Sunday, July 9, 2017



BSC – After covering Orange County activist movements, primarily the fight against GMOs for years, I found my first music assignment completely by accident, if you believe that sort of thing. Longtime readers aware of my Lois Lane side know better. Once again this is a Cisco and Pancho story featuring Pancho, or moi.

John and I were on our way to the Mothers Market Vendor Days a few weeks ago but first we had to stop for organic lollipops to hand out at the event booth. Stickers and sweets, that's how you grease the lines of communications for a meaningful message. This time at the market, conveniently located just a few blocks from the Orange train station, I saw a trio of musicians setting up to play. They looked organic as they unpacked their string instruments, including a standup bass.

Before leaving in a rush, I inquired about a CD and was given a biz card with which make connections. As I wait for a CD now after taking the train to Greasy Town this past Saturday, my music report on the band follows after the jump.

Though hot outside, the cool train car interior was made cooler by the train conductor's giving me thumbs up on my 420Nurses cap. My weekend round trip would be a plus. So after grinding it out again following a FNS, I boarded the morning train for Orange having made a few pigeons happy off my last Riverside glazed doughnut.

Making my way to the front gate of the market, I couldn't believe how hot it was in Orange. The temps must be in the 80s at the beach and it wasn't even 10AM yet, I thought to myself. Over the heat however, I could hear Greasy Spoons well into the first third of their set for the farmers market audience. The song they were playing may have been an original or not. Their style of playing brought to mind another band in another farm belt town, Davenport, Iowa. Both bands play string [acoustic] Americana [genre].

Americana isn't the music of rebellion, like rock, nor does it have the extreme life has me by the balls texture of blues. Unlike picking and a'grinning country, Americana has a lot less grinning and a lot more picking. Smiles replace the grins and picking replaces strings bent to breaking, unless you're playing the mandolin like Brian King on the right in the opening band shot.

Modern Americana has an upbeat rhythm, catchy lyrics, all set to a barbershop quartet sense of humor. And that's where Modern Americana gets a bit murky plus why I can write a music review about the band without yet having the CD. I saw this feeling expressed by the many market patrons who responded by showing their delight for the musical stylings in tipping and smiling to the gentile style of busking. 

At present there are hundreds, if not thousands of songs in the American genre. These songs are shared by those musicians in the genre who in turn cover them with their own style and licks. While some songs in the Greasy Spoons set brought smiles of recognition like their rendition of I Want You Back, it was the stage presence and musicianship that allures my anticipation for the all-originals CD from the Greasy Spoons, who slipped in an original now and then which you couldn't notice as such.

That musicianship includes a lot of 3-part harmonies with trade-offs on leads over the set between Brian and latest member Kyle Riley on a 40-60% split. Picking up backing vox is bassman Sean Pullin. You see Sports Fans, “Americana music is Sunday school honky tonk without the piano.” - PT Rothschild

There are two other differences between the Greasy Spoons and the band I know in Davenport, IA. The first is there being two less members, and the Greasy Spoons are about 40 years the junior of the two. This is a rare opportunity. Go here for an Americana band at the start of a career and go here to hear an Americana band with hash marks. *- Eerie tie-in to Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green for those keeping score. Two members in the aforementioned Davenport band used be members of The Spoonbills before the Americana, sometimes mistakenly called bluegrass – bluegrass has a fiddle as a prominent band instrument, genre era. Also, though some are obvious, no songs by the older band are originals.

Greasy Spoons regularly plays the last Saturday of every month at the Orange Farmers Market from 9am-1pm. So how did I get to see and hear them off their normal schedule? I could claim 'magic' but I suspect it was more a scheduling issue since the band is playing an encore performance at the Orange train station diner [Ruby's] the end of this month.

Next up - Twits and Twats, coming soon!

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