orangevale venue The Boardwalk, and he said something about Jerry Perry once promising to clean his attic.