Thursday, June 2, 2011

3. Zach Potts at Lakewood Bar & Grill, 6/1/11

3. Zach Potts, at Lakewood Bar and Grill.
Sorry this is so blurry, Zach.

We entered LBG around 10:00 p.m., in time to catch Zach Potts, the penultimate in a fairly big lineup that night:
  Note the confusingly identical lower case L
and upper case I in the writing.

Cover was $5.

It was a mixed age crowd.  Around 55 people there when we arrived, which turned out to be the peak population that night.  The Lakewood is comfortable kind of dive, with a clear view of the stage, a relaxed atmosphere, and walls festooned with graffiti.  Mostly this latter was made up of proclamations of puppy love or people advertising their web concerns, but we particularly appreciated the sentiment of: "Here In Arms > Jesus."  It would have been nicer to have more than one bartender or some kind of wait staff, though, as it took a while to get drinks.

Zach Potts (who seems to have zero presence on the web) turned out to be two guys on stools playing acoustic guitars. The one on the right in the photo above was the singer, presumably Zach himself.  The guy on the left played rhythm guitar.  (On a purely aesthetic level, we were far from convinced that a tank top and shorts was the best outfit for that guy.)

The crowd was supportive; we heard "I love you, Zach" shout-outs a couple of times.  In addition there was lots of mobile phone video going on. We weren't sure this show warranted it; their look certainly does not, and the duo wasn't exactly blazing up the stage with energy by sitting on those stools.  But hey, the guy's got a fanbase, looks like.

With no online details to fall back on, it's hard to give specific reactions to Zach's material.  Guy with guitar, what can you say?  He seemed to be going for that bare-bones but somehow elusive Steve Earle or Townes Van Zandt sound.

He did three covers: "Old Devils," a number by a tattooed fellow named William Elliott Whitmore, which seemed to fit his musical sensibility, at least what we gleaned of it.

Zach also did justice to the second cover, Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel."

We had never heard of Adele's "Rolling In the Deep," but he certainly made it sound like his own.  We both enjoyed the rendition, and the original that immediately followed was R's favorite of the night, remarking, "If he played more like this earlier on, I wouldn't be tired of him now."

At times Zach's sound evoked Steve Earle, a sparser Uncle Tupelo ("we must ultimately compromise and leave our true potential on the shelf"), an angry Chris Isaak ("I was a devil of a man / A man like me is just better left alone"), even Loudon Wainwright on a song he called "Austin's Gonna Have to Wait."

In sum: We didn't feel like we saw the best of Zach Potts.  The songwriting is there, but we thought he'd be better with the right band, some more arrangement, more tempo variation.  He'd do well in a Nashville band that could back up his vision with some musical muscle.

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