Catching the magic | January 27, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - January 27, 2012

Catching the magic

Acoustic jam is coming to town

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Chris Scoville wants to play music that makes a man proud.

Music is all about quality sound, said the pianist/guitarist/singer, and that's why he's presenting an evening of acoustic performances this Wednesday, Feb. 1, at Tommy T's Comedy Club in Pleasanton.

"I bring in a world-class sound system," Scoville explained. "I'll be the headliner and get up and sing some of my favorite songs. Then I'll call up different performers."

Scoville, 44, was raised playing classical piano, then added the electric guitar when he was 17.

"I played in local rock bands through the '90s and in corporate dance band in the 2000s," Scoville said. "I now play in bands in the local area and in Las Vegas."

"About three years ago, after being away from music as a professional, I decided I want to do music again," he said. "I missed the camaraderie and the message of the music."

Scoville became affiliated with the East Bay Board of Realtors through his day job as a roofing contractor. The group soon put his technical expertise -- honed in music studios -- to work at its weekly Friday morning meetings held at Tommy T's.

"I'm the sergeant at arms technically but really I run the PowerPoint and the lights," Scoville explained.

"I started discussions with the events manager at Tommy T's and said I had this idea to do an acoustic show," he said.

This will be the third time for "Chris Scoville & Friends Unplugged."

"The first one was a '60s and '70s kind of rock," Scoville said. "The second one was more about soul music."

Tommy T's is located at 5104 Hopyard Road. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with comedy at 7:30 p.m., and music beginning at 8 p.m. with a cover charge of $5. Scoville will start with Chopin's prelude in C minor, followed by Bach's Solfeggietto on the piano. He'll move on to an original song called Insomnia and interpretations of other well-known songs, then call up the other performers.

"Everybody rehearses a lot for these," Scoville said. "I tell them, 'If you guys had one chance to play in front of an audience with a world-class sounds system, what would you play?'"

"We try to make each one a special evening people will remember for a long time," he added. "It's as much about connecting with the audience as the performers. It's not like a nightclub where you have a bunch of drunks hanging around."

He decided to focus on quality soon after he returned to music a few years ago, he recalled.

"My first concert back was at a terrible venue, a regular hole-in-the-wall bar," he said. "My old drummer played the gig with me and about a month and a half later suddenly died of a heart attack."

Scoville decided that in honor of the drummer, whose name was Manuel DaLuz, from then on he would only play places that would make him proud.

"I said I'm never going to play at a place without good sound," Scoville remembered deciding. "I've gone to pretty great lengths to make sure these things sound wonderful. As a performer I've always want to catch that magic, try to embrace it for all it's worth.

"On New Year's Eve in Las Vegas, with Kaos X, my rock band, I looked up to heaven and said, 'You be proud, Manny.'"

Scoville described music as a personal art, but emphasized that performances take a lot of effort.

"If it's going to be good you have to put in time rehearsing, arranging the sound system, promoting the event," he said.

This sounds like a lot of work to some of his friends but that's not the way he sees it.

"You don't 'work' music you 'play' music," he said. "I'm striving hard to be a professional musician, to bring something that will hopefully move people."

And make Manny proud.