June 16 2010 12:00 AM

Lansing-based acoustic group spreads slice-of-life whispers

In a music world oversaturated with technological innovation, flashy pomp, and artists desperate to assert their singular bravado, sometimes ordinary can be exceptional.

For Tom Cocozzoli, founder and songwriter of the Lansing-based, five-piece acoustic group Gossip in the Forest, humble and honest songwriting is paramount. Drawing from the same creative well that nourished Gordon Lightfoot, Simon and Garfunkel and Peter, Paul and Mary, Cocozzoli leeches thoughtful and heartfelt lyrics through the soils of quotidian life as lead singers Faith Herrick and (sometimes floutist) Quinn White, winnow the words playfully up through the canopy.

Cocozzoli and fellow guitarist and banjo player Dennis Hunt accompany while Tom’s son, Drew, roots the trunk of the whole outfit down on bass.
Upon first listening to Gossip’s music, it is clear that there is a very relaxed and warm chemistry taking place between all the musicians that is instantly refreshing.

As Cocozzoli Sr. recalls, it was a tough path to discover that harmony but one that ended in sweetness: “It took a long time to find the right people but once we did, the combination was like peanut butter and chocolate — ‘Oh, this is cool!’ These are some of the best people I could work with and I’m honored that they are playing my songs.”

Performing in public has been something of a new enterprise for Cocozzoli and he getting the acoustics of the band just right for live shows is a priority.

“We want to carve our own destiny, and I’ve been waiting for a long time to get these songs out there. So far, so good.”

Cocozzoli was especially pleased with the audience response during a recent gig at Espresso Royale II in Lansing: “We got laughs, we got tears, which is great because we wanna connect with the audience," he said. "It’s a good feeling. Simply shipping your material, you don’t know how it’s received and the listener doesn’t always have a feel for what’s really going on either. Having that experience of playing live with other musicians, though, is the coolest thing in the world, and making those experiences ours is a joy.”

Gossip In The Forest
6 p.m. June 18, Coffee and Friends Cafe, Central Park Place, 5100 Marsh Rd., Okemos (517) 347-0962 www.coffeeandfriendscafe.com