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Richard March and Tyler Ragle to perform CD-release concert

Local Americana musicians Richard March and Tyler Ragle are not afraid to get political.

Their new song "Gold Star Café" includes a café conversation about politics, praises for President Obama and criticism of the public for not being involved enough in politics.

"Thank God this young man got the vote/But he alone won’t save this boat/Gonna take ‘all hands’ to get her right/So we can sleep at night," March writes.

Saturday at Javalounge, the local country-influenced folk duo will play a CD-release concert for their five-song EP Kings and Thieves, their first release as a duo. Davis-based singer-songwriter Nat Lefkoff will open the show.

March lived in the Bay Area until age 30, when he moved to Nashville to pursue a music career.

After only two months there, he came back to California and settled in Sacramento because his wife was from here, he said. Currently living in West Sacramento, March spent time recently as a substitute teacher and still commutes to the Bay Area every weekend to play music in church.

Ragle grew up in Roseville and worked Skip’s Music in Sacramento for five years before becoming a school aid helping autistic children in Orangevale. He has played in several "serious" local bands over the years, which he defined as bands that have played many live shows.

March, on the other hand, has a Bachelor of Arts in Popular Styles from San Francisco State, and hasn’t stopped writing songs since he was 18. In 2007, he won a SAMMIE award for best male vocalist.

About a decade ago, March and Ragle met at an open mic night at Old Ironsides, where March asked audience members to name the artist he was covering. Ragle, a self-described music trivia fan and snob, shouted "Springsteen!" and March gave him a free CD as a reward.

The two have been playing music together ever since.

March has four albums, two with Ragle playing bass, but Kings marks the first time the duo have released a collection of songs they wrote together.

With harmonica, guitar, vocals and an occasional piano, Kings has a touch of Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and the Eagles. The duo’s chemistry is apparent on the album and they complete each others’ sentences over coffee like an old married couple.

Writing political songs is difficult, said Ragle, 31, in part because certainly the pair are not foreign policy or politics experts. But opinions tend to be best expressed through song, he said.

"There are a couple of songs that people walk away from (when played live)," March said.

"We’ve had a good reaction to ‘Gold Star Café’ so far, but it will be interesting how that reaction will change in a year or two," Ragle added.

They both agreed some of their favorite moments in music included opening for folk music legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and playing Concerts in the Park with Jackie Greene.

In addition to recording another full album, March said he is ready to hit the road and start some serious touring.

"I’ve never been one to throw caution to the wind," he said. "I’m a square-ass suburban white boy that’s fairly comfortable. But at the ripe age of 40, I’m starting to try and tour, travel and focus on (music) full time."

The show begins at 8 p.m. and will cost $5. CDs will be available for $5. Javalounge is located at 2416 16th Street.

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Jonathan Mendick

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