What’s in a name?
Though often mispronounced, Two Sheds is the band name on everyone’s lips these days
There’s an old Monty Python skit in which Eric Idle interviews Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson, a composer played by Terry Jones. In the interview, Idle focuses on Jackson’s nickname rather than the subject of his music until the flustered composer says, “Look. This shed business—it doesn’t really matter. The sheds aren’t important. A few friends call me Two Sheds, and that’s all there is to it. I wish you’d ask me about the music. Everybody talks about the sheds.”
That transcription might not do it justice, but this is funny shit. It fits Caitlin Gutenberger’s personality, so it’s no wonder she drew on Monty Python to name her band, Two Sheds. Gutenberger does not, in fact, have two sheds. She is not thinking of getting another, and no one calls her “Two Sheds.” But her band—herself; her husband, Johnny Gutenberger; and musician extraordinaire Rusty Miller—has gained enough attention in Sacramento in the last year to keep the name Two Sheds on the music scene’s collective lips. Unlike Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson, Gutenberger should have no trouble getting people to talk about her music.
During a recent interview, the Gutenbergers discussed the secret origins of Two Sheds. “I knew she had a guitar, but she never played in front of me,” claimed Johnny, a member of such Sacramento mainstay bands as Milwaukee and Jackpot. “You know, some people have a guitar, and they know a couple of chords. But she started playing, like, [the Beatles’] ‘Blackbird’ and this other fingerpicking stuff. I mean, I knew she played guitar, but I didn’t know she played guitar.” This revelation came after three years of marriage.
Make no mistake; Caitlin flexes serious guitar muscle. Her Travis-picking guitar style (think acoustic bluegrass or country fingerpicking) and guitar riffs are the product of solid talent. When Johnny discovered this hidden talent, he forced Caitlin to write her own material. When she balked, suggesting that she couldn’t play well enough, the rock veteran responded, “I can’t even play your songs.”
As Caitlin explained, “He was in a band forever, and I think there was a certain amount of ‘I don’t want to play around this guy.’”
So, when Johnny was working on a Jackpot record, Caitlin, feeling like “the ditched kid sister,” wrote a handful of songs. Johnny volunteered the two to perform a casual Valentine’s Day couples show at Old Ironsides last year.
Afterward, Caitlin posted some of her songs on her MySpace account—and unwittingly cemented the band’s name. “We started getting shows before I could change it, so now we’re stuck with it,” she said. “People mess it up all the time. Someone wrote once that during Halloween we should call ourselves Boo Sheds. Or maybe I said that.”
Last August, Caitlin, Johnny and Miller began recording Two Sheds’ debut CD, Strange Ammunition, with producer Robert Cheek (who recorded An Angle’s latest album). The as-yet-unreleased disc introduces Caitlin’s beautiful range of songwriting talent. “The Ballad of Salty Dog” provides the best example of Caitlin’s Travis-picking guitar style, establishing playfulness along with some shifting time signatures. “For Teresa” evokes a clear vocal comparison to Hope Sandoval or a velvety ’60s-era tone reminiscent of Dusty Springfield. “Undertow” will simply strip the enamel off your teeth. It’s one of those songs that musicians hear and wish they’d written. It features a classy rock ’n’ roll guitar riff, perfectly accompanied by Johnny’s bass line and an infectious “la la” chorus.
Johnny’s bass-guitar work fits perfectly throughout the record and Two Sheds’ live shows. Often he is a second guitar, using a Fender Twin Reverb guitar amp to get some heavy tones.
The release date for Strange Ammunition, on Sacramento label Under a Cloud, is yet to be determined. In the meantime, Two Sheds has two shows this week and a full gig schedule at www.myspace.com/twosheds.