Thanks be to Rock ‘n’ Roll

Posted on 29 December 2009 by dubs

Mike Farrell, Lite Brite
Old Ironsides “¢ Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009
Words by Adam Aaake “¢ Photos by April Fredrikson

Lite Brite

In our last issue, no. 47, local musician and show promoter Ira Skinner said that “Sacramento’s music scene is probably in the worst condition that I’ve seen it in my life.” Sadly, I’ll have to agree with that. But in the season of giving thanks and on the eve of our nation’s holiday, I was thankful for the bands that are continuing to kick ass year after year, night after night.

A crowd of over a hundred gathered inside the warm walls of a familiar Sacramento venue that happens to be celebrating its 75th year of operation—Old Ironsides. Jerry Perry, another icon of our local scene and the man responsible for the majority of the booking at Old Ironsides for the past who knows how many years, has put together an all-star series of shows featuring the best acts our city has to offer. Last Wednesday’s bill began with a block party set from the always entertaining Lite Brite. Imagine Buzz Osborne with a voice like Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, a drummer from the school of Tom Bonham and a bass player with a warm and fuzzy Rickenbacker; throw in a solid lead guitar player and you’re close to their sound. Their opening song, “Space Shuttle” lifted the crowd from their seats and had them orbiting around the stage like well lubricated satellites. Singer Eddie Underwood was belting lyrics through his thick, dirty-blond hair that sprawled across the front of his face, flailing his arm to the ceiling and arching his body forward as a he played an arpeggiated guitar riff with his free hand. An exhibitionist? Maybe. Pretty bad ass? Definitely.

Their fourth song in was ghostly reminiscent of Far circa Tin Cans With Strings to You. What added to this poltergeist was Far bass player Johnny Guttenberg looking on from the side of the stage. Later he would play with Jackpot, who was also on the bill that night, so I guess it wasn’t too strange. It’s great to hear and see the influence that a great Sacramento band like Far continues to have on the current scene.

Mike Farrell

A skinny-framed man with a tight fitting white T-shirt and a thick head of greasy brown hair that was slicked back over his head approached the stage. He slowly picked up his guitar and slid it over his shoulder in a routine manner, adjusting the leather strap that was decorated with the suits of a deck of cards. A dense crowd was surrounding the stage at this point and it was clear that they were here to see the next act. His name was Mike Farrell and he needed no introduction. The second his guitar was strummed and the set began, the experience and tenacity of Sacramento’s guitar legend proved true once again. This time with his own band, Farrell played a set of grimy rock ‘n’ roll tunes that were layered with keys and violin from the talented multi-instrumentalist Liani Moore. Veteran drummer Mike Curry did his thing on the skins while keeping the back end pocket with bass player Shawn Hali.

This performance was all about Farrell, though. When he solos you listen; touching every part of the guitar and producing sounds from his instrument that seem otherworldly. He raised his hand over the guitar as it hummed, controlling it like a shaman—he owns its soul. His mouth pursed, and he stepped to the microphone and muttered his lyrics, more concerned with the noise of his chord that continued to linger.

His music is a rare fixture of the scene that we as the local fans have the pleasure of seeing, and that, my friends, is what I am thankful for. I am thankful for the huge crowd that gathered on a brisk Wednesday to support a bill of favorites and a venue that has housed the sounds of thousands of bands over the course of its live music lineage.

Tonight, Ira would be proud.

Words by dubs

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