Looking like a middle linebacker who traded in his helmet for a surfboard and a Jack Johnson signature guitar, Matt Conable and his band, The Spokesmen, are all about rock and roll with sunburnt Americana flavor. With no website, CDs or band ephemera, it’s easy to assume The Spokesmen are wanted for nefarious actions—but Conable maintains they’re just low profile. “We’ve been playing off and on in the local scene for a long time, but the four Spokesmen have just gotten together in January—we’re taking our time,” he explains. Guitarist Mark Roths and Conable began playing together 20 years ago in an early incarnation of local rock outfit Xing.
Two decades later, the pair has reconnected to play original music. “Everyone in the band likes songs with harmonies you can actually hear and a melody you can appreciate,” says Conable. With 60 original songs under his belt, Conable has become a staple singer/songwriter at The Poet & Patriot, The Verve Lounge, and The Ugly Mug—but for him, music is about reaching as many people as possible, so the need for a bigger band took root. Eventually, David Trustman (bass) and Emmanuel Selassie (drums) joined in, and The Spokesmen were born. The moniker didn’t come as easily. “At first we were called Splitting the Peak,” says Conable, “but people kept calling us Splitting the Peach, which means something entirely different.” Today, The Spokesmen are probably the only band that can engage the audience at Henfling’s Roadhouse Tavern with sweet-lilting harmonies and high energy, and not start a bar fight—it doesn’t hurt that Conable’s professional business provides high-end knives to actors and musicians. There is an air of old school danger to The Spokesmen, but its frontman is still relatable—much like Jack Johnson, Conable’s enthusiasm for well-written songs and mellow rock with a kicking pulse wins over even the hardest
INFO: 8 p.m. Thursday, May 3. The Crow’s Nest, 2218 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. $5. 476-4560.