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Carly DuHain refers to herself as an underground musician.
No representation, no management, just a singer songwriter trying to make it in Sacramento on her own volition.
Aiming to be successful in a town loaded with musicians and bands, DuHain has her own approach. “I do the opposite of everyone else,” she says. “I don’t really follow self-promotion trends.”
She outlines everything a musician needs to do to be known, working every local media angle, playing every venue, never stopping. “I’d just rather take my time and do it organically.”
While her gut-instinct style rarely leads her to play the same venue back-to-back, DuHain has two upcoming shows at the Fox & Goose. Saturday, Sept. 17, she will play with the Carly DuHain Band followed by Honyock and the Isaac Howl. On Oct. 7 she will sing with Be Brave Bold Robot.
“I love that venue,” she says of the Fox & Goose and has played there countless times since starting out at open-mike night nearly 10 years ago.
As a musician who wrote her first song at age 5 and taught herself chords on her dad’s classical guitar at 12, DuHain has been performing since she was 18. She plays coffee houses, bars and small venues throughout California, Washington and Oregon, making extra cash selling CDs. A stint on the East Coast gave her the chance to play in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
At 29, DuHain has developed a style combining strength and vulnerability in equal measures. She says she plays original music that “evokes intense emotions through the most basic words possible.”
DuHain translates emotion through a knack for songwriting and a knockout voice that mixes whiskey, smoke and heartbreak while never letting go of the delicacy of love and desire.
It’s a voice that holds it’s own in a crowded rowdy venue like the Bicycle Kitchen on Second Saturday.
DuHain thinks a sense of urgency is essential in her work. “If there’s no sense of urgency, then it’s just small talk and small change.”
Self described as “raw and down to earth,” she projects humanity and packs a sound that inspired an online reviewer to proclaim her “not your average female artist. She’s got a bite, a beer and a good story.”
“I’m a little rough around the edges,” DuHain says. “I love to raise a pint glass. I love delicious whiskey. I can be vulgar and talk like a sailor.”
In a town where being a musician can seem a like a “popularity contest,” DuHain pulls no punches. She is herself.
“I think it’s good to hear someone be raw and honest,” she says. “People can identify with that; it can be a relief.”
DuHain’s dream is to play larger festivals and ultimately be able to work full-time as a musician. She hopes to play the South by Southwest festival in Austin next year. For now, she works during the day as a dog groomer and savors Sacramento’s music scene, finding time to sing backup in the Be Brave Bold Robot in addition to her own performances.
She is at work on her second CD, a follow-up to the 2009 “Rainstation.” Recording in the Sacramento studio of fellow musician Justin Farren, DuHain says she can envision exactly how she wants the music to sound. She recorded the scratch track for her new 12-song CD in an hour.
“Efficiency is important when you’re doing something seriously.”
She describes the scratch track as the “blueprint” for the recording, which will feature her full band: Catie Turner on Viola, Jessica Williams on piano, Tony Ledesma on drums and Richard Williams on bass, trumpet and ukulele.
It’s the same band you can catch at Fox & Goose Saturday night.
“I’ve wanted a rock band since I could breathe,” DuHain says. “These musicians are incredibly smart and talented. I feel like they can read my mind.”