What is old is new again

Just like PBR and Bob’s Java Jive, Civita band members are the perfect mix

By Matt Driscoll on November 20, 2008

I’ve got good news, Tacoma.

PBR is back on tap at Bob’s Java Jive.

I found out first hand last Saturday, as bartender Dave happily reported the news to me as I saddled up to the bar for my first drink. If you’re anything like me, you were getting a little tired of Miller High Life, so having a slightly better crappy beer to drink at the Jive is a seriously positive development. I’m told the Jive also has at least one “good” beer on tap, though I’m not much for good beer. What I do know is PBR is back.


Also, if you’re anything like me you were so happy to see PBR back at the Jive that you drank it mightily. Then, for some reason, you decided at 1 a.m. that Jack In the Box curly fries would be a really good idea, and eventually you fell asleep in front of the TV watching the History Channel. Then you woke up at 10 a.m. to watch football, but felt like you were going to hurl until midway through the third quarter.


That is, if you’re anything like me.


If that’s the case, not only is it a little disturbing, but there’s a good chance we probably have more in common than just our love of cheap beer and tendency for acid reflux. We probably like the same music, too, which is why you should pay extra attention to the show this Friday, Nov. 21 at the Jive, featuring Civita, Blackbird Orchestra, Dishwasher Safe and Cutmaster Sammy Swell.


A feminine-fronted hybrid of classic rock pathos, early ’90s flashes and across-the-board musicianship, Civita is a local band that hasn’t been very local lately — playing more in Seattle and even on the East Coast than their original South Sound home. Friday the band returns, hoping to rekindle a spark with fans that haven’t seen them in Tacoma since April — not to mention anyone else that might be interested in having their alt rock whistle tooted. 


“We started here in the South Sound and we’ve got a lot of fans down here. The Java Jive has really been coming into its own, even since we were last there, and from what I understand there are people coming out just because it’s a cool place and seeing what bands show up that night, which is getting rare,” says Civita singer and lyricist Mel Vinn, who describes the band as a collaborative effort between its four members. 


“I wouldn’t say there’s a ringleader so much as there’s someone who might have an idea for the song and pulls the rest of us along until we get the idea and start to shape it,” explains Vinn of the band’s process. “Luckily we all mesh really well musically so there aren’t a lot of snags in the songwriting process once we get on the same page.”


As corny as it might sound to some (maybe even this diehard cynic), according to Vinn, Civita really did start as an experiment of sorts — as the band’s MySpace page suggests — to see what would happen when you combine musicians of varied leanings, from jazz lovers to grunge holdovers.

So far, so good.


“Paul (Mayden, — guitarist) sucked me into it. I had trained classically and done operas and musical theater and he’s going ‘bands are fun!’ He’s our British metal by way of Dave Navarro piece,” says Vinn of Civita’s guitarist and the band’s makeup. “Then we found Robbie (Taboo — bassist) who is the Glam rock/pop piece. Now we have Tim (Armstrong — drummer) who is all about old punk and funk and being experimental. And it flows like water.”


Civita will play Bob’s Java Jive this Friday, Nov 21 along with Dishwasher Safe, Blackbird Orchestra and Cutmaster Sammy Swell. If you needed more reason than crappy beer to reunite with the coffee pot on South Tacoma Way, now you have one. 

[Bob’s Java Jive, Civita, Dishwasher Safe, Blackbird Orchestra, Cutmaster Sammy Swell, Friday, Nov. 21, 8 p.m., $5, 2102 S. Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843]