Bart Davenport

Pub date September 16, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW "I’ve never been into rowdy shit, you know. I’ve always been a softie."

Secure is the man who will own up to his inner — and aural — gentleness. But Bart Davenport is like that: a lover not a fighter, even as he talks about Egbert Souse’s, the W.C. Fields–themed bar in Oakland that he lives above. That "semi-rowdy" nightspot poses no danger to the East Bay–born-and-bred singer-songwriter: he prefers the sweet stuff to the hardcore — or to sour grapes. Lend an ear to the refreshing-as-iced-tea, silky delights of his new, fourth solo CD, Palaces (Antenna Farm), Davenport’s bid to give his ravenous listeners what they want. "Now you have MySpace, and you have a way for people from all over the world to ask you, ‘Where’s the new record?’<0x2009>" says Davenport, who of late rarely played solo and mainly focused on singing with Honeycut. "I thought I better make another one for these people or they’ll go away!"

Palaces will provide fans of the ex-Kinetics and Loved Ones frontman with the pure hit of pristine pop pleasure they’ve been hankering for. In pursuit of the earnest, 1960s- and ’70s-era AM-radio soft-rock pleasures of "Jon Jon" and "A Young One," Davenport enlisted the help of friends like Honeycut’s Tony Sevener and Hervé Salters, Persephone’s Bees’ Angelina Moysov, and Kelley Stoltz and Kevin Ink. The latter two worked on Ink’s 24-track, 2-inch tape machine, which Herbie Hancock’s "Rockit" was said to have been recorded on, and brought in a glockenspiel, which Stoltz purchased for the project. "Stoltzisms crept their way onto the songs," Davenport says, "and it was a welcome thing." The resulting Palaces finds the self-described "acoustic guitar–slinging troubadour" sounding perfectly comfy in his own skin, so hurl as many softie or soft-rock accusations as you wish. "I’ve never had a personal agenda to bring back soft rock," Davenport muses. "If it’s vilified by people who don’t like it, that just makes it cooler for me and the people who do. Really, who wants to be hip?"

BART DAVENPORT With Sugar and Gold, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, and Oakland Soft Rock Choir. Fri/19, 9:30 p.m., $12. Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016,