It was an accident. We were there to see the Blue Eyed Bettys perform that particular evening at the Muddy Creek Music Hall, but we arrived early to get a bite to eat. And there, performing on the connecting outdoor patio in a free show, was GrayMatter.
We caught only a few songs on their playlist, but we liked what we heard. It turns out that they're two brothers, a sister and a brother-in-law from Burlington, so the DNA runs deep and familiar (they've been playing together, off and on, since the 1980s). They specialize in acoustic music, complete with tight harmonies and a playlist heavy with tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. Beatles. Stones. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Dylan. John Prine. Grateful Dead. Cat Stevens. Peter, Paul and Mary. And more. So much more.
Oh, my. An aural arrow straight to my musical heart.
Anyway, after we got home, Kim went on an Internet search. She found out they were coming back to Muddy Creek on Sunday, the final act in a day-long deluge of tunes from five different bands.
So we went. We were not disappointed. Although the patio stage was cramped and the sound board was erratic, the band was clearly having fun. Consequently, so was the audience. The familiarity of the music of our youth made us feel like we were back in college. Or maybe Woodstock, in case we missed that one. Maybe it was the tie-dyed T-shirts and jeans. I don't know. But I felt transported.
They played for more than two hours straight, without a break. Whoa.
Afterward, as the moon crept across the evening sky, we got to talk with them a bit.
Barry Gray and Brad Gray are the brothers, and both play guitar. Bev Gray Gude is the sister who plays a high strung guitar, a flute, a recorder, and some hand percussion instruments (Gray? Gray? Oh, I get it now. GrayMatter. Clever. Heh heh). Dave Gude, who dated Bev when they were teenagers and then ended up marrying her (he says he feels like he's still auditioning for the band) plays guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica.
They all sing pretty Gude together. Even if the DNA ever fails them, it's apparent they can still depend on band telepathy after all these years together to bind their harmonies, timing and stage presence. Despite their gray hair (Uh-oh. That kind of GrayMatter? Heh heh), they clearly know how to have fun.
One example was Barry starting out on 'Peace Train' with his nearly identical Cat Stevens' voice. Half the audience got up, formed a line, and pretended they were part of a train, then tracked their way across the patio, into the cafe's front door, out the cafe's side door, and back onto the patio with everyone spontaneously singing along. Smiles everywhere.
Although they performed mostly covers on Sunday, they do offer some original material, too. Which means they're creative. And smart (Oh, I get it. That kind of GrayMatter).
But this is just me identifying with people of my own generation, of my own era. You can check them out for yourselves right here.