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Alan Scott can certainly shred the guitar, but his expert band also allows him to write songs with a softer, poetic touch.
BY BRITTANY DEVRIES
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
"The Naked Fear of Falling," one of Alan Scott's soulful original songs, simmers in all of us. It bubbles with the fear of rejection and imperfection, the fear of losing control.
"I wanted to write this crazy rock jam and had all these power chords, but then I did some finger picking and that took it in a completely different direction," Scott said.
That moment of tension--when fear gives way to creativity--is what drives Scott's music. The emotion of that moment impressed the audience at a recent Alan Scott Band performance on the lawn of The Village at Towne Centre in Spotsylvania last weekend.
The band plays regularly in D.C. and Southern Maryland, and occasionally makes its way south into Virginia.
The trio's funk-rock music, although masterly performed, can occasionally sound dated , so an additional emotional punch is just what the band needs. It's the sort of tight, shiny music that will appeal to people who tend to sing along (loudly) to Counting Crows and Prince, two of Scott's personal favorites.
It doesn't hurt that he has a mega-talented rhythm section. Sean Rickman is a god on the drums, overflowing with Buddy Rich and Cozy Cole-type chops. Mike "Tony" Echols plays a tasteful, slinky bass and brings a potent melodic counterpoint to the mix. Both men are prominent veterans of the Washington music scene, and Rickman has toured with major artists like Maxwell.
"These guys get the music and get the aesthetic," Scott said. "They know how to treat the music, and understand what I'm trying to do,"
The intricate arrangements in Scott's originals stem from his classical background as a music major at the University of Maryland and George Washington University. His band's flexibility allows Scott to shift gears smoothly from aggressive rock to a lighter, folk-blues sound.
"Finger picking is something that is very unique," Scott said. "I'm proud of the way ["Fear of Falling"] is composed. It reminded me of "Shape of My Heart" by Sting--a melody that's totally different that balances it out."
It was a pleasant surprise to run into Scott's band at the Towne Centre, a decidedly nontraditional venue.
"I think it's actually more of where I need to be," he said. "For whatever reason, I like people seeing me set up, with a look on their face like, OK, what does this guy do? People are looking to see what you can bring to the art form, not what you can mimic from the art form."
His audience seemed to get the message, swaying and dancing to every song. Covers like Prince's "Purple Rain" and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Californication" might have been on the cheesy side, but were solid enough to keep the crowd interested without resorting to outright mimicry.
Scott's musical inspirations bleed into his lyrics. You might not immediately hear Counting Crows, but it's in there--Scott is a big fan of their first album, "August and Everything After."
"When that album came out I went to the food court and read all of the lyrics on the CD insert," he said. "He allowed me to be OK with getting the poetry in there, and to sing about loveable things. It was a renaissance for me, to not worry about rocking the house all the time and actually tell a story."
Scott's integration of musical styles is appealing, and a smart homage to his band's musical ability and experience.
"It's all colors I can use on a palette to create a song," he said. "Don't compartmentalize, it's all integrated."
: Information and tour dates at alanscottband.com
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