¡Búcho! goes for a Midtown buzz
Gerald Pease is out riding around. Actually, the 38-year-old singer-guitarist is on the job as a bike messenger; he’s pulled over on the 400 block of Capitol Mall for a momentary breather between delivering legal documents somewhere to talk about his band.
There’s a ragtag, street-fair quality to the music of Pease’s quintet, ¡Búcho!, which captures a certain eclecticism often found in these parts. Imagine the sparser, slightly blunted attack of Cake—furiously strummed acoustic guitars, a slightly stoned dub-like bass (Josh Lippi) and drums (Derek Taylor) mixed up front. Then take away John McCrea and replace him with a frontman who emotes with much more of a classical-music sensibility—if Robert Plant, Steve Perry and Freddie Mercury are how you define your classics.
For the capper, toss in a trumpet player, Leon Moore, who doesn’t lay low in the cut like Cake’s Vince diFiore; instead, he’s all over the road like speakeasy-era Duke Ellington’s lush-life horn man, Bubber Miley, with a snoot full of demon rum.
“I’ve always loved the trumpet, the unique sound it has,” Pease says. “And we just use that for leads—y’know, instead of the normal guitar and stuff. Anyone can turn up a Marshall [amplifier] to 10 and get that chunky, loud sound.”
In fact, Pease loves the trumpet so much that he recently added a second horn man, Anthony Coleman, to join Moore.
"¡Búcho!,” according to Pease, is Cuban slang that translates roughly as “a shot,” as in whiskey. The band used to be called Gravel, it’s been playing for around three years and it began when Pease engaged in a little musical cradle robbing. “I got with them when they were 15,” he boasts like some trailer-park Casanova. “Now, three years later, they’re 18 and graduating high school, going into college. My trumpet players are both at Sac State right now. All of them are really involved in plays, and music and art.
“I knew they were talented musicians,” he adds. “Because, not to sound big headed or anything, but they reminded me of myself when I was their age, you know, 15—and not having this chance. I got involved with other people in this area, and they were either drug addicts or too stupid to be in a band. So I’m hella fortunate to get these young people to just let ’em be themselves.”
Pease moved to Sacramento from the Bay Area—San Francisco, Walnut Creek—in 1993. “I grew up with people, most of who ended up being cops, so I had to kinda, uh, scoot,” he says laughing. “I wanted some new scenery, and had heard a lot about the music scene here.”
Pease soon found work as a muralist; examples of his artwork can be found on the front covers of ¡Búcho!'s two CDs, the first self-titled and the second titled Time to Live. He also started spending a lot of time at Matt Erich’s recording studio cutting demos of songs he’d been writing. Then he hooked up with Taylor in a roundabout way through his daughter; Taylor brought in Lippi, and Moore soon followed. “It’s been magic ever since,” Pease says.
¡Búcho!'s live credits include last year’s Heritage Festival, two Chalk It Up fests and plenty of all-ages gigs.
On record, the results are mixed. Pease’s rockist vocals aren’t exactly Steve Malkmus cool, but they do work within the context of his band—although it’s a bit arresting to hear Sammy Hagar vocalisms backed by what sounds like a bonged-out mariachi band with a head full of Black Sabbath and Ricky Ricardo. Chalk that up to the influence of Pease’s Cuban wife and her family. “I’ve been getting into Buena Vista Social Club, y’know, with Ibrahim Ferrer? Let’s see, there’s another one called—what’s his name?—he covered some Arsenio Rodriguez stuff … Ribot. Marc Ribot. Excellent guitarist.
“That beat has driven me all my life,” Pease concludes. “And I’m just now feeling where I’m coming into my own, where I can put that influence into some modern-day pop and rock. Because Cubans have a real zest for life.”
Indeed they do.