Musical Chairs, March 2011

Posted on March 11, 2011 – 6:29 PM | by Admin
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As soon as we scheduled a Food Issue there was no question who was at the top of our list for the issue’s Musical Chair: Aaron Moreno. If Moreno doesn’t sound familiar, odds are you may know his alter ego: bluesman Aaron King. Whether fronting his own band, The Imperials, or laying down BB King-style licks in the late Chrome Addicts, Moreno has been laying waste to NorCal blues venues for well over a decade. Last year he exposed a surprising new side: foodie. His Sacramento Food in the Hood blog is a fun read, focusing on what he calls ‘humble food.’ Moreno weaves plenty of his own backstory into the blog and you’re as likely to encounter Sonny Rollins or Little Richard as Anthony Bourdain. Check it out:

The Walkmen With their dreamy soundscapes and haunting, reverb-drenched pop, The Walkmen appeal to me on a very base emotional level. Whether expressing youthful disillusionment (“We’ve Been Had”) or the sadness of romance slipping away (“Canadian Girl”), their music has an anthemic quality that just draws you in. I was lucky enough to catch them at the Northwest Music Fest in Portland last summer, and I can assure you singer Hamilton Leithauser delivers his Bono-esque vocals just as passionately and convincingly in person as he does on their recordings.

Albert King If you play guitar of any style and don’t own an Albert King live album, go to itunes NOW, download three, and just listen. He wasn’t the most technically proficient. He wasn’t the fastest. He was only the loudest, most powerful, and most intense of all blues guitarists. There are legendary stories of him out playing faster, flashier guitar heroes of the ‘60s and ‘70s with simple three note phrases and impossibly bent notes. From him, we should all learn: it’s not the quantity of notes that matter, but the quality.

Dr. Dog I’m lucky to have friends with much broader and cooler musical tastes. One band I was hipped to by one of them is Dr. Dog. Combining the harmonies and pop beauty of Pet Sounds era Beach Boys with the LSD soaked rock of late era Beatles along with a hint of bluesy country, they have a sound that’s unique, quirky and familiar all at once. From the disco/reggae of “Black-Red” to the emo/soul ballads of “Livin’ a Dream” and “Army of Ancients” to the funk of “Heart it Races”, they prove what has been said for years: there’s really only two kinds of music- good & bad.


Ricky Berger I first saw Ricky a couple of years ago at a Sammies Showcase at the Torch Club. I sat and listened, slackjawed, amazed someone so young wrote and performed music that evoked jazz greats like Blossom Dearie, Astrud Gilberto and Diana Krall. Like them, she possesses an uncanny ability to combine the right chord with the right lyric at the right time in a way that can make you feel warm and fuzzy and sad and happy all at the same time. Listen to her song “Why Be Blue” and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. She is one of our city’s treasures.

Cardova- The Meters The Meters remain my favorite funk combo. Cardova is a master class on groove. If you isolated each track, you’d find a simple drum beat with no fills, a sparse bassline, organ stabs, and understated guitar. There’s a sense they’re each trying to see how little they can play and still maintain the funk. This deconstructionism illustrates the power of space and elegance of simplicity in creating a real groove. Guitarist Leo Nocentelli is a constant source of inspiration on what to play (or not) and how to play it (or not).

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