You folks in internet land may have seen a surprisingly good video show up recently on your Facebook News Feed of two guys in a pizza joint slaying Toto’s “Africa.”
The YouTube video has nearly three million views as of this writing, and is on its way to becoming a viral sensation—and for good reason.
The song choice is fantastic, the vocals are spot on, and the intimacy of the video sucks you right in.
The two musicians in the clip are Mike Massé on guitar and lead vocals, and Jeff Hall on bass and harmonies. If you haven’t seen it already (or even if you have), watch the video below.
Originally from Boulder, Colorado – Mike Massé actually works as a lawyer by day in Utah, and along with his attorney friend and fellow Brigham Young University graduate Jeff Hall, plays covers the first Monday night of every month at Pie Pizzeria in Salt Lake City.
The two have been performing together for over 20 years – playing some of the best songs in the history of rock and roll. Massé’s ability to replicate many of music’s top vocalists (including U2’s Bono, Peter Gabriel, and The Who’s Roger Daltrey) along with bassist Hall’s stellar harmonies, make this duo a hidden treasure in the world of cover music.
In the past few years since the release of the video above and several others from the same venue in 2009/2010, Massé and Hall have significantly increased their fan base by way of social media – and over 18 million views of their YouTube clips.
Their popularity has grown to the point where they performed for three straight nights at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in October of 2013, and later in November at the Capitol Theater in Frankfurt, Germany.
As recently as January of this year, Broncos fan Massé and Hall got to play outside Denver’s Mile High Stadium prior to the team’s victorious playoff game against the San Diego Chargers.
Musicianship is important for cover bands and artists, and not always given the necessary focus and attention. But even beyond playing the parts correctly, what drives the song is the vocals.
When patrons of a bar, club, or restaurant check out a cover band, they want to sing along, even if only silently. Massé and Hall clearly take the time out to learn the parts as they were written, and deliver them with love and perfection.
This is no small feat – and is indicative of what makes for an enjoyable and successful performance.
On Mike Massé’s website, you’ll find a list of over a hundred songs that he covers – many with links to videos of his performances. According to his Facebook Fan Page, Massé is influenced by such iconic acts as The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, Genesis, Radiohead and more – and performs songs by such artists with impeccable accuracy.
But even the best can’t always do it alone, which is why you’ll usually find bassist (and New York Yankees fan) Jeff Hall right by his side, laying down the foundation with a note-for-note flawless bass line, and coloring the vocals with pitch-perfect harmonies (and we all know, of course, that bass players rule).
It’s not easy to have success playing some else’s material. There are thousands of people all over the world that perform covers – some for a living, and others for fun and some extra spending cash.
What separates Mike Massé and Jeff Hall from the pack is that they don’t seem to be playing for recognition, and that makes their act that much more appealing. They both have full-time professions, yet make it a priority to put passion into the music that people long for.
Every cover musician has experienced a gig or two where they’re playing to very few people, or nobody is paying attention. The consummate, seasoned player will shut out what he sees before him and focus on giving the best performance every time – as if there were 20,000 people in the crowd, regardless of the fact that they’re actually in a small venue where people are casually walking by with their drinks or pizzas.
Massé and Hall prove that in the world of cover music, it doesn’t matter where you play, but that the most important aspect is to honor the spirit of the original song, and to take the time and care to deliver a performance that is well-rehearsed, heartfelt and genuine.
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(This article was originally published on Spinditty in January 2017. It has been edited here to reflect the current time passed.) I’ve been playing in
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