Getting back into the music scene after a few years away, Josh Briggs learned a couple of things. First, a repertoire of indie-rock tunes drawn from his personal tastes was not enough to entertain most audiences at the places he was playing.
"After getting so many requests to play Jimmy Buffett and Zac Brown songs, I decided I better learn some. Thing is, after all the years I spent scoffing at that stuff, I realized there was more to those songs than I was giving them credit for," says Briggs.
The storytelling and simple, catchy chord progressions were not far afield from the punk rock that Briggs grew up on. And as he worked on a batch of original songs, that country and roots-music influence started showing up in his own work.
"I didn't plan it that way," says Briggs of his recently released "Back to Bliss." "I wrote a bunch of songs over the past couple of years and when I pulled together the ones I liked best for the CD, a lot of them had that country twang thing going on."
Briggs will air some of those tunes with the band Five on Friday when it plays Sunday in the Coppertop starting at 4 p.m. Guitarist Dave Rotondo and percussionist "Bongo" Mike Sheehan join Briggs in Five on Friday, and the trio covers a swath of classic to contemporary tunes alongside the original material. Briggs, who was a member of the popular alt-rock bands Popgun Picnic and Flat Stanley, returns to the Coppertop with a solo gig on Feb. 26.
Briggs used a Kickstarter campaign to finance his CD. He raised enough money to also produce a nice video for the single "What I'm Drinking," above, which has drawn more than 14,000 views on YouTube.
"The Kickstarter worked really well. It was like having a bunch of pre-sales," says Briggs of the funding mechanism that lets fans support musicians, filmmakers and the like with donations and then reap a CD or some other incentive.
"Things are a lot different from the old days," says Briggs. "I don't know 14,000 people, and to have that many people see the video and to get emails from all over the place about my music is great."
What hasn't changed from the old days is knowing how to make a connection with an audience from the stage. Briggs says that Five on Friday typically plays smaller rooms, so it doesn't want to blow away its listeners with anything overly loud. Though "Bongo" has been building his battery.
"When we started, he had a conga and bongos. Now we're up to a kick drum, a snare and other percussion," says Briggs. "His kit looks like it's from the island of misfit toys."
But Briggs knows as well as anyone that you learn what you need to do as you go along.