I’m channeling Carey Driscoll of AMSDConcerts when I intone what might be his epitaph — “Take my word for it and come listen to these guys you’ve never heard of before!” That’s fitting to “Bit of Alright,” a duo comprised of John Rundle and Steve Grant, who will be playing a three-hour set at La Costa Coffee Roasting, 6965 El Camino Real #208, in Carlsbad on August 9 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you come, I’ll bet you’ll stay for the duration. Accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars, Rundle and Grant perform vocal covers of pop and soft rock favorites from as early as the 50s (Everly Brothers) through contemporary (Phil Phillips), as well as original songs Rundle has written. You might hear Neil Young or Toto, you might hear David Bowie or the Eagles — their playlist is long and varied — and includes a handful of Rundle-penned tunes that are nothing less than downright, damn good songwriting.
Rundle and Grant weave guitar work around Rundle’s Larrivee steel-string played through a small Roland AER amp, and Grant’s Taylor nylon-string. There’s a sweet combination that results, with Rundle’s steel-string, rich, ringing prominence, blending with Grant’s nylon-string soft, mellow fills. “And we’re suckers for good harmony,” adds Grant, which is his forte, interleaving rich, lush harmonies around and through Rundle’s lead vocals. “We enjoy playing and singing these songs; it’s a bonus that listeners like hearing us perform them.”
While the covers are great, Rundle’s guitar work and lyrics make this duo rise above the norm. Rundle’s an expressive guy with a quick sense of humor, and one of his songs, ‘I’m Sure to Be on TV,” which he describes as ‘redneck narcissist,’ invokes a bit of Loudon Wainwright III with a dose of Randy Newman’s “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”
“Wish I knew way back then what I reckon now….I’d just kiss and squeeze you ‘stead of ridin’ this here plow……How come your folks don’t like me, hell I don’t really care……Just meet me in my big ol’ barn and let me pull your hair….Be my little darlin’, and just keep tellin’ me that you know with my good looks, I’m sure to be on TV…..”
“Regarding my song writing.” says Rundle,” I sometimes have a subject matter in mind inspired by my own experiences and emotions. With an idea in mind I then start “noodling” around on some chords that feel like my ideas and then at some point, the song will almost write itself. When I wrote “I’m Sure to Be on TV’ I knew I wanted to do something humorous and got to thinking about a redneck narcissist. I basically wrote the rough words and most of the chords in less than an hour while sitting in the parking lot at Beacon’s in Leucadia. (Much like Jack Tempchin wrote that last verse of “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” over a chili dog at der Weienerschnitzel on Washington Street in Mission Hills.)
Listen to Rundle’s “Rain” and to the duet with his wife, Teresa, “No One Will Ever Love You Like I Do” from the Nashville Television show. Both are outstanding songs, carefully crafted and their harmonies are splendid. For songs on YouTube, search “John Rundle” and “Bit of Alright” and get a hint of how good these guys are in person. There’s no cover charge at La Costa Coffee Roasting, it’s a good listening room, with close-up seating, and with a nice menu of goodies and coffees. For more information and booking requests, you can contact Steve Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org Bit of Alright are perfect for that private party, wedding, birthday or anniversary celebration, and they won’t break the bank — and they won’t insist on a bowl of M&M’s in the green room with all the brown ones removed!