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Dre’s Playlist mixes up Monday nights at Marilyn’s
It’s like your diary or your underwear: Foremost, it’s for your own comfort, but turn up dead tomorrow and you just know people will be reading things into it. Hell, turn up alive, and they’ll be using it to decide whether to elect you or MySpace-add you or take you to bed. Yes, do be mindful of what your playlist says about you.
“It’s an interesting way to see not only what somebody is listening to, but how cool they are,” said Dre, the Sammie-nominated pop-folk singer who hosts a new weekly Monday-night feature called Dre’s Playlist at Marilyn’s on K. And maybe that’s easy for her to say; the event deliberately focuses on other people’s playlists.
Each week, she invites a guest performer to join her on the Marilyn’s stage. She plays a brief set, the guest plays a brief set, and then, over “cheaper than usual” cocktails, everybody listens to the guest’s playlist on the club’s sound system, via CD or iPod or whatever.
“It’s 12 songs,” Dre explained. “Current favorites, all-time favorites and influences. I try to get ’em to talk about it, but they’ve been surprisingly shy.” Maybe it’s easier just to let the tunes speak for themselves. Maybe nobody wants to suffer the harsh judgments of peer playlistism face-to-face—the snickers and muttered snorts of, “Seriously, dude, you actually like this shite?”
“Yeah, it might be a little skewed because they want to come off a certain way,” Dre allowed. Still, as she and many performers seem to understand, there’s something to be said for the true intimacy of seeking approval. So far, the Dre’s Playlist vibe has seemed less like the accident scene of an open-mic hecklefest than like the chill rec-room listen-ins you and the peeps had in high school. “It’s like we’re at our own exclusive party. There’s 50 of us in a room together and we’re all kickin’ it,” she said.
“After a show’s over, sometimes people want to hang out and they don’t know what to do,” said Christian Barry, manager at Marilyn’s. “This provides a kind of a social outlet. It’s helping us be more of a local place. You know, a lot of times people ask us what there is to do on a Monday night in Sacramento. We’re trying to make this a city where you don’t just have to go out on Friday and Saturday.”
Since its origin in the Jurassic age of mix tapes, the art of playlist pastiche has been cherished as a kind of songwriting by proxy for the musically maladroit. But what to expect from a mix made by actual accomplished musicians? Well, music—by the other, more accomplished musicians they emulate. You bring in Jack Johnsonite party-bus faves like 2Me, for instance, you’ll get a fair share of dorm-approved rim clickers and nylon-string noodlers. You bring in crowd-rousing local songstress Liani Moore, you’ll get reacquainted with the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket.” “Which is such a cool thing,” Dre said, “’cause I can totally hear that in her music.”
“It’s interesting to see people sit there and really listen,” Barry said. “And the artists will take more chances.”
Be Brave Bold Robot frontman Dean Haakenson, who’s on deck next week, said, “My main motive is to actually try to expose people to what I am assuming they might not know about.” Haakenson vows to steer Playlist-goers away from “the crap on the radio, and derivatives thereof.
“I am sure I sound conceited,” he continued, “but I think that is probably the only attitude to have when it comes to music you love.” Haakenson wouldn’t disclose his list in advance. “I imagine there will be plenty of pretty on there,” he offered, “maybe a little hip-hop.”
The event’s host remains mindful of what Dre’s Playlist says about her. “I’m open to suggestions. I want to know what people are listening to, what they’re excited about,” she said. “There’s a lotta Mondays, and there’s a lotta bands I don’t know about.”