The Whatnot
Gig Seeker Pro

The Whatnot

Band Pop Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Catch bongo fever: The Whatnot’s debut album is heavy on ‘the moony effect’"


Showcase Correspondent

Local acoustic bongo rockers The Whatnot are poised to release their debut album, "What You Make of It," on Friday, Oct. 31.

I received one of their limited edition, just-in-time-for-Halloween, orange-and-black advance copies. The CD has received heavy rotation in my house lately because: 1. I’m writing about it, 2. The album’s acoustic pop is catchier than the flu, 3. Singer Patrick Curry’s warm and optimistic vocals have been a palliative for this soul-weary Red Sox fan’s ears and 4. Their music makes my wife, MaryAn, feel "moony."

That’s right, moony, as in doe-eyed, making out in the kitchen, floating around the house, domestic romance — moony. This "moony effect" places The Whatnot in the company of Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, Al Green, Matthew Sweet and acoustic Beck — the cadre of male singers that makes my life more pleasurable. "What You Make of It" will sit comfortably on the shelves of females’ dorms already containing John Mayer, Guster and Howie Day CDs. You do not, though, need to be college-aged or a girly-girl to groove on these songs. There is enough serious strumming and frenetic bongo-ing to keep boyfriends of any age happy and tapping. Guitarist/songwriter Patrick Curry, bassist Matt Junkin and percussionist Chris Mathews have been together as a trio for only about a year. In that time they have found not having a big drum kit or stacks of amps not only helps them play more intimate venues, it has helped them define their uncommon sound. Comparisons to the Boston-area band Guster are inevitable — there just aren’t that many rock bands that eschew drums for bongos.

In a recent interview, Curry spoke of a Portsmouth Music Hall show in 1997 he attended where Say ZuZu opened for Guster. Hearing Guster he thought, "Oh my God! This is the kind of music that I want to do." He smiled and added, "Little did I know at the time all the comparisons that would come."

Aside from the bongos and strong soaring harmonies, the bands aren’t that similar. Curry’s voice and guitar take The Whatnot down a different path. He has an assurance and immediacy in his singing that betrays his unassuming demeanor. When he works his mid- to upper register, there is poignancy and beauty that packs an emotional wallop. Curry said his influences are, "All over the place … early Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rustic Overtones, Oasis, Tom Petty, David Gray … Matt’s big into Creeper Lagoon and Chris is into Virginia Coalition." The various and sometimes disparate influences on the band somehow work out. "The tastes and the flavors end up getting transformed into the music," Curry said.

The band has played many gigs around New England this year. The group has played large and notable venues such as House of Blues in Cambridge, CBGB’s in New York, and the UNH Field House, opening for Howie Day. The Whatnot has also played numerous coffee houses and student centers.

"We all have day jobs so touring is hard. We’d play Nectar’s (Burlington, Vt.) on a Thursday night, get home at 4 a.m. and have to be at work Friday morning." Curry said. "We’re doing this with the hope that someday we don’t have to worry about day jobs."

I, too, hope The Whatnot "make it," for that will ensure more "moony" soundtracks played in my home. - Foster's Daily Democrat

"Feels Like Good"

But the Whatnot's debut is What You Make of It

THE SOUND AND THE FEELY: the Whatnot sound great.

Portland fans might not be entirely familiar with the Whatnot. Though they’re based just down the road in Durham, New Hampshire, they’ve only played Maine four times during their 50-gig run this past year — twice in Orono, twice at the Free Street Taverna, and not once since May. That’s unfortunate. Those of us who rarely make the 45-minute trek south to the Portsmouth area are missing out.

They don’t currently have another gig scheduled up here until January 31, 2004, when they’ll play Brian Boru, but, not to worry, the Whatnot have a debut full-length, What You Make of It, ready for your listening pleasure. Allow it to introduce you to them.

If you like Guster’s new album, especially, then these guys are your new favorite band. The Whatnot employ only a percussion player (Chris Matthews, mostly congas), a guitarist (Patrick Curry, mostly acoustic), and a bass player (Matt Junkin) — a mirror of the Guster lineup before they added a full drum kit on Keep it Together.

It’s plenty of sound, though. "Feeling Fine" is a poppy/melancholy tune, pretty mellow, and really catchy without being cloying. That’s tough to pull off. A touchy-feely, three-part harmony song, with no drums to ground it, is very difficult to pull off without sounding lame.

Touchy-feely? Try these lyrics: "When it feels like you’re out of it, and you don’t know where to turn/ Take a small step away from it, think of all you do right/ When the smoke clears, you’re safe again/ and you’re feeling strangely fine." If their voices weren’t so good — listen for the final reach up to "fine" and the technically sound elongation of the syllable — that sort of self-help advice might not be palatable.

In fact, the Whatnot are more than a little emotional. They do a lot of feeling. After about three listens to the disc, I found myself not with a Whatnot song in my head, but rather Filter’s "The Only Way (Is the Wrong Way)." Why? Because that song features the absurdly overrepeated "And it feels like" chorus, delivered in Richard Patrick’s high-pitched nasal screed.

And the Whatnot feature the phrase " it feels like " on four different songs on this album, including the aforementioned chorus to " Feeling Fine. " On " Pedal, " " it feels like tonight is perfect " and " it feels like the weeks took forever " ; luckily they overcome a sense of repetition by doing a nice job updating Nick Drake’s sound, just not as morbid. Plus, they use their voices as instruments in all the right ways, emoting a " shi-ee-i-ee-i-ne so-ooo-o bright " to great effect.

Of course, on the quickly strummed " Don’t Say Goodbye, " " it feels like you’re living a lie, " while, also, " it feels like I’m breaking out of my shell. " Which is fine because, on " Standing Right Behind You, " " it feels like it’s all wrapped up in time, " so maybe you’re supposed to be revisiting themes in these songs.

I don’t mean to bust on them too much because this does feel like a fully conceived album — and they signed up Jon Wyman for recording at Big Sound, the Grammy-winning David Leonard to mix, and employed local savant Duncan Watt to do the mastering. As a result, the production values are top-notch: the congas popping in the background, the vocals right up front where they should be, and the acoustic guitar strums very clean.

All the songs here are above average, too, but " Thunderclouds " is more than memorable. Featuring a chirping acoustic guitar over a driving bass to open, the song fills out into a warm pop number, the lead vocals calling the best Men at Work songs to mind, sans any sort of ’80s keyboards. Of course, even the best song from the Whatnot is going to be heavy on the feeling: " And all I want is you, when I feel so down/ And telling you everything, thankful that I can get these feelings out of my head/ It feels so nice to get away from all that brings me down/ if feels so nice to not think about work for a while. " I swear, if they didn’t go into a really cool Big Country echo effect on " nice, " if the lead vocal wasn’t so mint (with feeling, but not strained), if the instrumentation didn’t fit the sentiment so well, this just couldn’t work. But it does.

The harmonies are great, too, on " Peaceful, " which features a Howie Day–style opening, a cello line drifting around, and a certain something that should make fans of Pete Kilpatrick’s " Midflight " jump on board the Whatnot’s bandwagon.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at

The Whatnot’s What You Make of It is available at Bull Moose Music’s Portland and Portsmouth, NH, locations. - Portland Phoenix


- Live EP (sold exclusively at shows) - untitled, 4 songs recorded live in Plaistow, NH at The Sad Cafe in November 2002.

- "What you make of it" - debut full length studio album, recorded and co-produced with Jonathan Wyman at Big Sound Studio in Westbrook, Maine. Mixed at Boston Skyline Studio by David Leonard. Mastered by local talent Duncan Watt of Kanuba Records. Song samples available for download at, college radio airplay, and for sale online at and at local Bull Moose record store locations.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Based out of Portsmouth, NH , The Whatnot has performed more than 50 shows in its first year; from CBGB's gallery and the Lion's Den in NYC, to Harpers Ferry and HOB in Boston, to Nectar's in Burlington, and the Big Easy in Portland. The band has shared the stage with such artists as OAR, Howie Day, Ari Hest, Lost Trailers, Matt Nathanson, Even All Out, Jeremiah Freed, Waltham, Paranoid Social Club, Pete Kilpatrick Supergroup, and more.

The group recently released its debut album on Halloween (2003) and sold more than 300 copies in the first 90 days. For more info about The Whatnot, please visit their website at http:///