Review by Dani Zwindling / Photography by William Wayland
An atmospheric river-encased Saturday evening show at Peri’s followed a jam-packed ten-band Friday marathon benefit which had assembled just about the entire population of Fairfax. The three bands featured on Saturday, arguably the most musically and lyrically interesting original acts Marin County currently has to offer, had low-to-no expectations of a turnout. Fortunately and not surprisingly, an enthusiastic collection of music lovers and fans braved the elements and were, in turn, rewarded with three brilliant sets by Sparkling Water, Star Child, and Go by Ocean.
Go by Ocean’s Ryan McCaffry and Adam Bowers mesmerized us with their ethereal compositions. Bowers’ lap steel whimsies and McCaffry’s lyrical stories commanded pin-drop attentive quiet. Tommy O’Mahoney joined in on bass for the last two numbers. Yours truly would suggest that a standup be added to all the songs in an otherwise beautiful set.
Star Child’s Dana Lindstrom is currently my favorite pop-song writer. His other musical project, the pop-psych Milk For The Angry, caught my enthusiastic attention years back with a set at The Chapel with their song quality and because their sound was different from anything I expected to come out of Marin.
Star Child’s distinctive hook-full numbers delivered with sweet-n-poppy chord progressions, stunning three-part harmonies, beautiful guitar embellishments, and playful lyrics are the result of months-long diligent and detail-focused wood-shedding by Dana, Steve Wolf, and Mason Holcomb. The fun rhythmic spark added by JT John dares you not to hop about joyfully imagining you’re in London circa 1965. I can’t think of another local band that sounds remotely like them.
I discovered Chris Peck and his sometimes proggy, sometimes jazzy, sometimes funky but always absolutely brilliant songs during the dark days of Covid. And, boy, did they help alter the world’s perspective for me, and likely everyone else who witnessed Chris’ melodic and lyrical genius in those socially-distanced masked gatherings. But beyond the shows’ gloom-dispelling power, it’s clear that we have something truly special on our hands, something always fresh and exciting. Every performance enchants us with a new song and an even cooler twist on the existing material. On Saturday, Chris’ five-piece combo of veritable music masters presented us with the perfect mix of well-crafted arrangements and tasteful improvisations, all accented by Chris’ ingeniously insightful and delightfully original lyrics. My favorite being the Latin-rhythm number about a (fictional?) studio session with wheat-juice imbibing Drakkar Noir-scented Sting.
Chris names his bands after the albums. The current name is Sparkling Water. The previous (and my favorite) was Ancient Baby. I can’t wait to see what’s next.