Bill Gottshall brings his “Story Songs” format to The Underground for a second time, on Friday, September 14th. The Classic Rock and Folk Rock tunes he’s selected all have one thing in common: their lyrics tell a narrative story which transports the listener to another time and place. Like a good novel, each “story song” develops its main character over the course of the lyric. The listener senses the change in the storyteller as his/her tale unfolds.
Gottshall (keyboard & vocal) is joined by his lifelong friend, Doug Slemmer (sax & vocal), longtime musical collaborator, Jay Dugan (guitar & vocal), frequent Underground performer Rob Cochran (bass), and—all the way from Woodstock, NY—veteran tour drummer Dan Hickey.
Hickey (drums) just completed a tour with Marshall Crenshaw, the first stop being an appearance on the Main Stage at Bethlehem’s Musikfest. Hickey’s resumé reads like a Who’s Who of Rock. He has toured with Cyndi Lauper, Joe Jackson, the B-52s, and the late Joe Cocker. For seven years, Dan played as a member of They Might Be Giants, a band renowned by critics for decades, whose “Boss of Me” was the theme song for Fox TV network’s “Malcolm in the Middle.” Rob Cochran (bass) has made several appearances at The Underground, with RGM Project and, most recently, with the Tommy Campbell Jazz Quintet. He has backed dozens of name performers, including Bobby Caldwell, Margaret Whiting, The Lettermen, Bobby Womack and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Both Doug Slemmer and Jay Dugan have worked with Bill Gottshall many times over the years, but their appearance as part of “Story Songs” is the first time they’ve all worked together on the same project.
While the “story songs” the band will be performing generally fall under the categories of Classic Rock and Folk Rock, they cover a broad range of styles, from the jazz-blues-rock fusion of Steely Dan’s “My Old School” to Otis Redding’s soulful “Dock of the Bay” to the folk-country classic “City of New Orleans.” Keyboardist Gottshall observes that “when bands prepare their set lists, they often ignore ‘story songs,’ because they tend to be slower tempo tunes. When a band plays in a bar, they’re expected to pump things up, to make people want to get on their feet and dance. But emotionally powerful and evocative music so often demands that you sit still and really listen, that you pay attention to the lyrics. The songs that make me think, the ones that draw me into someone’s life journey, those are the songs I love the most. And The Underground is a perfect venue for listening, for really paying attention to a song.”