Some enchanted evening

Y’know, nostalgia can be really sweet. And flipping pages through an old photo album, or watching a video from one of those perfect summer days, can make a person realize that even when the immediate future seems dark and hopeless, there may be better days ahead.

Even nicer is when you’re right in the middle of, say, an early evening, and you notice a gentle breeze coming off the Delta, and you’re sitting on a bale of hay in somebody’s backyard eating something right off the grill and laughing at dogs chasing each other around the yard, and people seem genuinely warm and happy and there are even little kids playing with the dogs. And even nicer than that is when there’s some exquisite live music being played.

Such was the occasion last weekend in a backyard in Curtis Park, where a group of Western history enthusiasts, including members of local band the Alkali Flats ( staged a “Lootenanny” to help raise a little cash to restore a ghost town in central Nevada that they’ve adopted. A silent auction, which included a painting by Flats member Tim White and many other cool things, was held between the music sets to achieve that end, and I’m still kicking myself for not buying a “Keep Poinsettia Brown” T-shirt.

But it was the music that really simmered the last few hours of daylight to perfection. First, the Poplollys (, a trio from Foresthill in Placer County, played a top-notch set of tunes that straddled the borders of folk, country and Western music. Singer Sasha Prawalski, who just before taking the microphone was heard to quip, “I’m not a torch singer. I’m a porch singer,” delivered her vocals with an understated charm that packed real power, while her husband, Scott, who played bass, chimed in on harmonies and sang a few songs, too, and Travis Colorado (yep, that’s his name) whipped up some nifty fills on the Fender Telecaster.

After a raffle, Rowdy Kate ( set up on the porch. Now, singer Keri Carr has been cutting my hair for a while at her 19th Street salon, Honey, and everyone’s been telling yours truly how great a singer she is, but, um, words fail. Jeez. If there’s anyone in these parts with the soul of Linda Ronstadt in her prime, Carr is it. She’s great. And she even sings en Español, too, with all the sweetness of El Rey, a.k.a. Vicente Fernández. The band is gosh-darned swell, too, especially guitarist Geoff Miller, who nailed some chrome-plated riffs on the Telecaster, and whose original material was at least equal to the band’s classic country covers.

Speaking of classics, if there’s one show you probably don’t want to miss, it’s this: The Avengers, one of the great punk (or any other genre) bands ever to come out of San Francisco, will be playing Sunday night, June 10, at Old Ironsides. In the years since the Avengers’ heyday (1977-79), front-person Penelope Houston has carved out a pretty cool career as a singer who has mined folk and country styles. But Houston and fellow original member Greg Ingraham have put together a new band that oughta be worth checking out; the band even has a page on Mr. Murdoch’s youth propaganda vehicle: .