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Hamptons Life

Apr 7, 2009 12:01 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Chris Van Cott releases a new CD

Apr 7, 2009 12:01 PM

Passionate and heartfelt tunes with lush acoustic guitar and unexpected musical twists. That would be one way to describe Chris Van Cott’s new release, “Café Sunday.”

The music bursts from the speakers with heavy strumming on an acoustic guitar and only gets better when Mr. Van Cott’s vocals make their entrance.

And so it goes on track after track of original music. Every song is like a musical surprise you’re glad you received. The consistency of voice, the musical passion and songwriting that never dials down to anything less than an eight all ensure that the music is always recognizable as pure Chris Van Cott.

Mr. Van Cott’s music has a smooth sound with an edge. The original music might best be characterized as adult alternative with rock or pop subtones. The cuts on “Café Sunday” conjure comparisons to singer-songwriters Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Jack White and John Mayer. These are clearly some of Mr. Van Cott’s influences.

The musical edge springs from ’90s grunge established by Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana. The heartfelt passion springs from the personal nature of his songwriting. Every song is inspired by his own experience and tumultuous changes for those close to him. Striving to have a baby, surviving a divorce and trying to change personality traits are all topics for songs on “Café Sunday.”

The result is a recording that’s easy to listen to the first time around and invites a second listen, if only to check back on the compelling unexpected musical surprises. Each song has a passage or musical change-up that keeps the listener engaged. This is no accident—Mr. Van Cott strives to challenge himself as a songwriter, producer and musician to make music he’s satisfied with.

“I wanted to have some fun and write in different styles and really move people,” Mr. Van Cott said. “I write in different styles, rhythms, tempos. I’m trying to have that variety.”

“Café Sunday” features nine solo tracks and three “bonus tracks” of songs by his group, The Vagabonds. The Vagabonds include Mr. Van Cott, his wife, Maritz Van Cott, Brady Wilkins on percussion and Jason Tebaldi on bass guitar. Mr. Tebaldi also performs with Jay Scott and Grand Case Scenario and The Corduroy Sky. Mr. Wilkins is a special education teacher at Tuckahoe School in Southampton. He also performs with the band, Karma Sutra. Ms. Van Cott was the lead vocalist in Other Natural Flavors.

Mr. Van Cott wrote all the songs on the recording. Musically, the songs slide seamlessly from his solo efforts, on which he provides all of the vocals (including harmonies), the instruments and sound effects, to songs with The Vagabonds, whose music beckons listeners to groove to their funky sounds.

“Café Sunday” is the fifth solo recording released by Mr. Van Cott, the result of a pledge he made to himself to produce a recording every year. Since returning from California and leaving behind a bid to put his band, Other Natural Flavors, on the national charts, Mr. Van Cott shifted his focus from making it big to making music he loves.

His solo recordings include: “Little Puppy,” “Happy Again,” “Gold Like the Sun” and “Live in the Lobby” (recorded at the Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts). Mr. Van Cott was included on “The 15 Best Singer/Songwriters of Greenwich Village” (2004) by UMO Music NY. His band Other Natural Flavors released “Drop the World” in 2003.

As a solo artist, Mr. Van Cott has performed at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall and East Enders Coffee House in Riverhead, the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts in the Live in the Lobby original music series, and multiple venues in Patchogue.

The Vagabonds, along with headliner Miles to Dayton, performed the final show at East Enders Coffee House on February 28. East Enders is now planning to reopen at the Best Western East End hotel in Riverhead, with a grand opening slated for May, pending building permit approvals for the newly-renovated space inside the hotel.

“Café Sunday” is available at cdbaby.com and through www.chrisvancott.com. The self-produced recording is $10. Mr. Cott will be performing with Mr. Wilkins at Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport on May 31 from 1 to 3 p.m. The Vagabonds will appear at Bradstock during Labor Day weekend at the Long Island Maritime Museum in West Sayville. Performance dates for both groups will be posted at www.chrisvancott.com.

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