Folk acts inspire a change in style during Friday show

Last Friday the Rathskeller was overflowing with auditory bliss as CUBRat hosted another show of up and coming artists, this week featuring two alternative/folk rock artists.

From his first word spoken, the night’s first artist, Michael Churton, gave the audience one of the most mature and sincere acts the Rat has seen in recent memory. Armed with two guitars and a set of strong songwriting chops, Churton, and fellow guitarist Rod Rodriguez, offered up musical feats that could not be exceeded.

Billed as having the musical style of Gavin DeGraw and Dave Matthews Band, this act provided a bluesy, thought-provoking set that stepped out of the shadow of these artists.

“I was always listening to Dave Matthews Band,” Churton said. “But at the point when I started to write and performed my own music, I had to stop because at a certain point you start to take on someone else’s style.”

In songs such as “Weaver” and “Never Say Goodbye,” the combination of Churton’s folk rock style and Rodriguez’s bluesy alternative guitar playing come together to provide great contrast as well as a fuller, more enriching sound.

On the topic of their upcoming EP release, Churton talked with vigor about their influences as well as some of their recording experiences. “On this new material we recorded with a lot of 1940s era instruments and microphones. We’re really into a great deal of Sam Cooke and classic era soul, and we’re really trying to get it across here.”

As their time dwindled down, the two men began to play the pseudo-surf rock song “Calamari” and ended with a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.”

The second act of the night was another duo named after its lead singer. This time it came under the moniker, Jana Losey. “I think we should change the name of our group,” Losey quipped at the beginning of the performance. “Something more along the lines of Jana Blank.”

Accompanied by Melanie Peters on the guitar, the young singer/keyboard player presented a sound that was quite different from the previous act. While you could see the resemblance of Leona Naess in some of Losey’s sweeter and softer pop songs, it seemed as though she was also channeling a murky, Dresden Dolls vibe in some of her other material.

One example of this dark material could be seen in “Five Days,” a song that was specifically written about Losey’s grandmother.

Although both members of Jana Losey played a varying style for much of the night, it seemed as though toward the end of the night that a fair deal of their songs, such as “Ice Queen” and “Little Wars,” started to sound all too familiar. Largely, this is probably due in part to the fact that they sang, played and spoke for over an hour nonstop, never giving the crowd a chance to separate one piece from another.

As the night started to come to a close, Losey went back to the keyboard and started to softly play out a cover of John Lennon’s classic, “Imagine.” While this cover was nowhere near the original, it was presented in a sharp new way with Losey’s sultry vocals and shadowy keyboard playing.