Thursday, April 26, 2012
Guitarists/singers Marc Stafford and Bryn Loosley’s college experience isn’t much different from the norm: The longtime friends attended Chico State while pursuing their dream to make it big with their alt-country band Buffalo Creek.
“After enough sleeping on floors and cramped van rides we decided to get teaching jobs,” Stafford says. “It turns out that we’re both happy teaching and playing music on the side; there’s not as much pressure.”
The band – heavily influenced by the punky cowboy sweat of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn’s Uncle Tupelo – went through several incarnations. But when it reached its pinnacle, the core members disbanded to pursue “regular” careers. Loosley is now a middle school teacher at Mission Hill School in Santa Cruz and Stafford teaches AP U.S. history at Carmel High School.
“For the first two or three years after [we broke up], we’d play a reunion show in Chico about once a year,” Stafford says. “We never talked about whether it was done so it’s always in the back of our minds that if we’re ever able to get together in the same place at one time we’d love to do a show again.”
The most recent incarnation of Buffalo Creek, Bryn Loosley and The Back Pages, features Stafford and Loosley, the founding members of the original band. And on Friday at the Pierce Ranch Tasting Room, the two will do something they’ve never done before: play together as a duo without the rest of the Back Pages, which usually includes bassist Steve Geer, keyboardist Pat Blizinski and drummer Jon Payne. Loosley’s sister Heather will likely join them on backing vocals.
The pair’s set will include some of Loosley and Stafford’s new original material, old Buffalo Creek stuff and a few of their favorite covers, including Simon and Garfunkel’s harmony-driven “Only Living Boy in New York.”
Compared to Buffalo Creek, which aimed for a sound similar to bands like the Old 97’s and The Jayhawks, the Back Pages is more reminiscent of Wilco.
“The early days were more raw and really focused on alt-country,” he says. “It was my dream to get a ’52 Telecaster. I had to settle for a reissue.”
On the Back Pages rendition of the The Chi-Lites “Oh Girl,” Loosley’s voice brings a hint of southern charm to the R&B tune and their use of a melodica in place of a harmonica echoes the band’s innovative style.
When Stafford is asked if he has any regrets about trading in a rock-and-roll life for a full-time teaching gig, he says he’s content, thanks in part to the CHS Singers and Songwriters Guild he has organized.
“I got to a point in my life where I didn’t want that anymore but I couldn’t let go of writing and performing,” he says. “If I wasn’t doing as much as I’m doing now with the kids at Carmel High and stuff on my own and with Bryn, I’d probably have a lot more regrets.”
BRYN LOOSLEY & THE BACK PAGES play at 8:30pm Friday, April 27, at Pierce Ranch Tasting Room, 499 Wave St., Monterey. Free. 372-8900.