//Ad libs: Spotlight on local musicians

Friday, July 11, 2008

Spotlight on local musicians

I really should not point at "American Idol" singers and laugh. Putting yourself out there is not a snap, especially while being judged. (Dance auditions are my personal ring of hell. If I had to do one on national TV, even my own mother would point and laugh.)

Locally, musicians have a new arena to put their art out there -- without the glitz or call for overwrought vibrato. The Media Center has a new locally produced TV show, "American Songwriter," which is seeking new artists to feature.

The first episode was hosted by Gunn High School student Alex Rusoff and featured Sugaree and the Shakedown. Band members are two recent Gunn grads: singer/songwriter Dorothy Wood, who also plays guitar and banjo; and Neva Hauser on bass and recorder. (John Bradshaw also sat in on lapslide.)

With songs such as "Old Train" and "Appalachia," the performance had a folk, Americana feel anchored by the smooth, classically trained strains of Hauser's bass. Wood's voice is distinctive, with a textured feel and lots of sobs and leaps. She cited Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez as two of her influences, and said the band name comes from the song "Shake Sugaree" by Elizabeth Cotten.

The episode is being shown periodically on channels 27 and 28 throughout July -- and you can also watch it here on the Media Center's website.

For information about appearing on the show, call 650-494-8686, extension 11.

Photo from Sugaree and the Shakedown's MySpace page.