Acoustic At The BBC

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

On Friday evening, the Black Box Cabaret at California State University, Monterey Bay will host a free acoustic show featuring solo performances by three singer-songwriters with contrasting musical styles.

A familiar face will be headlining the evening in CSUMB’s own Ryan Bisio.  Bisio, an accomplished college-level basketball player as well as a musician, has a self-produced CD titled “Sketches” and is currently writing new material.  He has been performing since 2003 and has amassed a strong following in California.  His performances combine his original songs with cover versions including Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”  Bisio, a music major, graduates from CSUMB this spring and plans to pursue a career in music.  “I’m going to give it a shot, you know,” he said.  “I mean, I’m confident that I could work as a basketball coach or something like that, but I want to give the music a try and just see what happens.”

The evening’s opening act will be Vavak.  Hailing from Orange County, Mike Vavak has been performing live for about five years, and was invited to perform at the Black Box Cabaret after concert organizer Xana Hermosillo saw his MySpace profile.  “She saw me at Chain Reaction, a club in Anaheim, and contacted me through MySpace and asked me to come and play in Monterey,” Vavak said.  “I can’t say I’ve gotten a lot of shows through MySpace, but if people don’t have my e-mail it’s a good way to get in touch.”

Before touring as a solo performer, Vavak had a band, but now enjoys the freedom that performing solo brings.  “In the last year I haven’t written a set list,” he said.  “There’s something about the freedom that makes me get more into playing.”  Vavak has a 6-track CD titled “Parasol” and will be back in the studio in May to record a full-length album.

Filling the middle slot on Friday will be Jonah Matranga, a Boston, Mass native who currently lives in San Francisco.  Matranga started playing music in the sixth grade and entered school talent shows with his friends.  As his peers gradually found other interests to occupy their time, Matranga stuck with music.  “I think the difference between me and other people is that I never stopped,” he said. “I pretty much don’t think I’ve ever had a straight job.” 

Matranga’s music has taken him all over the world, “in a low-profile, punk rock kind of way.”  He visited Japan for the first time last year and is planning to return in the near future.  He also would like to visit Australia.  Matranga has played in the Monterey area before, but this is his first visit to CSUMB.  “I think that a lot of people travel from this area to my other regional shows,” he said, “so it’s nice to be playing locally.”  Matranga has released several full-length CDs.  His most recent release is a CD and DVD double pack featuring live performances.

Friday’s show promises to be a treat for all fans of acoustic music, and with free admission, what better reason to head over to the Black Box Cabaret?

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, March 16, 2006

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