Once in a while a show comes along that disguises itself as another run of the mill coffee shop show in Sacramento. Familiar names, familiar setting; the type of show you’re used to seeing posted in windows around midtown. Some people get burnt out on these shows and write off Sacramento as being stagnant in terms of musical offerings. Nights like this past Second Saturday serve to remind those jaded folks that music is alive and well here in our Capitol City. The quaint, brooding Naked Lounge stage was graced by the likes of Kepi Ghoulie, Kevin Seconds and Jonah Matranga of Far, along with a little help from their friends. David Houston faded into the background to provide percussion and was later joined by Lucy Giles of Dog Party and Allyson Seconds for some killer harmonica, harmonies, and some lovely ooohs and aaahs. Kepi appreciated the help as he had given all his voice could give the night prior in Santa Cruz, but what else do you expect when you’re playing alongside Dan Potthast?
The evening brought us a delightful mix of originals and covers, ranging from Kevin’s new “Van Songs” that he wrote on his last tour, to Jonah belting out Prince’s “Kiss” and several 7 Seconds covers. Kepi spent the evening performing his songs in a “spoken word” format, joking about sounding like Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash. That never stopped him from contributing to the rest of the set, as he added baselines with his guitar and deep backup vocals when he wasn’t playing his own tunes. The beauty of it all was watching all three performers take turns playing, with everyone else adding their own personal touches. It was the kind of free flowing, improvisational elements that can’t be forced that made the music so special. Each performer knew the other so intimately that they could jump in at any time and not miss a beat. It wasn’t until some pleading from Kevin that Jonah finally belted out an original tune of his own with “Smile.” Kepi strummed the bass line while David lent a hand on the tambourine. Allyson would chime in with the harmonica and Kevin was just all over the place with his guitar and harmonies. When that was finished they all exploded into a punk rock hootenanny to the delight of the crowd that wasn’t too shy to sing along. Lucy Giles joined the fun to fill in on vocals for Kepi and the group really found a rhythm that was undeniable. It was around this time the audience became aware that they were in the presence of something special. The bond between everyone on stage evident in the music they were playing and made for an unforgettable experience.
Shows like this do not come around very often. While Jonah doesn’t necessarily play in Sac that often, Kepi and especially Kevin can be caught on a fairly regular basis. It does, however, take the right combination of friends, fans, and love to create a night like the one witnessed at the Naked Lounge. David Houston especially took note of how things had fallen into place, and asked everyone on stage to return the next day to his studio to hopefully recreate the amazing energy experienced by an exceptionally lucky crowd. We’ll see if the rest of Sacramento is fortunate enough to someday soon hear a sample of what was on display the night before.
Photos Melissa Uroff and Sven Olai