MUSIC BOX: Intimate Showing

By on August 23, 2016

Easy rolling tunes from troubadours who share history and chemistry.

Seasoned songwriters and longtime friends Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin perform together at Center for the Arts Sunday.

Seasoned songwriters and longtime friends Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin perform together at Center for the Arts Sunday.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – In many ways, songwriters Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle were cut from the same cloth. Both have experienced multiple divorces (six for Earle), survived dark addictions, battled demons from emotional anguish via depression and rough patches. Both also happen to be American treasures that pen poignant songs that can lure anyone onto a given page with open ears. The pair of old friends released Colvin & Earle earlier this year.

It was 1987 when Colvin first opened for Earle at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA. Earle was addicted to heroin and when Colvin first tried to meet him backstage, she got the cold shoulder, as he was about to satisfy his fix. Earle had enjoyed success the prior year as a young songwriter in Nashville on the heels of releasing the eponymous Gold album Guitar Town, which led to Emmylou Harris recording the song. Problem was, now he could afford more drugs. By 1992 he was homeless and without a guitar. These days, both Earle and Colvin are in “the program” and both make meetings on the road or have phone meetings with sponsors.

“I didn’t make any music. I listened to mostly hip-hop because that’s what the people I was hanging around with were listening to,” Earle told The New York Times about his stint living on the streets. “The very, very dark place I was in, I remember walking down Murfreesboro Road in Nashville and seeing people I knew across the street. I was worried about trying to stay to one side so they wouldn’t recognize me. Then I got to a gas station and looked at myself in a mirror, and I realized my front teeth were missing. I had dreadlocks out to here, so there was no way anybody would have known who I was.”

Colvin explained about her addiction and recovery: “When I became sober, I was 27 and struggling as an artist. As a kid, I was depressed and riddled with anxiety. The bottom dropped out when I was 19. I was given an antidepressant, and it really helped. But then, as many depressives do, I went, ‘I don’t need this,’ and I went off the drugs. So the depression and anxiety returned, and I learned to medicate myself with beer and wine. I was very controlled—I was getting drunk, but I was totally under the radar. But I had suicidal hangovers that were about to take me down, so I knew I had to quit.”

What you’ll hear on Colvin & Earle and at the show are two late career artists that inspired one another after touring in 2014. Six of the 13 songs are co-written by the pair at Buddy Miller’s house, and the band behind them (including Chris Wood on bass) is poised and relaxed, allowing the lyrics to breathe with clarity. Hard country and pop folk are intermixed with some familiarity, including the Stones’ “You Were on My Mind” and “Ruby Tuesday.”

Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle, 8 p.m. Sunday at the Center Theater. $71. JHCenterForTheArts.org; 733-4900.

Go Out West Fest, young man

“I headed west to grow up with the country,” sang Gram Parsons in his song “Return of the Grievous Angel,” a cult-classic recorded in 1973. The idea comes from the phrase “go west, young man,” based on the concept of Manifest Destiny and America’s expansion westward.

The regional bands of Sunday’s Out West Fest—Birdhunter, Patrick Chadwick, Screen Door Porch (this columnist’s outfit), and Canyon Kids—know the feeling of chasing dreams westward. From nearly top to bottom, the bill is full of musicians that journeyed west in their early 20s to find opportunity and access to the mountains they’d dreamed of. The music followed. The brainchild of duo-led Canyon Kids, the fest signals another Rocky Mountain summer in the books, yet brings together four acts that are forging paths of their own in a rural pocket of the country.

“I first headed West to check out America and our national parks … explore and adventure and have opportunities to do exactly what I want with my time,” said Canyon Kids vocalist/rhythm guitarist Bo Elledge. “I had spent time in other gorgeous places doing seasonal work but this place has more sense of community and a welcoming music scene.”

What sets these acts apart and what ties them together is the emphasis on creating a sound of their own through song craft, and interacting with peers that share a similar zest for the mountain-musician lifestyle. The fest was inspired in part by the WYOmericana Caravan Tour, which Screen Door Porch and Canyon Kids linked up for in 2015. Collaborative encores and cross-band collaborations were a staple of the tour, and Out West Fest embodies this tradition that often produces unrehearsed moments.

Pinedale duo Birdhunter opens the show. Samantha Rise (vocals, ukulele) and Ryan Ptasnik (drums, keyboard bass) have a fresh sound meshing jazz, folk, soul and early blues sensibilities. Patrick Chadwick has had a prolific run as of late, releasing his terrific Soul of Mine EP earlier this year as well as a collaborative EP with Victor Pokorny, Stay! Positive!, released digitally on iTunes just last week. Roots-rock/Americana band Screen Door Porch will stage a quintet after a run of festivals and before entering the studio to record a fourth album. Canyon Kids will close the day with their six-piece version of the band, which often nudges subtle acoustic moments to a rockin’ bang. Last year’s release Best Loved Poems of the American is a notable work of 2015.

Out West Fest featuring Canyon Kids, Screen Door Porch, Patrick Chadwick and Birdhunter, 5 p.m. at Village Commons. Free, all-ages. OutWestFest.org.

Fruition’s Kellen Asebroek: ‘This is our main focus in life and this is the project that we believe in from the cores of our souls.’

Fruition’s Kellen Asebroek: ‘This is our main focus in life and this is the project that we believe in from the cores of our souls.’

Coming to Fruition at the Tavern

Portland, Oregon-based quintet Fruition has grown from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock band with an easy yet powerful grasp of soul, blues, and British invasion-era pop. Though they played the Knotty Pine Halloween show in 2012 and again last August, this is the band’s first show on the Jackson side.

PJH: Fruition has grown organically, grass-roots style through consistent touring since first playing Teton County.

Kellen Asebroek: We’ve been doing this together for eight-plus years now, and as a machine, it’s been a steady evolution. We started by touring in a Ford Explorer, with no real plans or booked shows—just driving and busking and making connections. Eventually we started touring in a van and our current manager Josh Nicotra saw us busking at SXSW and offered his assistance.

Essentially it’s been an eight yearlong exercise in putting our intention out into the world, working hard, and being open to the opportunities that come back at us. It’s been like an ice sculpture—we’re slowly chiseling this increasingly more detailed piece. So whether that means hiring a publicist, hiring a lawyer, beefing up our tour schedule, working with a label, promoting through radio visits … all of these details take shape as we press on. This is our main focus in life and this is a project that we believe in from the cores of our souls. We definitely have learned how to take certain aspects of it more seriously as we grow as a band, and as we grow older as humans—maintaining (relative) mental and physical health, good relationships with each other, and learning how to survive months upon months straight on the road.

PJH: Would you agree that Labor Of Love has a warmer, less raw production value from previous records? Does recording a new album change your approach to the live set?

KA: Yeah, the album sounds less raw, but it doesn’t sound over-produced. We were shooting for a warm, classic, vintage, subtle psychedelic vibe, and I think we nailed it. As far as how it affects the live set, it’s more so that we wanted this album to reflect the live set. Our past outputs have gotten close, but there was still this disparity between the studio sound and our live sound. Labor of Love bridged that gap for us finally.

We had a lot of time to work on Labor of Love, and we wanted to make it sound exactly how it sounded in our heads. Taking full advantage of analog gear and digital mixing, bringing in heavy hitters, like Anders Beck and Steve Swatkins, to throw some added twists on the tracks, and just giving the album time to breathe. There are definitely pros and cons to having too much time to work on an album; some of the best things are done on the first take, or when you are in a “let’s record and finish this thing in a week” type of mindset. For this particular project, however, we stretched it out over a year plus. PJH

Fruition, 10 p.m. Wednesday at Town Square Tavern. $15. 733-3886.

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.

160824Music_PlanetPicks

160824Music_PlanetPicks-2WEDnesday

Fruition (Town Square Tavern), Open Mic with Songwriter’s Alley ft. Slip n’ the Jigs (Silver Dollar)

THURsday

BOGDOG (Town Square Tavern), Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar)

FRIday

Boondocks (Silver Dollar), Todo Mundo (Mangy Moose)

SATurday

Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons (Pink Garter Theatre),

SUNday

Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle (Center Theater), Out West Fest (Village Commons)

TUESday

Pretty Lights with Mikey Thunder (Pink Garter; sold out), Ginstrings (Town Square Tavern)


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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