April 01, 2005

Julie Mack leaves an impression at KUSI

By Francisco Ciriza

The tall slender young woman on the television screen had a look in her eye and quiver in her voice that may have given away a hint of nervousness, but as soon as the music started, it was apparent; she knew exactly what she was doing and had absolutely no reservations about it.

Along with her three-piece band, local singer/songwriter/guitarist, Julie Mack left an impression among the weekend staff at the KUSI studios this past Sunday as comments about her appearance continued to circulate through station offices throughout the week. Mack appeared as part of the local independent television station’s efforts to promote local music playing songs from her recently released independent CD, Songs About You.

The local music scene veteran, who cites her cousin as her earliest musical inspiration, “She had this guitar that looked so big at the time and a helluva voice,” says Mack, is making a rather impressive push to be the next gem from San Diego’s adult/alternative scene to strike it rich on the national music scene.

Like Jewel, Steve Poltz, and Jason Mraz, all pillars of the San Diego music scene who’ve gone on to national stardom, Mack has an easy going, folk-like quality to her songs and personality which seem to give her an edge over the competition, especially with new listeners. She writes all of her songs with her acoustic guitar before turning them over to her band. It is then they take on the more dynamic and harder edged, if they can be described as such, elements of electric guitar, bass, and drums. However, neither she nor her music is ever deliberately overpowering, yet the precision and quality of her craft along with her presence make it difficult to ignore her.

“The live shows started out pretty mellow as it was just myself and my guitarist in the beginning playing as a two-piece acoustic act. Since we’ve added the full band things have definitely gotten more rocking with a tinge of the mellow still attached,” says Mack.

Mack, whose music has been compared to the 90’s U.K outfit, the Sundays, and whose voice might remind some of 70’s folk singer Melanie, grew up listening to Motown, Country Western, Country Rock, Mack specifically names, Marvin Gaye, the Commodores, Elvis, Hank Williams, Credence Clear-water Revival, and Fleetwood Mac as her major musical influences.

Her songs solidify her self-described hopeless romanticism and unabashedly admit she “believes in the power of love. I believe in faith and hope. I think that comes across in the music,” adds Mack whose songs mostly describe relationships between individuals and lovers, friends, or god.

“I am exactly where I am suppose to be in my life and in God’s eyes and that is reaffirmed with every passing moment. My lyrics are a reflection of that affirmation. Some are happy, others very sad but all are hopeful, like there’s a light… you just have to keep reaching for it,” explains Mack.

But perhaps most compelling about this motivated and complex local artist is her knowledge of both her own goals and of the music business itself. For years, Mack has known exactly what she was going to do and those players in the music business she’d seek out for advice, assistance, and eventually, a shot at a recording contract.

Now that the 5-song Songs About You has been completed, she looks ahead to releasing a full-length album by the end of the year and subsequently “tour, tour, tour. Every time I see a tour bus on the road I go crazy. I’d like to put out a solid 3 albums, have 3 solid tours and then I want to nestle away somewhere, pop up on random recordings, have a loving husband, a bunch of babies and a white picket fence,” adds Mack.

Until then, she’s happy with the coups she’s pulled off including upcoming shows at two relatively high-profile clubs in Los Angeles, usually unheard of for an unproven act, and an impressive opening slot for an upcoming concert featuring the internationally acclaimed Irish band, The Devlins.

The Devlins, Susan Enan, and Julie Mack, $8 Saturday, April 2, 2005, Casbah 2501 Ketner Blvd. 619-232-4355.

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