Dick Stusso

Soda Bar presents

Dick Stusso

Faith Healer, DJ Scott Johnson

Saturday, March 10, 2018

8:00 pm

Title TK

$8.00 - $10.00

Tickets at the Door

This event is 21 and over

Dick Stusso
Dick Stusso
That old blues hound dog Bonnie Raitt probably sang it best and most lucid in her timeless, pedestrian hit "Nick of Time": "Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste." And so now, her wise lyrical turn seems to be ringing true for Oakland muso Dick Stusso. When we last caught up with this Bay Area BBQ gaucho on his debut, Nashville Dreams, he'd hit that special zen layer of loserdom. He'd thrown up his hands into the folly of failure. He was the affable, bumbling red-cheeked drunk lurking around the edges of the cookout - bumming smokes, putting down all the white wine and cocktail shrimp he could get away with. But now, a couple years on, that early-30s existential dread has crept its way into Dick's purview. With his sophomore long-player In Heaven, Stusso's numbered human days are on his mind. Without stumbling into pomposity, Dick has taken back the wheel on his life and is doing a bit of hotdogging.

The album sounds so assured, you'd never guess the whole endeavor was almost completely down the tubes. "I was about 75% done with the album and then my apartment got burgled," Stusso said of In Heaven's bummer origins. "They took it all." Having laid it almost exclusively to tape, there weren't even files to pull from. But what seemed like another sour turn for Dick actually ended up being a little lemon zest in his G&T. He ended up teaming with psych visionary producer Greg Ashley in a defunct old church, making for a leap in fidelity on In Heaven.

The new peacock strut to Dick's vague longing and malaise suits his countrified T. Rex sound quite well. Exhibit A: album standout "Modern Music," a sort of State of the Union and State of the Soul all set over a warm, gauzy glam bass line. "Nobody wants to look at the dark heart, I don't blame you/Nobody wants to look at the dark heart, myself included," he sings a low-register Orbison sneer. "I'm just looking for a good time and a little cash-uh." Employing deft songcraft, which includes a wide open ambient midsection to really get you thinking about The Void, Dick manages to take down both capitalism and the bullshit conditions of human mortality without sounding all that put out by either.

The son of a sax player who gigged with Tower of Power, The Doobie Brothers and Huey Lewis, Dick was warned early on to stay clear of the musician life by his old man. But after a youth spent clerking in indie records stores and learning about country music through YouTube deep dives, Dick got the bug. Towards the end of In Heaven, Stusso gives us the gorgeous, loping ballad, "Terror Management." The song stands as his salute to scholar Sheldon Solomon, whose Terror Management Theory essentially states that all human activity and culture are based in a fear of death. "On an unknown trajectory," Dick croons, seemingly half-drugged, half-consumed with death anxiety. "I wish I had a better handle on things." And as the song wraps with a lovely upright piano arrangement, you hear someone, probably Dick, tell the engineer to cut the tape. "That might be good enough," he says, seemingly all too aware of the forward march of time and eager to get started on his next timeless jam.
Faith Healer
Faith Healer
When Edmonton’s Jessica Jalbert first began performing solo under the name Faith Healer, the alias was her way of avoiding being pigeonholed as a singer-songwriter. Now, however, times have changed: Faith Healer has blossomed into a band, with singer-guitarist Jalbert joined by drummer/multi-instrumentalist Renny Wilson. Their first LP as a duo is called Try 😉 and it will be out on September 8 through Mint Records.

The follow-up to 2015’s Cosmic Troubles was largely recording during an intensive month-long session in September 2016 at Wilson’s personal studio in Montreal. During the process, Jalbert rented a room in Wilson’s house and the pair spent hours jamming and listening to bargain bin rock records in the basement.

“The last album had a lot of flowery ‘60s flourishes,” Jalbert explains. “This time, we wanted to simplify it and just do some straight-ahead songs. Focus on the song itself rather than all of the production.” The pop-rock arrangements are still overflowing with beautiful sonic details—from the Twin Peaks synths that enshroud “Sterling Silver” to the funky clavinet that’s nestled within the paisley-patterned pop of “& Waiting—but the instrumentation is stripped down enough that it can be faithfully recreated by a live band. Jalbert and Wilson were inspired by the garage-punk snarl of Wipers, the deadpan drama of Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man, and the classic songwriting chops of Scott Walker and Elvis Costello.

The relatively stripped-down arrangements, combined with Jalbert’s graceful hooks and pitch-perfect delivery, make Try 😉 sound effortless. The truth, however, is that its creation was anything but simple: the songs were meticulously crafted with great effort, with plainspoken lyrics that thoughtfully reflect on self-empowerment, depression and appreciating the good in life.

“Light of Loving” is a particularly wild ride, with a stormy five-minute groove that ebbs and flows between skulking fuzz riffs and sudden explosions of careening drums. It was originally written as a looping drone that Jalbert performed during a solo set, and it took its final shape during an epic jam session with Wilson. “We jammed on it for four hours and recorded the entire thing,” Jalbert remembers. “By the time we were finished jamming, my hand hurt so badly I had to stick it in the freezer and ice it.”

The intensive creative process inspired the title of Try 😉 and serves as a reminder that sometimes you need to grab life by the horns rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. As for that winky face: “I always use that winky emoticon,” Jalbert says with a laugh. “I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s cheeky and fun, which is something I was trying to access a little more with this record.”

Balancing melancholy lyrics with playful moods, lush melodies with straightforward arrangements, Try 😉 is the sound of an introspective loner leaving her bedroom to make a rock record with her best bud. It’s what happens when you stop taking life as it comes and instead throw all of your effort into making timeless pop songs. Forget what the bullies told you in middle school—there’s nothing cooler than trying hard.
Venue Information:
Title TK
4274 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA, 92105