Thursday, December 8, 2011
About four years ago, musician Dave Holodiloff scored an old, junky mandolin from a friend for $20. The shaggy-haired towhead didn’t sleep a wink that night: He spent hours tinkering up and down the frets of the neck on the small, stringed instrument and, by sunrise, he had written “Foggy Coast.”
“Since the beginning, every time we play the song, everybody gets up and starts dancing,” says Holodiloff, 25, as he sips from a bottle of organic milk in his humble apartment behind the Monterey Jiffy Lube. A baby grand piano sits next to a Taylor acoustic guitar and sheets of handwritten music are strewn about.
The tight, bluegrass instrumental delivers a sound that’s a cross between Bill Monroe and David Grisman.
The tune has been a part of the repertoire of his band, Microtonic Harmonic, for some time now, but has only recently been captured on a recording. The four-piece outfit – also featuring Evan Francis (guitar, vocals), Gene Mason (banjo) and Josh Klein (upright bass, vocals) – recently finished its sophomore album, also titled Foggy Coast, at Franklin Street Studios in Monterey. The LP will be released Saturday at Microtonic’s performance at Alternative Cafe.
Holodiloff says the band recorded the album as if they were giving a concert. Microtonic’s live shows evoke an aura similar to the Grateful Dead and the band always encourages its audience to sing along.
“The album is about 90-percent recorded live,” he says. “There’s some overdubbing but we’re a live band and we feed off that energy.”
Over the tight time span of two days, the crew recorded a total of 30 tracks, which was whittled down to the best 16.
Along with authentic Americana originals, the album also features traditionals like “I Know You Rider” and bluegrass takes on Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.”
“We thought about what covers to include for a while,” Holodiloff says. “We went with what are strongest tunes are that define our sound at the moment.”
Microtonic’s self-titled debut, released last spring, is made up completely of instrumental traditionals, so Holodiloff says he and his bandmates made an effort to make their follow-up overly heavy with vocals and harmonies.
Since the debut the band has steadily built a solid local fanbase.
“We play East Village the first Friday of every month and it’s always electric and it’s always pretty full,” says banjoist Mason. “It’s very humbling.”
Holodiloff’s the busiest of the band members, at least musically: In addition to Microtonic, he jams every Wednesday night with saxman Ben Herrod at Indian Summer, plays drums with ’80s dance rockers Temple Tigers and appears with the jazz band Treetop Trio. He even manages to find time to give guitar and mandolin lessons to kids yearning for the same musical gratification that can keep him up all night long.
MICROTONIC HARMONIC plays 8pm Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Alternative Cafe, 1230 Fremont Blvd., Seaside. $8; $5/students; $10/admission and CD. 583-0913.