Magoon’s is the perfect place for under-appreciated acts to play. It’s an old bar in the old part of town, surrounded by desolate lots and darkness during nights. The warm neon glow of beer signs were especially inviting on this cold, snow covered Thursday night.
Inside was a small group of seemingly regulars to the bar while the band The Woodpile was finishing setting up their equipment. The Woodpile is a four piece band consisting of a one-two punch of father and son Mike and Matthew Coman each playing guitar and singing songs. They are flanked by bass player, Rick Allen, and backed by a cajon drummer, the mother of the family; Rhonda Coman, to keep the rhythm (you know the one shaped like a box you sit on and play). They play a mix of covers and originals written by the two Coman men.
The interior of Magoon’s Famous Delicatessen is decked out with restaurant-style booths and tables. The walls are covered in endless beer bottles and liquor bottles. It is a cozy bar with friendly characters scattered throughout it. One person broke out his ugly Christmas sweater early to not so much match his Grateful Dead t-shirt underneath An older gentleman talked of his affinity for left-handed cigarettes and was the most social bird of the night while challenging patrons to play pool. The crack of pool balls will almost inevitably accompany any evening as it would this one. The focus was the music however.
The band played two sets with the first starting with a raucous cover of Bob Dylan’s “Outlaw Blues” that proved to be the thrill of the night for me. The would dip into the Dylan catalog again after a few more minutes by playing a beautifully simple run-through of “If Not For You.” The group would also play a couple Beatles songs after asking the rhetorical question “Who likes the Beatles?” The answer was everybody in the bar; and mostly everybody not in the bar too with the notable exception of Brian Myers as was pointed out on stage. Instead of picking off the easy meat on the Beatles songbook by playing something like “Come Together” that a thousand bands cover; they would dig deeper and play “I’m Looking Through You” and a very bluesy version “Get Back.”
The band would not slouch on original songs either. Matthew would tackle several originals like the gentle “Will You Be Mine” and catchy “The Last Setting Sun” from his upcoming ambitious record No Other Animal. The older Coman, Mike, would also display some good songwriting skills on the night, particularly on a tune about cigarettes and beer called “Please No Please.” The band was good, really good; their spot on the ground level stage in the window of Magoon’s would go unappreciated by the masses on this night as displayed by the roughly $8 in the tip bucket. They deserved better but you’d never know it by watching them, they made a great soundtrack to a cold weekday evening.