Tipped off by a reliable source in New Mexico, we traipsed to the friendly Bearsville Theater, near Woodstock, to hear singer/songwriter Max Gomez. Happily, we scored a Daily Double, since another singer/songwriter, Shawn Mullins, headed the bill.
Elmore writer Gene Knapp, another reliable source, was on hand to give me the skinny on Gomez’ appearance: Knapp’s son had been an altar boy with Jimmy Fallon, and Gomez is a dead ringer for a young Fallon. The resemblance doesn’t end there: Gomez is also poised, funny, charming and self-deprecating, a performer who wins over his audience before he even gets going. Do not discount these strengths.
Happily, Gomez can write and sing. He gave us a good selection of his current work, including “Run From You,” a nice backstory on making its music video (directed by Kiefer Sutherland) and a particularly lovely version of his “Rule the World.”
Shawn Mullins’ vocals stand up to anyone south of Enrico Caruso and Roy Orbison, and his songwriting ranks in the top percentiles, too. Probably best-known for “Lullaby” (Everything’s gonna be all right…), he sent chills through the audience with the Civil War story of “Catoosa County,” and a completely different set of chills out to the ladies on “Light You Up.”
One unexpected pleasure was Tom Ryan, whose day job is saxophonist with Widespread Panic. This night he was Mullins’ bassist and sang harmony, simply amazingly. Mullins can really play guitar, but Ryan went toe-to-toe on bass and shined.
Toward the end of the evening, Gomez joined Mullins and Ryan for a couple of tunes, including “Roll On By,” which the two recently co-wrote, and which makes us hope these two will play and collaborate often.
– Suzanne Cadgene