I pushed the
clutch in to the floor, slipped the stickshift into
El Farolito, multimedia upstarts on Capp St.,
I paid the $5 cover and went inside to see the last few tunes of opening band The SHQ, which I was also very keen on seeing, given that the front man Sid Hillman was an old co-worker of mine at the job I had while I was in college in Los Angeles. That night, Sid had a cool band going with a much more country-rock vibe than his earlier days as a solo acoustic coffee-house singer. The great thing was that I ran into a few other acquaintances there from the olden-days in So Cal., as well as a buddy from high school who now owns and cooks in his own restaurant on Mission down South of Army (now Cesar Chavez) called The Blue Plate.He and a couple of buddies bought a very run down building and worked their fingers to the bone renovating it into the stylish and comfy Bernal Heights culinary establishment that it is today. I love the place as much for it's killer pork chop as for it's fine selection of Zinfandels. Among the others that I saw there at the Makeout Room that night was an incredibly witty and funny film director who also worked with Sid and me at that same job. We chit-chatted for a bit and then, as I began to tell him about what I'd been up to, he abruptly interrupted the conversation telling me, "I can't wait to
read the book," and then handed me a postcard that promoted a screening of his most recent film The Party Crashers at the Towne 3 art-flick Theater in Santa Clara. Also present that night was another co-worker from that time who had established himself as an accomplished writer and had obtained a job as a creative writing teacher at Stanford. At this point, I figured that even if I thought the band that my buddy PMad. had sent me to see sucked, I'd already got my five bucks worth out of the night.
The Court and Spark set up their gear, took the stage, and began to creak and moan into some very atmospheric, dreamy, somewhat lazy, drunk-country grooves. I was on my third JDrocks by then and the sound coming off the bandstand seemed just right. The synapses began again, this time much more faintly, as I vaguely recalled telling someone seven years earlier, as I drove a truck full of sound gear through that city in the months before I left that I wanted to stay in SF and start a psychedelic space country band with steel guitar and play the cool little bars that were
popping up all over the Mission. The band playing on the stage there
that night in the Makeout Room was that band! They had managed to make that distant, half-baked notion of mine a reality and in a way that was far better than I could ever have done myself. The music was great, the vocalist was dripping cool, and the look and style of the band was perfectly appropriate to the overall vibe of the scene. What I realized then was that this was the closest thing to a true "scene" that I had stumbled upon in a long while. These kids were playing their own interpretation of country music to a roomful of young, urban hipsters who were truly digging the vibe. Wow! I gave the night an A+, paid for my last drink, and hurried out to the
car and drove home to my wife who was waiting for me in bed. The one thing that I had forgot to do was buy their CD before I left.
Some six months later, my good buddy Hank Ten forwarded me some e-mail correspondence between himself and the leader of The Court and Spark which addressed the idea of doing a review of the band's current album Bless You for Hank's Golden-Coast web site. I immediately expressed my interest in writing something. Hank agreed and brought the CD with him on his next visit to my new home in Southern California. Listening to the album here now, the music is as compelling as it was at that live performance that I caught that foggy summer night in San Francisco last summer. I honestly can't say enough good things about it. It encapsulates the spirit of the vibe there in the Makeout Room that night and evokes a comfortable state of nostalgia for me every time I put it on. Yeah, it sounds a little bit like Son Volt, and certain people may try to write it off as altcountry bandwagonism. But, while it does borrow from recent trends, it also draws on a long-standing and deep-rooted tradition of great west-coast country music, and most of all it definitely goes the distance to become its own.
MC Taylor is
a genuine song craftsman, the music on this CD is soul music, coming
from a place deep and true, and will surely one day lend itself
to the collection of icons like that bad-assed chopper outside the
Makeout Room that evoke a sense of historical birthright to cool
for our beloved
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© Golden-Coast Productions, 2002