When Dan Tedesco plays at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club’s Singer-Songwriter Night on Tuesday, June 11, he’ll be singing songs from his new album, American Darkness. Released in May of this year, the album was mostly written during the latter half of 2016, a tumultuous period of time that hardly anyone remembers fondly. Fittingly, Tedesco’s album is replete with alternative rock numbers, a melting pot of somber, wistful, and hopeful, evoking artists such as Tom Petty and R.E.M.
American Darkness is largely a letter to future generations, both entrusting and cautionary. Songs like “Before You Were Born” were directly inspired by “the birth of my daughter, and the perspective switch that happens when you become a parent,” Tedesco said. “It’s addressed to the youth, the kids, in our country. A huge theme on not just this song but the whole record is youth. The promise of youth. The future they represent and our responsibility to them.” Raising her, he said, “provides me with a regular reminder of the positivity in the world, and of the possibilities that are always around us if we’re willing to look at them.”
While American Darkness delves into certain American destitutions and sadness, Tedesco finds a lot of light there still. “It is certainly not something to be overwhelmed by, or to allow it to overshadow the really incredible things about America,” he said of America’s shadow sides. “I think it’s crucial to maintain a healthy, informed perspective. An awareness of what’s going on.”
Living in Iowa, he’s seen firsthand the winds of change blow away older ways of living and working. “It’s definitely given me a front seat in watching the post-industrial America sort itself out,” Tedesco said of residing in Des Moines. “Over the years, I’ve played in a lot of towns that were once heavily supported by the manufacturing industry, and as those jobs have gone away and that landscape has changed, those cities have slowly been redefining themselves. I’ve lived in Des Moines for five years, and in that short time it’s been incredible to see the development of this city, which, again, is similar to many other towns throughout the Midwest. That persistence to carve a new identity is a deeply American quality.”
Tesco plays with John Elliot and Xenia Flores at 7 p.m.
Dan Tedesco ‘American Darkness’
SURF ROCK CITY: As June can sometimes be gloomy here, a few area acts will freshen up the week with very danceable sounds inspired by the tides. At the Mercury Lounge (5871 Hollister Ave., Goleta), surf rockers Kelp and BlackBall Bandits will make the first Thursday of the month a good one out in Goleta on Thursday, June 6, starting at 9 p.m. Expect a smile-widening night of fun, energized music inspired by all things surf, sea, and even science fiction.
At SOhO, the irrepressible Clean Spill (see their Independent Side Notes session at independent.com/clean-spill) returns to the S.B. stage with more deliciously good rock sculpted by surf and skate cultures on Saturday, June 8. A musical favorite on the competitive surf circuit, the band has been in the recent process of adding some new grit and distortion to its sound, widening its sonic beaches. Hear them with San Francisco surf rockers Beauty Queen beginning at 9 p.m.
ZIMMERMAN’S THE MAN: Make your weekend a jazzy one on Saturday, June 8, when Dan and the ZimmerMen ease you into the evening, beginning at 5 p.m., at SOhO. Famed for his guitar prowess, the man known as Dan Zimmerman is framed by his excellent and skilled trio, who together form the ZimmerMen. “I am very excited about this trio. They are really great, inspired players. I think people who come will appreciate our spontaneity and creativity in the moment,” Zimmerman said. Enjoy the early show as a way to segue into the night.