Soggy songs and barbershop mayhem

The Sacramento music scene is as

Top Cats

Top Cats

social as it is musical. Perhaps this is the case everywhere. So often bands must perform above a chatter of patrons much more interested in whom they will be going home with than who is performing onstage for their entertainment. Even the most brilliant musicians become background music for the human courtship ritual.It’s one of the most bewildering aspects of the recent Onelinedrawing show at the True Love Coffeehouse on Saturday: the room was absolutely silent from the first weepy note Jonah Matranga played. With a following that borders on the fanatical, Matranga’s solo project played to a sold-out room packed with teenagers in fairy-wings and retro ’80s-style T-shirts. Matranga’s surface-level teen angst and broken-hearted tears proved just the ticket for the fans, some of whom had driven from faraway Bend, Oregon, for the show.

It is a scene, and like all scenes, it transcends the music itself. Like the hordes of traveling fans who followed the Grateful Dead right up until Jerry Garcia’s passing, fans of Onelinedrawing are pursuing a sense of family and belonging: one knows exactly what to expect from the show. Matranga plays right into that sense of belonging, delivering his up-with-people stage banter to an audience that laps it up with happy smiles and uplifted hearts. It is strange only in that this crowd has galvanized around Matranga, who appears 10 or 15 years older than his average fan. There’s something to be said for tapping that inner, heartbroken child.

There are many bands that are hugely famous just under the national radar. Local act the 77s is one. Since the early 1980s, Mike Roe and company have been performing for a gigantic international fan base. This Friday’s (August 9) performance at Old Ironsides is the band’s first full live set in Sacramento in a good long while—and its CD release show. Don’t miss it.

For those who think that the Sacramento music is scene is all about bars and guitars, think again. Just below the surface is a thriving community of barbershop-style harmony vocals, big smiles and sharp suits. This Saturday marks the annual Sacramento Area Quartet Workshop, where barbershop quartets and potential barbershop quartetters can get a helping hand through workshops and coaching. For those who would rather listen than sing, the close of the evening features performances by 12 area quartets. Headlining is Sacramento’s own Top Cats. Contact Eric Brickson at 826-3377 or check out for more information.

Apologies file: First to Kim Kanelos at Old Ironsides, the true genius behind the “theme night” bookings (next up: September 21, with local bands playing their favorite Rolling Stones songs). More apologies to Capitol Garage, which is not currently running an open mike. The under-21 hordes are directed to True Love Coffeehouse for their open-mike performance needs.