Of pop gems and poetic grace

Veteran music scribe and Trouser Press editor Ira Robbins once remarked to this writer that the trouble with the canon of popular music is that it’s gotten way too large and unwieldy. Ergo, it’s become impossible to know everything about pop music, or even rock, so know-it-all types are forced to specialize in subgenres: Norwegian death metal, power pop, 1970s horn-band funk or post-Uncle Tupelo Americana.

That was in the early 1990s. Now, after a decade of do-it-yourself indie bands cutting low-fi masterworks in small studios all over the country, it has become nearly impossible to know everything about some of the larger subgenres. Let’s just say that it’s easy to overlook a very good act until three or four albums down the road.

That’s the best explanation I can muster on how the Pernice Brothers, which evolved from a New England post-Tupelo band called the Scud Mountain Boys, slipped under the personal radar. The band’s recent and third album, Yours, Mine & Ours, released last May, is a slightly underwhelming but shimmering work that combines the signature reveling in melancholia that the Smiths used to do so well, with Southeastern folk-infused power pop along the lines of early R.E.M.—and adds the pop smarts of Dwight Twilley’s Sincerely for dessert. In fact, “The Weakest Shade of Blue,” the Joe Pernice-penned gem that opens Yours, Mine & Ours, is the most perfect three-minute pop masterpiece I’ve heard all year.

Or maybe the Pernice Brothers suck completely. You can judge for yourself on Tuesday, December 9, at 8 p.m. when they play the Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Boulevard, with Blake Hazard. You’ll have to call the club for a starting time and cover price.

If the canon of pop music is huge, imagine the size of the canon of poetry. And the number of poets willing to expose their deeply personal words to a live audience has mushroomed in recent years, too. The Art Foundry Gallery, at 1021 R Street, will begin offering a poetry night every third Friday of the month, beginning on December 19. The first edition of Poetry at the Art Foundry, which is overseen by Sacramento Poetry Center president Luke Breit, will feature Sacramento poet laureate Jose Montoya and two younger poets, Candice LaMarche and Ruebi Freyja. It starts at 7:30 p.m., and a donation of $5 is requested.

And on Wednesday, December 10, DiverCity Records—the record label started by Markus Burger’s music-business class at Sacramento City College—will celebrate one year of existence with a gala release party at Harlow’s, 2706 J Street. The show starts at 9 p.m., $10 gets you in (21 and over only), and admission includes a 27-track CD. Entertainment will include performances by Burger, Wendell Yuponce, ¡Bucho!, Soul Taco, AikoMarie, Michael Sherry and band, and All the Wrong People.