EAGLE EYE: Starbucks said, “Give us the record when you’re done.”
The scene: four chairs, four acoustic guitars, four semi-famous, sensitive singer-songwriters on a small stage in a room with a few dozen chairs. There’s free Starbucks coffee in the back. One of those semi-famous, sensitive singer-songwriters preparing to play at First Act Guitar Studio is a bit more famous than most in these parts: Dave Gibbs used to front the Gigolo Aunts, a Boston band who spent the better part of a decade on the verge of a national breakthrough before relocating in 1998 to LA and calling it quits. It’s the last Tuesday in February, early in the evening, and Gibbs is back in town with his latest project, the folk-rocking Low Stars. When the band introduce themselves, Gibbs responds to applause by explaining, “I won a couple of games with the Sox, before you people were . . . ” He doesn’t need to finish the sentence. Gibbs’s modest success in Boston happened a long time ago in rock years.
He was here in 2002 New Year’s Eve for a Gigolo Aunts reunion at the Castle. The last time in town, he played under the moniker Kid Lightning — it was an acoustic set with Tracy Bonham at the Lizard Lounge in 2004. This time, he says he feels as if he were in the middle of the Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone.” It’s not bad, just different: different bands, different faces, different scene. Still, Gibbs and his fellow Stars — ex-Tonic guitarist/singer Jeff Russo, ex–God’s Child singer/guitarist Chris Seefried, singer/guitarist Jude — draw 60 or so fans for a 45-minute acoustic set supporting a homonymous debut on Starbucks’ Hear Music imprint. It’s a CD that echoes another era, with its emphasis on peaceful, easy feelings and warm vocal harmonies. The band will open for Edwin McCain at the Paradise April 19.
Afterward, the 40-year-old Gibbs is in a reflective mood. “The 20-year-old me would probably kick the shit out of the 40-year-old me.” He pauses to reconsider. “Actually, he wouldn’t. The 20-year-old me would go into my wallet, steal my money, and then go buy pot and forget it.”
So, Low Stars are probably no one’s idea of hip or cutting-edge. Gibbs doesn’t give a damn. “We all felt this is music we like and we’re going to do it. It’s sort of musical comfort food. We’re not reinventing the wheel — we know that. We got together to play a new version of campfire songs. I hope I don’t come off as some bitter old fuck, but I am older and I don’t need to hear something crazy, loud, and aggressive. I just wanna hear a nice song.” He jokes about how every new band is called a new Stooges, a new MC5, or a new Velvet Underground. If Low Stars are a new Eagles, well, that’s fine with him.
The band, he recounts, “started with me and Chris.” They’d played a charity gig together in LA. Jude suggested adding a third voice. And Gibbs had already been playing with Russo in another project. “Jude and Chris found they could write very well together, and they wrote the bulk of this record. They wrote dozens of songs, which was fine for me. It was kinda nice not being the front dude.”