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Gang of Songwriters Tour

(Matthew Ryan, David Mead, Michelle Malone, Thad Cockrell)

Schubas, Chicago, IL

November 17, 2006


The first impression you usually get from an artist is from their recorded music. When it comes to these four Nashville-based musicians, you'd expect a rather somber evening of music. That assumption couldn't be further from the truth.



The musicians took the stage together in-the-round style. David Mead kicked the evening off with his ukulele, which he played most of the evening. Mead has a very unique, falsetto voice that sounds cheery even when he is actually singing deep, sometimes depressing lyrics. Mead's songs are intricate blends of unique characterizations, biting humor, cynicism and hope. Given the large number of CDs that Mead has created in his career, choosing only 5 songs to sing had to be difficult, but he did a fine job.

Michelle Malone began her performance with a beautiful ballad. In round 2, she really opened up with a foot-stomping, fast-paced song showing her slide guitar skills to boot. Malone's style is a killer combination of country, blues and rock. She was feeling somewhat under the weather this night, but she didn't let it effect her performance. After the first round (of pretty depressing songs), Malone joked that people would be surprised just how light-hearted her fellow musicians were given their songwriting styles.




Thad Cockrell was the most pure country of the four singing songs filled with honest heartache, all with a heartbreakingly amazing voice. Cockrell's been on the road quite a bit as a duo with Caitlin Cary (ex-Whiskeytown), but he can definitely hold his own as a solo artist as well. He took some time to express what it meant to play in front of an attentive audience (or to play in front of an audience at all) joking that the best way to spend some time alone in Nashville is to book an acoustic singer/songwriter show.


If you don't already know about Matthew Ryan, we strongly encourage that you remedy that situation. His songs are deeply personal and honest , his voice is unforgettable, and he is surprisingly funny.

Ryan opened the show explaining that he had been providing some percussion for his friends by using brushes on the back of his guitar. Unfortuately, he forgot the brushes the night before in Kentucky and was very sad about the situation. Throughout the evening, he tried to improvise, but settled on using Michelle's egg.

At one point, Cockrell began a serious song with a definite beat that just begged to be filled with some percussion. Unfortunately, Ryan's choice of beat ended up sounding like a parody, which the audience, and Cockrell, found very amusing. After a heart-felt apology from Ryan (whom really didn't mean to sound ingenous), Cockrell tried to gain his composure and restart the song, but simply couldn't and chose instead to move onto another of his wonderful songs. Cautiously, Ryan backed up the rest of the songs with the egg very delicately...and far away from the mic.


If any of these artists are new to you, take the time to visit their websites and Myspace pages. You won't be disappointed, although some of the songs may make you cry...but in a good way.