Scheduling conflicts usually lead to headaches, but in the case of Song Preservation Society, a band with strong East Bay ties now operating out of Los Angeles, it led to a new CD, "Ready Room," and an official release show at Berkeley's Starry Plough on Friday.
"What happened is that we got a show everyone couldn't make," said Daniel Wright, a Lafayette native and one of three musicians who form the SPS trio. "We decided to play it acoustic, which is what we do to work on harmonies anyway."
That gig at San Francisco's Café du Nord solidified a conviction Wright and fellow band members Trevor Bahnson and Ethan Glazer held: making music with acoustic guitars and three musicians was a lot easier than what they had been doing previously.
As a five-member rock band 7OrangeABC, their earlier incarnation, they had to lug more equipment, rent larger rehearsal space, and wrap five heads around their eclectic sound and ruminative lyrics.
"The shift from rock to folk also happened naturally, due to the formation of the (new) band," Bahnson said, in an interview two weeks before the group's Berkeley appearance.
The Song Preservation Society name had evolved organically even before the five became three, when a collection of songs they never expected to play or record had refused to disappear from their repertoire.
"We based the name on the songs we were keeping alive, as a joke," Wright admits.
"But now it has come to
Joan Pezanoski and Tim Owen run the Open Mike nights at the Starry Plough, conveniently located right next door to where the three musicians used to live, rehearse and write their music.
Pezanoski, calling from on the road in the Midwest, calls the new CD "a magical explosion of music" and the best thing she and Owen have ever produced.
"Joan funded us and introduced us to Nino Moscheola. She's been an unbelievable supporter," Wright says.
Moscheola, a producer and owner of Richmond-based Bird and Egg Recording Studio, led them on a four-month, song-by-song musical journey that resulted in a CD they say advances their sound.
"We like the three guitars in performance, but in the studio, it's a playground," Glazer says. "We would jam on cool instruments and stumble on something we hadn't thought of in the past."
Their go-backwards-twist-sideways-flip-your-own-lid approach, combined with crisp, well-produced sound and minus heavy electronics, places a major emphasis on vocals, lyrics, and finessed instrumentation. Shades of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash bring a nostalgic familiarity to the seven songs that push against the traditional framework of the folk genre, but never so hard as to collapse its textured boundaries.
"We try to blend and find our limits," Bahnson suggests.
"Sometimes you get an idea in your head. I remember working on "Stars" and there's a sound I wanted in the shaker. None of the shakers did it. I had to surrender. The environment made it easy to not sacrifice those ideas: I got something just as good, it was just something new," Glazer recalls.
Touring and booking gigs is an entirely different experience.
"One out of 20 things actually happens, the rest is just talk," Wright complains.
Glazer calls the wearing of multiple hats tiring and "a drag," but thinks that negotiating arrangements has helped them develop good business skills.
The band is working toward getting an agent, publicist and booking representation -- part of the reason for the members' move to L.A. six months ago. And although Wright says touring is their primary goal for the near future, they all recognize the importance of having a strong, online presence.
"A good recording is the ultimate: a musical presence a person can fall in love with and listen to a thousand times," Glazer muses, as if describing a dream.
What: Mission Creek Oakland Festival presents Song Preservation Society (CD release), David Dondero (Team Love Records) and Graham Patzner (of Whiskerman)
Where: Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
When: 8:30 p.m. (doors open), 9:30 p.m. (showtime) Friday
Pre-orders: Pre-orders of Ready Room available @ http://songpreservation