When word got around a year or so back that Will Luckey of West Tisbury and Tim Goodman of Vineyard Haven were collaborating on an album, those who first heard the singer/guitar pickers play on the Vineyard in the 1960s might have felt a bit nostalgic. Once they give a listen to what the two old pals have been up to recently, their focus will likely shift to the present, and maybe to the future too. Friday, August 19, is the official release date of “Magic Music,” a CD and plain old vinyl LP that reintroduces us to the folk/rock/country music that they cut their teeth on, while refreshing it with the help of some incredibly accomplished musicians and modern recording techniques. For anyone who likes good, honest acoustic music, it’s a happy reminder that the style still cuts it and, better yet, that it has endured.
At another time and place, Luckey and Goodman might have gone quietly through their teenage years, done the requisite time at college, and taken up predictable, traditional careers. But the mid-1960s were not just any old other time, and the Vineyard, where they summered, was alive with music, from up-Island barns and beaches to coffee houses in Oak Bluffs. With another summer kid, Bill Makepeace, they made music around the Island until September rolled around and they had to re-shackle themselves to the deadening life of prep school. Like a lot of their contemporaries at the time, the lure of the alternative was irresistible — especially if it meant taking to the road and making music. Besides, with last names like Goodman, Luckey, and Makepeace, why wouldn’t they think the stars had lined up for them?
After a final brief stab at respectability, Luckey ended up living in a school bus in a canyon near Boulder, Colo., with a ragged collection of shaggy peers who were determined to live life the way it appeared to them every morning. Their lifestyle was considered revolutionary by many, aberrant by some, and different by almost everyone, but they made it work for them, doing what they had to to survive, and making music — because they loved to. With Luckey at its hub, a band coalesced, at first only playing at parties and busking on the campus at the University of Colorado. Players came and went over time, but the core remained — Will Luckey, George “Tode” Cahill, and Chris “Spoons” Daniels. They called themselves Magic Music.
Magic Music recording at EastWest Studios in Los Angeles in November 2014. From left, Tim Goodman, Tommy Major, George Cahill, Chris Daniels, Jimmy Haslip, Will Luckey, Bill Payne, and Scarlet Rivera. —Tara Quinn.
They played around the country for a few years, on their own and opening for well-known, large-venue acts like Cat Stevens, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the Youngbloods. They were hustled by a couple of major record companies, but Luckey, idealistic and suspicious of The Man, didn’t like the terms. So the band stuck to its roots, building a wide following in Colorado but never raking in the big bucks. It disbanded in 1976, as family-building and making a living intervened.