Into the Wild West

Almost caught that top secret Jackie Greene show at the True Love Coffeehouse this weekend, but then a promo of the new Kim Kardashian Superstar DVD showed up at my temporary crib. “Go ’way! ’Batin!” I yelled at the hippies who’d showed up to accompany me to see Greene, who was rumored to have enlisted the backing of at least half of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and several former members of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, along with an army of mimes and jugglers.

Anyway, by the time I was ready to go out, in an ill-fated search for the closest nearby Fuddruckers (it’s in Citrus Heights), it was probably too late to nosh there, leaving Willie’s as a reasonable alternative.

Now, being a person who loves some surprises but not others, I was open to being knocked sideways, but a little wary that something might go down like what happened a couple of nights before. That night, a Thursday at Old Ironsides, in the middle of a really nice conversation with Kepi of the Haints and Groovie Ghoulies about the greatness of Jonathan Richman, after a set of swell hippie rock from the Kept, I got an uncanny feeling I’d just seen a ghost. Perhaps it was the ’90s Little Guilt Shrine Hello Kitty totems freely mingling with patchouli-soaked “vibe” rock that marked it clearly as Houdini time.

By Saturday, I figured the coast was somewhat clear, so I hit a few art galleries. Some of them also feature music, but often of the sort of wine-and-cheese faux-flamenco sort. I did check out one busker a local blogger was touting, who played under the eaves of an office building on 21st Street, but I didn’t have the proper Olipom hipster cred that night to follow what was, like, really happening.

But after questioning the answer in the category “Sacramento geography for $1,000,” the answer being something like “Boulevard the city has poured tons of money into, but it’s still the Wild West,” I drove out Del Paso Boulevard to the Artisan Gallery to see a guy named Sean Mee play guitar. I’ve known Mee for a while, and he’s an excellent guitarist who hasn’t played out much in the past year, so I was curious.

He was playing a nylon-string acoustic, backing this portly gray-haired guy I’d seen around but had no idea he was a musician. After letting the first thought pass, which went something like “Oh, dog, this is gonna be a half-hour of singer-songwriter hell I’ll never get back,” I forced myself to have a more open mind.

Then Mike Strasser began singing, and what came out of his mouth was a voice somewhere between Lyle Lovett and Roy Orbison. The Pittsburgh native’s songs weren’t bad, either; they sounded like the kind of postwar cowboy pop that Roy Rogers and Gene Autry excelled at in the early days of television, with lots of well-placed seventh chords and some memorable melodic lines. There were moments where I found myself quietly stunned. Mee’s guitar accompaniment was perfect—not bad after only one rehearsal.

Strasser’s CD, Alienation Cafe, is available at CD Baby and he has tracks posted at I kid you not: This guy is good.