The Music Man

(page 6 of 6)

Asked whether Peacock misses the down-home Nashville food when he’s in Yuba City and Sacramento, he laughs and answers with a simple “no.” He says it’s quite the contrary, and always has been. “In the earliest days of living in Nashville, we’d miss the simple things like prosciutto from Corti Brothers, things that we couldn’t get. Like, where’s the prosciutto? We still miss that. One of our very, very close friends, Kathi Riley Smith, she’s a chef and consultant [in Sacramento] and part of the whole new cuisine movement that started at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. We actually hire her to come to Nashville and cook for events for us so we can bring a little of the West out there.”

Wife Andi describes the first time they flew back to Sacra-mento after purchasing the new Yuba home: “I remember looking out the window of the plane as we approached the airport, really noticing the beautiful patchwork quilt and colors of the farmlands, and feeling the comfort of familiarity. There’s always a sweetness as we drive from the airport to Yuba City, seeing the Buttes and the Sierra Nevadas in the distance and acclimating to our homeland once again.”

Asked what else he’s missed about Sacramento, Peacock transforms into the Chamber of Commerce: “I’ve missed the Nimbus Fish Hatchery on the American. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with trout, steelhead and salmon. The fish leave home to explore an ocean of possibilities and then return home to where they began. Weatherstone was our main coffee shop. It’s a little more gentrified now. I just went there with local promoter Jerry Perry and the coffee is still great. The Crocker is a milestone place for me. I played events there, but most impor- tantly I experienced Stephen Kaltenbach’s remarkable painting Portrait of My Father there. His painting has life-altering power.”

He goes on to list poets, artists, musicians and, being a musician himself, eventually winds his way to Mecca. “The thing I miss most about Sacramento isn’t around anymore, and that’s Tower. When I was a young musician the goal was to get your record in Tower—that’s how much cultural sway Russ Solomon and his team had. It had the power to shape you. Tower was our library, our Google,” he says. “When UC Davis asked if I wanted to open for a baby band from Ireland called U2, I went to Tower to see who they were. When I got curious about reading the Bible, I went to Tower Books and bought one. I remember the album I did for Island Records in 1986. It was a big deal for me to walk into a Tower and have an entire endcap display, and have [the promotional displays] hanging from the ceiling.”

To come back to Sacramento, for Peacock, is to try to reconnect with that origin story, to come full circle. “You have that arrogant youth position. ‘I gotta go someplace [else] because I need a bigger place for my big ego,’ ” he says. “Then, as you mature and see the world a little bit differently, you start to appreciate [where you’re from], and you want to contribute to that story. The history of Sacramento and outlying areas like Yuba City is an extraordinary one. It’s as if you have the whole of the United States rushing towards the West and funneling down to meet at this confluence of rivers which are eventually going to lead you to San Francisco and out into the oceans of the world. I love being a part of that. I respect that now, and I love it.”

This is why making a home in Yuba City is important to Peacock: He is returning home to find himself, just as he once left home to find himself. “You’re only as good a citizen as you are a keeper of the stories,” he says. “If you want to maximize what it means to live in Sacramento or Yuba City or wherever, you gotta make an effort to learn the stories, because the stories inform your life, and shape you, make you one kind of person in the world and not another, and also help you find your place in the story.”

Attwater is the first but not the last new act he hopes to work with here. And he has other ideas for ways to contribute to Sacramento’s music scene, including adopting the famous “guitar circles” or “guitar pulls” that made the Bluebird Cafe a Nashville institution. “You look for these binding agents, like they have some magnetism, they attract, and they hold together,” he says of the way simple communal activities can have a deep and lasting influence, “and one of the things that worked like that in Nashville is this thing called ‘in the round’: four singer-songwriters, and you sit in a round and you literally go around three or four times and you each share a song.” And Peacock intends on being among those playing.

He has a wish list of Sacramento musicians to work with, in the round or under other circumstances, some as a reunion, some for the first time: “I have to perform with [local ’80s Top 40 artists] Brent Bourgeois and Larry Tagg, [local jazz great] Henry Robinett, and [Tower of Power’s] Roger Smith again at the very least, but would love to work with, among others, Vince Di Fiore,” he says of the trumpet player with the band Cake. He jokes about flying in one of his electric keyboards so he can jam with jazz saxophonist Tony Passarell.

For the immediate future, though, his focus in Sacramento is Attwater, the decidedly mainstream country band he met online and whom he now wants to put down serious roots right here and then build a national audience: “I’m definitely putting a lot into Attwater. I want Sacramento to embrace Attwater and send them out. There’s an old Jewish saying, ‘Seek the [peace and] prosperity of the city … and you yourself will prosper.’ It’s from the Book of Jeremiah. I really like that, and I believe it,” he says. “If you want to live in a better city, then be a part of the process of encouraging and making people value the city.”