I heart the music biz

One of the things I love most about the music business is its creative ability to find new ways to foist the same old dreck.

Consider an act named Marié Digby, a 24-year-old singer from Brentwood—the tiny, West L.A. suburb made famous by O.J. Simpson. Digby, whose music has been getting airplay on at least one station in Sacramento, was written up in a Wall Street Journal article earlier this month because there were a few holes in a narrative that cast her as some kind of über-indie, YouTube and MySpace phenomenon. According to this particular publicity hook, Digby was finding a measure of grassroots stardom by posting homemade videos of herself, which led to a record deal with Disney-owned Hollywood Records. This, of course, supposedly validated the urban myth that you too can post a video of yourself singing some cute lil’ ditty, and stardom and a major record deal inevitably will follow.

Small problem: Digby signed with Hollywood in 2005, which makes the above narrative ring as true as, oh, the gust of verbal flatulence emanating from your typical tobacco-funded Astroturf “smoker’s rights” group. Other problem: Digby sounds like your boilerplate barista-slash-chanteuse, with one of those waifish voices that breaks mechanically (the way orchestral music swells in movies during the parts where the audience is supposed to cry).

I bring this to your attention because a lot of local musicians are posting their music on MySpace, the networking site owned by News Corporation, the parent company of such fair and balanced reportage as Fox News and the Weekly Standard (and now the WSJ, which means we probably won’t see any more articles there that rain on MySpace’s parade). A good percentage of those local artists are considerably more talented than Digby (insert gratuitous Ricky Berger plug here). But without the unseen hand of the anonymous record weasel, don’t expect this Cinderella story to repeat.

Speaking of Cinderellas, Rhino just issued the four-CD boxed set Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970, which includes three songs by local bands: “Foolish Woman” by the Oxford Circle, “Want Ad Reader” by the New Breed and “America” by Public Nuisance. The 77 tracks, compiled by Alec Palao, probably the foremost expert on NorCal psych rock, also include plenty of classic Bay Area gems.

Other stuff: Sacramento Bee writer (and former music critic) David Barton will appear as a featured guest of the Americana Ramble at Marilyn’s on K on Wednesday, September 26, where he will share the stage in a songwriter round-robin format with Tracy Walton of Mumbo Gumbo fame. Barton, who performed in July at the same venue with another local scribe-songwriter who shall not be named, writes some pretty good songs. So if you’re curious what a guy who writes for a newspaper sounds like onstage with a guitar, and you missed him last time, here’s your chance.

And if you want to see a really swell singer-songwriter from out of town, check out the most excellent Drew Grow, from Portland, when he appears at Old Ironsides on Thursday, September 20. Jerry Perry keeps booking this guy, figuring that he’s gonna’ catch fire around here sometime. I’ve seen him twice and was knocked sideways both times. Maybe you will be, too.