Material: You might know Gary Stockdale because he was an original member of the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Those with a keen eye might be aware that he’s written music for TV shows such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, and CBS’ A Home for the Holidays. He even co-wrote the musical Bukowsical. The guy has been around for a long time and, in fact, has a rich resume, including a number of albums of his own. That said, his gift for writing soundtrack music is key—there’s a wonderful storytelling quality to all of his songs, alongside a lovely sense of sweetness. Randy Newman is an obvious reference—you could certainly imagine them competing for some of the same TV and film gigs. A song such as “Eugenia,” about an old friend, allows the listener to really get to know her. “She must put her best face forward/ Pretty paint to hide the lines/ It’s 10:30 in the morning/And she’s dressed up to the nines/ She does this all the time”––it’s all so gloriously vivid.
Musicianship: Stockdale is clearly a gifted multi-instrumentalist. Switching between keys and guitar effortlessly, he’s able to coax raw emotion out of his instruments and they play as much a part in the storytelling as his descriptive lyrics. Occasionally, he allows himself to really shake loose, such as on covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice” and Earth Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star/That’s the Way of the World.” It all makes for an impressive set.
Performance: Much like any of the livestreams that we’ve been seeing lately, Stockdale is at home, holding a guitar and behind his keyboard. It’s not like he can jump around the room and still be captured on the webcam. Still, he’s chatty (as is his wife) and a compelling anecdotalist, and he communicates with those watching from home regularly. It’s all very intimate, but Stockdale certainly makes it work.
Summary: These are strange days and, for the foreseeable future, this is what the live music landscape is going to look like. It sucks, but it’s essential. Thankfully, artists such as Stockdale are muscling through and putting on wonderful shows, and the use of e-tip jars allows them to generate some income too. It takes some getting used to, but that’s where we are. Stockdale is interesting and talented enough to make it worth tuning in, and he’s hosting these shows every Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. Pacific.