Noah Gundersen

Noah Gundersen (10:20 PM)

Carly Ritter (9:30 PM)

ARMON JAY (9:00 PM)

Fri, February 21, 2014

8:00 pm

Adv tix $12.00 / Day of show $15.00

This event is all ages

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Noah Gundersen - (Set time: 10:20 PM)
Noah Gundersen
In an era of social media and perceived self-importance, Noah Gundersen is in many ways the antithesis of his time.

Noah’s newest EP, called Family, pays homage to the people who have shaped his life–rather than the self-aggrandizing so common to the often homogeneous world of singer- songwriters.”Family comes in many forms,” says Noah. “It lives with us, for better and for worse. It shapes us. That’s what this album is about.”

Fittingly, a member of Noah’s family, his sister Abby Gundersen, plays violin and sings vocal harmonies on the EP. Her soft voice and lush string accompaniments compliment beautifully what are a magnetic and emotionally charged group of songs. The two have been playing music together since Noah was 15 and Abby was 12 years old, while growing up in the Seattle area. They’ve also performed in the local band, The Courage together. “The musical communication I’ve had with Abby is unlike anything I’ve experienced elsewhere. It’s a really special thing. Having her with me makes me so much more confident in what I’m doing,” says Noah. (Also, Abby recently moonlighted as a tour accompanist for acclaimed singer-songwriter Jarrod Gorbel).

The songs on Family are consistently impressive and defy genre. Whereas roots-tinged songs like “Family” conjure up shades of a solo Ryan Adams, the sweeping and ethereal “Fire,” bears similarities to the lush harmonic feats of Fleet Foxes. Perhaps the album’s standout track is the pulsating “David,” which combines the haunting darkness of Tom Waits with the lyrical angst of Neil Young. “The song is about who I want to be, while realizing who I am. I want to be less like my Father and more like my Dad.”

Family, produced with Daniel Mendez, was released on August 6th, 2011. Made in just a short week in Dallas, Family is only a brief taste of what’s to come from Noah Gundersen. Production on a full band album will commence this fall.
Carly Ritter - (Set time: 9:30 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.
ARMON JAY - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
For Armon Jay, the making of his new album, Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed, was a two-year journey from darkness into sunlight, from what he calls desolation to consolation, the culmination of sleepless nights where he saw his faith tested, but his hope ultimately restored, through a set of songs that speaks from the very core of his being.

From the pain of "Edge of the Dark" and "Flight from Sorrow" to the breakthrough of "The Harvest" and "Carry Through," from the painful self-awareness of "To Be Honest" and "I'm Not Home Yet" to the optimism of "Tomorrow" and "Sunlight," neatly summarized by the transparently autobiographical title track, Armon Jay lets us glimpse his deepest fears and darkest anxieties, while pointing the way towards salvation. "It's like I'm stuck in between the cure and the disease," he sings. "I'm walking straight just in a crooked way."

Thanks to raising close to $14,000 on Kickstarter, Armon was able to travel to producer Joshua James' idyllic Willamette Mountain on a one-acre farm against the beautiful backdrop of American Fork, Utah, to record the album in two eventful weeks. James, introduced to Armon Jay by mutual friend, singer/songwriter Noah Gunderson, proved a valuable partner, not just producing the album, but serving as "farmer, mountain climber, goat herder, high-tailin' bike rider and a bit of a wild man," helping Armon get over his fear of heights as well as failure. The album was mixed in Los Angeles by Todd Burke, who has worked with the likes of Ben Harper and Jack Johnson in his Monrovia studio.

"Joshua is all about creating an atmosphere that inspires genuine and real creativity," says Armon. "He also has a phenomenal group of musicians on call—his own secret weapon for making great records. We hit the ground running. He just said, 'If you're going to sing the song, sing it.' Almost every track on the record started with just an acoustic guitar and vocal performance and then we built from there."

"It's time to come back home Make right what I made wrong.
And it's time to carry on – and live again."
"Flight from Sorrow"

The Chattanooga, Tennessee-born Armon's father was a portrait painter ("An 'eccentric' artist like me," he adds), who plucked out songs by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson on a guitar, while his mom, who used to sing around the house, introduced him to the likes of Whitney Houston and Kenny Loggins on the tape deck of the family's '89 Buick. Armon sheepishly admits to plinking out the theme to the movie Titanic on the piano by ear before picking up a guitar at 12 and starting to write songs two years later.

After a stint with a major-label Christian band signed to Sony Music's Provident Label Group, Armon decided he needed to go in a different direction, prompted by a personal crisis that had him terrified to fall asleep at night, questioning his own inability to live up to his ideals, not least of which was a pack-a-day smoking habit he still hasn't broken.

In that season of internal conflict, his questioning led him to the realization that it was time to "shed the skin" of any preconceived genre label before he felt he could freely move forward. That eventually prompted the decision to redefine his artistry, and begin using his real first and middle name.

"I've learned to be careful not to create walls that interfere with the ability of music and art to connect with anyone. Attaching that strong of a label leaves too much room for one to assume that my music is only intended for a certain group," says the artist formerly known as AJ Cheek. "A song can have so many different layers of meanings for different people. It's such a precious and beautiful thing, the fact that we all can find a common ground through the language of art and music. But, it all has to come from a genuine place. I can't muster up the truth. It already exists. I just have to tell it, and it's up to the listener with how they choose to receive it."

"It's the fear of living with the man I might become"
"To Be Honest"



Armon owes his personal and creative breakthrough to finally being correctly diagnosed with Adult ADD and getting married last summer. "I was trying to grow into a man without understanding how my brain works," he explains. "Learning what I was suffering from was a game-changer because I realized I wasn't the only one dealing with this sort of thing. The more I let go of trying to be in control, the better I felt. And I couldn't have done it without the help of my beautiful wife."

Armon is particularly proud of the album's centerpiece, the title track, which measures the gap between the man he is, the kind of man he wants to be, and learning to accept the difference. "I will wait…for you," the song concludes.

"The stars just aligned and I was able to communicate exactly what I wanted," says Armon of the cut. "If I never write another song nor play another note, if it all ends tomorrow, I'm OK with it, having written this one. You have to realize, whatever goes down, good or bad, your DNA is still your DNA. It's what makes you unique, and I just accepted that."

"In the sunlight, breaking out from the inside. Cause now I can see for the first time"
"Sunlight"

Armon found Dutch illustrator Anton Van Hertbruggen's work on an art bloggers website, and immediately texted him to see if he were interested in creating the cover and inside sleeve art for the new album. After a series of back-and-forth email exchanges, Van Hertbruggen then submitted two original pieces depicting the record's theme of light traveling into dark. From finding producer Joshua James to discovering the right artwork, Armon has taken a truly modern DIY approach to his first full-length solo album. And if he's not totally cured of all his mental phobias, the very existence of Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed is proof of its therapeutic value—not just for Armon Jay, but any listener who finds himself in a similar place, which, in case you didn't realize it, is most of us. Armon Jay's message is that there are second chances which offer the opportunity for redemption.

"It's been quite a trip," adds Armon. "But the most liberating thing is to be able to walk in my own skin, whatever that means…the good, the bad or the ugly. And not follow what somebody else thinks I should be. I don't have to hide my sickness in the dark anymore. This is me. Nothing's changed.. Even if everything's different."

"For I write the words inside my heart, and I'll keep moving"
"The Harvest"
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change