Rock-star eyelashes over East Sacramento

Once I turned the ripe old age of 21, I swore to the high heavens I’d never set foot in another all-ages venue again. Ah, to be barely legal and see the many virtues of an all-night pub crawl. A handful of years later, though, with just a touch more maturity and a fairly traumatized liver, it was time to reconsider. That’s when I found Java Jukebox at 4749 J St. one day while walking my dog in East Sac. After hearing that the Low Flying Owls would be headlining there on Friday, Feb. 9, I returned with my boyfriend in tow instead of my dog, Freddie.

Inside, the place is bright and colorful, with a library of more than 15,000 CDs, 20 video screens and easy access to caffeine. I hustled up to the bar, making sure I had a clear view of the stage. A duo calling itself Homo Erectus set up a dizzying spectacle of electronic genius with all kinds of wires and gadgets, enough to make the folks at Intel jealous. Cyber-animated digital skeletons performed electronic Tai Chi on a makeshift screen behind them. As fat bass beats tossed the participatory spectrum-diffraction glasses right off my nose, I was shaken to realize these boys sure know how to make music with a mouse.

After awakening from a quasi-trance, a Bay Area threesome, the Paula Murray Trio, took center stage. The female bassist and vocalist led the band through some mellow yet guitar-driven rock songs. Murray leaned her shoulder into her bass like it was an old, trusted friend, consoling the instrument through lyrics like “I’m sitting in the middle of every pair of shoes I own / Wondering which ones will take me back home.” And, of course, it’s always refreshing to see a female drummer who can mightily hold her own.

A swarm of young ones, coming from every direction, quickly snuggled up to the stage in anticipation of the Low Flying Owls. Once lead singer Jared Southard positioned his lips before the microphone, hoots of requests ran through the devotees, who had ideas of their own on how the show should run. The Owls succumbed, playing originals like “Postcards From New York” and “Getting Away With Murder.” The energy in the place was infectious. Hard-working drummer Sam Coe propelled the band in and out of entrancing melodies as Southard batted the room with his long eyelashes and irresistible stage charisma. Their trembling bodies, coupled with the crowd’s screams, worked to ensure the listener couldn’t leave unaffected. This band smells of money, baby. Straight money. And their upcoming EP, titled Incoming Flights, Outgoing Strangers, should prove it.

After a good, clean, fun-filled evening, I was saddened to hear that Java Jukebox is in the kind of trouble many of us can identify with—too much month at the end of the money. Indeed, some altruistic artists will donate their talent for two weekends to help keep the place alive. So show up and check the place out with a fist full of cash, because anything this good is worth saving.