music: Painting a Picture 

Singer/songwriter John Moossa may have taken a while to get his act together, but now he's on a roll.

Moossa has made up that lost time in the past couple of years, and for a guy whose main previous interests included baseball and surviving College of William and Mary history classes, he has figured out the songwriting basics with an astute ear. The tunes on the new CD "Last Night" range rhythmically from rock to Caribbean, while the lyrics give a listener just enough detail to interpret songs in personal but not necessarily definitive ways. "Girl on a Hill With a Mirror" captures a mystic and rapturous mood; "Samuel Wakes Up" speaks of revelation and dreams. "Leaping Lizards" is a slice of island whimsy, while the title tune's tale sets a lover's questions to a radio-friendly melody. Moossa and his band celebrate the CD's release Thursday, May 30, at Poe's Pub.

"[The songs] are more a painting of a situation," he explains. "Create your own scenario. It's not about a specific situation…[As a songwriter] you paint your ideas in somewhat simplistic terms."

Moossa says he has enough material for two more CDs, but the immediate concern is getting his name out and paying attention to a well-thought-out game plan. Unlike some players who moan and groan and wonder why the gigs never come, Moossa aggressively works the marketing angle of the music business. Once he set his mind on success a couple of years back and began to seriously pursue a songwriting career, he realized there was a method to the madness.

"My wife [Dana] and I are talking about this stuff. … what do we need to do?" Moossa recalls. "I read books about it. … We started educating ourselves." He adds that he has a five-year plan for success, "and I'm not afraid to say it."

What the next five years hold is anybody's guess, but Moossa says he is willing to run the gamut of disinterested club owners and endless phone calls for that elusive break. With the new CD to promote this spring, the John Moossa Band is taking the show to North Carolina and New England, chasing every group's dream of a broader fan base and wider recognition for talent and hard work.

A former food-service worker, Moossa still crams in the occasional catering shift to help support his family, but he hopes those days are numbered. The Massachusetts native may have come to Richmond with only vague musical career notions, but that has changed.

"I'm fortunate to even be in this situation," Moossa acknowledges with a smile. "What's gonna happen is gonna happen. [But] I know other people who have gotten lucky. Who knows?" S The John Moossa Band plays Poe's Pub, Thursday, May 30 at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. Call 648-2120 for information.


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