A Touch Of The Bay

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

There’s a double bill with a definite San Francisco flavor at Henfling’s Firehouse Tavern in Ben Lomond this coming Wednesday.  Both of the evening’s acts, singer-songwriter Christene LeDoux and acoustic duo Box Set have their musical roots in the City.

Three-time Tucson Folk Festival songwriting finalist Christene LeDoux originally hails from Modesto, but ended up in San Francisco trying to get to Ghana, Africa.  In 1991, she left her home town to go to Washington DC to train for a volunteer job in Ghana.  Unfortunately, her car broke down in Arizona, and the mechanic told her that it was a write-off.  LeDoux stayed in Arizona, working as an aircraft refueler for Grand Canyon Airlines.  Six months later, she set off on a four-year trip around the United States, working at a wide variety of jobs to support herself along the way.  During this time, she also acquired a new interest, playing guitar.

Returning to California in 1997 LeDoux landed in San Francisco, where a friend encouraged her to enroll in a local music school.  There, she met Bill Spooner, formerly of 70s rock band The Tubes, who encouraged her to develop her singing and songwriting talents. In 1998 she wrote her first song, and a friend encouraged her to play it at an open mic night.  That night, LeDoux discovered another new passion, performing and has not looked back since.

This year, Christene LeDoux has released her first full-length CD, entitled “Little Lighthouse.”  When she is not touring, she currently divides her time between Nashville, TN and Austin, TX.

Jim Brunberg and Jeff Pehrson, otherwise known as the Box Set Acoustic Duo, met in 1991 at an open mic night in San Francisco.  Very soon afterwards, they decided to quit their day jobs (as substitute teacher and airport shuttle driver respectively) and hit the road, playing at coffee houses up and down the West Coast.

Spurred by the success of these gigs, Brunberg and Pehrson assembled a five-piece rock band, Box Set, and independently released three critically acclaimed albums. Live, the band appeared as an opening act for Willie Nelson and Huey Lewis among others. In 1994, Billboard magazine named them a “Band to Bank On,” and the National Academy of Songwriters named them “Group of the Year” in 1995.  The band signed to Capricorn / Polygram Records for their 1998 major label debut “Thread,” and a single from that album received national airplay.  Unfortunately, however, the band was dropped from the label when it was absorbed in a corporate merger.

Undeterred, the band went back to its roots of self-promotion, and in 2000 released a double live CD featuring the acoustic duo, and in 2002 another full band album entitled “Lemonade,” the title referring to what a resourceful person makes when life hands him lemons.  The new album shows development and maturity in Brunberg and Pehrson’s songwriting, and Box Set is being hailed as one of the best bands to come out of San Francisco in recent years.  Box Set continues to tour as both a five-piece and a duo, performing at over 300 shows a year.

First published in “411”, The Salinas Californian, July 24, 2003

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