People have complained a lot about the music scene in Santa Barbara and Goleta-in particular the slim pickings of decent venues for seeing the good smaller bands, local and otherwise. For the younger crowd especially, it seemed the demise of The Living Room and The Hard to Find Showspace left a gaping hole where a thriving, all-ages indie heart once beat. For those paying attention, though, there are a few rays of light in the darkness, and one of them is Muddy Waters Cafe, which recently hosted Phil Elverum of Microphones/Mount Eerie and Japanese rock trio Moools. Picking up the slack again last Friday, the cafe welcomed a quadruple-act showcase from the independent Ventura label Beehouse Records, and the musically malnourished came and got fed.
The first to play was a simple one-man-and-his-guitar act, but Justin Dullum proved that simple isn’t necessarily simplistic with engaging chord changes and unlikely lyrics about his Ford Aspire.
Following Dullum were Lompoc-based lo-fiers Le Petit Protest who, besides glibly dedicating a song to Lompoc’s mayor, Dick DeWees, rocked the room a lot harder than their limited recordings promised, and left at least one new fan excited for the band’s upcoming first release, Prizefighter.
The third and penultimate act was Ventura quartet Franklin for Short. A little bit country, and more than a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, it kept up the pace with its unique blend of alt-country, surf, and indie rock that defies any real categorization.
Last up were The Spires, the Ventura guitar-and-drums duet of Colleen Coffey and Jason Bays. If Lou Reed played with Pavement and Belle and Sebastian simultaneously, it might sound a lot like The Spires. In fact, the two are so good at invoking Reed’s distinct sound they recently released an album of Velvet Underground covers on Spaceland Records. But being reminiscent doesn’t make them a rip-off, not by any stretch of the imagination.
And by end of the night, Beehouse Records had helped Muddy Waters maintain its reputation as coffee house turned soup kitchen for the musically famished.