STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Over the years, Don McAvoy & The Great Whatever have played for crowds as few as zero, and as many as 15,000.
It’ll be interesting to see precisely where in that wildly broad range the attendance will be for the band’s Feb. 13 show at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. The band Germany Hill, which is comprised of Great Whatever family and friends, opens.
Regardless of who does or doesn’t show up, “you do the same show,” said the group’s bassist of 25 years, Oxford resident Marc Arot. With small audiences, “you lose that crowd-fueled energy, but it makes you a better player,” he said. “This World Cafe Live show legitimizes everything.”
McAvoy, a multi-instrumentalist who lives in Collegeville, and The Great Whatever released their third album, “There’s Time Between the Bridge and the Water,” in October. It includes witty ditties like “Happy Friday,” a 10-second jingle titled “Yuengling,” “In-Laws,” “Leave Those Clocks Alone” and “Click (The Facebook Song).”
“‘The Facebook Song’ I wrote with an author from New York. I’ve been writing songs since I was 12 or 13, and it’s just a passion,” said McAvoy, who claims to have written 2,500 songs. “Marc and I started playing at the Tin Angel … Grape Street Pub … we did a lot of the bookstores years ago.”
McAvoy and Arot both grew up in Roxborough. McAvoy’s brother, Mike, drums for the band, and Jim Walsh is their lead guitarist. “I have the fortitude to be in a band with my best friends in the world. We try to stay on the positive end of things,” McAvoy said.
“It’s rated E, for everybody,” Arot said of The Great Whatever’s music. “It’s about fun. It’s about bringing people together.”
When asked about the name, Arot said: “We could never figure out a name for the band, and it’s whatever we came up with (musically). Everybody brings something to the table. Every set is whatever. Everybody does what they’re best at … whatever.”
One example is the new song “New Shoes.” “Don’s parents would swing dance whenever we played that song,” Arot said. The video was shot in a church basement and features the Steel City Swingers swing dance club.
Don McAvoy & The Great Whatever’s ample online presence — www.dmcgw.com, www.facebook.com/dmcgw, www.youtube.com/user/greatwhatevervideos?feature=watch, www.pandora.com/station/play/2343268050299527476, www.cdbaby.com/cd/donmcavoythegreatwhateve2, and www.cdbaby.com/cd/donmcavoythegreatwhateve — can be credited to Arot. “My daytime job is I’m a project manager for a company that makes metal panels. I have the logistics stuff,” he said.
Meanwhile, McAvoy’s bio states that he had dial-up internet until 2010, and “just started texting recently.” “I’m a dinosaur,” the 48-year-old McAvoy laughs. “Technology was supposed to help us work less and spend more time with our families, but instead we’re working harder and there’s nowhere we can’t be reached.”
Feb. 5 is the last day to cast an online vote for the band, which is in the running for several of 93.7 WSTW’s “Hometown Heroes” Homey Awards for local original music. Go to http://wstw.com/heroes/homeys-vote.php.