Local artists get personal with new musical releases

Local artists get personal with new musical releases

Local artists get personal with new musical releases
Chika Di worked with Flor de Toloache for the “Bendito” release.

Dave Hughes The Beat of Diablo bannerCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Feb. 16, 2024) — For various reasons, some artists prefer to release their work one song at a time. This month, I want to bring to your attention a half dozen recent singles from Contra Costa County.

I hope you’ll find the time to listen to the songs that sound compelling to you, and that you then explore other offerings from these local musicians.

“Bendito” by Chika Di (Concord). Back in 2020, when people pretty much consumed music performances via livestream, the Concord Couch Concerts audience learned about Chika Di. With an acoustic guitar on her lap, the Colombian singer debuted “Bendito,” prefacing the solo performance with “One of the things that I did during this quarantine was learn to play the guitar, so … I made this song … I hope you like it.” Four years later, Chika Di teamed up with the all-women mariachi group Flor de Toloache to release “Bendito” as a richly produced dance song that merges traditional Cumbia music with contemporary Latin pop.

“Stig & Marion” by Daniel Ray Hilsinger (Orinda). As I’ve written before, Daniel Ray Hilsinger started playing guitar, singing and writing music cathartically after learning of his bone cancer diagnosis. Last year, he began to share his music with the world, releasing the albums “Everlasting” and “Hurt” and a couple singles, all of which were self-produced. This year, he’s releasing some professionally recorded original music – beginning with the single “Stig and Marion,” the names of his mother’s parents. Recorded in Nashville, “Stig and Marion” is a slower tune that starts out with mellow acoustic guitar and accent piano. It soon blossoms into a full band, complete with a weepy pedal steel, a tickling mandolin and professional back-up singers. It’s really a treat to hear Hilsinger’s original music delivered with top tier production.

“violet” by bell (Pleasant Hill). Ahead of her debut EP “violet” due out Feb. 20, the pianist and singer bell recently released the title track as a single. Like earlier singles, “violet” is another somewhat quiet ballad that showcases the singer’s rich yet gentle voice, delivered intimately over a familiar chord progression. The lyrics sound as if they’re right out of an introspective journal entry, pondering existence and wondering if anyone even notices her.

“Valentine” by So Cal Jack (Pleasant Hill). Originally hailing from Southern California (hence the name), So Cal Jack is back with another holiday-adjacent original. His single “Valentine,” which dropped earlier this month, is a sweet song that fits nicely into his catalog of folky foot-tappers. You can often see the one-man band performing at local open mics, singing, strumming and even stomping along as he creates the beat on his “backpack drum.”

“6’s and 7’s” by Mid-Course Correction (Martinez). Over the last year, some folks closer to the underground music scene may have caught a live performance by Mid-Course Correction, a somewhat recently formed indie rock band. They’re just now beginning to release original tunes, starting with their debut single “6’s and 7’s.” It’s an angsty song that well represents the tight trio’s overall sound, which, in my opinion, is reminiscent of early Modest Mouse. Mid-Course Correction plays with a lot of passion, and that comes through on this first studio recording.

“Impatient” by lele (Antioch). The artist lele put herself on the map by releasing her debut single “Impatient.” It’s a downtempo R&B tune, built around a guitar loop, some jazzy chords played on a Rhodes and some descending vocal melodies. There’s a contemplative feel in between verses as the meditative loop persists, with atmospheric help from some ghosty ohs and ahs harmonizing in the background.

Find links to these songs and more current releases from local artists at ConcordRockCity.com.

Contact Dave Hughes at MrDaveHughes@gmail.com.

Dave Hughes
Dave Hughes

Dave Hughes is a local music advocate with an extensive network of independent artists. He produces and hosts a local music program on KVHS called The Beat of Diablo, every Sunday at 7:00 PM on 90.5 FM. Dave also catalogs local music releases at ConcordRockCity.com.