Headline: Sholi comes home on eve of Iron and Wine tour
Layercake: Band to play at Old Firehouse on Saturday night
By Chris Rue
Aggie Arts Writer
For just about anyone, homecomings can be a tricky thing. On one hand, there are the prodigal sons who are welcomed back with open arms. And then there are the Jesus types, who don’t get much love in their hometowns at all.
It’s up to Davis music fans to make the members of Sholi, all UC Davis alumni, feel right at home when they play at the Old Firehouse this Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door.
The band’s journey began when guitarist and songwriter Payam Bavafa started playing with drummer Jonathan Bafus when they were undergraduates. According to Bavafa, living on Second Street among other musicians was a creative influence for him.
“I think just having so many inspiring people around constantly creating and appreciating what everyone else was doing … was the driving inspiration,” he said in an e-mail interview.
Along with Davis bands like The Zim-Zims, Legubitron and Choadbot, another influence to Sholi’s start were the “incredible courses and professors” at UC Davis.
Technocultural studies professor Bob Ostertag remembers Bafus as “an extraordinarily gifted musician, both as a percussionist and composer.”
Now, with bassist Eric Ruud, the experimental rock trio is on the verge of making it big.
A day after their show in Davis, they will open for Iron and Wine for several shows on the West Coast. Fellow musician Garrett Pierce, who will be playing with Sholi on Saturday, believes the tour will draw a lot of attention to the trio.
“They are probably going to be the biggest thing out of Davis, up there with DJ Shadow,” Pierce said. “It’s great to see Sholi play for $5 the night before they play a sold out show in San Francisco.”
Along with the upcoming tour, Sholi’s newly released 7″, “Hejrat”, has garnered much attention. The band’s cover of Iranian pop legend Googoosh’s song appears on The Believer magazine’s music compilation along with artists like the Animal Collective and Gang Gang Dance.
For Iranian-American Bavafa, the choice to cover Googoosh was motivated by a personal and cultural calling.
“Thinking about how powerful this inherently nostalgic music must have been to my mother and other Iranians struck a particularly strong chord in me,” he said in an interview with Pars Arts, a publication that focuses on Iranian culture.
Their cover of “Hejrat”, which literally translates to migration, is meant to invoke themes of place and identity. Originally about a departed lover, “Hejrat” was a popular song in Iran before the 1979 Islamic revolution which banned pop music.
“I wanted to turn people on to an unfamiliar artist and story through the beacon of something that might have been familiar to them,” Bavafa said.
Also on their release is “The Sprout and the Bean,” a Joanna Newsom cover that serves as a fanciful counterpoint to “Hejrat”. While the Googoosh remake invokes memories of a physical displacement, “The Sprout and The Bean” is more of an escape into an imaginary world created by Newsom’s whimsical lyrics.
Whether physical or metaphorical, the journey that Sholi describes has brought them back to Davis for something of a homecoming.
“This show is a dedication to where we started … to reflect on where we came from,” Pierce said.
UC Davis cellular and development biology graduate student Amir Moarefi has seen Sholi play at several venues in Davis, but he is particularly interested in their new material this time around.
“It’s awesome in a sense that they chose a very well respected song and did an excellent job with it,” Moarefi said. “I am especially excited to hear their cover of ‘”Hejrat”.'”
With their upcoming tour and a new tour EP titled Dreams Before People coming out soon, Sholi has their hands full. But for Bavafa, he’s just glad to be back.
“There’s no place like home,” he said.
CHRIS RUE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.XXX