The Center for the Arts Discover Series welcomes three Northern California bands to the Off Center Stage Oct. 3 for a concert featuring singer/songwriter Kelley Stoltz, Nevada County musical institution Golden Shoulders and Bay Area songwriter Sarah Bethe Nelson’s newest project — MakeMake.
Kelley Stoltz is considered a veritable godfather to the burgeoning San Francisco underground along with bands like Thee Oh Sees, Sonny & the Sunsets, The Fresh & Onlys. Stoltz has blazed a path since the late ’90s as a home-recording guru and multi-instrumentalist. No slouch on the live front, he was asked to open the Raconteurs first US tour in 2006, toured the USA and Europe with the Dirtbombs in 2008, and through a twist of volcano ash-cloud karma, was the support act to childhood heroes Echo and the Bunnymen, in 2010. His songs have been used for international ad campaigns for Volvo and Marriott Hotels, as well as in television and movies.
While Stoltz’s nigh-religious reverence for all things Beatles, Beach Boys and Kinks has been at the fore on his recordings “Below the Branches” and “Circular Sounds,” his newest album, “To Dreamers,” blends a bit more post-punk abandon into its layered everyman pop. Tasteful horn adornments blow against tom-tom beats and 12-string guitars meet reverbed mellotrons, under Stoltz’s warm vocals.
The album begins with “Rock & Roll with Me,” a big-beat electric invitation that fades into the melodic stirrings of “Pinecone,” a gently moving Pacific breeze. Later, the deceptively ethereal pluck of “Ventriloquist” is coupled with heavy lyrics, “Seems like there’s no one at all who’s speaking for me.” The motorik elan of “Keeping the Flame” and the electric whirring of “Little Girl” offer new moods, and it’s clear that To Dreamers has maintained the kaleidoscopic core of sounds heard on Kelley’s previous records, while making inroads into new sonic terrains.
Golden Shoulders is a collective of talented musicians from Nevada City, lead by songwriter Adam Kline. Formed in 2001, the group operates with a rotating lineup and has featured significant contributions from such notables as Joanna Newsom, who sang and played piano on the first Golden Shoulders album, “Let My Burden Be,” before going on to international acclaim; Todd Roper and Greg Brown (Cake, Deathray), Rich Good (the Psychedelic Furs, the Pleased), Dan Elkan (Broken Bells, Hella, Them Hills, Pocket for Corduroy), (Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante, PJ Harvey, Beck), Rusty Miller (Jackpot), Rob Kieswetter (Bobby Birdman), Hunter Burgan (AFI), songwriter Brett Shady, drummer Neal Morgan, and more. The band has toured the United States several times, including 2004’s Speed of Sound Tour, 2006’s Annyong Tour, 2009’s Flawless Tour, and 2010’s Drive Across America Tour. The shows performed on these tours were performed without electricity, meaning no microphones or amplifiers were used, though the band sometimes appears as a four-piece, plugged-in lineup when playing in their home state of California.
MakeMake is songwriter Sarah Bethe Nelson‘s new project. Based in San Francisco and featuring longtime bandmate Rusty Miller (Nightgown, Jackpot) on guitar and Dylan Edrich (Spyrals, Wymond Miles) on bass. The sound is brighter, the songs at times light and poppy, at times rock n’roll, now and then tinged with Syd Barrett psychedelia. If Prairiedog, Nelson’s band for the last decade, left off at The Golden Hour (Hazy Maiden 2012), then MakeMake gallops straight into the night, past the neon and the shattered stars.
Tickets for the Oct. 3 show are $10 for members of the Center, or $12 for non-members. They can be purchased at the Center’s Box Office in person, by phone, online or at BriarPatch Co-op.
For information, go to http://thecenterforthearts.org.