When it comes to evening entertainment, Santa Cruz is nearly always a quicker option than, say, San Francisco or the East Bay. The pairing of Latona Odola and Common Eider, King Eider made this a must-see event for me, and a quick listen online revealed that both Tilo and Gabriel Salomon were pleasant on the ears as well. The show was a benefit for Free Cascadia Witchcamp
Before I continue, I must admit that more than a month (closer to two, in truth) has gone by since this show happened. I blame my dying laptop and simply being busy elsewhere, coupled with just not feeling like writing. This is what happens when one is not subject to deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise. Any lapses of memory are completely my fault, as is anything else I get wrong on this site.
We got to Santa Cruz and found parking less than half a block from SubRosa. The venue turned out to be a tiny anarchist community center, with a library and patio area. We said hi to friends and found a spot inside so we could catch Tilo's set.
Tilo is the project of Lindsay Davis. She accompanied herself on acoustic guitar, and was joined on most songs by various friends, who added additional vocals, cello, and the like. She proved to have a rich, husky voice that reminded me a bit of Mia Doi Todd, or perhaps a more restrained Dawn McCarthy. The final song featured a whole crew of people singing a sort of sea shanty (if memory serves). I picked up her demo cdr too. The standout song of the disc (and possibly of the performance) is Petrichor.
Common Eider, King Eider was next, spearheaded by Rob Fisk and featuring ex-Aquarius guru Andee Connors on percussion, plus Gabriel Saloman (I think) on guitar and one additional member whose name I don't know on banjo. I'm never sure what to expect from the band, which is a good thing. Sometimes they're heavy, and sometimes they're melancholy. Often they're both.
This time out, we were treated to a long, slowly building piece of atmospheric gloom, suffocating in its intensity. The mournful howl of the guitar broke through the sonic fog like the fin of an approaching predator. Over all, the effect was not dissimilar to that of a Thomas Carnacki performance, although Gregory Hagan, who has done time in both outfits, is no longer part of Common Eider, King Eider. Traditional instruments (viola, banjo, drums, guitar, etc.) were playing in non-traditional ways throughout, and the effect by turns meditative, haunting, calming, and strangely energizing.
Latona Odola are a mother/daughter duo of Buffy and Katrena, primarily utilizing harmonium and acoustic guitar, with occasional hand drums and other percussive objects fleshing out the contemplative songs. Both sing, and sing beautifully.
This is the first time I've seen them play outside of their home base of The Sanctuary in Oakland. They were joined by a friend on frame drum for a song or two, and debuted a new piece as well (which was wonderful, of course). Musically, they remind me a bit of Ordo Equitum Solis, although the instrumentation is a bit different. The overall effect is similar though: an outpouring of wonder wrapped in contemplative melancholy, a call from (or to) our ancestral selves, and a balm for like-minded souls. The music is stately and elegiac in the best way.
After their set ended, the spell was broken by a woman asking if anybody in the audience drove a Nissan. I admitted that I did, and found that there was a fire engine down the block because of a gas leak. I figured I'd check to make sure it wasn't my car. Long story short: it was. My car was dripping gas. This meant that we missed Gabriel Saloman's set and got to ride home in a tow truck. Special thanks go out to James Martinez and everybody else who offered to help.
It was an interesting ride home. The tow truck driver regaled us with stories of UFO sightings as we made our way over the fogbound Santa Cruz mountains. It eventually turned out that the culprit was a loose gasket, not tightened properly when I'd had my fuel pump replaced in November. At least it was fixed free of charge.