On a cool january night the sounds of spirited folk music carry through the air to be caught by attentive ears… many split by nostalgic smiles. The music is perfectly suited to the warm light, wood surfaces, outdoor plants, and scent of coffee lingering throughout the outdoor patio, and I find myself relaxing into another great open mic night at Shady Coffee and Tea.
“…the sounds of spirited folk music carry through the air to be caught by attentive ears… split by nostalgic smiles…”
The sound is something born from a group of friends and musicians gathered around coffee tables, around campfires, and in household backyards – simply sharing the joy of being together and making music. The music draws upon influences of folk, some bluegrass, but most of all the storytelling of singer-songwriters in the vein of Dylan, Young, and the Grateful Dead. It possesses an intimacy that is carried particularly by the lyrics – sung aptly with gentle voices powered by the strength only honesty can muster – and the great blending of Awkward Lemon is complete. It is the spirit of the jam band, mixed with the honesty and vulnerability of the lone singer songwriter bearing the more difficult struggles of the heart.
At the heart of the band are singer Alyssa Mattson and songwriter Logan Philips (which isn’t to say Alyssa doesn’t have a hand in the songwriting, or that if you listen closely you can’t hear Logan’s voice blending with hers throughout each song.) As a couple they compliment each other perfectly and bring an ease and lightheartedness to what, at times, would otherwise be very heavy and heart-wrenching musings. “..it is the spirit of the jam band, mixed with the honesty and vulnerability of the singer-songwriter…”
Over time they have taken on more musicians to round out their sound – first banjo and mandolin player Westin Harris and most recently Bryan Nichols on upright bass. The group is very active, having been nominated for a Sammie Award within their first year of formation, and they are constantly performing throughout the greater Sacramento area.
I am sure that we can all look forward to their honest and spirited music to be available to us for a great deal into the future, to be enjoyed and reflected upon as they share their stories through song. You may even find, as you stomp your feet at tempo and let the ensemble of stringed instruments lift your spirits, some part of your own story being shared as well.
Shady Coffee Open Mic, January 25th 2013
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