Archives For Artist Spotlight
Joseph LeMay is an Americana singer songwriter who delicately tows the line between the old and the new with his music. His spirited lyricism harkens the sacred and time-tested roots of the folk and Americana genres, while the delicate nature of his vocals and musicianship display the youthful soul of the generation to which he was born. These qualities prove to be the beating heart of LeMay’s debut full-length record Seventeen Acres that released earlier this week.
It was in a single-wide trailer on a seventeen acre farm on the outskirts of his hometown of Dyersburg, TN where Joseph moved with his new wife from Nashville, where he had spent the last several years of his life that he found the inspiration for his ambitious new record. “I was constantly alone and in a period of self-doubt. I was worrying how I would measure up as new husband, more or less thrown out in the wilderness,” said LeMay when describing both his geographically and emotionally isolated state that led to the conception of Seventeen Acres. Having both written and produced the album on the rural Tennessee farm located in the northwest corner of the state, each song exudes the spirit of the location that monumentally shaped this chapter in LeMay’s life. It is the extreme level of care, intensity and personal reflection that went into Seventeen Acres that makes LeMay’s music stand out among a muddled landscape of aspiring folk musicians.
Below you can see the new video for the album’s single “You Still Do It,” which also released this week. The song has a gentleness to it that unfolds like an old love letter, ripe with subtle yet penetrating harmonies. “This song came together in pieces, very organically over time,” says LeMay when describing the tune. “It was one of those that you don’t need a guitar to write.” The video, one of a series titled “Trailer Trash” (also released as a live EP via Noisetrade), was made in the same single-wide trailer in which it was written, thus bringing the spirit of the album on which the song appears to life visually.
LeMay will be celebrating Seventeen Acres with an album release show in Nashville on Thursday, May 29th at The Basement, located at 1604 8th Avenue South. Joseph will be backed by a band of musicians whom with he collaborates with regularly, many of whom also appear on the video for “You Still Do It.” Lily Hiatt, Matt Reed and Charlie Whitten will open the evening. The show starts at 9:00PM and is only $5. Trust me, as someone who has seen LeMay live multiple times, there is no better way could spend $5 on a summer evening in May. Joseph’s raw sincerity when he plays the songs he wrote in rural West Tennessee live is twice as prevalent and authentic as it is on Seventeen Acres, if that’s even possible.
– Christian Lerchenfeld
As the thirteenth year of the new millennium has drawn to a close, we find ourselves in a time when music is more attainable than ever, both to produce and access. That accessibility has in turn opened the musical landscape allowing artists to experiment to further degrees and be more adventurous in their craft than ever before. Such liberties have spawned a new generation of artists and musicians that possess a quality of free-spiritedness and a hunger to make their passions heard. These are the qualities we at Cause A Scene are drawn toward, and these are the qualities that we believe are pushing music forward.
I recently had the pleasure to sit down and chat with Chelsea Lankes, an up and coming pop artist with a big sound who in many ways embodies the above listed qualities. Having grown up in Fort Worth, TX, Lankes has spent the last several years of her life in Nashville and in that time she has found herself moving through a series of events that have culminated into a blossoming career in music. The release of her debut EP, Ringing Bells, in 2012 would lay the framework for a sound that is grounded in catchy, popcentric beats and melodies but where Lankes really sets herself apart is in her lyrical focus. A shining example is her recently released single “Ghost” from her forthcoming sophomore EP. The skilled production on the track gives “Ghost” a glowing sheen and induces entranced head nods. This coupled with the depth of the lyricism and the mood of the song that resemble something closer the ballad of a moody singer songwriter that makes “Ghost” stand out among the cookie cutter pop tunes on your local top 40 station.
Like most music lovers and musicians, Chelsea traces her passion for music back to her childhood, recalling nights spent backstage at the Grapevine Opry watching her mother sing. While she continued to progress her talents as she grew; learning piano and guitar, writing lyrics, and even playing open mic nights at bars in her days at Texas A&M, it wasn’t until the end of her collegiate career that she even considered doing music professionally. It was with the sort of blind resolve and dedication to pursue one’s passion, which I believe can be sensed from the moment a musician strums their first chord or sings their first note, that led Chelsea to Nashville.
While her Texas childhood shaped her love of music, it is her time spent and the people she has crossed paths with in Nashville that Lankes credits with her development as a recording artist and the development of her sound. “I didn’t know how to write songs before I moved to Nashville,” said Lankes. “Lyrics have always come naturally to me, but it wasn’t until I began working with other songwriters here, people much more talented than me in that area, that took the time to work with me, that I began to understand how to properly structure a song.”
That proved to be not the only obstacle Chelsea faced as she was trying to be heard in one of the most talent saturated cities in the world. “It took me a while to find my way when I made the move to Nashville,” said Lankes. “I worked a country label doing promotions, hoping to get a feel for the business, but after about 8 months I said, ‘Nope. I’m not cut out for this,’ and I quit.” It wasn’t too long after that Chelsea sold her car for parts in order to pay for demo recordings. In the time following, Lankes focused all of her efforts towards recording her first album, the result of which she attributes to the supportive artist community of Nashville and to Seth Jones, who produced Ringing Bells and helped her discover her pop-based sound.
Despite the earlier struggles, it seems that her commitments have paid off, as Chelsea has recently been spending time in Los Angeles working to finish recording her new EP, due to release early this new year. Lankes went on describe the sound of her new material as being within the same vein as Ringing Bells, but possessing a more eclectic range from track to track, drawing specific influence from 80’s pop, while also noting that she believes it displays the maturation and growth she has felt as an artist since her first release, specifically in regards to the songwriting.
Along with the release of her new EP, 2014 holds more changes for Lankes as she plans to relocate to LA, where she believes she will have more opportunity to grow, especially in the avenue of pop music, as she continues to develop her sound and career. When asked what she felt the release of her new EP held for her future as a musician, she replied, “I always want to change myself. Whatever I put out is going to be better than ‘Ghost,’ and whatever I put out after this next EP is going to better, otherwise I won’t release it.”
– Christian Lerchenfeld
Finishing off this month’s Communion Artist Spotlight, in anticipation for tonight’s Communion Nashville Christmas Special, is a band who has quickly become one of our favorite new artists here at CAS in only a mere few months. Having played two Cause A Scene shows in 2013, Cereus Bright, a folk duo from Knoxville, TN is a band that is quickly shaking up the folk music scene, shying away from current indie folk-pop and digging up the roots of the historically rich genre.
Comprised of Tyler Anthony (lead vocals, guitar, piano) and Evan Ford (lead guitar, mandolin, backup vocals), Cereus Bright has in a very short period of time developed a sound a sound and identity that is grounded in simplistic melodies and complex and meaningful lyricism that ode the themes found in the folk tunes of yesteryear. In just two years time, the pair has been writing nonstop, released two EPs and played show after show in any cramped venue or coffee shop across the greater Southeast that would let them bust open their guitar cases, and the work is certainly beginning to pay off.
In the time that Anthony and Ford have been writing and playing together, they have garnered a rapidly growing fan base and began to receive national attention following the release of their first EP, Goldmine, in November of 2012. The band recently released their sophomore EP, Happier Than Me, just last month, from which the track “Stella” was their second song to be featured in Volvo’s “Joyride” campaign.
See Cereus Bright tonight along with Milktooth, Joseph Arthur, Rosco Bandana and Josephine and the Wildfront at The High Watt on Cannery Row, at the Nashville Communion December Club Night. It is going to be a festive occasion ripe with great music and the tackiest of sweaters. The music begins at 7:30 PM and tickets are only $5.
– Christian Lerchenfeld
Cereus Bright- ‘Chattanooga’
Though many of the songs on Josephine & The Wild Front’s 2013 EP, Swallowed by the Ocean, were written years ago, when singer Josephine Moore was performing solo, it wasn’t until fairly recently that Moore’s current band coalesced.
After writing many of the songs on the EP and performing them as a solo artist, Moore joined a band called Holy Coast, as a singer and rhythm guitarist; the bands other members included drummer Preston Vaughn and keyboardist Krista Glover. When Holy Coast was dissolved, Moore, Vaughn and Glover decided to forge on with their own project, which became Josephine and the Wildfront. They would soon be joined by bass player Devan Köchersperger.
Over the past few months, Moore and the band have had several high points, including having a release party for their EP at Little Shop of Records in Murfreesboro, playing a show in Knoxville and being The Deli’s Artist of the Month in August.
Recently though, Josephine & the Wildfront have experienced one big setback—the ruin of the band’s main synthesizer after it was fried when they plugged it in while setting up for a show. They’ve reached out to fans, asking for support through show attendance and merchandise purchases to help fund the replacement of the Minimoog Voyager that was such a pivotal part of the band’s dream pop sound.
You can hear Josephine & the Wildfront on Wednesday, December 12th at Nashville’s Communion Christmas Special at the High Watt. Also playing are Joseph Arthur (featuring Mike Mills of R.E.M. and Bill Dobrow), Milktooth, Rosco Bandana and Cereus Bright.
– Meagan Lawson