It hasn’t been a very good decade for the mandolin. Despite the best efforts of R.E.M., the instrument remains confined to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival ghetto, forced by jam-tyrant David Grisman to hash out one 20-minute version of “Rocky Top” after another. San Francisco’s Citay may represent the best and last hope for the mandolin. On its sophomore record, Little Kingdom, the band plays minimalist folk-rock, creating a gentle wall of sound that harmoniously pairs Philip Glass with Buffalo Springfield. In band leader Ezra Feinberg’s able hands, the mandolin is not the tool of the slightly stoned soloist but merely one more chiming tone in Citay’s metered ebb and flow. If only Citay could reach down from above and reclaim the bull-fiddle, the autoharp, and the banjo as well.
Citay performs at 9:30 p.m. at the Red and the Black, 1212 H St. NE. $8. (202) 399-3201.