To an average GW student, a rainy March night entails a movie and a couch. But to the musical trio of GW students known as Soul Country, it spells music and more music.
These guys bring their instruments everywhere, and tonight, like every weekend night, they’re headed out to another gig, this time at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room in Adams Morgan.
We sometimes gig three times a week, and we’re always writing new songs guitarist Mark Goldberg says.
With little but time, energy and foot work, the group has been able to book a busy schedule in the next few weeks as well, playing at the Lion’s Den April 13, 20 and 27. They also will be kicking it out at the Metro Caf? Friday, April 28.
The musicians that now comprise Soul Country started playing music little more than a year ago.
I met Mark here last year, and we just started jamming, senior Dave Hubbard says. And it was me and him for awhile, and this character over here joined us.
That character is percussionist Doug Cohen, another senior. He started accompanying the two guitarists on congas, a percussive instrument he had picked up from playing in Latin and Jazz combos in the music department.
I play congas, Cohen says, not bongos. C-O-N-G-A is what these are called. In October, I got a call from Mark. He said `me and Dave are making a CD, why don’t you join us.’
On the full-length album, My Days and Nights, the three talented musicians show off their craft as progressive folk rockers. They offer up three-minute radio-ready cuts to 10-minute progressive folk epics that are worthy of comparison to their influences of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Yes, Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd.
Recently the group has expanded its sound, serving up country and bluegrass sounds.
My whole family is from the South, so I brought in like a country flavor, Hubbard says, citing Doc Watson and Bill Monroe as new influences.
Goldberg calls himself more of a blues player and claims Jimmy Page as his biggest influence. Cohen even has added a triangle to the mix and has started to add Arab textures to his Latin- and jazz-influenced playing.
Soul Country labels its music folk rock or progressive folk rock, but as its down to earth moniker conveys, there’s a lot in a name. After playing around with a couple names, Cohen says Soul Country came to him at a Phil Lesh and Bob Dylan show.
I thought to myself `I am coming out of this show with a name,’ Cohen says. During Bob Dylan’s set I was just thinking about Israel. I studied abroad there last year, and I’ve been there like three times, and I love that place more than anything. And I thought that place is my Soul Country, and that was it.
With two mostly acoustic guitars and a set of congas the group has a solid grass roots sound. And that grass roots sound is backed up by a grass roots image. Goldberg sports a scruffy mustache and beard, while Hubbard and Cohen hold their shoulder length hair back in ponytails. At least for the next week – I’m chopping it off next week says Hubbard, who used to have a beard to match.
With an unorthodox setup the group has toyed with the idea of gaining additional members but has decided to stick with the sound that is all its own. With talent, motivation, and a laid-back attitude, Soul Country is a group that seeks seeking, and a group anyone can count on to provide them with a revelation or two, or at least an interesting ride.
Soul Country performs Thursday at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room (1725 Columbia Ave., NW) at 9:30 p.m. You can look for future gigs at www.listen.to/soulcountry.
This article appeared in the March 30, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.