Okcate’s Out and About: The Mark Gibson Duo at The Fur Shop

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I’m no career musician; I’m no professional singer. But I have been listening to all kinds of music since I can remember, and I do know what exceptional talent and hard work looks and sounds like.

It looks like The Mark Gibson Duo. It sounds like Mark Gibson and Ryan Magnani playing their hearts and souls out for nearly three hours (taking only one break) at The Fur Shop, which featured a newly rearranged upstairs.

Or anywhere else, that is.

I’ve watched them perform a handful of times over the past year and a half, but as of late, I’ve been able to see them on a more regular basis. And I will tell you this; when they play, worlds collide, galaxies form, and solar systems are born. Okay, that’s maybe a bit hyperbolic, but only a bit. Each performance is new, inspiring, and fresh, and I could easily go to every one of their sets, but then I would be a creeper, so I’ll just stick to every other time… right???

Now, I have seen Gibson perform solo, and man, that guy will take you places with his vocals and guitar skills; I honestly could listen to him for hours. In a totally “I’m literally here for the music because I love live music and don’t want to be a groupie” kind of way.

When these two musicians come together, like they did last night, this experience is only amplified. If there is a zone that is solely made up of acute rhythms, moving, groovy bass lines, intricate, rocking melodies, and soaring, passionate vocals, they were there. And they were in it. And they shared this zone with the audience. And it was awesome.

Well, that’s all well and good, you might say, but why were they awesome? Well, I’m glad you asked. I will break it down for you, right now.

1) Mark Gibson’s vocals: This man has one of the best voices in quality and range I have ever witnessed. To put it in theatre terms (acting training and all that) Mark Gibson sings with the immediacy and all encompassing depth of your best Shakespearean actor. Mark Gibson Billy-Shakes. This. Stuff. Up.

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He was on the breath, he was on the meaning; he let the lyrics and melodies flow through his entire being until the only thing to do with them was to let them escape, fully realized, out of his mouth. To those who do not have a background in Shakespeare—he was so amazingly good! Go see him; let me know how it goes.

 

2) Mark Gibson’s guitar skills: This man can take an acoustic guitar to new heights. He not only worked the strings like a person who was born with a six-string in his hand (and he’s only been playing since high school which makes his skills even more awe-inspiring), but he also knows his tech.

He balanced the audio in the room like no one’s business—you know, so you could actually hear the notes. Now, I say he because, like I said before, I’ve seen him play solo, and his awareness of the space he plays in is never in question. But, no doubt, Magnani deserves just as much credit for this balance as well.

Speaking of Ryan…

3) Ryan’s Magnani’s four extremities: A bass guitar in both hands, a tambourine strapped to his right foot, and a kick drum worked by his left. If the guy put a harmonica in his mouth, he could roll down the street in his own one man band.

You know how some people can play multiple instruments? Well apparently multiple instruments wasn’t enough for Ryan. He had to learn how to play them—all at once.

And he kills it. I’m telling you, the layering of these fellas’ music is incredible. Incredible. You hear it all. You get the the rhythms, the bass line, the melody, the vocals, and you get the words! Mark Gibson is intelligible when he sings! Oh my, I thought they didn’t make them like that anymore.

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4) They looked so happy to be there: They were feeling the music; they were sharing it with the audience, sharing it with each other; they had fun, and they supported each other on stage. There was no sense of upstaging or competition, just the music working as they rolled out song after song—exciting originals and superb covers. And as a bonus for the evening, near the end of the set, Ryan and Mark led the audience in song, wishing Ryan’s mom (who was in attendance) Happy Birthday! Also, they totally welcomed dancing at this set, which I was happy about.

Confession: I dance in public… Oh, the struggle is real.

Well, that’s about it. Follow them, go to their events… I hear tell of a trio, which I will definitely have to see. Download Mark Gibson’s debut album, Beautifully Deconstructedit features a more mellow sound than what The Duo had going on last night, but nonetheless, it is very well done. Support makes the new albums happen (there’s one coming out this year!).

Thanks to The Fur Shop for hosting a stellar night of music, and thanks to The Mark Gibson Duo for helping my friends and I celebrate my soon to be 30th birthday. It’s actually the 26th, the same as Johnny Cash’s, which made the “Ring of Fire” cover they rocked all the more awesome for me.

Can’t Stop the Signal

North Korea is scared of these guys, apparently.

North Korea is scared of these guys, apparently.

Recently, I sat down with some friends to watch The Interview, now that it’s made its debut on Netflix. It was surprisingly funny and much better than I had expected, and a great time was had by all, but I’m actually not writing this to review the film. The next day, reflecting on the experience, I realized that, if it hadn’t been for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures and the threats and controversy surrounding the film’s release, there’s an excellent chance I never would have heard of The Interview, much less watched it.

The Interview had virtually no buzz or advertising that I was aware of leading up to its release. If it hadn’t been for the controversy and outrage surrounding the suppression of the film, I almost certainly would have remained blissfully unaware, and I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of people who have now seen the film are in the same boat.

The film’s meteoric rise into public awareness was so impressive, I’d almost be tempted to accuse Sony of faking the hack to generate publicity, if the leaked documents didn’t serve to make Sony look so terrible.

The attack, allegedly perpetrated by North Korean agents (“allegedly” only because there isn’t ironclad proof that they did it, but really, who do they think they’re kidding?) was purportedly done to prevent The Interview’s release, and initially it looked like they had been successful in that goal. Sony caved and cancelled the film’s theatrical release, to the disbelief of just about everyone. For lack of a better expression, it looked like the terrorists had won.

But they didn’t. The outrage to Sony’s surrender was so palpable that on December 23rd, Sony caved again and released The Interview digitally. And the film went on to become Sony’s most successful digital release to date.

Ultimately, more people have seen The Interview than likely would have if these hackers did nothing at all, and North Korea, far from being seen as a world power to be feared, is being ridiculed for its Supreme Leader’s inability to take a damn joke. If the hackers’ goal was to prevent people from seeing Seth Rogen and James Franco besmirch the glorious name of Kim Jong Un, it’s hard to see how they could have failed much harder than they have.

Less than a month later, terrorists attacked the offices of satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, wounding 11 and killing 11 more, in retaliation for its irreverent depictions of the Prophet Mohammad.

While I’m not about to compare Sony having embarrassing e-mails and early script drafts leaked to the deaths of 11 innocent civilians, again we have a group using brute force to silence comedians whose message they don’t like. And in the Charlie Hebdo case, the outcome is nearly identical.

Far from being cowed, the staff of Charlie Hebdo defiantly, triumphantly, returned to work, and their next issue sold seven million copies in six languages. People who had never even heard of Charlie Hebdo before (which I’m guessing is the majority of the non-French-speaking world) were buying copies.

The newspaper had become a household name world-wide. And far from being praised by fundamentalist Muslims for their actions, the attackers were condemned by the Ayatollah Khatami himself. Again, I’m pretty sure that’s about as far from success as these terrorists could get.

Time and again throughout human history, thugs who lack the wit or intelligence to retort when they’ve been mocked try to crush their detractors through force. And time and again, they have failed. Because their methods not only failed to refute what their detractors were saying, they became proof positive that everything that had been said about them was true.

It’s a lesson these particular thugs might have learned, if they had watched The Interview.