Mal Scoppa and the Tall Tales released its debut album "The Things You Love" today and the Williamsport-based four-piece will celebrate the 12-song offering with a free show at 7 tonight in the Community Arts Center's Capitol Lounge, 220 W. Fourth St., during the Billtown Film Festival.
The Tall Tales formed a year ago after Scoppa (vocals, guitar), John Shively (violin, guitar, mandolin, banjo), Jim Lovcik (bass) and Jim Dougherty (percussion) ran into each other enough playing around Williamsport that they decided to start jamming.
All the members are Williamsport natives, save Lovcik, a transplanted Texan who has been on the local music scene a mere 15 years.
Mal Scoppa and the Tall Tales released its debut album “The Things You Love” today and the Williamsport-based four-piece will celebrate the 12-song offering with a free show at 7 tonight in the Community Arts Center’s Capitol Lounge, 220 W. Fourth St., during the Billtown Film Festival.
"Everything came together pretty quickly," Dougherty said. "The musical chemistry is very strong and while Mallory is the primary songwriter, she's very open to new ideas and that fosters a great creative environment."
The group started recording last June, at Creekside Studios, Farragut, and came away with 17 songs, produced by Bob Yoas and engineered by Hunter Wentzler.
There's no set formula to what makes a Tall Tales song; its members subscribe to no specific ideology of say, no amplification, but there's certainly no synthesizers or canned beats to be found in their oeuvre.
"There's definitely a folk-rock sound to [the album], with a little bit of bluegrass and country," Scoppa said. "I grew up on a lot of country - new country, old country, Texas stuff, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt. And classic rock, too: Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, of course Joni Mitchell."
The requirements of playing live also influences musical choices.
"A lot of the shows we play are in smaller, intimate venues which aren't drumset-friendly," says Dougherty. "I've gotten a chance to bring in a lot of percussion and different techniques that I wouldn't use in a more traditional rock setting."
The Tall Tales have played mostly within Pennsylvania, traveling as far for gigs as the Milk Boy in Center City Philadelphia and the Shadow Lounge in Pittsburgh.
Scoppa, who credits Patty Griffin as a heavy influence on her songwriting, said that the concept of "tall tales" does factor into her lyrics.
"Whether they are true or not, they all come from a very real place that is inside me and it's the best feeling in the world to be able to share them," Scoppa said. "When writing I can take a simple experience and stretch the truth a little to make it end the way I want."
The Tall Tales now occasionally post videoed jams online called "The Bar Sessions," so named for the bar in Shively's basement studio.
"They're really just home videos to give a feel of the vibe of things," Scoppa said. "John and I will stay up late playing, and maybe we get some good stuff out of it; it's a laid back concert series."
All of that original material becomes necessary during weekends like this one, as the band will be playing at Franco's Lounge Friday and are at Barrel 135 Saturday night for a three-hour acoustic set, all after Thursday's release party.
"We've been working on this album for over a year now," Scoppa said. "The guys made the music come to life, and we're just so proud of the result."