Heading off to a warehouse on 19th between U and V to hear Surface Tension, I pondered, “Can anybody have a warehouse practice space more bitchin’ than the Doghouse?” Soon the answer was clear. Mickey Abbey’s custom glassworks warehouse is unimaginably amazing. It is the anti-buttondown to the Doghouse’s buttoned down order.
A diverse collection of artifacts, gadgets, and gizmos graces the walls, occupies the floor, and hangs from the rafters. Surface Tension’s practice area is backed by mannequins, cut outs, and pictures. Roy Orbison. Marilyn. A blonde surfer dude. Wonder Woman. A white rabbit.
The poster and fliers for AARP Saturday are displayed prominently in the practice area and affixed to the refrigerator. AARP Saturday seems especially appropriate for a band that with pride bills itself: “I think I can say with some certainty, that we are Sacramento's oldest band! Oh, no? I defy you to find one that is playing rock and roll, that is older. I like to call us the two thousand year old band!”
The two thousand year old band may be hyperbolic. But the combined ages of Surface Tension and the Lava Pups exceed half a millennium.
Surface Tension is Charlie Weiss, Les Haber, Eva Nicholson, Mickey Abbey, and Bob Mamola. Guitars, keyboard, occasional harmonica, and some percussion. No drums. No bass. Bob’s percussive playing provides the underlying metronomic beat for which other bands need drums. Mickey also supplies a solid strumming rhythm on an acoustic electric. Les is multi-instrumental with an emphasis on the keyboard. Charlie seems to be the lead guitar. Eva sings and adds percussion.
Actually, everybody in the band sings. Charlie, Les, and Eva alternate as featured vocalist. Different voicings for different songs. Between the band members, Surface Tension has a catalog of more than 50 original songs.
A Sierra Nevada in hand, I sunk into a chair in front of the band as practice started. Immediately, their musicianship was apparent. Tight rhythms from weekly practice sessions. Interchange between the guitars and keyboard. Eva’s sultry voice. Other band members joined in to provide harmonies. The music was a mix of rock and blues with sophistication and subtleness. But like the warehouse, the music had an eclecticism to it that really defied categorization.
I finished the Sierra Nevada and said, “Wow, that was really good! Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Old Ironsides is going to be a blast.”
Heading for home, a new thought occurred, “Eclectic, sophisticated, and subtle juxtaposed with Pup music? What a sonic smorgasbord that will be. Yes indeed, Old Ironsides is going to be a blast!”
Come out and see for yourself. AARP Saturday beginning at 4:00.