Matt Costa

Matt Costa (10:00 PM)

Carly Ritter (9:15 PM)

Sam Outlaw (8:30 PM)

Thu, March 21, 2013

8:00 pm

adv tix $15.00 / day of show tix $18.00

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This event is all ages

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Matt Costa - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
Matt Costa
Santa Rosa Fangs is a stirring, stunning, and cinematic look and listen into the sometimes autobiographical, sometimes fictional journey of the venerable California musician Matt Costa through the tangled groves and grapevines of his home state.

Throughout the album’s twelve songs, Costa illuminates what he has learned and how he has grown in the past 15 years of his career. His music has taken him around the world, allowing him to work with diverse, respected artists and to connect with people everywhere—from his albums released on Brushfire Records to recording with Belle and Sebastian in Glasgow, to penning film scores and releasing a variety of genre-bending EP’s, and to finally coming home to Los Angeles’s Dangerbird Records for his first new proper full-length release in nearly five years. A rebirth in a sense, through his keen pop sensibility, studious songwriting, technical mastery, and a modern-meets-vintage sound bursting with bite, Costa has recorded the album of his career, one sure to reach new shores and sailors alike.



“In the past 15 years of my career, I feel I’ve continually been breaking through, speaking out, and reaching different people,” Costa says. “If one of my songs connects now to someone who didn’t connect before, then we have a dialogue together. That’s the point of music, to have that dialogue and tell a story, and to entertain with a sound that has depth.”



He began the recording of Santa Rosa Fangs over a year and a half ago, though some songs here predate that mark. Over the past few years, Costa had challenged himself to explore new terrain, from the acoustic-fingerpicking/lo-fi garage/experimental sounds of 2015’s EP’s to the acid-washed and reverb-laden soundtrack to the film Orange Sunshine to another complete album that never saw the light of day. Realizing he sought a collection of dyed-in-the-wool songs rather than sonic experiments, in July of 2017 he and producers Peter Matthew Bauer (The Walkmen) and Nick Stumpf (French Kicks) entered a studio to begin work.



“There’s a difference when I sit down to write sonic textures and when I sit with a guitar or piano and write a song,” he says. “These new songs went back to a traditional sense, and when stripped back to their purest form, they still work. They tell a story, the melodies aren’t leaning on anything, and they make instrumentation around them come to life in a new way, but their core is strong. My goal for the EP’s was to develop conceptual ideas, making each one in a short period and with their own concepts; Orange Sunshine was a bigger exercise in that. Now, this record is all of those things I was exercising come into their own. It’s more of a visualized record that takes you into the world of the Santa Rosa fangs.”



The tale of Santa Rosa Fangs centers around a young woman named Sharon, her two brothers Ritchie and Tony, and their story of love, loss, and coming of age in a timeless yet contemporary California. It is replete with long distance love affairs and nostalgic romances woven through the loom of tragedy and time. Interestingly, rather than setting out to create a specific narrative, Costa began noticing a theme in the new songs as he wrote them: an unconscious embodiment of the surroundings in which he himself had grown up. According to Costa, the titular teeth refer to that inescapable feeling of a romantic, tragic, and eternal bite that certain places and events will always hold on us.



“I’ve interwoven my own stories into a fictional idea of what ‘Santa Rosa Fangs’ is, from my own time spent living in Northern and Southern California and years driving up and down the coast, seeing the landscape and where life can pull you within one state,” Costa says. “It is all these things—the ‘bite that is eternal, the smile in the neon’—and it has fangs. They stick with you: the romantic, the tragic, all that. It’s the characters’ story and my story, too, contemporary but still tortured by the past. It’s a window into a time period but spoken as if it’s the present. The beauty of love and loss doesn’t have a date on it; it’s timeless.”



The album follows the siblings as they search for love and meaning in their lives, which are ultimately cut short by the passing of both brothers in unrelated accidents. Sharon, left battling with her own mortality and forced to see through a shattered lens, becomes the story’s grieving, guarded hero and, as Costa says, is “a little bit me, and a little bit everyone.” Similarly, the origin of the characters has one foot in reality and one in the ether. The song “Ritchie” is based on a true family saga, as two of Costa’s cousins were twin brothers who died within a year of each other in motorcycle and car accidents in the early 1980s. Likewise, “Phosphorescent Letter” is the story of a local friend’s daughter who endured a long-distance, online relationship with a boyfriend in Australia; in that dramatic situation Costa saw a through-line for Sharon’s tale. “Because she is so tortured by loss she’s afraid of love, so she sets herself up for a distant relationship, illuminated on her phone,” he says. “It’s a real-love thing that happens frequently these days.”



Other concrete inspirations found their way into Santa Rosa Fangs as well. Costa imagined his creations in a setting similar to that of a Jim Jarmusch film, with dramatic events unfolding around them as they attempt to go about their daily lives as earnestly as possible. He also cites Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska as an influence for its songs and characters as well as its moments of sparseness. Like that iconic record, the cover of Santa Rosa Fangs is a stark black-and-white photograph tinged with deep red text, featuring three youths running along a freeway overpass. It’s not clear whether the trio—Costa’s real-life Orange County neighbors—are sprinting for joy or to escape some unknown entity; Costa hints that to him they are running away from the grabbing hands of time. “The song ‘Time Tricks’ is about that, too: it’s inevitable and coming for you.”



Costa also found inspiration in working with Bauer and Stumpf, whom he had previously admired from a distance and whose music resumes he respects greatly. “I really connected with Pete and Nick and took their lead on several ideas,” he says. “That’s why you partner with someone—you want their input. I shaped things a little differently by listening through their ears than I would have otherwise.” Costa cites “Real Love,” an upbeat, heavy tune written in 5/4 time, as such a moment of collaboration. Originally intended as an acoustic song, he was encouraged by his producers to approach it from a fresh direction. “I had done that sort of thing before, a Nick Drake, fingerpicking type thing,” he says. “Pete and Nick inspired me to take it to a new place. To write a driving rock song in 5/4 is a real challenge, but I had the basis in my pattern and we all drove it home with a really strong beat. On my own I might have stuck with a simpler take, but it felt good to tackle some new ground.”



In another circumstance, Costa again came up with two variations of the same song, but rather than being forced to choose between the two, he simply used both. As a result, “I Remember It Well” bookends the album, first as a rollicking, piano-driven number that sets the record’s tone and pace, and second as a sparser, quiet version to end it. The latter was the initial version and was also the first song written for the album some four years ago. “That song is both the entrance and exit to this world, and also shows the process of how you can take a song, do it two ways, and both can be impactful and give you different feelings.”



No matter how his process or approach may change—in the present moment or in any era of coming-of-age throughout his decade-and-a-half-long career—Costa recognizes that one unique thing in his work will always stay the same: his perspective. “Essentially, what it comes down to is this: I sit down with a guitar, and these are songs,” he says. “I’ve worked hard to understand how to produce them in certain ways. You can try to dress up a song and put a different sound to it, but if the song isn’t that kind of song then it’s not going to work. I’ve had to exercise both of those qualities equally—to know how to develop these sounds sonically, and then when I know sonically where I want it to go, I have to write to that. I guess that knowledge comes with 15 years of songwriting experience. I couldn’t have made this record any other time than now.”



For Matt Costa, the world of Santa Rosa Fangs is the past, present, and future of his life all rolled up into one long stretch of sunlit California coastline.
Carly Ritter - (Set time: 9:15 PM)
Carly Ritter
The rich, burnished, folk-rooted sound of Carly Ritter’s self-titled debut album makes it seem that this music was unearthed from a time capsule buried during the late ’60s, with its distinct echoes of Jackie DeShannon, Buffy Ste. Marie, the Stone Poneys and, on one especially whimsical track, the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood partnership.

With refreshing modesty and characteristic genuineness, Carly credits the extended family she made the record with for the sense of authenticity that permeates every note: the husband and wife team of Joachim Cooder (drums, piano) and Juliette Commagere (keys, electric guitar, backing vocals), who co-produced, along with Juliette’s brother, Robert Francis (bass, electric guitar, vocals) and Joachim’s dad, living legend Ry Cooder (guitars), who filled out the marvelously skilled studio band. Martin Pradler, who works extensively with both the Cooders and Commageres, engineered, mixed and played various instruments on the album.

“Joachim and Juliette have such a feel for mid-’60s and ’70s music, and they got this amazing sound,” says Carly. “And, of course, Ry Cooder and Robert Francis. They all know that music so well and how to bring that feel to my songs. It was so humbling to be in a room with all of them, seeing how they work and communicate. They speak this special language. It was so much fun to be part of that.”

Carly grew up surrounded by music. Her parents’ record collection skewed toward rock & roll, and she remembers her mom singing the kids Leonard Cohen songs as lullabies as they were going to bed. But there was one genre she wasn’t exposed to as a kid—not surprisingly, her dad, the beloved actor/comedian John Ritter, had gotten his fill of country music during his own childhood; his father was seminal country singer Tex Ritter. It was during her junior year in Scotland at the University of St. Andrews that Carly became obsessed with traditional idioms.

“That was a special time for me,” she says. “I was getting exposed to these old ballads, and the imagery was strong, heartbreaking, haunting and beautiful. At that point in my life it really struck a chord, and so, when I came back, I spent my last year of college in the basement of the music library scouring sheet music for all these old folk songs, spirituals, blues and country songs. As I started exploring all this music, that’s when the seed was first planted for my own songwriting, and it’s when I started to learn guitar. I already played classical piano and harp since I was little, but the guitar inspired me in a new way. About a year and a half ago, I decided that this was what I really wanted to do, so I kept writing and trying to learn as much as I could about this art form. And I couldn’t have come across kinder and more supportive people than Joachim and Juliette and their families. All of them love making music, and so they were willing to help someone just starting out.”

But it wasn’t merely a matter of generosity on the parts of her newfound musical partners. They were blown away by this neophyte’s innate feel and expressiveness, not to mention her angelic voice. It happened in the space of an afternoon.

“I sent them three songs, and they asked me to bring over any other songs and ideas I had,” Carly recalls. “So I went over to their house, and they said, ‘Let’s just do this. We’ll record a four-song demo and see what happens.’ At that point, I hadn’t even considered that something like that was possible. I couldn’t believe that these two people I admired so much were willing to make that happen for me.”

So they demo’d the four songs, and that was all Vanguard needed to step forward, sign the young artist and underwrite the album sessions. They tracked the album in a week at a Hollywood studio, then repaired to Pradler’s home studio for vocals and overdubs. Throughout, Ritter’s songs and engaging personality drew inspired performances out of her collaborators. “All of the songs are very special to me, and knowing how they approached each one and brought out the best in it makes me love them even more.

“‘Princess of the Prairie’ was an early one that I was really shy about sharing because I thought it was maybe too sentimental,” Carly admits. “I had written it for a certain girl in my life, because I’ve been very fortunate—I have a very loving, supportive family, and I’ve never had to worry about my next meal or a roof over my head. But still, I’ve struggled with self-confidence and self-worth. So this song is for this child—and really any child—what I would say to her: This is your world. The sun is shining for you, and birds are singing for you and no one can take that away from you. I’m proud of that message.

“I adore ‘It Don’t Come Easy,’ which Juliette wrote, and she asked me to add a verse. It’s a kind of sad song that says love can be a difficult process. I played it recently at an open mic, and afterwards a man came up to me crying; he told me he had a catharsis when he heard it. Sad songs have a great purpose.”

Carly cites the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard for the premise of “It Is Love.” “I ended up majoring in religion, not thinking about a career, obviously,” she says, “and one of the first courses I took was called Love: The Concept and Practice. It was like someone knew I was coming and designed a course especially for me—it’s all I think about. In that class, we read Kierkegaard, and I basically paraphrased him for the lyric of ‘It Is Love.’ So I feel some satisfaction in the sense that I’ve finally used my obscure degree for a purpose.”

Another linchpin song, the poignant “Save Your Love,” occasioned a powerfully bittersweet duet with Robert Francis. “That one was written by Jerry Lynn Williams, a singer/songwriter from Texas who never got the recognition he deserved, although Bonnie Raitt and Eric Clapton covered his songs,” Carly explains. “ Bill Bentley, who signed me to Vanguard gave me the song he said he’d been holding onto it for 30 years waiting to give it someone. That meant so much to me. And then, to sing it with Robert was another unbelievable moment for me.

Clearly, Carly still can’t believe her good fortune. “I don’t know when or where I sold my soul, but it was a great decision,” she says with a laugh before turning serious. “There are challenges ahead, but it seemed like everything just fell into place with this team of people. I got really lucky.”

There is much more than luck involved. Carly Ritter is a captivating introduction to a fully formed artist with an old soul and a heart as big as the Hollywood sign.
Sam Outlaw - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
Sam Outlaw
The future’s bright for the young Angeleno
And an old song plays in his head
Far as he knows. . .

These lines from the title track of Sam Outlaw's debut album Angeleno could almost serve as a haiku-like artist bio. Outlaw is a southern Californian singer-songwriter steeped in the music and mythos of west coast country, absorbing the classic vibes of everything from '60s Bakersfield honky-tonk to '70s Laurel Canyon troubadour pop and refashioning them into a sound that's pleasurably past, present and future tense.

“The music I play, I call 'SoCal country,'” says Outlaw. “It's country music but with a Southern California spirit to it. What is it about Southern California that gives it that spirit, I don't exactly know. But there's an idea that I like that says - every song, even happy songs, are written from a place of sadness. If there's a special sadness to Southern California it's that there's an abiding shadow of loss of what used to be. But then, like with any place, you have a resilient optimism as well.”

While he explores those shadows on the title track and the elegiac “Ghost Town,” Outlaw mostly comes down on the side of the optimists through Angeleno's dozen tracks. Opener “Who Do You Think You Are?” breezes in with south of the border charm, all sunny melody wrapped in mariachi horns, while “I'm Not Jealous” is a honky-tonker with a smart twist on the you-done-me-wrong plot. “Love Her For A While” has the amiable lope of early '70s Poco, “Old Fashioned” the immediacy of a touch on the cheek, and the future Saturday night anthem “Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar)” shows Outlaw has a sense of humor to match his cowboy poet nature. Throughout, producers Ry and Joachim Cooder frame the material with spare, tasteful arrangements, keeping the focus on Outlaw's voice. And it's a voice that indeed seems to conjure up California in the same way as Jackson Browne's or Glenn Frey's. Easy on the ears, open-hearted, always with an undertow of melancholy.

Outlaw's journey west began in South Dakota - he was born Sam Morgan -with stops in the midwest before his family finally settled in San Diego. Like many artists, he got the music bug early. But he had serious restrictions on what he could listen to. “I grew up in a conservative Christian home,” he explains. “My first real communal experience with music was in church. I always loved harmonizing with other people. And even though I was technically not allowed to listen to the radio, my dad loved the Beatles. My mom loved the Beach Boys and the Everly Brothers. So we listened to oldies radio, and I think got my first sense of melody and harmony from that.”

After what he calls an “unfortunate” high school cover band (“We did almost all Oasis,” he laughs) and some early stabs at songwriting in college, Outlaw's moment of revelation arrived via the classic country voices of Emmylou Harris and George Jones. “When I first heard them, it totally blew my mind,” he says. “I went out the next day and bought Pieces of The Sky and a George Jones compilation. It was the first time I felt like I had a real special connection with music. That's when I started to get more serious about playing the guitar and writing.”

After switching gears from a day job in Ad sales to pursue his passion, Outlaw marked the change by borrowing his mother's maiden name for a stage moniker. “The initial impetus for using Outlaw was no more than, 'Hey, this is a name that sounds country and it's a family name, so why not?'” he says. “Now, with my mom having passed away and her being a really strong encouragement in my life towards music, I like using the name as a way of honoring her.”

He wasted no time doing his mom proud. A self-released EP in 2014, buzz about his live shows, slots at Stage Coach and AmericanaFest, a video on CMT. Meanwhile, as he prepared to self-produce his first-full length album, his drummer Joachim Cooder played some rough demos for his father, legendary guitarist Ry Cooder.

“When Ry expressed interest in working with me, it was just, 'Holy shit, I can't believe it!'” says Outlaw. “I mean, there's no sweeter person to make a 'country music in Southern California record about Southern California.' He's a master of so many genres.”

To get familiar with the material, Cooder sat in with Outlaw's band. “Before we got in the studio, Ry had already played four shows with us. It helped him curate which members of my band would work best for the live tracking. I was thinking that we'd have five rehearsals before the studio, get everything super tight, then go in and knock it out of the park. But Ry said, 'The band knows the songs. Let's leave some room for life to happen when we get in there.' I liked that he had faith in the players and the songs that we didn't need to over-rehearse. And throughout the sessions, he was on top of every nook and cranny of the arrangements. ”

Recording in Megawatt Studios in Los Angeles, with a band that included Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers) and Chuy Guzmán (Linda Ronstadt), Outlaw heard the album he always dreamed of coming to life. “Ninety percent of what you're hearing is still the five of us in a room performing a song,” he says. “Ry plays on every song, electric and acoustic on the basics. And then all the overdubs he did were just insanely beautiful. He was able to make magic happen on every track.

The resulting record has the timeless feel of those that inspired Outlaw. It is also almost defiantly non-trendy. Does he worry about fitting in with a country scene teeming with bros and Bon Jovi wannabes? “This whole debate about what country music is or isn't, bro country versus traditional, americana versus ameripolitan, it's all pretty boring to me,” he says. “I think I made the distinction of SoCal country because I know that people crave classification. Ultimately I think that the music will speak for itself.”

As Outlaw gears up to support Angeleno with tour dates opening for Dwight Yoakam and Clint Black (“Two of my heroes,” he says), he's hopeful not only for his own record but a comeback of the music he loves. “I've made it a personal mission to remind people how great country music is,” he says. “And specifically, I want to remind them that Southern California has a really rich history with country music. Even though there hasn't been a scene here for a long time, there has been a noticeable resurgence. If I can be involved in some kind of revival in the spirit of this music, that would make me very proud.”
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change