Rocky Votolato | 10.15.07

rockyvchristophernelson.jpg"I’m just gonna do a couple quiet ones by myself," he said almost sheepishly, "Is that OK with everybody?" 

 

 

 

Photo: Christopher Nelson

 

Off Broadway, St. Louis

"Hello everybody.  I’m Rocky."  Does this guy sound down to earth or what?  Sure, I’d seen him at the merchandise table signing autographs and shaking hands before his set, but could someone so talented really be so chill?  It seemed as though a night of soft, gentle music was in store for the crowd gathered to see singer-songwriter Rocky Votolato at Off Broadway.  This would not have been a surprise considering that his albums contain many country influenced acoustic tunes.    

That notion disappeared the moment Votolato hit his guitar strings, launching into a rocking version of "The Night’s Disguise" from his album Makers. His studio solo-acoustic style was revamped for a full band.  Complete with electric and steel-pedal guitar, electric bass, drums, and the occasional harmonica solo, Votolato’s sound showed the muscle that was only hinted at in his latest album, The Brag and Cuss. 

While his backing band did turn quiet acoustic numbers, such as "White Daisy Passing" and "Portland is Leaving," into amped-up alt-country anthems, Votolato played a few songs solo. "I’m just gonna do a couple quiet ones by myself," he said almost sheepishly, "Is that OK with everybody?"  During this solo performance, he captivated the audience, showing off his finger-picking and harmonica skills. It became clear how dynamic Votolato is-a true musician who knows how a decrescendo can bring an audience to its knees. 

These "quiet" songs showcased two sides of Votolato’s voice.  The sweet one will serenade you to sleep. The raspy scream will get you on your feet. He was able to convey great emotion by ending a soft, clean song with a scratchy, heart-wrenching wail that made me forget the band ever left the stage. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rocky Votolato was, well…rockier than expected. No pun intended. | Mary Murphy

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