David Cook

David Cook (10:00 PM)

Dylan Gardner (9:00 PM)

Tue, February 24, 2015

8:00 pm

Adv Tix $20.00 / Day of Show Tix $25.00/ VIP Tix $60.00

This event is all ages

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David Cook - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
David Cook
When David Cook moved to Nashville in 2012, the expectation was that this singer-songwriter from the Heartland would emphasize the rootsy side of his sensibility, and sure enough, he had immediate success co-writing country tunes, including the Top-20 single “Kiss You Tonight” for David Nail in 2014. But new album Digital Vein is something else entirely, with Cook’s powerful voice and dynamic guitar work knifing through vibrant soundscapes that boldly juxtapose man-made grooves and electronic textures.

“Working in Nashville opened me up creatively to trying different things,” Cook explains. “Writing for country acts has been freeing in the sense that I can bring out that side of my creativity, and it brought some freshness to the other side of what I like to do. So I ran with it, going into the creative process with the blinders off. I just wanted to try things, and there was no formula. Honestly, I didn’t even know if I was gonna make another record; I decided to just write and have fun and see what happens.”

As an experiment, Cook applied what he’d learned from working with Music City craftsmen in that time-honored narrative vein to the material he was writing for his own use. “It was fun and a new challenge to try to attack my own songwriting in that way,” he begins, then says with a laugh, “In hindsight, what the hell was I thinking trying to take this on? But it ended up being an amazing process, and it led to a record that I’d put up there with my prouder moments.”

Asked why he decided to title the album Digital Vein, Cook explains, “My last independent record, back in 2006, was Analog Heart, and after my major-label journey, with circumstances being what they are, this record is certainly a progression. I don’t think it’s very much like Analog Heart at all, but the process of putting it together was similar in the sense that I worked with a very small team, and I put a lot of myself into every aspect of it. It felt like a throwback in that regard, so I wanted the two records to be connected, if only in name.”

Analog Heart and Digital Vein bookend a tumultuous decade in Cook’s life and career, as, after fronting a Kansas City-based bar band for 10 years (“We’d be lucky to get 10 people,” he quips, “and most of them would be family members”), he accompanied his younger brother Andrew to auditions for American Idol, auditioned himself on a whim and wound up winning the competition in 2008. Released later that year, his self-titled major label debut album sold 1.5 million copies, and though the follow-up, 2011’s This Loud Morning, debuted in the Top 10, he wound up as an indie artist once again. As one door closed, another opened, and Cook forged a new career as a songwriter after moving to Nashville in 2012, but he continued to tour as well, as his personal songbook grew thicker. In 2014, he began the process that led to the recording of Digital Vein.

Cook recorded the new album in his home studio, working with his longtime friend and onetime bandmate Andy Skib, who engineered, and the rhythm section from his touring band, playing the bulk of the parts himself. “The whole thing,” he says, “was an experiment to see if (A) I could make a record this way, and (B) if I could enjoy doing it this way. I’m a control freak, and to have this level of control has been empowering. It was definitely a different process for me, but I can’t recall ever having more fun making a record.”

The project was funded in part by contributions from fans through a highly successful PledgeMusic campaign. “We’ve had an awesome experience with PledgeMusic,” says Cook. “The best part is that fans have become a bigger part of the process than in records past. The hope is that, by continuing to build those relationships, we’ll be able to hit the ground running, and ultimately get this music into more people’s ears. I was a little apprehensive about that dynamic at first, but it turns out that it’s a great way to humanize yourself to your audience. It’s nice to tear down that wall, because the end game is that people hopefully will feel more connected to the humanity in the record.”

Humanity pulses through Digital Vein, from impassioned opener “Heartbeat” to the haunting metaphysical question of “Where Do We Go.” On the first single, the rocking “Criminals,” written with Nashville song-smith Blair Daly, Cook presents his own take on the classic theme of lovers on the run, a notion that has long transfixed the American consciousness, from Bonnie and Clyde to Bruce Springsteen. “We started with a Wallflowers ‘One Headlight’ kind of groove and went down that path,” Cook points out. “It’s a story that’s been told before for sure, the idea of young lovers trying to beat the odds – it’s you against the world, and you’re gonna make it work, no matter what. That’s what I wanted the cover of this book to look like.”

There’s a duality on the album between ardently devotional love songs and others shot through with a dark undercurrent, enabling Cook’s subtly intense cover of the Chris Isaak classic “Wicked Game” to function not simply as a vocal showcase but also as a thematic link between these two vectors.

“Everybody goes through experiences of love and loss, and I’m no different,” says Cook. “In that regard, it’s natural to pull from that database for inspiration. But what I enjoyed the most was pulling from outside sources, like reading a newspaper article or seeing a painting that just hits a nerve. There are songs on this record that have to do with subject matter that I’ve never personally experienced, but things that have inspired me all the same. When I pay attention to the peripherals, it leads to records like this one.”

Another highlight, the languid yet propulsive “Better Than Me,” was written by Chase Foster, but Cook fully inhabits it, delivering the self-lacerating lyric knowingly and with beguiling nuance. “Killer song,” says Cook. “It had been on my radar for a couple years, and we were finally able to get it cut.”

The album’s most personal song is the poignant “Home Movies.” As Cook recalls, “Not too long ago, I had the chance to look over old photos with my family, and that brought back memories of my brother Adam. The experience got me in a certain mindset, and I consciously wrote that song about growing up and spending time with my older brother, who passed away of brain cancer in 2009. He’s been a part of every record I’ve made, but with ‘Home Movies‘ especially, there’s a tangible aspect.”

Since Adam’s death, David has devoted himself to fighting the disease, to the extent that philanthropy is now as important to him as his music. “I think I would have been involved either way,” he says. “But seeing what he went through, and what his wife and his kids all went through, touched me deeply. And that’s another avenue where the fans have been insane. We crossed the million-dollar threshold last December, which is unfathomable to me still. Records are going to sell or not sell, but raising that money for cancer research puts everything in perspective – it makes you realize what really matters.”

Cook becomes reflective as he looks back on his journey, with its ecstatic highs and devastating lows. “I have no regrets,” he says of his Idol experience. “It has ultimately let me do some amazing things in the last seven years, culminating in this record. Who knows where I’d be right now if weren’t for all that. Prior to the show, I was tending bar to pay the rent, and I was a really bad bartender. So to have the resources that I have now – to be able to make a record this way – it’s huge. I’ve still got a platform and an avenue that most don’t. So, yeah, no regrets.

“Redemption is a weird term,” he continues, “but I don’t think that’s really what this record is. I see it as a different chapter. The best way I can sum it up is that, succeed or fail, I’m going to fall on my own sword – which is nerve-racking as hell, but it’s also super-exciting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It may sound like lip service to say it, but I really do love this record, and if I loved it any less, I don’t know that I’d be putting it out. I’m treating this record like this is it. Every album from here on out could be the last one, so I’d better swing for the fences, and that’s what we did on this one.”
Dylan Gardner - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Dylan Gardner
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Dylan Gardner is the kind of inspired artist who comes along rarely, possessing sophistication well beyond his years. His earliest memory, musical or otherwise, is of playing maracas onstage during a performance of "Hang on Sloopy" at the age of four with his dad's band. Gangly and bespectacled offstage, Dylan is a self-described "music nerd." He collects classic '60s rock albums (The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and The Doors are particular favorites). He owns a thousand vinyl records. He can play every Ben Folds song ever written. Squeeze's Argybargy was on his recent Christmas wish list. He discovered Howlin' Wolf at the age of 10. He is prone to saying things like, "I cut my teeth playing blues bars in Illinois" and it's actually true. Did we mention that Dylan is 18?
So when Dylan Gardner signed to Warner Bros. Records in August 2014, on the strength of his independent album Adventures in Real Time and the 2.7 million Spotify plays its lead-off track "Let's Get Started" had racked up, it was, for any young musician with a sense of history, a dream come true. "I love Warner Brothers with a burning passion," he says. "Historically, the Warner family is the greatest American label for the kind of music I listen to, everyone from The Everly Brothers to Prince. Oh my god, then there's The Kinks, Hendrix, The Ramones, The Rezillos, Captain Beefheart, Alice Cooper, Paul Simon, Van Morrison … it's insane."
Before Dylan made Adventures in Real Time, he studied the greats. "I delved into what made The Beatles' songs so good," he says. "I delved into what made Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson so good. I delved into what made Sam Cooke so prolific. It was like, 'I'm going to dissect everything they do. What's their philosophy? How do they write?' I still do it. Right now I'm studying the hell out of Del Shannon."
These days, young artists have an almost uncanny ability to draw from the past in their music because the past is so freely available through the Internet. In the wrong hands, that knowledge can be abused. However, in the right hands, like Dylan's, it can be truly inspiring. On Adventures In Real Time, he shows how it's possible to transcend your influences to create something that's truly your own. His songs burst with fresh-faced energy — all unbridled passion, high-spirited melodies, and a musical eclecticism borne out of love for his pop-rock predecessors. In a sense, he is fulfilling his destiny. It was unlikely that this kid was going to grow up to be anything other than a musician. "I always wanted to be a musician, I just didn't think it was possible," he says. "I remember, when I was nine, telling my friends, 'Yeah, I'll probably have to be an architect.'"
Dylan was born in Aurora, Illinois, and raised in Plainfield until his family moved to Arizona in 2010 (They now live in Los Angeles). His father, Mark Gardner, owns a music store in Naperville, Illinois, that sells and rents instruments and provides lessons to locals, and was also the bassist in '80s power-pop band The Kind. Dylan started out playing drums, like his older brother Mark (who plays drums on Adventures in Real Time), then picked up piano until the whole "'sitting up straight" thing got boring, and eventually took up guitar because of Jimmy Page. "I had a T-shirt that said 'Jimmy Page Changed My Life,'" he says. Then when Dylan was 14, he discovered Ben Folds and didn't get up from the piano stool for a year. (Ask him what his favorite Folds song is if you really want to make his head explode. "I can't pick just one," he moans.)
After the family moved to Arizona, Dylan built a studio in his bedroom (laptop, Pro Tools rig, MIDI keyboard, drum programming machine), put all his clothes in his parents' room, and turned his closet into a vocal booth. He even moved in an upright Baldwin piano that he got at a Goodwill store for $40. "I talked them down from $80," he says. "Someone had covered the 'Baldwin' logo with a sticker, so they didn't know what they had."
He wrote 100 songs and handed them over to his manager, who said, "There's an album in here somewhere." Dylan kept writing and by September 2012, had demoed the songs that would eventually appear on Adventures in Real Time. Dylan's manager sent the track "I Think I'm Falling For Something" to John Dragonetti (The Submarines, Jack Drag), who added bass, drums, and additional sonic texture, and sent it back. Impressed, Dylan enlisted Dragonetti to co-produce. (Dylan, not at all surprisingly, pored over the techniques detailed in Brian Kehew's 500-page tome Recording The Beatles, before the process began.)
The songs on Adventures in Real Time are about Dylan's dreams, goals, and aspirations — "this big vision of how great life can be," as he puts it. One thing Dylan always knew was that "Let's Get Started" had to be the opening track. "It's me saying 'Let's get going, let's do this. I've been writing songs in my bedroom. I'm ready.' I wanted it to be my first hello to everyone who listens to my music."
Last year, Dylan put "Let's Get Started" on Spotify, which included it on a popular playlist called "Smart Is The New Sexy." Suddenly, the track caught fire. "I was at Panda Express and I decided to check my Spotify," Dylan recalls. "This was a few weeks after it came out. 'Let's Get Started' had 80,000 plays. I started watching it like a hawk. It was going up 20,000 plays every day. Then it hit a million. Then it hit two million. It's about to hit three million."
It's hard to predict where Dylan's talent will take him next. (He will hit the road for a West and East Coast tour in early 2015.) In April, he posted a YouTube video of himself performing snippets from every track on Side Two of Abbey Road on different instruments, under the hashtag "DylanBrokeUpTheBeatles," which attracted a host of positive comments. One woman summed it up perfectly when she said: "This kid has joy in his voice."
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change