Singer and songwriter Charlie Davenport, 23, was largely unaware of the North Bay’s independent music scene until he saw a few local bands like the Crux at a backyard party in high school. That’s when his descent into the rabbit hole of local DIY rock and roll began.
“That kept me here,” says the Santa Rosa resident. “There’s always been a sweet, supportive community of people making pretty high-quality music [in the North Bay].” After high school, Davenport briefly considered moving out of state. He lived in Santa Cruz for a year, but was drawn back to Santa Rosa by a close-knit group of friends and musicians.
For the last five years, Davenport has been the guiding voice of the acoustic power-pop band Rags. Well known in the underground house-show scene, the group has grown from a solo outfit to a four-piece band playing melodic, heartstring-tugging indie jams. Those jams will be on display this week when Rags headline a show at 775 After Dark in Sebastopol. Performing with Rags is an impressive lineup of like-minded DIY bands. San Francisco acts Foxtails and Owl Paws bring their ethereal pop, and Santa Rosa trio Snake Walk open the show.
Rags have not only evolved in size, but in sound as well. Davenport says he likes to tinker with his material to keep it from getting stale. “We’re really into reworking the songs,” he says. “Every few months, we go through a process of doing a lot of surgery on them.”
Up until now, the only way to hear these constantly updated tunes was to see the band live. This fall, Rags will debut their first full-length album, Grounding, which features Davenport’s songs backed by bassist Travis Hendrix, drummer Zak Garn and cellist Jiordi Rosales.
The music on Grounding is exceptionally groovy for an acoustic rock band. Davenport and drummer Zak Garn have spent almost 10 years working together, and their rhythms are deeply in-sync. Angular beats and riffs keep it interesting, while Davenport’s emotional lyrics add to the atmosphere and the cello “sings” along, creating an immersive listening experience.
After this week’s performance, Rags take a break from local shows to focus on producing Grounding and readying it for release in three months. The album is being funded with a Kickstarter campaign, which can be found at ragstheband.com.
Rags headline on Thursday, July 23,
at 775 After Dark (Aubergine),
775 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol. 7:30pm. $5–$10.