Call it GoingLocal 2.0 - I vacation with family in Fayetteville, N.C. and use Google to snoop on the Winston-Salem scene 100 miles to the northwest.
Now that Mitch Easter's uber-nice assistant tells me he has a show Friday night as part of a film festival organized by his wife, I start to wonder about this wife, what sort of amazing chick Mitch has yoked himself to now.
Pretty amazing, it seems.
Her name is Shalini Chaterjee, and when she isn't honchoing The Revolve Film Festival or playing spouse to an indie rock godfather she is fronting her own band (with Mitch in the background). The band is Shalini, and I am listening to a stream of its entire new record The Surface and The Shine, which was as easy as clicking on an image of the album title on her website.
It's shimmering power pop. Speaking from experience, those who find Shalini because the frontwoman is married to Mitch Easter will have found another band very much to their taste. If I can manage the online transaction before my wife gets caught up on my blog, I'll buy it.
Meanwhile, it's hard not to like Shalini, as she comes across in an interview on the Lost in the Grooves site. Father Indian (hence, "Chatterjee"); early childhood in Edinburgh, Scotland; then to Los Angeles and Davis, California, where she was a teen disciple (I didn't say "groupie") of the likes of Game Theory and Camper Van Beethoven; then to Madison, W.I., yet another great rock band town, where she played Phlegm Fatale in a band with a joke quotient.
"I wanted to be in The Pixies, playing rock music, not some frat band with accordions," she said, which certainly resonates with this rocker-at-heart who spent a few years on the road in a joke band with an accordion!
Shalini ended up in San Francisco in a relationship (but not band! no more girlfriends in the band, he said!) with Scott Miller, lead dude in Game Theory and then The Loud Family. Started a band; started a label; got distribution; got out of the thing with Scott Miller; got into the thing with Mitch Easter (major-minor league indie rocker boyfriend swap there, Shalini!); moved to Winston-Salem and what sure sounds like an enviable and interesting niche - provided, of course, that it is pleasant to spend your life with Mitch Easter, which is none of our business, either way.
Shalini is a straight talker. Check this out on gender and the art of choosing bandmates: "The girls are flakey and/or psycho, the ones I've ever worked with, except a couple in all these years. They don't work on their musicianship and are not generally reliable."
Or this, on not getting record deals as a female frontwoman in the mid-'90s: "Sadly, they wanted another Courtney Love. There is probably no one less like me on earth than her! I couldn't pretend to be an aggressive drug addict."
I'm hooked. Hopefully, I'll meet her and her husband Friday night or Saturday morning up in Winston-Salem. Lord knows, we would have a lot to talk about: all those proto-indie-rock memories, that movie I have to pitch to her film festival, and, of course, the accordion memories.
Sexy picture of Shalini is one of many from the photo page on her website. Mitch Easter fans will want to see our man in faux chain mail, evidently hacking his way through some Halloween gig.