Old Californio bring SoCal country to Lee's Friday

Old Californio bring SoCal country to Lee's Friday
Photo courtesy of Kent Geib

Say the closest you've come to experiencing the totally sweet SoCal, late-'60s country psychedelia of a band like the Byrds, live and in the present-day, has been seeing onetime frontman Roger McGuinn play the totally hoppin' (not really) Hopkins Center for the Arts, spring 2011. 

He's telling some cool old stories, and playing that characteristically jangly guitar. His ethereal voice is enough to take you back momentarily to this formative time and place in musical history.

But still, he's solo, there's no one to help him sing those heavenly harmonies. There's no rock edge. The audience is being restrained and polite. You're in the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Old Californio's name may call reference to the state's era of missions, presidios, pueblos and ranchos, but the band's sound is all McGuinn and company, late 1960s Laurel Canyon, and hearing them now might just take you back to that time and place. Lucky for you, you don't even have to experience it all in Hopkins - no offense, Hopkins, your Center for the Arts is lovely but perhaps not the ideal venue for a rock show. The Pasadena quintet is playing Lee's Liquor Lounge this Friday night in support of their third album, Sundrunk Angels ($6, joined by locals Steve Kaul & the Brass Kings, and Broken Brakes).

While their own jangly take on country psych rock, complete with heavenly harmonies, situates Old Californio right next to the Byrds' own take on the same, their ever-so-slightly punk-infused harder edge provides for an updated sound that's drawn them apt comparisons to Loose Fur, with melodic, indie leanings that ultimately leave them filed alongside My Morning Jacket. So Byrds analogies aside, this isn't your dad's psych-country-rock band.

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