Get out of the house already

Quit yer griping: When I flip through an upcoming local music calendar, I often stream through pages of music and event listings before sitting back and claiming, “There’s nothing to do!” Missing are the big-name touring artists and niche-genre blog darlings on their way to South by Southwest debuts—even though what they’re playing is just something we’ve probably heard before. In the end, it’s our myopic focus on these sorts of acts that blind us to the talent that regularly keeps Sacramento as a stop.

Last week, a friend and I stopped by Momo Sacramento inside Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub for its weekly Cross-Pollination variety show, a fittingly weird display of the comical and musical. We arrived late, entering the room at the exact moment when the packed house erupted into applause and cries for “encore.”

The artist was Andy McKee. Maybe you’ve heard of him? It wouldn’t be unusual. A YouTube video of McKee performing his song “Drifting” has close to 50 million views. Fifty million. And there he was in Sacramento, playing beautifully, playing amazingly.

A few days later, I made my way to Bows & Arrows for the last Classical Revolution show scheduled there before venue closes at the end of the month. I’d picked up fliers for some of these past gigs; I’d even told other people about the group and celebrated their motto, “Chamber music for the people.” Still, I’d yet to catch them myself. What I found at Bows that night was as with at Harlow’s, a packed house full of laughter, listeners and wonderful musicians. There were cellos and violins and amazing singers sharing love and passing around a donation jar. While it will be hard to match the living-room coziness that Bows has brought to all its events, Classical Revolution is in search of a new home, and when they find it, I’ll be there.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste another night absently browsing music blogs when there’s music to be had all over the city. For now, I’ve got my ticket to catch Tommy Emmanuel Sunday, January 19, at the Crest Theatre (1013 K Street). The Australian guitar virtuoso is known for his complex fingerpicking and, in 2010, a Guitar Player magazine reader poll named him “Best Acoustic Guitarist.” If musicians with hobby-magazine subscriptions back him, you know it’s going to be solid. Tickets are $39.50 and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully I’ll see you out there, and if not, it’s your loss.

—Julianna Boggs

Have wish, will travel: The old lore goes that if you catch a genie, he’ll grant you three wishes. What they don’t tell you is that genies can also operate Kaoss Pads with their toes. On January 7, the crowd at LowBrau’s Le Twist Tuesdays was privy to a special lampless appearance by San Francisco’s The Genie, creator and innovator of the “scratch guitar” technique. The crowd’s wishes must have been for a great beer selection, some awesome mustaches and a magical show.

Scratch guitar comprises a combination of live guitar and percussion looping that The Genie developed more than a decade ago in his San Francisco home. On this night, The Genie, soft-spoken and small in stature with a wild mane of dreadlocks, took to the stage and plugged into a myriad of effects pedals and looping devices that would make Tom Morello raise an eyebrow and nod in approval.

The Genie started making music armed only with a guitar, a microphone and a loop pedal, beatboxing to lay down percussion while live-looping bass and guitar riffs. Over the years his show has grown to include two loop pedals, a mini Kaoss Pad (controlled with his feet), a keyboard and a Fender Stratocaster with an attached iPod Touch, on which he plays beats by triggering BeatMaker, iMaschine and Traktor DJ apps. If DJ Shadow and Jimi Hendrix could somehow be a one-man band, they would be The Genie.

His live set at LowBrau centered around a technique he calls G-mixing; it’s a style that mashes up classic hip-hop, rock, reggae and dancehall rhythms, melodies and lyrics. For example, on this night, he played Radiohead’s “Karma Police” over a Beastie Boys beat, layered in with some Bob Marley and electro cumbia.

As The Genie took the stage, there was a general curiosity in the air surrounding the maze of pedals and instruments. The Le Twist Tuesdays crowd quickly gathered around as he removed his shoes, sat down and started twisting knobs and pushing buttons. By the end of the first song The Genie appeared to go into as much of a meditative trance as one can while working several complicated pieces of musical equipment, playing over an hour of psychedelic remixes of everything from Sir Mix-a-Lot to the Bulgarian State Television Female Choir. It’s not every day one catches a genie. Here’s hoping this won’t be Sacramento’s last chance.

—Andrew Bell