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
When Matt Costa first started writing for his fourth full-length album, he envisioned the
end result as a stripped-down selection of rootsy folk songs. But once he plunged into the
songwriting process something much more grandiose and sonically adventurous began to
emerge. Soon Costa found himself in the midst of a highly unanticipated yet deeply
expansive evolution of artistry as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. “The
songs started morphing and twisting and taking on a more mystic sound,” says Costa,
“and at the same time I began opening up my sense of what’s possible with melody.”
Thanks to his resculpting those songs with elaborate yet naturalistic instrumentation and
some boldly inventive merging of disparate musical styles—as well as decamping to
Glasgow to record with longtime Belle & Sebastian/Mogwai cohort Tony Doogan and
an illustrious ensemble of Scottish musicians—the new self-titled release proves to be
Costa’s most ambitious and magnetic album to date.
The follow-up to 2010’s Mobile Chateau (hailed as a “gorgeously garage-sounding album
with organic percussion instruments, crackling tube-driven amps, and jangly guitars
cascading in every direction” by AllMusic), The new record again reveals Costa’s
penchant for blending sun-soaked pop with sweetly ethereal, British-folk-influenced rock.
But in a marked developmental departure, Costa builds on that pairing with lush
arrangements and sprawling melodies that elevate his sound to a stunning new level.
Produced by Doogan (also known for his work with Teenage Fanclub, Mojave 3, and
Super Furry Animals) and recorded at Castle of Doom (the Glasgow recording studio
created by Doogan and Mogwai), the ferociously creative self titled LP also features a
prestigious lineup of supporting musicians, including Costa’s friend and guitarist Danny
Garcia, Belle & Sebastian guitarist Stevie Jackson and bassist Bobby Kildea, and former
Isobel Campbell collaborators Chris Geddes (organ) and Dave McGowan (pedal steel,
piano, double bass).
For Costa—who taught himself to play guitar at age 12 by strumming along to Nirvana
records—the musical evolution evinced on Matt Costa came from some careful studying of
orchestral approaches to composing songs. “Once I got really into writing I knew I was
going to add strings to the songs, so I listened to a lot of symphonies and a lot of Mozart,
then played around with figuring that all out on guitar,” says Costa. “It was a huge help
in terms of giving me the inspiration to work with more interesting chords and these
bigger, grander themes.” Costa also focused on constructing songs that could
accommodate horn arrangements, a throwback to his childhood days of playing the
trumpet (an instrument he ended up pawning at age 17 to get the cash to purchase a
Rolling Stones songbook).
Throughout Matt Costa, the artist shakes up those sophisticated arrangements with
infectious melodies, artful touches of whimsy, and elegant lyrics rendered in lilting yet
powerful vocals. On the lead single “Good Times,” for instance, he offers up a cabaretworthy,
piano-driven stomper with a clever twist at its chorus (“Good times are
coming/To an end”). Another deceptively breezy number, “Loving You” finds Costa
channeling T. Rex’s glammy romanticism and freewheeling pop spirit as he reminisces
about the carefree early days of a longtime love. On “Shotgun,” meanwhile, he brightens
up a melancholy meditation on his fascination with tragic figures (“All the winners I know
were just born to lose”) by weaving in shimmering guitars, falsetto harmonies, and a
pounding, handclap-backed beat.
Even in its quieter moments, the intricately textured soundscape and storytelling give the
album a hypnotic intensity. With its warm strings and sorrowful horns, “Clipped Wings”
perfectly captures the nostalgia for the boldness that comes with youth (“Once we were
young and lived dangerous/But the rains poured down/They started to change us/We
both grew so ancient”), while the dreamy and fluttering “Early November” makes for a
more than worthy response to Sandy Denny’s 1971 reverie “Late November.” Inspired
by a classic track from another one of Costa’s musical heroes (the Neil Young-penned
“Expecting to Fly” from Buffalo Springfield), “Golden Cathedrals” enchants and
entrances with its gauzy orchestration and angelic harmonies. And while the mournful
“Silver Sea” comes on like a gutsy revival of a traditional folk song, its subtly haunting
message feels strikingly of-the-moment.
For Costa, creating the new album away from his homeland was essential to building the
bittersweet mood that permeates the new album. “Before I went to Glasgow, I thought I
was going to end up with all these rainy songs that would sort of reflect my idea of what
Scotland was like, as someone who comes from Southern California,” says Costa, who
grew up in Huntington Beach. “But then once I got there, I realized I was neglecting my
more upbeat side, so I started to work that into the album as well.”
Indeed, Costa’s Southern California roots have long played a key role in guiding his
musical career. A former skateboarder once on the verge of going pro, Costa suffered a
broken leg at age 19 and shifted his attention to music. “I got my first electric guitar when
I was a kid, but ended up trading it to a friend for some skate shoes and a board,” he
recalls. “Then when I was 18, I bought an acoustic and learned how to finger-pick like
Donovan and started teaching myself Bob Dylan songs.” Costa next tried his hand at
songwriting, as well as recording his own demos with the help of a four-track. In 2003 he
released his debut EP (the simply titled Matt Costa EP, produced by No Doubt guitarist
Tom Dumont) and, in 2005, put out his first full-length album (Songs We Sing, which was
re-released the following year by Brushfire Records). Costa then devoted the next few
years to touring extensively both in the U.S. and abroad, supporting everyone from
Modest Mouse to Oasis and playing all of the major U.S. festivals (including Coachella,
Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Sasquatch and Bonnaroo). In 2008 he recorded his
sophomore release Unfamiliar Faces (featuring the tune “Mr. Pitiful,” which was selected
for the I Love You, Man soundtrack), and in 2010 self-produced Mobile Chateau.
Now, with the new self titled album, Costa’s ceaseless exploring of vast musical territory
has yielded a selection of songs that carefully mine his influences while conjuring up an
uncommonly fresh and visionary new sound. “I was thinking about the Basement Tapes
[a collection of tracks that Bob Dylan recorded with The Band in 1967] and how I always
loved the way those songs made me feel, and also how they were all recorded so simply,”
he says. “With this album, part of what I wanted to do was work with all these big, overthe-
top arrangements that burst open and take off into a whole new dimension—but still
ultimately create that same kind of cool, pure feeling.”
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