MUSIC BOX: Tales of Adventure and Death

By on October 18, 2016

Wyoming troubadour brings moody sounds and stories to Songwriter’s Alley.

An intimate night with dynamic folk singer-songwriter J Shogren happens Wednesday at Songwriter’s Alley.

An intimate night with dynamic folk singer-songwriter J Shogren happens Wednesday at Songwriter’s Alley.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Laramie singer-songwriter J Shogren has solidified his brand of “catawampus American music” with the release of his fifth full-length album in the last decade, Why So Blue, Bird? This is in addition to his success as an environmental economist. Shogren was lead author of the Nobel Peace prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also served a year as the “King’s economist” in Sweden, and has been a professor at University of Wyoming since 1995 before stints at Yale, Appalachian State and Iowa State. But Shogren’s easy, approachable demeanor means you’d never sense his bigwig status in academia, unless you pressed the tall Minnesotan.

Having spent two WYOmericana Caravan Tours with Shogren and his bandmates, I’ve gotten to intimately know his singular sound. Whether solo, duo or with a larger ensemble, Shogren is like the distant, Wyoming-born cousin of quirky songster Bonnie Prince Billy.

With the release of Why So Blue, Bird?, there’s a sophisticated accessibility that pushes beyond his past releases. Tunes like “Works,” “Audubon’s Birds of America” and “Swampland” (the current single) are warm, dark rockers rooted in folk storytelling, yet with auxiliary arrangement dynamics that really draw the listener into the mood of the story. The studio band is great, which includes longtime collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Jascha Herdt, and the songs are often epics. With 18 tracks to peruse including interludes, the set is a bang for your buck.

Shogren will perform a solo set at Songwriter’s Alley Open Mic, which also opens the stage to the public via a sign-up-and-play format. The weekly event features swing jazz/blues trio The Minor Keys on Oct. 26. After a hiatus in November, Songwiter’s Alley returns for the winter season on a new day with a new format. Beginning in December or January, the event falls on the first “locals Sunday” of every month with multiple acts.

Songwriter’s Alley Open Mic featuring J. Shogren, 8 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, October 19 at the Silver Dollar, free. Musicians can sign-up to play a three-song set of cover songs or original music. worthotel.com

Joe Rudd delivers a blend of analog and digital sounds to The Rose’s late night scene on Saturday.

Joe Rudd delivers a blend of analog and digital sounds to The Rose’s late night scene on Saturday.

Green River to LA to Hoback

Saxophonist, keyboardist, producer, film scorer, beat maker, and Apple Logic expert are among the credits for Joe Rudd, who recently moved here from LA after growing up in Green River, Wyoming, and living in Salt Lake City. While in California, the 20-something worked with major artists and production companies 1500 and Nothin, which linked him to Justin Beiber, Stevie Wonder, and even Dennis Rodman. After running the circuit in LA including producing singers from The Voice and recording music for many other artists and working for Apple, he decided to come back to his native state and hone his own sound.

With influences from Eddie Harris and Robert Glasper to Kaytranada and Frank Ocean, Rudd worked with Aquile (pop-soul contestant on The Voice) in the band Orbit, which was based in SLC and performed at the Mangy Moose several years ago. His role as band arranger and saxophonist eventually led him to LA where he established a network for his own Goldcone Productions, a music production company specializing in compositional scoring and producing. Upon moving to Hoback, Rudd’s ambitious personality and recognizable talent has led him to collaborate as a sideman and studio engineer with many local acts including Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons, Canyon Kids and Screen Door Porch.

“Jackson is full of super talented musicians and there are some really great singers,” Rudd replied when asked about his outside perspective looking in. “The scene is a bit divided but has unlimited potential.”

As a solo act, Rudd utilizes beats, keys, sax and vocals to layer textures, culminating in a one-man dance machine that blends R&B, hip-hop, funk, and jazz—an ideal blend for the velvety walls and late night vibe of The Rose.

Joe Rudd, 10:30 p.m. Saturday at The Rose, free. Pinkgartertheatre.com PJH

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

161019music_planetpicks

161019music_planetpicks-2WEDnesday

Songwriter’s Alley Open Mic featuring J Shogren (Silver Dollar)

THURsday

Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar), Tom Bennett One Man Band (Town Square Tavern)

FRIday

Fists of Funk (Town Square Tavern), Gary Small (Silver Dollar)

SATurday

Joe Rudd (The Rose), Marshall Star (Virginian), WYOBASS (Town Square Tavern)

SUNday

Stagecoach Band (Stagecoach), Open Mic (Pinky

G’s)

Monday

JH Hootenanny (Dornan’s)

TUESday

One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar)

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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