Saturday, March 10, 2012

Double Saginaw Familiarity - Matt Tarka -- Big Bear Cafe -- Mar 9 2012

Matt Tarka - Two of the three acts I saw at the Velvet Lounge are here to kickstart a live music program at a nice little coffee shop/restaurant at 1st and R in the Northwest. The musicians had to supply all equipment which consisted of an amp and microphone. The place was crowded, although it was a mix of people here for the music and those just having dinner or drinks. Tarka has a rock approach to his folk songs, which seemed obvious enough to me although I appreciated him confirming that fact by saying he played bass in a rock band for a long time. I have compared him to the Kevin Seconds/Vic Ruggiero/Jesse Malin type folk school of rockers that can write well enough and have the voice to deliver good to very good folk sets. He chose to not plug in his acoustic, which was a tricky call with the crowd noise, but his striking style made it audible enough for the first half of the crowd. I would like to see this club get a small PA if they want to continue this sort of thing. He had a couple of new songs I have not heard which sounded quite good and I recognized some of his older set that I liked. I think the best of his style are the vocal lines he writes that are simple enough on the face of things, but have a few hooky moments that bring his songs to life. Another fine set by a hard working and genuinely nice guy who will hopefully continue to get the gigs.
Double Saginaw Familiarity - This time around it was Dan from that band who as he mentioned, left the electric guitar, pedal, and looping equipment at home and just tried it with voice and acoustic tonight. He did plug in, which was the right move as he used fingerstyle on some of the songs and generally has a softer style in guitarwork and voice. I was wondering how Nick Drake would do this century trying to take his quiet music over the usual crowd noise that seemingly gets louder and louder every year. Of course, then I remembered that Nick Drake did not exactly do too well on the live stage no matter what the crowd was doing or saying. Anyway, the music here was high quality and worked in the acoustic environment. Credit to Dan for trying hard to engage the crowd which was not to intensely into things. However, some times it is best to punt and just bang out the songs. I am sure there were times where he instinctively searched for those damn pedals! Still, the crowd was supportive and bought some CDs from both performers, so there was a good vibe tonight. It is a new thing here and we will see if it takes hold. All in all, a nice relaxing night was had, listening to some acoustic music. I do need these nights from time to time.

Quote of the Night: From Dan's set... "This song is called Texas. It's not about Texas." That got me thinking about other songs that are not about places. I came up with "Omaha" by Moby Grape and "Seattle" by Public Image Ltd. Any others? I'll have to work on it more.

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