CLARKS SUMMIT — Cole McDonnell, 22, of Scranton, first discovered Open Mic Nights at Duffy’s Coffee House last year as a recent graduate of Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina, while wandering the area looking for places to perform as a musician.
“Before Duffy’s had relocated to its new location (three feet to the left), I had performed there a handful of times and met some of the area’s most proficient local musicians,” he said via email. “Since then, I’ve built solid relationships with them all and have had the unique opportunity to perform alongside them.”
The Abington Heights graduate described the musicians he met in the borough as “not afraid to step outside of their comfort zones to express themselves through their art,” with such sounds as folk, blues, experimental, classic musical theatre, electronic and hard rock.
His own style is a bit difficult to label, but he came up with his own way of explaining it. He calls it “organic soulgrass.”
“Organic, since it has a good mix of roots and acoustical elements which are designed to set a mood of natural and life-filled,” he said. “Soul, for the singalong-ability and the rising of God’s word through my lyrics. And grass allows elements of bluegrass to emerge. My songs are meant to paint a picture of the beauties of our world with colorful riffs and songs being related to natural elements we all experience every day. There are also many moments of hard rock as well as jazz fusion being tossed around.”
Some of his musical influences include Pink Floyd, Incubus, John Butler, Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Marvin Gaye, Snarky Puppy, Jimkata, Fleetwood Mac, and MGMT.
The baritone singer is proficient in electric and acoustic guitar, bass, stand up double bass, piano, synthesizer, harmonica, flute, various percussion instruments and ukulele. He said when not focusing on his music, he works for four months out of the year as a professional circus instructor in New York, teaching unicycle, juggling, flying trapeze, high wire, aerial cradle, cloud swing and fire acts.
He is currently composing and recording a 20-song conceptual album titled “The Canvas,” on which he began work more than a year ago.
“Since Rome wasn’t built in a day, I believe good things truly do take time,” he said. “Currently we have everything laid out and will be doing all the final recordings over these next few months to complete the first half of the album, which will include songs like ‘Colors,’ ‘Hold You,’ ‘Wind,’ ‘Thirst,’ and ‘Forest Sounds (Part 1).’”
Music, to him, is a “gateway to the soul.”
“It reveals itself by uniting an entire room, concert hall, or stadium in successive synchronization,” he said. “It is an art form in our world that allows a crowd of people to come together and all feel as one body. We can allow ourselves to be vulnerable when being serenaded by a song, and it unlocks our hearts and minds in such a way that we truly cannot replicate in any other way” he said. “For me, I’ve always felt the life come back to my body and spirit when I hear or perform the right song. It’s just beautiful in so many aspects of the day-to-day journey.”