Hiss Golden Messenger
Photo by: Terri Loewenthal

What with tiger maulings and political assassinations it wasn’t exactly a slow week for news. Nonetheless, this show garnered not small amounts of real estate in local print media last week, a testament to the great line-up of bands.

The $8 a plate musical feast started with a fella named Banana, ex of the folk-rock band The Youngbloods. Unless you’ve been in Carbonite freeze since 1966 you know his iconic Summer of Love anthem, “Get Together,” with its invitation to “come on people now, smile on your brother.” The woolen-bearded folkie, nee Lowell Levinger, now sells vintage gear just outside of Novato and his super-sweet ’30s dobro was a choice instrument for his set.

Next on the menu was the talented, if uncelebrated, songwriter Michael Talbot, who left his fledgling music career on the West Coast for film school in NYC earlier this year. His debut, Freeze-Die-Come to Life, was released by the taste-making Oakland label, Antenna Farm, and is beautifully literate, cinematic Americana. This night Talbot seemed slightly unrehearsed and sported the best case of bed head I’ve seen outside the homeless encampments south of the Porn Palace on Mission Street.

The third course was the Parson Red Heads, a white-clad horde from LA whose immaculate pop hooks are inversely proportionate to how pretentious the band is. In other words, they’re the catchiest thing to come from LA since the Monkees swung from the branches of Laurel Canyon. Because of Xmas absences the band was an acoustic quartet this night. They wove their way through some new material with the help of a recently acquired chorus pedal and 12 string guitar.

Hiss Golden Messenger rounded out the evening. The brain-child of MC Taylor, whose musical palette (not to mention David Crosby mustache) is a finely tuned thing, HGM dares to tread in long, rootsy jams. Unbothered by trends, Taylor is like a blind New Orleans crooner singing his blues in an inimitable voice, belying an inner universe that runs deep and wide.