Travel and True Love

Anton Barbeau should require no introduction whatsoever to our regular readers. After all, he’s been a ubiquitous part of the local scene since the release of 1993’s The Horse’s Tongue. Ubiquitous, that is, until quite recently. For longer and longer periods of time, Barbeau has been disappearing from the local music scene. There are no gigs. He’s not hiding in the corner at local venues. Suddenly, there’s just no Anton Barbeau in Sacramento.

Has Barbeau finally gone the way of his longtime musical influence, and founding member of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett and gone crackers? Well, he’s certainly gone the way of Barrett—at least geographically. Barbeau has been spending increasing amounts of time in England, living in and around Oxford and developing an ever-increasing fan base in the United Kingdom. In fact, Barbeau even spotted the reclusive Barrett himself in nearby Cambridge. At least Barbeau thinks it was Barrett. It’s possible, he admits, that the muttering old man who passed him on the street might have been some other mildly crazy old man.

It’s quite possible—although Barbeau himself doesn’t really go this far—that Sacramento might lose Barbeau to the United Kingdom at some point in the next few years. His particular brand of lyrically bizarre 1960s-flavored pop has long seemed more a product of an English sensibility than an American one. (Compare Barbeau with, say, Richard March if you need further confirmation.) In the United Kingdom, Barbeau could be seen as somewhat exotic, as an American, and yet simultaneously as someone who speaks in a familiar musical tradition, a mildly crazy one. In the meantime, audiences in the United Kingdom appreciate what he’s doing, record labels are keen to discuss possible deals, and Barbeau keeps going back for more. Catch him while you can.

In related news, since Barbeau played there so often, the future home of the True Love Coffeehouse (on K Street across the street from Rick’s Dessert Diner) is in the heavy construction phase. Kevin and Allyson Seconds are wrestling with the process of making a two-story Victorian home into a cafe, venue and small recording studio. I was able to stop in to see the site in the late (or early) hours after a recent show featuring the Seconds’ band Ghetto Moments and can report that, although there is certainly much, much work to do, the new location is exciting and interesting.

For one thing, the kitchen is twice or three times the size of the one at the old True Love, which means better conditions for the staff. Beyond it, there’s a good chance that the music area will be completely separate from the cafe, which means the chatter of the waffle eaters won’t affect the music audiences at all. Furthermore, there will be a back-patio area essentially identical to that of the old venue, meaning all you teenage smokers can light up and develop your future tumors with unmitigated glee.

Last thing: We’ve just received word from local music mogul Martin Holland that the Blue Lamp’s live-music offerings have been temporarily canceled due to a lack of something called a “dance permit,” though the bar is still open for business. This is a particularly weird issue, as anyone who goes regularly to Sacramento-area shows can tell you that Sacramento’s live-music fans just don’t dance—unless an occasional on-beat head bob can be considered dancing. God forbid people should dance without paying the city a fee for the privilege! Ludicrous.