The element of surprise

You may have watched the Grammy Awards on Wednesday night. Or, if you’re anything like me, you had other, better things to do.

Now, nothing against the mainstream, mind you. It’s just that, for some of us, the idea of Madonna cavorting onstage with the Gorillaz, or Mariah Carey doing her dog-whistle thing over canned beats, just doesn’t hit that Grafenberg spot for serious weirdness appreciation. For us, there exists a hunger for greater novelty in our musical intake.

Over the four-and-a-half years I spent editing the arts section at SN&R, I heard a wide spectrum of local music, from the most career-focused, “we want to get signed to a major label right now” acts to others who were completely oblivious to commercial requirements—either by nature or by design. The best part of the gig was the element of surprise. Strange little things would show up in the mail: a nifty homemade CD inside a safety-pinned floral-print cover with “a dead cat” scrawled on the front with a red marker, a skein of very fine home-brewed CDs by Art Lessing and various rustic album-length odes to the seasons by James Cundiff. Even more conventionally packaged musical efforts might hit the spot, if the music scored high enough on the novelty meter, like an electronic texturalist guy from Davis who recorded under the nom de disque Idiom Creak.

Of course, this isn’t a clarion call to every Broadway Danny Rose-level local musician to send their doggie-act home burns, but if you’re doing something offbeat and interesting, I wouldn’t mind hearing about it, and I might even write something. The address is Trust Your Ears c/o SN&R, 1015 20th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. And you can e-mail the column at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script>.

Of recent things to cross this desk, Fleeting Joys’ five-song EP, which should be released by erstwhile Sacramento indie Clairecords sometime soon, is a real delight. The epiphanic Spectorian fog works best on “The Breakup,” which plays Rorika’s gossamer vocals and symphonic synth lines against John’s My Bloody Valentine-style guitar sturm und drang over a stellar melody. You can check the duo out at

Speaking of Wednesday nights, Marilyn’s on K will commence a new series this coming Wednesday, February 15. For you No Depression fans, “Americana Ramble,” hosted by the very capable Richard March, should prove to be something to occupy your midweek nights from now on. The series, promoted by the club and local impresarios Steve Nikkel and SN&R contributing writer Mindy Giles (a.k.a. Swell Productions), will kick off with Nevada City singer Amee Chapman and the Big Finish, along with March and his own band. The following week, February 22, Yolo County act the Bottom Feeders will play, and on March 1, Nashville songwriter and Sacramento expatriate Bob Cheevers will be joined by David Houston, Sal Valentino and others. Marilyn’s is located at 908 K Street, 21-and-over shows start at 7:30 p.m., and admission’s $5 (the Cheevers show will set you back $8). You may remember March as co-host of the similarly themed “Nashville Nights” showcase at the Blue Lamp with Scott McChane a while back.

And for those of you under 21, or with an aversion to cover charges, Adrian Bourgeois will play Thursday, February 9, at the Fox & Goose, 1015 R Street. He’ll be backed by Mike Roe (from the 77’s) on guitar, Cheyenne Hill on bass and Steve Mitchell on drums; opening will be young singer-songwriter Taylor Neal. The show starts at 8 p.m., and it’s free.