This Thursday night, The Torch Club will be hosting San Francisco artist Seth Augustus who is a proficient blues musician. What is so rare about a blues musician appearing in a blues venue? Throat singing. Seth Augustus is a throat singer who studied under Paul Pena, one of the foremost blues musicians of our time.
Throat singing is very different from normal singing. It takes years of discipline and practice to learn to hold the throat and stomach muscles before you can isolate sounds and master them well enough to sing repeatedly. Throat singing was originally part of the Inuit culture – women would have contests to outlast each other and it is a normal part of Tuvin and Mongolian cultures. Throat singing allows the singer to sing with two, and sometimes even four, voices at once.
Sacramento’s premiere blues venue, the Torch Club, has been expanding its range of blues performances from the normal standards to contemporary blues, Deep South blues, as well as international artists. Now with Augustus, patrons and music lovers of all genres can come down tomorrow night and see something they have never seen before…and might not see again for quite some time.
Augustus, who hails from Pennsylvania and relocated to San Francisco twenty years ago, was always experimenting with different ways to make music transcend what is already familiar to the mind and ears.
"You know how a guitar is supposed to sound, or a saxophone or drums, but when you sing in this style, people are not expecting this kind of sound. They are already used to hearing vocals the way many people sing, which is through the nasal passages and from your upper torso. Throat singing is almost like growling and few recording artists, like Pena or even Johnny Rawls have been able to grasp it fully."
In the latter part of the 1990s, Augustus met blind blues legend Paul Pena ("Big Ol Jet Airliner"), and the two were inseparable up until Pena’s death in 2005. Through Pena’s encouragement, Augustus travelled to Tuva where he studied throat singing and has been building on that experience ever since.
In 2010, Augustus released "To The Pouring Rain" (Little Dog). Take some Tom Waits, mix in some slide guitar and heavy bass and you’re on your way to a tasty evening full of that good blues flavor we all love but never hear enough of.
Truly, of all the shows they have done in past years, this performance tomorrow night is destined to be both original and rare. You don’t want to miss this one!
Doors open at 9pm, $5 cover.