Melanin and soul

Hans Eberbach

Hans Eberbach

Hans Eberbach was just reasserting his presence on the local scene—or so it seemed. After all, his band Sweet Vine was one of Sacramento’s late-1990s major-label signees. But, like many bands who penned contracts during this period of signing fever, superstardom eluded the band. Eberbach ended up moving to Los Angeles for a time and then returned a few years ago, reconvening with some of his former Sweet Vine bandmates under the name Looking Star. The band inked a booking/management deal with Dig Music and started recording an album.

But then, just as suddenly as it had appeared on the scene, Looking Star was gone, leaving Eberbach again without a band.

The good news is that the breakup of Looking Star seems—if nothing else—to have provided Eberbach with the catalyst to do what he probably should have been doing all along: pursuing a solo career. To that end, he’s begun playing the occasional solo show, as last week at The Distillery’s monthly Songwriters Showcase, a performance that underscores an important point about Eberbach: Although he’s a few years older than he was in his Sweet Vine days, and he’s a recent member of the “dads club” (the Eberbachs celebrated the birth of their first child earlier this year), the man still has a voice that will knock you on your ass. This is particularly true when the lyrical content dissolves and Eberbach moves into wordless improvisation, and his soul-singing voice (for he is, in the end, a melanin-challenged soul singer) really catches fire, achieving an emotional, driving and heavily musical resonance that is a bit reminiscent of jazz vocalist virtuoso Kurt Elling.

Look for a new solo album from Eberbach sometime next year. The Mind Club’s Scott Reams is at the controls, and Eberbach describes it as “urban soul.” Looking forward to it.

News bits and opinions: Low Flying Owls have released their fall Midwest/East Coast tour dates. That information is available on the band’s Web site,

Psychedelic freakster band Model A will release its new CD at Old Ironsides on October 29 on a bill including local favorites Quitter and Call Me Ishmael. Continuing the tradition of their late-1960s London paisley underground-themed shows, visuals will be presented by John Sonderegger’s Rainbow Prism Atomic Lightshow ( Patrons are advised not to take the brown acid.

And last, a note to local bands and readers: A few weeks ago, a reader wrote me a letter of complaint, stating that this column (and SN&R in general) spends too much time covering the same, well-known bands and not enough on new bands. I’d like to take a quick moment to give local bands a hint: I can’t write about your CD release, tour, new singer, jail time, etc. if I don’t know about it. One of the reasons bands like the Kimberly Trip and Low Flying Owls show up so often in this column is that these bands are terrific about keeping this paper up-to-date on their activities. The Clubber e-mail address runs alongside each and every column. Use it.