‘Hey, Hey, California’
Everett Coast keep the good vibes and harmonies flowing every Monday at the Craftsman
By Bliss Bowen
There’s something distinctly compelling about tight harmony blends; maybe because of the human connection they represent, with two voices floating as if on the same breath.
Danny Byrne and Josh Misko blend like brothers: sweet, a little sandy, upbeat.
Introduced in 2010 by mentor and former instructor Anika Paris at Musicians Institute in Hollywood, they started playing together in 2011 as Everett Coast. Locals may recognize the easy-going duo from their Monday night residency at the Craftsman in Santa Monica.
“The first time we sang together, it was almost effortless,” Byrne recalls.
“It was like buttah,” Misko adds with a laugh. “We have very similar views on music and how we write, and after we started playing and writing together, it sort of turned into harmonies all over the place.”
When Byrne and Misko sing as they play their guitars (and occasionally ukuleles), they’re reminiscent of the Milk Carton Kids — minus the melancholy, and crossed with Jack Johnson’s beachy vibe. Or, as they’ve been told by numerous fans attracted to their acoustic warmth, Simon & Garfunkel.
“It’s quite the compliment,” Misko says. “Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were really incredible in the way they blended their harmony, and their phrasing was so flawless. I’m definitely not comparing us to them [laughs], but we’re very lucky to be told that we have a blend and a feel that reminds people of that.”
Jason Mraz may be their primary influence — they cite him twice during a half-hour conversation, and include some of his songs in their setlists — but Simon & Garfunkel references are inescapable thanks to the duo’s close vocal chemistry.
Byrne incorporates the ubiquitous comparison into his description of tracks they recorded last week with Johnny Lee Schell, best known as a guitarist with Bonnie Raitt and the Phantom Blues Band. In contrast with the defining acoustic flavor of Everett Coast’s “Hey, Hey California” and “Lift Off” EPs, some of their new tunes boast a three-piece horn section.
“The horn direction that we took was like the ’50s — kind of punchy, just accentuating a chorus or bridge section,” Byrne explains. “It’s almost like an old big band from the ’50s meets Simon & Garfunkel.”
“On one of the songs we have a saxophone solo, but it’s more of a throwback to a big band feel on a few of the songs on the album,” Misko elaborates. “Johnny Lee Schell and Shel Talmy, our producer that we recently signed with, have been amazing to work with.”
Until the album’s release next year, Byrne and Misko are focused on their bantering live shows. They’ve created a circuit of weekly and monthly residencies at the Craftsman, Pelican Hill in Newport Coast and Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino in Reno, augmented by periodic gigs in the San Fernando Valley and up the California coast. At pubs like Ireland’s 32 in Van Nuys, they focus on their own material; at restaurants where they’re aural atmosphere for diners craving comfort and familiarity, they mix their ear-friendly tunes with covers of hits by the likes of Eagle-Eye Cherry, Green Day, Frank Sinatra and Weezer.
“We’re all about good vibes,” Byrne says. “We want people to feel like we’re sitting in a living room and just jamming and having a good time.”
At the Craftsman, where they’ve been performing for almost a year and a half, they’re accompanied by Nova Scotia-raised drummer Christian Hogan and “madman” bassist Stephen Andrews. They’re looking forward to venue shows like their opening slot for Leftover Cuties at Hermosa Beach’s Saint Rocke on Jan. 7, but their residency gigs provide the stability necessary for them to make music full time.
“Playing music for a living was something that, when I moved to L.A., six years ago, it was like, ‘How on earth are you going to make this work in a music city with so much competition?’” Byrne recalls. “That day we quit [bartending] and started making a good enough income with the band that it was at least paying all our bills, that was amazing. When we create music and write songs, we want to play it for people and have them enjoy it and hopefully enhance their lives. Worldwide exposure playing stadiums would be awesome, but where we are now is also really special — we get to share music for a living.”
“When you’re spending all day every day writing or playing or doing something musical, it’s pretty incredible how fast you grow and how proficient it makes you,” Misko says. “It’s like a lawyer breathes law. We live and breathe music. … Sometimes we lose track of what day it is; Friday is not different from Monday, because it’s all time we spend growing our band. Every day blends together with the same goal, to grow, grow, grow musically.”
Everett Coast play from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays at the Craftsman Bar & Kitchen, 119 Broadway, Santa Monica. No cover. Call (310) 573-8426 or visit everettcoast.com.