Which one’s Bob?
Sometimes a band wears its influences on its sleeve. What is sometimes surprising is when the influences do not seem to match up with the age range of the band members. One such band is Bob’s Child, a four-piece band composed of players who look young enough to be skipping first-period biology to sleep off the previous night’s gig. With the current state of commercial radio, one might expect such a quartet to be steeped heavily in the flavors of the day. Not so with Bob’s Child, whose set at the True Love Coffeehouse last weekend sometimes sounded as if its members never heard an album more contemporary than Van Morrison’s Moondance.
This is not to suggest that the influences of Bob’s Child are necessarily a negative thing. Much to the contrary, the musicians in the band are superb, displaying a careful sense of musicality, melody and excellent instrumental control. Furthermore, Bob’s Child has a sense of groove that one does not often hear, particularly in young bands, although one can look toward modern acoustic jam-based music such as the Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson for a contemporary comparison.
The one sour point in this is precisely what is sometimes lacking in much of the jam-band scene: In place of clear emotional resonance is a sort of unstoppable happiness that seems cute at first but eventually begins to wear. Though it seems absurd to slight a band for being too happy, the fact of the matter is that the happy-jammy-groovy tunes eventually begin to lose their musical force, feeling (at least emotionally) like too much of the same. What further hinders matters is that the lyrics are insipid at best (on the other hand, Van Morrison’s lyrics on Moondance aren’t exactly William Butler Yeats, either, so perhaps it’s all in keeping with the band’s influences).
Despite these criticisms, Bob’s Child is a superb band that one could easily envision sharing a stage at Bonnaroo with such bands as Phish and the String Cheese Incident. Take a look at www.bobschild.com for more information.
Sac Town Music is a new commercial Web site devoted to local bands. It features free hosting of a basic band page and other goodies, including links to on-demand T-shirt production and promotional materials. The Web site is still under development. Have a look at www.sactownmusic.com.
On the financial front, it seems most musicians suffer from too many great ideas and not enough cash to pull them off. These musicians will want to take notice of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission’s ArtScapes 2003 program, a series of $1,000-$5,000 grants for small arts groups, including music-related projects. More information on this and other grants can be found at www.sacculture.com/grantsmac.htm. The money is out there; someone just needs to apply for it.
In touring news, Portland’s Perilymph Records and Hollywood Records recording artist Sheila Nicholls are sponsoring the Chicks in Arms tour, featuring a traveling retinue of female artists, poets, filmmakers and musicians. The good news is that the tour stops at the Sacramento YWCA (1122 17th Street) on Friday with our very own feminist folkie Dre on the bill. The event benefits WEAVE. More information can be found at >www.perilymph.org.