You might not know Mark Weakland as a singer-songwriter, but as drummer and percussionist for numerous Pittsburgh-based artists: Sandoz, Ben Opie, The Newlanders and Jack Erdie, among others. But for the new rootsy Golden Age, Weakland's front and center on the mic with his own compositions.
Weakland's pleasant vocal style has earned comparisons to James Taylor and Dave Matthews, though to my ear he has a bit of a Jimmy Buffet timbre mixed with some David Crosby. (One of the CD's two cover songs is Crosby's "Page 43.") And while you'd never think it to hear it, he also performed all of the instruments on the album: keyboards, drums, bass, contrapuntal acoustic guitars and occasional hot electric leads.
The majority of the dozen songs bop along with a country-rock groove and a rural, Western Pennsylvanian ethos. "He sang you a song of hot summer roads and bubbles of black tar / That cling to your heels," Weakland sings on the opener, "The Valley." "Holes in My Heart," has some creepy keyboards a la Born in the U.S.A.; "Goodbye History" could be a gloss on Springsteen's "Hometown," meditating on that sense of the passing of old ways and an uncertain future. "Today they closed the corner store / Last year they boarded up the mine." If these are your sentiments and concerns, there's much to dig into on Golden Age.
Mark Weakland CD release, with Fungus (Grateful Dead tribute band). 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 10. Thunderbird Café, 4023 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-682-0177 or www.thunderbirdcafe.net