Rolling with a nautical theme

“I kissed a girl and I liked it.”

Finding the entrance to the 300 Room in West Sacramento’s Capitol Bowl requires walking into the bowling alley, hanging a left at the lanes and then proceeding to the door on the left nearest the end. Last Saturday night, that short walk was serenaded by Katy Perry’s summer hit “I Kissed a Girl,” which was blasting over the bowling alley’s sound system.

It was a fitting end to a week of irony, a week spent watching many decades of glass-ceiling-shattering political activism get usurped midweek by some plucky Caribou Barbie with a retrograde agenda straight from the Exxon and Jerry Falwell playbook. And here was a ditty by a faux-Sapphic Christian-pop singer, cynically crafted to capitalize on softened cultural attitudes toward non-het love, wafting overhead as we entered the 300 Room to see local quartet Ahoy!

Boy, that Goddess has a weird sense of humor, doesn’t She?

Ahoy! played a short set, maybe eight songs. But in that time, the four women in the band—guitarists Jeannie Lee and Joy Stern, bassist Julie Meyers and drummer Gillian Baldwin—established themselves as one of the area’s brightest musical lights. Color me smitten.

I’d caught the tail end of an Ahoy! set at another venue a while back, which left the band’s song “Way Down” reverberating around my brainpan for at least a week. The principal hook was the voice of Lee, who handles most of the band’s vocal duties—it’s warm and full-throated, kind of a cross between the pipes of K.D. Lang and Corin Tucker from the late, lamented Northwest indie-rock trio Sleater-Kinney (and, as with Sleater-Kinney, other members, here Stern and Meyers, also sing). On the verse, Lee’s voice followed a beautiful melodic pattern over the kind of reverberating Fender-guitar shimmer popular with late-1980s shoegazer bands; once she hit the “all the way down” chorus, it was as if every neck hair in the venue stood at attention. I think I’d been rendered a babbling mess on the sidewalk afterward, testifying to Stern about the sheer awesomeness of her band.

On this night, the magic was still there and then some. Ahoy! isn’t perfect yet; the band still has some indie-charming rough spots, which to these ears sound just fine, but there’s that germ of potentiality evident that you can find in early recordings by acts that have gone on to achieve wonderful things.

Ahoy! plays next at a pride fair in Modesto (Saturday, September 27, at Banana Joe’s), and then back at the 300 Room on October 11. You can listen to five songs by the band, recorded at The Hangar by Bryce Gonzales, at

September 11 is a date that marks one of this country’s larger tragedies. Imagine what it must be like if that’s also the day you were born? Harley White Jr. knows.

The Sactown composer, musician and bandleader has reclaimed that date, not just for himself, but also for local music fans. This year, his White Noise Festival will take place at three different venues. At Old Ironsides, the 8 p.m. program will feature the Harley White Jr. Orchestra featuring saxophonist Larry Lanier (from Little Richard’s Upsetters) playing a set of Duke Ellington-associated tunes and more, followed by Bronx-based Persian singer Haale. At Javalounge, the Antennae Trio (guitarist Ross Hammond, bassist Shawn Hale and drummer Alex Jenkins) will go on at 8:30 p.m., with Capitol Garage All Stars (trombonist Sam Griffith and guitarist Arlyn Andersen) following at 9:30 p.m. And at The Distillery, the 10 p.m. hip-hop card will feature Random Abiladeze, DJ Epik, Chuck Taylor and DJ Supe. Cover charge is $5 at each venue.