One of the toughest hurdles any local musician can face is balancing a day job with music. Melonnee Desiree, however, has finally reached a point in her life in which she can focus on music full time. She retired from the state a few years ago and now performs regularly with her band Melonnee Desiree & Cauzin’ A Ruckus. Part of her career with the state was working for the California Arts Council, which allowed her to help other musicians. This past week she met with me at McKinley Park to do a series of video interviews for SacTV.com.
I found out about Melonnee’s original organic blues sound from a post by musician friend Ken Koenig on Facebook. Melonnee had recently run into Ken for the first time in a long time at a club in Roseville. It’s interesting how one thing leads to another. I liked the music I heard because it stood out as very authentic sounding blues with a unique personality. I was also impressed that Melonnee sang and played bass at the same time at her shows. It’s rare to see anyone sing lead while playing bass. It’s always refreshing to find unique twists to local music, which is exactly what I look to cover on SacTV.
When I met Melonnee at McKinley Park on Thursday, September 26, we talked about growing up in Sacramento and I was surprised to learn we went to the same high school, Rio Americano, which this past week celebrated its 50th birthday. We both attended Rio in the 1970s when it was still a fairly new high school. She took a lot of music classes and played in bands in her teen years. Back then Sacramento had a very vibrant music scene where there were many more venues to play than today and much better opportunities to make a living at being in a local band.
Despite how much the local music scene has been hindered by less places to play that pay about the same money as a few decades ago, Melonnee says she enjoys the present better than any other time in her life because of the uplifting feeling she gets from connecting with crowds. She enjoys seeing crowds dance to her upbeat blues that has a fun party spirit. Her band plays mostly in Grass Valley but also plays in the Sacramento area. They’ve got a pretty solid schedule of bookings through January. Two of their bookings are at Johnny’s Club 53 in Carmichael on October 11 and November 8.
Melonnee has released six albums in her music career, the latest of which from 2010 is called Cauzin’ A Ruckus. The album features all original songs, some of which tell humorous stories. It’s a very fresh approach to the blues and it definitely has an energetic melodic quality with a heavy emphasis on rhythm. Other band members on the CD include Rick Cartright, Mike Arndt, Dorothy Sills and Tommy Rizzi. Melonnee believes that music has the power to unite and heal people, which is what makes playing live worthwhile.