Encircling this century-old living room in Highland Park sit thirty or so well-dressed young people; an abundance of ragged beards, tattoo ink, high waisted skirts, horizontal stripes, and well-worn plaid. Its standing room only around the fringes of the room, with most people seated on armchairs or atop the hardwood floor, legs crossed at the ankles, beers or something stronger in laps.
We’re all here for Songs from a Room, a global music movement that brings local musicians into uber-close quarters for live performances. Last Saturday was the first SOFAR in Los Angeles, but after the night’s selection, Angelenos should rest assured knowing it won’t be their last.
The acoustic stylings of Henry Wolfe began the night. Hot lights kept the temperature of the room at the level of an intimate sinter, also allowing the shows to be streamed live over a webcam.
Jazz-pop act Leftover Cuties brought a ukulele into the mix and the most handsome drum set this writer has yet seen. Their bassist proved later to be an animated and accomplished whistler. The Leftover Cuties cover of Coldplay’s “Trouble” was the highlight of the evening.
“I got a call last night to come and play,” reported Shaun Flemming, backing up self-purported “death gospel” act Adam Arcuragi. Plaintive, gravelly, and soulful, Arcuragi’s lyrics and sound brought the most originality to the night. As if possessed, I found myself scribbling down his lyrics:
“If it’s true that hell hs better music / Can the devil really be all that bad?”
Rounding out the night was Jail Weddings. Usually a ten-piece ensemble, Jail Weddings still managed to pack six members of their dectet into the crowded house. Three back-up singers lent Jail Weddings a forthright element to their sound; late-50s to early 60s doo-wop, armed with guitars.
The location of Saturday’s affair was kept quiet until mere hours before the show. Usually, I’d be likely to dismiss this as a gimmick, but SOFAR earned their clandestine air with a fine line-up of musical virtuosi.
The next SOFAR show in Los Angeles will be in either June or July. For SOFAR’s video archives and their most recent show info, visit their website.