Music: Julian Coryell and Gus Black

Monday, May 31, 2004, at 08:21AM

By Eric Richardson

I started this post at work the other day, forgot to finish it, and then left it sitting on my screen there. So I've been slow to actually redo it here since I feel dumb for having to redo what I already wrote.

Oh well.

But anyway, Thursday night Kathy and I hopped in the car and took a ride over to Sunset. After sitting in traffic for a while on the 110, we did make it to the Hotel Cafe right around 8pm. It was a bit of a throw-back night: I found street parking, the crowd was small... It felt like the Hotel of the old days.

Julian Coryell was up first, and it was the first time I'd seen him in close on two years. It was fun to see how his music has evolved in that time. When I was seeing him back then he was just beginning to play with a delay petal (ala Howie Day playing solo or Joseph Arthur). Back then he was pretty much only using it for "Living in L.A.", but now it's become an integral part of the whole show and he uses it very well. I've always thought the delay was a great way for solo artists to add depth to their show.

And oh yeah, he has a ukulele with a pickup. And he sang into it.

I'd never seen a ukulele with a pickup before I saw Julian's, but I'm sure they exist. It really is funny seeing his up there playing that tiny instrument with a 1/4" cable looking massive plugged into the back. But wait...

He sang into it.

The song was a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." Talking to Julian afterward he pointed out that at the end of the original the vocals sound like they're way off in the distance -- "coming out of a well" was how he put it. So Julian's standing on stage at a show, playing this song, and he's thinking "How do I make it sound like I'm in a well?" Now, on "Going to California" he starts with the guitar, lays some loop, switches to the ukulele, and then plays most of the song with that. So he's got this ukulele sitting in his hands. All of a sudden it clicks, "Hey, there's a litle microphone in there." With that the ukulele pickup as vocal in well was born. Now that's pretty clever. Julian's about to go on tour opening for Aimee Mann so that should be good for his exposure.

Gus Black was up next, again playing solo. I hadn't heard or even really thought of his stuff since last summer and it was cool to get brought back to some songs I enjoy. Unfortunately I don't have any ukulele stories about Gus, so his review gets to be a bit shorter. That's what you get when you stick to the traditional guitar.

Actually, funny instrument story... For one song Gus decided he was going to switch over to the electric, so he switches and starts the song. Pretty early into it he stops and says "Ok, that's not as cool as I thought it was." He switched back to the acoustic and started over. I enjoyed that.