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Editorial: Mamaa Saiz – Songs From a Simpler Time

by Traci Nubalo
Published January 28, 2012

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Life has gotten complex – few will dispute this. Many of us are looking for something – anything – that will ease this complication. And we often find it in music.

When I first came across the name Mamaa Saiz I didn’t exactly know what to think. In fact, I assumed that “Mamaa” was female. Truth be told, I pretty much ignored the act during the short amount of time it took for the SL buzz to drift to my ears. Then I saw the listing: Mamma Saiz playing at the Slum Rock Christmas Party, an annual holiday event hosted by two SL social groups: the Hobos and the Lollygaggers. So off I went.

Much to my surprise, “Mamaa” is a dude. And no, the dude don’t look like a lady. He’s actually a tall, handsome, soft-spoken 63-year-old veteran performer from Texas. “I live in the Dallas area; was born in San Antonio several hundred miles from here”, he told me. The only name I am able to cajole from him is…Mamaa Saiz. But we do know this…

Mamaa Saiz: I came from a showbiz family. My uncle was the first human cannonball, but they fired him.
Traci Nubalo: {rimshot
MS: I played rock and roll as a teenager, and after the military, I moved to Dallas and got a job with long running comedy show Bowley and Wilson. I was there for 14 years, until it played out. I was the Amazing Jimmy Gray, keyboards and magic.
Traci Nubalo: Awesome!
MS: Around that time, I had my first child. So I left the business to work real jobs that would have me home at night. They were expecting to eat every day, so music is a bad choice when you have kids.
TN: Yes. I know it well.
MS: Now that they are grown, I am making my comeback, in Second Life.

Back at the Slum Rock bash, Mamaa takes the stage and my avi instinctively starts moving as we groove to his stylish version of  “Operator” from Jim Croce. This description of Mamaa’s guitar style will hold true across the board for him: he’s a precise player; very good bottom-end play, excellent and imaginative right hand work. And he’s tasty. Mamaa knows how to swing and when to drive.

I also very much enjoyed Mamaa’s singing delivery. His vocal view of the material is thoughtful and often bittersweet. He has the world-weary voice of the veteran crooner who’s made a living with vocal chords seasoned by too many late-night gigs and too much tobacco and whiskey. (And if he doesn’t partake in those, even more power to him for pulling it off). That voice represents a unique and loveable characteristic from the first listen. And he has the smarts (as only a road veteran would) to choose material that takes advantage of the intimacy and casual strength in the voice itself.

He confesses to the packed crowd that he has a “weakness for the British invasion” then breezes right into music by a poster child for the early years of that era – Gerry Marsden’s “Ferry Cross The Mersey.” Now tell the truth – you smiled, too, didn‘t you? He does a gorgeous and vocally-spot-on rendition of this early radio hit that so many have long loved! Here we were exactly two songs into Mamaa’s set when it hit me that if Mr. Mamaa could sustain this authentic sound and emotional connection to the material for the remainder of his set list, he’d be gold! And he managed to do exactly that.

When someone shouts a request for a Bob Dylan song he gently wins the moment with an adroit bit of carny misdirection as he flatly replies, “I have a deal with Dylan: I don’t play his songs and he doesn’t play mine. And if I stay more than 100 feet away I don’t have to go to jail.”

His song introductions are soft-spoken, assuring and well-researched-and-delivered. He told the virtual audience that “Glenn Frey is one of my favorite song writers. He has a way of laying his heart out there. This one has been a hit for a lot of people. It’s a song called Desperado.” Hitting the jackpot again he eases into a superb rendition of this Eagles classic. He seems to have developed a winning methodology and it works for him and for his audiences!

Along the way I realized that there was a kind of sneaky lure to Mamaa that I hadn’t noticed at first: Mamaa Saiz is a raconteur; a storyteller. Every song choice; that easy audience chat; the set list; his unique vocal delivery and guitar arrangements – in a true and honest way, each of these serves Mamaa’s end result: a musical set which tells the story of a generation moving forward in time while simultaneously hanging on to and loving the amazing songs which they enjoyed growing up.

I’m grateful to Mamaa for bringing to our hearts a remembrance of a simpler time. He not only treats us to the depth and soul of some of the best music ever written, but he creates a ton of smiles along the way.

 

 

  • http://twitter.com/GilliamSL Gilliam

    I only found Mamaa a few weeks ago the mans an awesome talent In secondlife

  • Bob McBoint

    What a wonderful piece. It truly summons up the atmosphere Mamaa creates at his shows. He is one of my favourite SL musicians.

  • http://daallee.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/new-friends/ New Friends | daallee

    [...] This morning I finally had some time to pop into my favourite wake up place in SL … Guthrie’s. Was nice to see some faces I haven’t in a while and even better Mamaa Saiz “Mamaa’s 100% live acoustic sets are a mix of smoky ballads, jazz classics, a lil’ country and a whole lotta heart ” was playing. It’s been a while since I’ve heard Mamma sing in his soothing, cosy voice. He turns any bad day into good in just an hour.  Catch Mamaa at Tranquil Café 10/07 6pm slt.  Learn more about Mamaa here. [...]

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