Radio.com’s showcase during CMJ last night (October 18) at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall intimate Stage 3 highlighted five up-and-coming artists going acoustic, including Radio.com New Music To Know pick Kodaline, as well as Nashville-based singer-songwriter Marc Scibilia, Santa Barbara quartet Tommy & the High Pilots, and a pair of British singer-songwriters in Dan Croll and James Bay.
Photo Gallery: Radio.com’s Showcase at CMJ 2013
The host for the evening, Marc Scibilia, kicked off the night with two songs from his most recent EP, The Shape I’m In, released last month. “I almost missed two flights today. Fortunately, I only missed one flight. I spent a lot of time in the airport but I’m here now so it’s fine,” he said before he began to play “The Shape I’m In.” It was a fitting introduction, as the song details the many miles he’s traveled in life.
His next song, “Shining Like America,” told the story of Scibilia being “broke out of his mind.” Living in a closet with no windows, he said one day he turned on the TV to watch a beauty pageant, which helped inspire his next song. “I had no money and thought life would be different if I could get a girl like that.” Singing how “some day my dreams are gonna pay my rent,” Scibilia’s premonitions have come true, as he is gearing up for a fall tour with Butch Walker.
Kodaline started their set with “High Hopes,” the first song they ever wrote together almost three and a half years ago. For the song, which is now featured on their recently released debut, In a Perfect World, the Irish quartet stripped things down for the intimate performance with singer Steve Garrigan taking a seat behind the piano, while his fellow bandmates helped out with the harmonies. Garrigan soon switched things up for “Love Like This,” a sweet story about a love that’s not meant to be, grabbing a mandolin and strapping on a harmonica. Though they had a busy CMJ, the guys were more than happy to take on another show. “It’s great to play…anywhere,” Garrigan joked. The guys ended their set with their latest single, “All I Want,” to the crowd’s dismay, who urged to keep them on for one more song. Unfortunately, drummer Vinny May said it was out of his hands, blaming his impressive facial hair. “The mustache gets angry if we play more than four songs.”
Santa Barbara-based band Tommy & the High Pilots continued the energy with their radio-friendly pop-rock. Playing songs off their latest album, Only Human, the band urged the crowd to dance along for their last track “Outta My Head.” The band’s upcoming tour with the Plain White T’s and Parachute will likely shine a light on their catchy choruses and strong pop sensibilities.
Dan Croll used his set to not only play a few songs from his new EP, Home, but to show off his comedic timing. Between his serious tunes, Croll decided to try out his stand-up act, joking that he felt a little naked without his band. Someone from the crowd let him know that he was indeed wearing pants, to which Croll responded, “I think so. I hope so.”
Croll then decided to take a chance and play the piano for his song “Thinking About You,” which he hadn’t done in years. He impressed us all with his piano playing, but not before telling the best joke of the night, which involved a scarecrow changing professions. “I heard he’s the best in his field,” Croll said. Keep that one in mind for any upcoming Halloween parties you may attend.
Before closing his set with his latest single, “Home,” Croll told a story about his first gig back home in England, which sold out thanks to a case of mistaken identity. After Croll was told, to his surprise, that the gig was almost full, a woman asked Croll what time Diana Krall was going on. Apparently, they thought the jazz pianist was playing a show, rather than a folkie newcomer.
Letting the crowd know it had not even been 24 hours since he last played Rockwood, fellow Brit singer-songwriter James Bay followed Croll. “This is my favorite venue in New York,” Bay said. He started his set with “When We Were On Fire,” off his debut EP The Dark of the Morning, before launching into his new single, “Move Together.” Bay’s deep, soulful voice was on highlight in the acoustic setting, his guitar fading to the background as he sang about “keeping the peace between the sheets.”
Bay closed his set — not only his last show of CMJ, but his last show in America before he headed back to Europe for a tour with Kodaline — with a new song that had him strapping on the electric and showing off a more bluesy style.
– Shannon Carlin & Annie Reuter, Radio.com