Oaksong Society is presenting honky tonk, alt-country and hillbilly-noir artists Maurice Tani and ’77 El Deora on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 8 p.m. at Pilgrim Congregational Church, 2850 Foothill Blvd., Redding, CA.
Oaksong Music Society Artistic Director Pete Angwin first discovered Maurice Tani and 77 El Deora three years ago at a showcase at the Far West Folk Alliance Conference and immediately booked them for a show in Redding in 2014. “Although I’m not a huge country music fan, Tani’s hard-edged guitar, haunting tenor and incisive lyrics immediately grabbed me and didn’t let go until his set was over. He was definitely the highlight of the conference.” Maurice Tani and 77 El Deora is now set to return to Redding for a second show. Accompanying Tani will be his old friend and musical collaborator, Mike Anderson on bass and singer Margaret Belton, who will provide additional energy to an already electric show.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Maurice Tani was just a bit too young for the Summer of Love, but was still profoundly influenced by the California culture that gave the world country rock from the Bakersfield variety to psychedelic to the singer songwriter types.
Barely into his twenties and hungry for experience, he moved to central Texas to work the hardcore country, blues and rock circuit between Austin and Dallas, playing five sets a night, seven nights a week for months at a time, eventually making connections that led to his moving to New York City just as the punk rock scene of CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City was exploding in Lower Manhattan. By 1977 he was back in San Francisco as punk, power pop and new wave was taking hold in the Bay Area and began a stretch of five years and four critically acclaimed albums with ex-Flamin’ Groovies front man Roy Loney’s band, The Phantom Movers.
Through the rest of the ’80s and ’90s, Maurice was the lead guitarist and a featured vocalist for Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra and Big Bang Beat, two large, 12-18 piece dance bands that gained worldwide exposure from a 2 hour PBS New Years Eve multicast that was broadcast annually for many years on public TV around the US and Europe. In 1985, Maurice and the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra won the Bay Area Music (Bammy) Award for Best Independent Album. After 15+ years of touring, Tani was ready for a change and made the decision to return to his roots in original music.
Since making the shift back to songwriting in 1999, Maurice has spent the past 17 years as an active part of the California alt-country/Americana scene. Fronting his own bands, “Calamity & Main” and “77 El Deora”, he has produced a series of albums for himself and others.
Tani & 77 El Deora represent the best in Americana: smart without making a fuss about it. The lyrics are worldly but universal. The musical ideas hit home. The playing is as good as you’re going to hear this side of Austin. Above all, the band covers a lot of ground, from wistful ballads to hard-driving honky-tonk rock, from personal meditations to satirical cultural observations, from electrified twang to down-home acoustic. Once in a while, they even find new shades of meaning in some cover you thought had been long since played out. This band is different. This band is special.
Tani’s latest album is his 2016 release, “The White Water”. Maurice explains that he wanted this new album to combine the live/studio sound on his previous album “The Blue Line” with the intimate acoustic duo atmosphere that he captured on his earlier album “Two Stroke.” The album succeeds on both counts. Tani’s uniquely evocative voice and deeply personal songwriting shines through on every song. In a review of the album for No Depression magazine, Robert Sproul said, “The White Water is a new high water mark for Tani. The songs are extremely evocative and the studio quality is top-notch. If songwriting in the tradition of Merle Haggard is your cup of tea, you will hear songs on this record that are deeply personal and universally applicable to the human condition.”
By the way, in case you were wondering, the El Deora was a custom, after-market variant of the Cadillac Eldorado in the 1970s. It was the gaudiest, most over-the-top automobile you could buy, but somewhere along the way it crossed over into cool. Said Tani, “If I had a garage, I’d have one, and if I had one, it would likely be pouring smoke out the rear, or up on blocks in the yard with weeds growing out the fender wells. A car like that speaks to fallen aspirations, shattered dreams, bad checks. It’s my kind of country.”
Additional information at The Oaksong Society For Preservation Of Way Cool Music facebook page