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Overwhelmed by the speed at which his gift took him from Applebee’s server to “the new Neil Young” in a matter of months, he walked away from an unlikely major label deal after releasing two critically acclaimed albums. He slipped into a blur of booze and self-doubt. Exhausted and damaged at just 23-years-old, Dylan came home to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to write a new life for himself.
In between the moments of clarity and a few familiar falls, he also wrote a new album, Cautionary Tale: a collection of shimmering, arresting songs with the same haunting vocals that caught the attention of Lucinda Williams and Bruce Springsteen, now with a sharpened edge honed by hastened maturity.
The Lonely Hearts are a rock and roll jukebox. A high energy quartet, the Lonely Hearts have been playing together for nearly a decade; from intimate parties to maximum capacity crowds, they have kept audiences dancing from start to finish. They contain the energy and soul of a vintage rock and roll band but with an incredibly vast repertoire that ranges from early rock and roll, Motown, early punk, new wave and modern pop. Their musicianship goes far beyond their years. They pride themselves on the ability to read a crowd and use their repertoire to tailor their set in order to keep the party at a high pace.
It’s hard to pinpoint the moment that songs are born, the day casual hummers become singers or scribblers become songwriters. Rayland Baxter certainly can’t, and he wouldn’t want to. Though he grew up in Nashville to the sounds of his father’s pedal steel, he didn’t dream of being a rock star. He loved music, of course, but he liked other things, too: being outside, playing sports, working at the bait shop to make spare change. He’d always just let things settle into place naturally, following his gut from Tennessee to Colorado to Israel and back again, not knowing that when he returned home he’d have a handful of songs and the knowledge that, at the end of the day, he didn’t want to do anything else but make music. He leads a life without reigns, his work always echoing the ease in which it came to be.
“All of my music has come in a very natural way, by following the organic process of life and letting it just happen,” he says. “I jumped my fair share of ships, and the pieces came together slowly, not by study or design.” The result is a record inspired by a life lived, not one struggling to inspire life. “Down the mountains and the valleys like the breeze,” he sings on “the mtn song,” “we’re going where we want to go, doing anything we please.” He’s done just that, writing songs that are reflections of what he’s seen, felt and lived; the metaphors found in the hills, the slow strums born at home but blossomed across the sea.
Growing up, Baxter’s father Bucky (a multi-instrumentalist for Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Ryan Adams, among others) made sure music was just a natural part of life, a soundtrack to childhood. “I grew up around pedal steel melodies,” Baxter says, “not knowing how later in life it would shape me and how I sing or place lyrics in a song.” He’d met Dylan and become friends with a young Justin Townes Earle—back then, they were just two kids who knew their dads were gone frequently. One day, while out on a motorcycle trip, Bucky bought his son a guitar: a used, blue electric one. He was in elementary school, no older than third grade. “I played it,” Baxter says. “But I also played Nintendo.”
Most of the time, he just liked being out in the field, grass under his feet. While he spent much of his teenage years playing sports, by 21 he’d picked up the guitar again. The sound of six strings ringing had always been comforting, only now its draw proved stronger: it was a surprise, perhaps most to Baxter himself, how naturally and harmoniously songs came. Instead of finishing college he moved to the small town of Creede, CO, playing open mics at a taco bar and busking for tips. It was a gig as a guitar tech for the band Moonshine Sessions that led him to Europe. After a relationship in Paris went sour (though would later inspire the song “oLivia) he took his father’s old friend up on an offer to spend some time at his home in Ashkelon, Israel.
“I was supposed to be there for two weeks,” he says. “I ended up staying for six months.” Life in Ashkelon, a coastal town close to Gaza, involved a cadre of sounds: bombs detonating in the cornfields, sirens going off so frequently that few took notice or cover. Baxter drowned the noise with his host’s enormous collection of records and documentaries: Townes Van Zandt, Dylan, Leonard Cohen. “I would spend my days and nights just studying all my favorite people and musicians, and that’s when it clicked.” One night he couldn’t sleep, so he went outside to a barn in the back of the house with his guitar. “When I came back in, I said to my friend, ‘I think I wrote a good one out there.’” The resulting song was his aching, pivotal folk tune “the woman for me,” which later became a road favorite and will appear on his debut, feathers & fishHooks.
Baxter has a saying he likes to use a lot: “when you find the right river to float down, just keep floating.” That he did, using his time in Israel to craft the material that would become his Miscalculation of Song EP. He began recording his full-length in January 2011, produced by Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Caitlin Rose) and supported by his friends, including Eric Masse (producer/engineer), Jacquire King (mix) and instrumentals by his father, Bucky. The songs range from the solemn, steel guitar and harmonica anchored “marjoria”; to the locomotive, du-wop of “driveway meLody”; to the stark, Middle Eastern tinge of “wiLLow.” Each is thickly emotional, raw but supremely balanced, pulling reference not only from musical idols but from love had and lost, roads traveled and trials awaiting back at home. And, when you strip it all away, these are songs that could exist with just Baxter’s voice and guitar alone, timeless.
He’s spent much of his time on tour: with The Civil Wars, who personally invited him to open, as well as Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Now Baxter lives in a small, crowded house with five people, four chickens, a dog and a fish named okra near the Nashville fairgrounds, an industrial part of town on the west side of the river. He sleeps in a covered porch with no air conditioning or heat—“like camping,” he says, enthusiastically at that. His hometown has played a vital role in shaping him musically. “There is an incredible group of young artists, songwriters, painters and filmmakers here, just a huge community of really rad people. It’s been vital to have a great creative group of people I can feed off of all the time.”
His songs are a calming force for anyone looking for change, for love, or wanting to walk in a different direction—because it was his own quest for all those things that motivated the music. “I had nothing to write about until I was 25. I had to live through a lot,” he says, “and I when I sing I don’t hold back. I’ll cry on stage if I came to it. It’s an emotional release for me, and there’s no makeup on it. It puts me at ease, and that’s what I hope it will do for those who listen.” Down the mountains and the valleys, like the breeze.
Emilie & Ogden is not your typical duet but rather an encounter between a young singer and a harp. Her particular voice has often been described as pure and soft, resonating in perfect harmony with the instrument. On stage, her traditional folk sound is embellished by drums, bass and a soft electronic touch, drawing inspiration from other female artists such as Feist and St-Vincent.
Freakwater was formed by Janet Bean and Catherine Irwin in 1989 and has been innovating and reinvigorating alt-country ever since. Following two records on Amoeba Records, the duo signed to Thrill Jockey in 1993 for the seminal Feels Like the Third Time, which was reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day 2012. The record opens with "My Old Drunk Friend," perhaps the greatest song Hank Williams never wrote and features seven originals and five covers of songs by the likes of Conway Twitty, Woody Guthrie and Nick Lowe. 1995's Old Paint showed the group's songwriting coming into its own, and was their most critically acclaimed album to date. 1998's Springtime saw the addition of Wilco's Max Konrad Johnston to the group, and features some of the band's most heartbreaking and beautiful songs, including the now classic "Louisville Lip." The group expanded their sound on End Time, adding drum kit, organ, and even strings on several songs.
The early aughts saw Bean and Irwin each releasing solo albums, Dragging Wonder Lake and Cut Yourself a Switch respectively. Both records showed each musician exploring different facets of the sound cultivated in Freakwater: Irwin a stripped down, appalacian vision of folk music, and Bean an artfully crafted, cosmopolitan type of pop. In 2005 the group released Thinking of You, a collaboration with members of fellow Thrill Jockey group Califone. After a long silence, Irwin finally released her second solo release, Little Heater in September of 2012, which Oxford American said, "will leave you aching for a broken heart so you too can sing wrenching songs about love and loss."
Annie Sama is a Canadian electronic producer, singer-songwriter performing under the monicker APigeon. APigeon inspires us with her melodies, enveloping harmonies and poetry. Accompanied by musicians, she takes us on a tribal and contemporary rythmic journey. With her lavish voice blessed with flexibility, she extends her vocal range without diffusing emotions, which earned her comparisons to the likes of Björk, Feist and Lykke Li. A disarming trance that cradles us and leaves us with thousands of images.
While Random Recipe is delightfully slow-cooking a third album in the oven, have a taste of an authentic, organic and delicious side dish; FABjustfab! Presenting her Palm Rap demo; a fun, forward-thinking, psychadelic world of nature’s raps over warm sun beaming beats.
MIGS AND SILENT J
Growing up in Mile End, a part of the Plateau-Mount-Royal borough of Montreal, known for its culture as an artistic neighbourhood, home to artists, musicians, writers and filmakers, these two brothers incarnate the old school, East Coast, 90’s rap scene. With inspirational and influential hip hop pioneers the likes of Notorious B.I.G. Nas and Big L, MIGS AND SILENT J’s punchy fast flows and vivid storytelling while "rippin the mic" embody the struggles and emotions of young adults today. Together with MIGS’ rythmic and clever lines and SILENT J’s surprising spewing of intense lyrics while "spittin a rhyme" will give you a taste of East Coast x West Coast rap music.
Tonight we're hosting a Drake alumni dirty dozen Birthday Party w/Good Enough Live Karaoke! We have drink specials to help w/your liquid courage + it's hosted by Drake alumni + musical talents, Cody Ray Michie + Christine Aziz, who's show tunes are sure to please.
Entry by way of one perishable food item per person, supporting:
The St. Royals are the new kings of the motown/funk/soul scene. Recently featured on Slice TV, they're an army of Toronto's most talented young players who always pack the dance floor. The St. Royals ooze style and swagger, while bringing authenticity and excitement to the soul era. Most of all, they bring the funk!
In 2006 Doillon began writing music with friend and musician Chris Brenner. A song they wrote together, "The Girl Is Gone", was featured on the Visionaire Magazine special music issue and picture disk in 2007. Doillon sings, plays guitar, and writes lyrics; she released her first EP with Brenner, musician John Mitchell, and various artists. The album is titled Places and her first single is "I.C.U." (as in "I see you"). Doillon told Interview Magazine "I wrote that because I was desperately in love with someone that I hadn't seen and that I never saw again in my life. I wandered for months in the street looking for him." The album receives rave reviews and Doillon won the "Best Female Artist" at the 2013 Victoires de la Musique.