Just when I had started to take my weekly music fix at Macon’s great indie bookstore for granted, the music stopped. Not permanently, thankfully, but enough to make Tuesday nights in Macon seem especially quiet. The man behind the music — a great musician and sound engineer himself, Clark Bush — had to take a hiatus from booking shows to attend to pressing family matters.
It’s a little scary to think that our music scene is so dependent on a few dedicated people to keep things moving, but it’s also an important reminder not to take those people — or anything — for granted.
For that reason, last Tuesday’s show came as a surprise to me. I would have missed it if it wasn’t for the event listing on my Facebook page, and I’m really glad that I didn’t. I had never heard of either The Woolly Moon — a one man band featuring Baltimore-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Zach Mazzola — or Assateague — a duo featuring San Franciscans Wiley Laufman and Danny Gotimer — but by the end of their quietly assured show, I was a fan.
Zach Mazzola, aka The Woolly Moon, opened with a set of covers and originals. Sitting at the edge of the room’s tiny stage, Mazzola encouraged his audience to sing along before easing into “I Gotta Feeling,” the ubiquitous chart-topper from The Black Eyed Peas. Stripped of auto-tune effect, and delivered in an ethereal baritone, the song’s catchy refrain — “tonight’s gonna be a good night” — had a detached, meditative quality.
I wasn’t sure what to make of Mazzola’s vocal delivery at first — the singer forgoes vocal effects and even recognizable pitches in favor of a resonant monotone — but by the second song, the effect he was going for became clear. Detaching words from their intended pitches, Mazzola added a layer of abstraction to a piece while also shining a new light on the evocative lyrics. This recording of his song Angry At The Sun, is a good example of his technique. Definitely not something everyone would enjoy, but to my ears, it added a singular element that made the performance memorable.
Assateague — a band named after the barrier island that runs along the coast of Maryland and Virginia — was also transfixing, but for entirely different reasons. Lead singer and guitarist Danny Gotimer’s cooly delivered vocals and lulling instrumental lines were foiled throughout the set by the electric bass and occasional slide guitar lines of Wiley Laufman, which added the perfect amount of funk and Americana grit to the duo’s placid songs.
This track, Old Song, from their newly pressed recording Good Morning Blues really captures the breadth of duos’s sound. I really enjoyed their set, and the album sounds great. My only regret is that I didn’t pick up one of their hand-silk screened LPs at the show. What was I thinking?!