Taylor Locke & The Roughs @ Muddy Waters ~ Jan. 16, 2011

Small, intimate, coffee house shows can go either way: be a waste of time or be enlightening. Tonight's show, brought to Muddy Waters Coffee House by local New Noise Santa Barbara, was the latter.

Although three separate acts, the artists supported each other throughout each set. The opener was a young woman from Maine on her first tour, and her first stop through Santa Barbara. Playing solo on the keyboards, a young fresh faced Lindsey Ray sang melodic love lost songs in an angelic voice. During a very cheery ditty, Lindsey admitted that she wrote the song as a commercial jingle - any commercial - and that song is now in a yogurt commercial. Yay.

Bleu (not a misspelling) followed in an eclectic set utilizing vocal loops, accordion melodies, and various vocal effects. His experimental songs ranged in style from indie pop rock to electric jam rock. Starting off his set with "No Such Thing As Love", with heavy emphasis on a choir pitch vocal loop and accordion melodies, he flowed into "Everything is Fine," a high energy pop song co-writtened by power pop songwriter Roger Joseph Manning Jr of Jellyfish fame. Bleu then went into a 6 minute homage to ELO, and ended with a Springsteen-esk guitar rock number with members of The Roughs giving heavy guitar and bass support.

The headliner was Taylor Locke and the Roughs, a rock band featuring Taylor Locke from Rooney. Their set consisted of guitar heavy rock songs with catchy riffs and easy melodies, infused with keyboards reminiscent of classic rock. I had a very Malkovich moment when they played "Jenny," an upbeat rock ballad (think Journey), soon followed by "Jennifer," a sexy bluesy jam (think ZZ Top). They ended with what Locke referred to as a "sweep," segueing the last three songs complete with the classic guitar feedback finish. (Did I mention guitar?)

Well done.