Musical Chairs

Posted on April 18, 2009 – 9:29 PM | by OldManFoster
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We asked local singer songwriter Autumn Sky to take a spin in the musical chair this month to coincide with the release of her debut album this month (and Tony King’s article about same).   She promptly obliged, sending over the following, which she titled “The Up-and-Comers, Or, All the Local Musicians I Would Stalk if I Wasn’t a Busy Musician Myself.”

mazerikJimmy Mazerik

I’ve been a fan of Jimmy Mazerik for about a year now. I met him at my first True Love Coffeehouse Songwriters Showcase. He was one of those people that you wouldn’t peg as one of the musicians at the event; quiet, at ease and without a trace of ego. It was such a breath of fresh air, you were especially polite when you realized he was the one picking up a guitar, getting ready to take the stage.  When Jimmy launches into a song, the whole room goes silent, and by the end of the set all the girls in the room are tearing up. It’s whiskey, tear-drenched, hymn-like music to listen to by candlelight, and it is astoundingly beautiful.  His usual performance is just him and his acoustic guitar, playing a cross between picking and strumming with notable ease. He has an incredible stage presence, and there’s something refreshing about being a singer that can catch an audience’s attention without “performing,” per se. He’s recording his album now, but check out the melancholy “Rebel, Girl,” up on his Myspace page now.

Alex Nelson (of Walking Spanish)

Some musicians are so good it makes me mad. Case in point: El Dorado Hills resident Alex Nelson. While the entire cast of the engaging local band Walking Spanish are pretty much aficionados of every instrument they decide to pick up, it’s a rare treat to see any artist apply such time and devotion to their craft. A (very good) singer, Alex can also be accredited as playing guitar, piano, accordion, clarinet, saxophone, ukulele, and the drums.  His music is earthy, sometimes folksy blues that you can move to, and not just listen to. But listening is just as much a treat as dancing, as his well-crafted verses are just as interesting as the riffs they’re sung beside.   Alex is recording another Walking Spanish record now, and you can look for it in the next year or so, but in the meantime, treat yourself to “What If You Knew My Name,” on the Walking Spanish Myspace page.

palmerEvan Palmer (of All on Seven)

Out of all the musicians I’ve gotten to know in Sacramento, All On Seven’s front man and songwriter, Evan Palmer, has grown the most musically in the shortest amount of time. A dedicated study of Ryan Adams, as well as many late-greats in classic western and rock, Evan is as much a musician’s musician as he is a songwriter. This makes for some really great listening. His songs are both musical and poetic, his voice sounding like a mix between Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan. His music is decidedly western, but not too dramatically so. It lets you drive down its roads calmly, instead of hitting you over the head with twang. And for this, I am inspired (and eternally grateful!)  Evan released an album last year, under his band’s name, All On Seven. Check out “Another Traveling Song,” on their Myspace page.

Matt McClean

Matt McClean first started playing at the True Love Coffeehouse sometime last year, in that last, lazy summer we had. While kids were strewn around the deck and couches out back, trying to keep cool, Matt was causing a welcome raucous upstairs with his self-titled “acousticore.”  A fan of the folk/hardcore band Thrice, Matt’s songs are not what one would put in the “light” category. His songs don’t dance around the issues, and chronicle tales of war, death, anger, sadness and fear. But don’t call him emo; the young and gifted singer is more of a musical activist than an acute complainer, with lyrics that remind a person of political rockers The Flobots.  Check out “Mercury,” his newest track, up on his Myspace page now.

eliotSam Eliot

Sam Eliot and I met first met at The Coffee Garden when I had just turned eighteen, and even then I knew he was something more of a poet with a guitar than just a singer.  While his guitar playing is admirable and engaging, Sam’s real talent lies in his words. His songs are exquisitely crafted, sometimes comical, and often narrative tales that rely on twists and clever takes on words that you don’t usually hear in passing conversation. The songs are intelligent, but never get too high-brow to make you feel left out of the club. Instead of being complicated, they are thoroughly engrossing. I can’t wait for the time when I can pop his first record in my stereo and lose myself in the story. Catch a chapter called “Suburban Dream,” on his Myspace page.

The Heather Show

Heather is the sweetest girl in Sacramento’s music scene. An elementary school teacher on the side, she brings her show (as well as her quirk and personal accessibility,) to the stage. She charms the audience into a trance, her voice floating heavenward like a softer, gentler Joanna Newsom. And while she credits Jonathon Richman as an inspiration, she is quick to point out that it’s her friends’ music that inspires her the most.   She’s another multi-instrumentalist whose repertoire ranges from the accordion, to the guitar, to the harmonica, to the violin. Although most of her songs are softly strummed on an acoustic guitar, it’s a nice touch waiting to see which instrument she’ll play next.  Listen to “AM Radio” for a full dose of magic on her Myspace page.

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