Last Friday it was a fun-filled evening at the Rathskeller when the College Union Board (CUB) presented the soulful act Scrapomatic. Along with guest guitarist Dave Yoke, the boys from Scrapomatic, Mike Mattison and Paul Olsen, gave Rat patrons a double set of the blues.
Making a stop at the College despite their busy touring and recording schedule, the whole crew took to the stage with excellence. Mattison, a protégé of Derek Trucks’ (who in turn is a protégé of Gregg Allman), wasted no time immersing the crowd in the heart of their sound.
They started the night’s proceedings off by breaking into a cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s hymnal epic “Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me.”
The only word to describe this performance is “straightforward:” Straightforward blues and straightforward musicianship. It could also be seen as minimalistic in some respects, but calling them that would almost be like calling them second-rate.
It should be noted that all things revolve around Mattison. With a raspy, volatile voice like a young Joe Cocker, he barks and sings through every song with an inconsolable demeanor.
The group proceeded to cover “When They Ring the Golden Bells.” The woeful harmonies of Yoke’s blues guitar and Mattison’s vocal range were extraordinary, putting a life-affirming spin on one of the oldest Southern soul songs.
Blazing through most of its original material, the band took the opportunity to show off a couple more soul and blues covers, allowing Yoke to serve up some sensual six-string tactics.
Although these songs were extremely entertaining they seemed as though they were just trying to waste time.
And even though the Rat doesn’t see blues music too often, the genre gives the audience a decent change of pace.
There is a significant drawback though. You can only listen to the same 12 bars for so long before you want something else.
Scrapomatic pulled no punches when it came to the material they showcased, giving up long, stretching guitar solos and wailing ballads about the Almighty, violence and desperation.
Despite the overwhelmingly depressing nature of the blues, the crowd was surprisingly upbeat. While Mattison’s gravelly voice carried on about death, resurrection and all matters of sorrow, the impassioned audience only clapped out and called for more.