"I was just trying to reach out toward the things that are meaningful to me, things that make sense, things that fill some yearning for something that seems missing in the culture around me," she said.
Previous musical revivals, such as the rockabilly resurgence of the 1980s, played out largely to a niche audience, but there are signs that this behind-the-curve movement may have a broader reach, even though none of these acts have yet had a major breakthrough with any of their independent recordings.
Leftover Cuties, a quartet based around the vintage cabaret-style vocals and ukulele-strumming of singer Shirli McAllen, had its gently swinging "Game Called Life" chosen as the theme for the Showtime series "The Big C." Another of its tracks, the peppy, Charleston-ready "Smile Big," was featured prominently in a Samsung commercial that aired during coverage of this year's Olympic Games.
"With all this technology that's going on, almost everybody can go into their garage and make an electronic track and use fake drums without ever getting together," said McAllen. "This is a different thing, and I think people are touched by it."
British rocker-turned-pop music historian Ian Whitcomb, a staunch practitioner of earlier musical styles for nearly half a century, has been watching the lively throwback music scene with great satisfaction. The 71-year-old singer, bandleader, uke enthusiast and long-ago L.A. transplant finds the new class of roots musicians "inspiring."
"I don't think they're in it for the money," he said. "They are really dedicated to the music. They're not in it to be rock stars."
"It's so alive," said Jeffrey Moran, the Captain Jeff of the Musical Chumbuckets, whose membership overlaps with Vaud and the Villains and the Dustbowl Revival. "It's so feel-good. People have told us they could be having the worst day, but seeing us play and perform, their day changes.
"People are trying to get over their worries," he said. "That's the main goal for us: to make them smile, make them forget for a little while that they have troubles. That's why we love the music. That's what it does for us."