MacAnanys – A SoCal sojourn
Onstage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood, the MacAnanys are locked in like a tap atop a keg of Miller. Fronted by Ryan MacAnany, a deep-voiced, soulful singer and a stunningly fluid, tasteful Telecaster slinger, the three-piece drives home rootsy rocker after rootsy rocker. Regular-Joe sentiments ring out. There’s break-ups and breakdowns, and plenty of work-a-day blues. On “Tail Lights”, a worker stuck in traffic ponders the Silos’ tune he’ll crank when he gets home. During the late-set “Record Store”, a guy confesses his love for a clerk who likes the Replacements, Husker Du and others.
The Silos? The Mats? Husker Du? Well, MacAnany was raised on the stuff.
As a teen in San Diego, the L.A.-born MacAnany devoured such sounds as Springsteen, Dylan and Costello, all of which could be found in his older brother’s bedroom. “All of his albums would be on the floor, not in their jackets or anything,” says MacAnany, 27, cradling an acoustic guitar during a backyard interview. Other outlets helped forge more left-of-the-dial tastes. He caught the Long Ryders on MTV’s “The Cutting Edge”, and turned on to the Replacements’ classic Let It Be via the pages of a music mag. “They looked so cool on the roof [on the album cover],” he says, “and the review was just so mind-blowing.”
During the new-wave ’80s, the gangly MacAnany joined a band of college guys who dared to cover the Rave-Ups, Long Ryders, Beat Farmers and Green On Red for the beer-goggled coeds at parties around San Diego State. From there, he turned to original material, fronting several outfits until hooking up for good with bassist Wade Maurer and drummer John Kuhlken in 1994. The MacAnanys honed their blue-collar-goes-to-college sound, released their own CD (competent, if only semi-representative of their live, bar-band intensity), and earned a healthy following in San Diego via their three-set marathon gigs. They’ve been known to draw 200-plus to the corner bar to sample their folksy tunes — no small feat in that alt-rock surfer town.
MacAnany recently relocated to Los Angeles. While the band still packs ’em in down south — Maurer and Kuhlken remain in San Diego, and the band practices in Anaheim, about halfway inbetween — their focus is now on establishing a presence in L.A. Initial gigs on bills featuring multiple opposite-minded acts have drawn but a couple dozen and have been limited to 45 minutes. Welcome to Hollywood.
But the band believes they will turn a few heads, and then a few more — slowly, surely, and perhaps quietly. “I kind of like it sometimes when we’re playing really quiet and you can hear people clinking their bottles on the table,” says MacAnany. “It grabs people sometimes, especially if we’re doing a Merle Haggard song or a real slow song. They’ll turn around and go, ‘What the hell is this?’ ”