Folk Yeah!

The Pushers, Hobo Gobbelins, Ghost Town Gospel, & Ryan Davidson @ Monstro’s Pizza 

It was a quiet Wednesday night. At least until I entered Monstro’s Pizza. Considering GWAR was in town on the same night, the place had quite the crowd.

I arrived midway through Ryan Davidson’s set. He was singing loud and proud while strumming guitar and juggling his harmonica. For one guy with one guitar, Ryan Davidson put on a passionate performance. I’ve seen him play a few times now, but I felt that this was one of his better shows I’ve seen. His songs are full of stories of travels, love, loss, family, and the adventures he’s had on the way. His energetic performance was great for warming up the crowd, and filling everyone with a couple of drinks. If only Monstro’s served whiskey…

Next was Ghost Town Gospel, a folk-punk band from Oakland comprised of guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and accordion. Their haunting folk songs brought an eerie vibe to Monstro’s. Many of their songs are about death, travels, and the people they’ve met along the way, including the devil. Propelled by powerful vocals that sound like sandpaper being scraped along someone’s throat, the instrumentals in the band created the perfect rhythm section to keep their boat afloat.

Props to the sound guy for actually adjusting levels during their performance and not just standing around. It must be a nightmare to try to equalize an acoustic band like Ghost Town Gospel. The accordion and violin were faint at times, but still managed to scream out over the crushing rhythms. On stage (or the floor I should say), the band’s energy truly led the performance. During songs they would stomp and yell to really command attention to the changing parts. Check out their latest EP, Flip Cassidy Must Die. And next time Ghost Town Gospel comes to town, ask about the story behind the album’s name. It’s a good one.

Hobo Gobbelins took the floor next. Instrumentally, their lineup was almost identical to Ghost Town Gospel, but instead of mandolin, they had a washtub bass player. I was impressed that we could actually hear the washtub bass. Its thuds and thumps were distinctive and prominent, not wishy-washy amidst the other instruments. The energy and spectacle Hobo Gobbelins created was chilling, raw, and energetic all at the same time. The band presents themselves similarly to carnival folk, telling stories between songs to lure your attention before being grabbed hook line and sinker by the music.

Closing out the night was The Pushers. Their gritty rock n’ roll mixes aspects of surf rock, roots country, punk rock, and blues into one big line for you to rail. Once you’re spinning on your barstool, that’s when you notice the slide guitar. It creates an eerie shrill lead which soars perfectly alongside two ripping guitars.

The lineup was killer. The pizza was fresh. The beer was cheap. And the music was awesome. Thanks to the Pyrate Punks and Monstro’s for working so hard to put on shows. It was another great night.

And you were sitting bored at home again.

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Tommy Diestel can't remember life without music and writing. He began writing for the Synthesis at the ripe age of 19, and aspires to be a life-long writer.


  1. Bob says:

    Nice write-up Tommy!