Do you know the way to ... Almaden? Not many know about that tiny, once-rural cowtown-now-San Jose-incorporated bedroom community. But Michael Hilde, a.k.a. Mountainhood, can map it out for you.
"I've never, ever played a show where I've told somebody that I'm from Almaden and they'll be like, 'Oh, yeah.' No one has ever heard of it," the affable and intense songwriter swears, sitting on a log in a breezy patch of woods at a sandy edge of the Presidio. "But it's a wild town. When I moved there, it was straight-up country. There were stallion farms and on the edge of my block there was a Harley-Davidson bar. Every Saturday night, guaranteed, you'd see two fat, wet guys just duking it out through the window."
Love of home led Hilde to name his 2007 CD-R on Finland's 267 Laattajaa label after his town, as well as the name of his musical project (he switched to Mountainhood after a dream spent communing with Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic on a star-filled mountain). Home also brought him to City Hall when that biker bar, Feed & Fuel, was about to be torn down. "It's funny because when I went there, right before I was to speak, they were doing this whole bill on whether cops could have the right to bust into illegal immigrants' houses and harass them," Hilde recalls. "And I was, like, 'I can't believe I'm here to, like, talk about saving a bar. There were all these people with translators weeping. So I got up and gave an impromptu speech, and then afterwards, I sat back down, and people were, like, 'You were amazing! What do you do?' I was, like, 'I'm a folk singer,' and they were like, 'Oh, that makes sense. We get it.'<0x2009>"
And folks are starting to get Hilde's brand of cosmic Americana a blend of delicate Banhart-esque rusticity, 1960s-era transcendental instrumentals, and modern-day home-recorded drone experimentalism. After a handful of lower-fi releases, his next two albums, Thunderpaint the Stone Horse Electric and Wings from a Storm, will be put out this summer on 180-gram vinyl, with stickers of Hilde's impressionistic paintings by Time Lag. Yet despite the fact that Hilde has been building a community of sorts with his monthly Story night at the Stork Club each performer adds a bit to a running narrative during their set Hilde seems to cherish his outsider status in the local music scene as he describes one packed Lobot Gallery performance. "I'll never forget their expressions," he says, miming a look of opened-mouth disbelief. "It's stayed that way ever since I started playing here."
July 19, 9 p.m., $5
3187 Mission, SF