There are more than a few bands or performers I’d never heard of until Bob Littell booked ‘em for the Sierra Nevada Big Room, so I’m kinda indebted to him for acquainting me with some fine music and musicians I wouldn’t have known but for the public service he provides by spreading the good news about good music, not only to people like me, but to the people who then later learn about that music when I’ve written about the pleasures afforded me through that great local venue.
It’s not just me who gets his musical horizons widened because of Bob’s bookings. I always wind up talking to people at those Big Room shows, and there are always fellow music lovers who tell me they’d not heard of the band we’re about to hear. But, like me, they’re always comfortable about the prospect of liking whatever band’s about to play because the Littell lineups have been so consistently good in the past.
My mantra concerning local musical appearances is that “if Littell books ‘em, I’m bound to like ‘em.” It’s pretty likely you will, too.
And I’m entirely confident that’s going to be the case with the Leftover Cuties, who are turning up in the Big Room tomorrow night, December 17th. When Bob heard the band play at last summer’s World Fest in Nevada City, he just knew he had to bring them to Chico because they were the talk of that gathering. They’re a jazz-tinged LA band with a terrific lead singer (Shirli McAllen) and three very compatible musicians backing her up (Austin Nicholsen on bass and vocals, Mike Bolger on brass, keyboards, accordion, and vocals, and Stuart Johnson providing vocals and percussion). They’re all about as down home as you can get. In fact, they hardly seem like an LA band at all if you think of the LA music scene the way I often do—as a place that produces various clots of trendy musicians trying to win recognition with an array of gimmickry or hip posturing.
Fans of the The Big C, that series on Showtime starring Laura Linney, may be familiar with the Leftover Cuties because they provided the theme song for that show—“Game Called Life,” a charming little number that tends to take up residence in one’s head after only a few listenings.
The band’s second album, The Spark and the Fire, was released last July, and it garnered a bunch of good reviews, some of them attributable, no doubt, to the craftsmanship and honest sharing of personal pain found in Shirli McAllen’s songwriting (sample lyric from the song “One Heart”: “Another strike/ another ache/How much hurt can one take?/ How many times can one heart break?”)
I sampled a few of their other songs on YouTube, just enough to whet my appetite for what the band will be performing tomorrow night. If you are curious, but don’t share my faith in Bob Littell’s musical taste, you ought to check out either of the band’s two albums, or take a cruise by what’s available on YouTube. I’m fairly sure that if you do, you’ll make a point of being in the audience at their upcoming Big Room show.