Storybook rockers

Nevada City foursome Pocket for Corduroy is smarter than the average bear

Still life among zebras: Pocket for Corduroy is (left to right): Thaddeus Stoenner, Peter Newsom, Dan Elkan and Andrew Hodgson.

Still life among zebras: Pocket for Corduroy is (left to right): Thaddeus Stoenner, Peter Newsom, Dan Elkan and Andrew Hodgson.

Live! 5 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at Capitol Garage, 1427 L St., with Pedro the Lion and 31Knots. All ages. For more info call 444-3633.

Pocket for Corduroy, a young Nevada City quartet of the two guitars, bass and drums persuasion, has a problem.

No, it isn’t musical; Pocket for Corduroy’s four-song demo, recorded three years ago, is a fine example of what a band can do with ample smarts, a small portfolio of good tunes and not a lot of money.

And no, it isn’t aesthetic; Pocket for Corduroy’s guitarists/vocalists Dan Elkan and Andrew Hodgson, bassist Thaddeus Stoenner and drummer Peter Newsom take striking photographs that betray an offhand sense of humor, and they have a nice-looking Web site ( that, although not deep with “content,” reeks of intelligence and good taste.

No, the problem, as they might say down at the local CHP office, is vehicular in nature.

The band had ponied up $750 for a touring van, a 1974 Chevrolet. Granted, anything under a grand will buy you the kind of oil-burning carbon-monoxide belcher that more sensible drivers sneeringly refer to as a “hooptie.” But this one was even less roadworthy.

“We noticed it stinking pretty bad, like gasoline fumes or something,” says Stoenner. “We took it to this mechanic. He said that the gas fumes were collecting under the floorboard, and there was some bad wiring that could spark and blow up the whole thing.”

Thus incinerating everybody. Which might not be the kind of positive career development that these four gents, who clearly have their best days in front of them, had in mind.

And Pocket for Corduroy, named for a cute children’s book about a warm ’n’ fuzzy bear, is just reaching that point where it needs guaranteed access to some reliable transportation, having embarked on its first extended sweep—south (L.A./Silver Lake, Goleta, Santa Ana) and north (Eugene, Portland, Seattle)—this past week. Barring any more road mishaps—Stoenner’s dad came through with a truck, so the tour dates could be fulfilled—the band returns Sunday to play an early-evening acoustic show at Capitol Garage. Until recently, it seemed content to play the Nevada City/Grass Valley area, with occasional forays to Sacramento and Santa Cruz.

Jumping into tour mode is a big step forward for Pocket for Corduroy, but it’s a natural progression. The band came together in early ’98. Childhood friends Elkan and Hodgson both lived in a rural area north of Nevada City; they’d been in at least one band together in mid-adolescence. Both had grown up around music—Elkan’s dad played in bluegrass bands, and Hodgson’s was a principal singer-songwriter with, and founding member of, the ’70s English progressive-pop band Supertramp. After leaving that band in 1982, the elder Hodgson had settled in Nevada City to raise a family.

And, as an old saying goes: like father, like son.

“I think I would have played music anyway,” Andrew Hodgson says. “But it was nice to have a bunch of musical instruments around.”

And a home studio, where Pocket for Corduroy recorded its four-song demo, which it now is selling via its Web site. The music is densely imaged, sharp-angled and occasionally dissonant guitar-driven rock reminiscent of Fugazi and Wire; its treasures can’t really be mined in a single listen. Or two, or three. Elkan and Hodgson share vocals; Elkan sings “Something’s Changed” and “Everything You’re On,” and Hodgson sings “We Surrender” and “F Test.” Of the four, only “Everything” is remotely classifiable as sing-along pop.”

“When we recorded that demo, we were fairly young as a band,” Elkan admits. “They were close to the first four real songs that we wrote.

“We’ve matured a lot since then,” he adds.

Eventually, Pocket for Corduroy will record the album-length amount of material it has amassed. Given the evidence so far, that disc may turn out to be a gem.