Sometimes a band’s name tells you everything you need to know. With a moniker cadged from Buck Owens’s oft-covered 1966 country standard, Crying Time is an East Bay combo devoted to the gloriously rhinestoned collision between Nashville country and Los Angeles pop. The band celebrates the release of its second album, Linda, 9 p.m. Saturday at the Starry Plough as part of a triple bill with Bear Flag Trio and Danny Allen’s High Diving Horses.
Featuring North Oakland vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Jill Rogers, her younger Berkeley-based brother Peter Garellick on bass and vocal harmonies, drummer Tim Rowe, and Myles Boisen on guitar, lap steel and vocals, the quartet has honed a lachrymose repertoire of Glen Campbell, Freddy Fender, and George Jones and Tammy Wynette, along with excellent originals that powerfully evoke the same era. Pedal steel guitar legend Bobby Black contributes to a few tracks on the album, but won’t be joining them at the Starry Plough.
The band released its debut album Ten Golden Hits, last year on vinyl and for download. Like that project, Linda was recorded at Boisen’s Guerilla Studio with analog sound akin to the classic country music from which Crying Time draws inspiration. The title can be understood in several ways, referring to Linda Ronstadt and in Spanish it means“pretty,” which “definitely applies to these beautiful sad songs,” Boisen says.
“The title was Jill’s idea. It’s something to do with Linda Ronstadt, but not a direct connection. We do ‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles’, which was a hit for her. The idea was to give the record a personality. Linda can be this girl playing country songs in her bedroom in the mid1970s. Don’t read too much into it, but if you want to that’s fine too.”
Crying Time’s roots can be traced back to the era from which its sound springs, when the Garellicks were growing up in West Los Angeles. They started singing together around the time they entered kindergarten and kept it up in the car, around the house, and just about every where else to the point that “we drove our parents nuts,” says Peter, whose day job is teaching high school social studies in Pittsburg.
They weren’t listening to much country music at the time aside from the country rock that crowded the airwaves. But after Jill moved up to attend Cal in 1983 and Peter followed in 1985 they were shopping in Rasputin’s together and happened to buy an album by Ernest Tubb, more due to the album cover than anything else.
Smitten with the music, they continued to investigate and ended up launching the band Cactus Motel with Oakland drummer Tim Rowe. Boisen joined shortly afterwards, and they honed a repertoire of classic country songs and originals. When Rogers (nee Garellick) started a family the band dropped off the scene and faded away, but about a decade later Boisen started playing with Rowe in the country rock band Along Came Jones. With Jill interested in performing again, they launched Crying Time, a combo committed to “straight up classic country music, country soul and honky tonk,” Boisen says.
Boisen is best known in some circles for his vividly cinematic playing and composing for Club Foot Orchestra and Orchestra Nostalgico. He’s explored experimental improv with Splatter Trio, and currently plays with violinist John Ettinger’s groove-inflected Miniwatt String Trio (or Quartet), which plays Oakland’s Portal 7 pm Sept. 1 and Sept. 15. But country music is a birthright he can claim from from his father, a Nebraska-raised farm boy who “listened to Sons of the Pioneers, real cowboy music,” Boisen says. “Being a teenager I wasn’t that into it, but I could tell he was being really moved.”
A sound engineer by training, he started playing in honky tonk bands in the mid-70s, and paid dues supplying the twang for a rowdy scene in Blaine, Washington quonset hut “where the Canadians would come down to drink and fight. That was where this period we’re addressing really got into my bones. I’m still trying to absorb it all. It’s a life time of study.”
Recommended gigs: George Brooks, Osam Ezzeldin and Ganesh Rajagopalan / Destani Wolf
They could be playing Herbst Theater or SFJAZZ’s Minor Auditorium, but the power triumvirate of Berkeley saxophonist George Brooks, Egyptian-born pianist Osam Ezzeldin and Carnatic violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan (who’s toured with Zakir Hussain’s Masters of Percussion) bring their expansive world-jazz sound to the Berkeley Arts Festival space 7:30 p.m. Friday. Focusing on original pieces inspired by Terry Riley’s singular synthesis of jazz, minimalism and Indian classical music, the group is preparing for a high profile Los Angeles concert this weekend
Andrew Gilbert writes a weekly music column for Berkeleyside. He also reports for the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and KQED’s California Report. Read his previous Berkeleyside reviews.
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