Greene acres is the place for me
Buttrock, however, was not on the agenda at Marilyn’s on Sunday. I’d almost been fixing to get ready to stop by for one of Jackie Greene’s monthly songwriter’s showcases, which he’s been doing at the bar and grill at 1177 K Street for a while now. The chance to hear longtime Sacramento Bee writer (and that paper’s former pop-music critic) David Barton play a few tunes was enough to pry this bum off his comfortable post-yardwork couch.
The format is this: Greene comes out and plays a couple of songs, then the first guest performs, then the second, then Greene plays a few more songs and then the third performer plays.
Opening the show was Gina Livingston, a singer-songwriter whose soulful, gospel-steeped vocals were enough to carry her set for a time. After a while, however, even Aretha gets a little tiresome if the tunes aren’t there. Livingston’s songs, for the most part, consisted of two-chord R&B vamps, over which she sang imprecations to whatever goddess of lust was hanging about. And that’s cool, but a little more attention in the songwriting department would benefit Livingston’s repertoire.
The original tunes Barton sang were more carefully constructed. Like Livingston, Barton accompanied himself on an acoustic guitar. At least one of his songs was very reminiscent of the post-Van Morrison style of Graham Parker or Elvis Costello, and another had a poignant lyric about a working girl who lived in a mobile home in a Nevada county not named Clark or Washoe, if you get my drift. Barton should play out more often.
Following a sweet mini-set by Greene, with one song featuring the great Sal Valentino guesting on vocals, Roberta Chevrette took the stage, accompanied by a mandolin player from Jerry Garcia’s generation and a young percussionist who also played banjo. Chevrette, with her short blond hair, looked Starbucks-chanteuse perfect, and her music had a hypnotic but vaguely unsettling vibe, like Hello Kitty meets Lemony Snicket while Belly plays unplugged. I was fixing to not like her, but her music won me over. Yeah, melodically, it wasn’t Pet Sounds or anything, but her grainy voice and unusual guitar figures, which sounded like happy mistakes but weren’t, delivered me to a strange place. Or maybe it was the allergy meds.
On Thursday, May 1, Chevrette plays ladies night at Marilyn’s with Amber Padgett.