You are killing local music. When there fails to be an audience for musicians they will stop making their music. It’s not your fault alone, it is all of us. A whole music scene can become watered down, it can basically kill creativity across the board. The watering down can be because of a few reasons; it could be that the bands aren’t really that good, it could be that audiences are unwilling to spend the money to see bands or it could even be that the audiences have no interest in creativity. They last option has a funny side effect; cover bands. If audiences start to follow cover bands instead groups that play original music, it will kill a music scene. Some people would rather hear what they know than anything new. I fear this is what is happening in St. Joseph, Missouri right now.
When a very good band from out of town and can’t even draw enough of a crowd to make them want to play it is a sad thing. It’s a real gamble for an unknown band to travel out of town, they never know what the result is going to be. It is part of the business though, some crowds are going to suck.
When Gas Pump Talent showed up at the Cafe Acoustic on November 26th I’m sure they had reservations about what kind of audience they would have. With no cover charge to get in to see the band there was little reason not to go but still the room was pretty much empty. It was a holiday weekend I’m not really sure what other events were going on in town but the band deserved a better crowd than they got either way.
Marcus Words was set to open the show and delivered his blend of upbeat original songs and covers with enthusiasm which would be tough to do to a crowd of five people (2 from another band on the bill and 1 sound guy included.) Words slipped off his shoes and showed off his skills on the acoustic guitar with a few well selected covers beside his original solo material.
Words most impressive asset is his very good voice. His choice of covers highlighted this like Collective Soul’s “The World I Know” delivered with just enough of a new perspective to both honor the original but still make it interesting. His version of Garth Brooks’ “Callin’ Baton Rouge” showed that the song was a quality track that was well written, something you don’t hear in the “country machine” version on Garth Brooks records. Words would even deliver a small second set of songs just as the headlining act would later.
The raw power-acoustic duo Gas Pump Talent would play next and get a crowd that on occasion would threaten double digits. The band was un-phased by this and still delivered a two sets of their brooding raw songs. The instrumentation was simply one member with an acoustic guitar and the other playing acoustic guitar with a drum and breaking out a harmonica at times. Both would sing, both with very raspy vocals and they would harmonize to create their very unique sound. The vocals were so raspy and rough that they would rival Tom Waits or William Elliott Whitmore.
They would sing mostly original compositions during their time on stage but would mix in a few covers as well from the likes of Social Distortion, Lucero, Mearle Haggard and even Shel Silverstein. Each cover would be delivered in their own flavor, never sounding too much like the original. Some songs didn’t seem like they would fit with the band’s sound at first but after they ran through the song it would make perfect sense why it ended up in their setlist. The prime example of this was “A Boy Named Sue” the song didn’t feel like it fit at first, it is a story song while Gas Pump Talent tended to lean more toward repetition and driving instrumentation to get through their songs. Every word of the hard luck story of the boy named Sue sounded like it rang true as the band delivered it though.
The strength of the band was clearly their original songs. The sound they have created really only would work the way they deliver it, with a raw sound and very good songwriting to back it up. The best of their originals performed had to be “No Place In History” the song really epitomizes what the band is and what their strengths are.If given the opportunity to see them I would recommend it; their sound will catch you off-guard and they will be unlike any other act you will see for quite a while.