Greg Schatz celebrated the release of his latest album, Everything That You Wanted, with his band the Friggin’ Geniuses at Siberia last Friday.
It’s hard to pinpoint a genre for Schatz’ work, but he tends to use “roots rock” as a handy catch-all.
The particular lineup this past weekend was a larger, more rock-and-roll-heavy incarnation of the Geniuses, featuring Schatz on keys, vocals, and accordion, Alex McMurray and Dave James on guitar and vocals, Dave Stover on bass, and Doug Garrison on drums. (They also play in smaller, more acoustic combinations at venues like the Three Muses and Buffa’s.)
Paul Santopadre was not present Friday, but played drums on the record, and John Boutte, Susan Cowsill, Jason Mingledorff, Tiffany Pollack, Helen Gillet, Eric Lucero, and Charlie Halloran also appeared on the album as featured guests.
Schatz is one of the city’s great songwriters. He has a knack for taking life’s everyday moments, often some of the quirkier ones, and using fresh lyrics and catchy melodies to shed new light on them.
“It’s hard to describe, but I guess different songs start different ways,” he said of his songwriting process. “Sometimes you get a snippet of melody that comes into your head, or sometimes it’s a phrase. And sometimes songs seem to almost write themselves, which is of course the ideal way.”
At the album release, the Friggin’ Geniuses served up plenty of the songs from the new album, from “Dream Crusher,” to “It’s a Beautiful Day,” and “It’s the Insanity.”
Jonathan Freilich was a featured guest guitarist on the instrumental number, “That’s My Jam.”
Particularly hilarious was the oddly-titled tune “How Is The House Cat,” which repeated this inquiry over and over in the chorus.
“That’s one of my older tunes,” Schatz said. “A friend of mine was having a benefit for her cat to have surgery. So I wrote it for that benefit.”
Opening for the Friggin’ Geniuses that evening was the moving duet of singer/guitarist Kiyoko McCrae, who one audience member described approvingly as “like a female Pete Seeger,” and the talented, tasteful harmonica player Rick Weston.
Be on the look out for OffBeat’s upcoming album review of Everything That You Wanted.