Home » Skip Heller, Los Angeles R&B/Blues/Jazz Guitarist and Sacramento’s David Houston, Musician, Writer, and Producer Perform at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento – Saturday, June 30, 2012
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Skip Heller, Los Angeles R&B/Blues/Jazz Guitarist and Sacramento’s David Houston, Musician, Writer, and Producer Perform at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento – Saturday, June 30, 2012

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Sometimes the musical stars align and that’s just what happened when Los Angeles’ Skip Heller crossed paths a few months ago with Sacramento’s David Houston. Both Heller and Houston are guitarists, songwriters, producers, and performers. They decided to collaborate on a musical date at Luna’s Cafe (1414 – 16th St., Sacramento) on Saturday night, June 30. The result will be a musical treat for all those who love guitar and string music virtuosity, along with vocals to match.

The show will feature a very special guest appearance by Sal Valentino, best known as lead singer of the Beau Brummels.

Skip Heller has a reputation as one of Los Angeles’ most wide-ranging guitar players and singers. His musical approach is traditional but not locked into retro period conventions. Coming of age in early eighties Philadelphia, he learned guitar from local masters of jazz and folk music, and spent his high school years playing soul music in West Philly dive bars, doing wedding gigs, and fronting his own jazz groups in various clubs around town.

In 1995, Skip left Philly and moved to Los Angeles to begin a unique career that includes playing and recording with rockabilly legends (Wanda Jackson, Ray Campi, Big Sandy), exotica greats (Yma Sumac, Les Baxter, Robert Drasnin), Americana stalwarts (both Dave and Phil Alvin, Billy Swan, Katy Moffatt), and then some (Todd Rundgren, Stan Ridgway, DJ Bonebrake, Tipsy, Bob Dorough). He did a brief stint with NRBQ as their guitarist. Heller’s music credits include assignments for cartoons (Flintstones, Dexter’s Laboratory, some Disney shorts), several indie films, and even an episode of The Bernie Mac Show. Today, he regularly performs around Los Angeles in addition to playing 150 days a year on the road with the Skip Heller Trio.

On Saturday night, Skip will perform songs from his his new CD, Foolish Me, as well as tunes from his numerous CDs, along with some musical surprises. He has distinguished himself as a kind of all-star of all guitar styles, equally at home in jazz, rockabilly, ranchera, exotica, country, cartoon music, and more. His live shows are intimate yet dynamic. He can make any space feel like a living room where the audience is an important part of the experience. This time out, he’s accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Claire Costa, who appears throughout Foolish Me on both vocals and rhythm guitar.

David Houston is well known to Sacramento music aficionados, having performed and produced since the early 80s. He’s worked with local musicians including Jackie Greene, Bourgeois Tagg, Kevin Seconds, Anton Barbeau, Caron Vikre, Natalie Cortez & Ultraviolets, Grub Dog & the Amazing Sweethearts, Her Six Daughters and the Pilgrims, Harley White, and the late Eric Kleven. He’s also worked with music luminaries including Latoya Jackson, Club Noveau, R&B Greats David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, Sal Valentino,  and guitarist Earl Slick, longtime sideman of David Bowie. 

Houston’s vocals get a lot of comparisons to Leonard Cohen’s and Roger Waters, but that’s all secondary to the force and delicacy of his music. He surrounds himself with excellent musicians, the sort who add tasteful and powerful accompaniment but know better than to showboat. On Saturday night, String Theory will accompany David.  String instruments include violin, viola, cello, and stand-up bass.

Houston (sometimes called the "Dark Lord of Sacramento") sings gentle, moving melodies, his lyrics touching on all themes having to do with pain, sadness, heartache — but there’s never a depressing moment; he writes of pain overcome and heartache survived. The simplicity of his music is deceptive; he’s a songwriter’s songwriter, a master of wringing a moving climax from a stark arrangement. He’s an emotionally bare vocalist; syllables slide from his throat and across the microphone, haunting and raw.

Whether you prefer expert guitar playing, great vocals, original songs, or musicial virtuosity in general, both Heller and Houston have something very worthwhile to offer at Saturday night’s show.


9:00 p.m. $6 (All Ages) Luna’s Cafe, 1414 – 16th St., Sacramento, 95814, Contact Luna’s Cafe at (916) 441-3931 for more information. http://lunascafe.com/




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