By: David Schultz
Bill Deasy has never hurt for an audience within his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. In the mid 90s, he flirted with the possibility of nationwide success when Atlantic Records signed his immensely popular local band, The Gathering Field. Unable to work through the disappointment of being relatively ignored by the label after the release of Lost In America, the band split. As Deasy described the situation to Earvolution, he felt he went back to square one, beginning his career anew as a singer-songwriter. With Chasing Down A Spark, his third album, Deasy's continuing the slow process of rebuilding a following outside the Steel City as a solo act.
Last week, Deasy covered all bases of his musical career during his one hour set at Piano's, one of the plentiful music halls enmeshed within New York City's Lower East Side. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, the shaggy-maned singer charmed the crowd with songs from Spark, Gathering Field favorites "Bound To Be" and "Lost In America" and even worked in a couple new tunes.
Although soft-spoken on stage, Deasy's hardly shy. In between songs, Deasy engaged in a Storytellers-type dialogue, offering some background to the songs, putting them in context or simply taking requests. Prior to "Levi," his wonderfully poetic song about finding yourself on the streets of New York City, Deasy related a Repo Man like anecdote about seeing Willem Dafoe on the streets of New York. Seemingly confident that it wasn't really a Lou Reed sighting, Deasy noted that only in New York can you be thinking about Willem Dafoe, turn around and see him nearly get squashed by a car.
In his brief chat with Earvolution after his set, Deasy expressed his pleasure at the crowds that greeted him on his recent West coast swing. Given the early hour of his Thursday evening show, Deasy couldn't have been disappointed with the enthusiastic turnout for his New York stop. Deasy returns to his native Midwest this week for shows with Greg Joseph in Cleveland, OH (Grog Shop: 5/23), Akron, OH (The Lime Spider: 5/25), Greensburg, PA (Community Days: 5/26). He'll then play around the greater Pittsburgh area, cementing his reputation amongst the hometown fans.
Deasy's popularity is spreading as it doesn't take long to become engaged by his evocative, expressive lyrics and emotive voice. Perhaps feeling that the crowd needed added encouragement, Deasy asked the crowd to imagine they were teenagers at a U2 concert in Dublin, Ireland to foster interest in a sing-along to Spark's rousing, yet reflective, opener "Until I Get It Right." Such imagery wasn't necessary: while transcendent Irish bands are nice, everyone seemed perfectly happy being with Bill Deasy in New York.