In 2009, Alexander traveled to the Northeast United States, landing in Vermont with $85 and his guitar. Tommy recalls feeling pulled to the NE by his pre-California family roots. "The air is different out there. The food tastes different," he said. "I love New England." After settling in Burlington, Vermont, two years later, Tommy founded a non-profit artist collective: Jenke Arts. Jenke became a staple of the underground Vermont art scene and quickly grew into a community center, recording studio, and even boasted an after school program to teach inner city youth basic recording and videography. For those first two years in Vermont, Alexander slept on a couch in order to prioritize music and art. "Being able to play and write songs all day was my goal. If you don't have a job or a rent it seems the most possible way to accomplish this."
By 2014, Jenke was hosting over 100 donation-based classes a month and a handful of shows, many of which Alexander recorded for release as a steady stream of tapes, CDs and digital downloads. He spent much of his time recording traveling bands who did not have a demo to their name. Finding outside funding and allowing these bands to record demos for free helped them book shows and grow.
Alexander kept himself very busy running the studio as well as fronting his own musical endeavors: Quiet Lion, Agent Slacker, and Set Up City. By 2014, Quiet Lion had done some regional touring including one extensive tour that took them as far West as Chicago. At this point, Alexander fully realized his love for being a touring act. In 2015, It became clear to Tommy that it was time to leave the Queen City and the NE & relocate to Portland, OR where he could focus solely on writing, recording and touring.
After a year of solo touring, which included a 65-show national tour and multiple west coast runs, Alexander's music found its way to legendary songsmith Michael Mcdonald. Mcdonald invited him to open a couple shows that year. "What a trip that was. And my parents were very excited," Tommy reminisced. Tommy decided it was time to make a record. After 3 full lengths, two EPs under other band names and countless of recordings for other people, Alexander made a record for himself, calling it Old News.
Alexander recalls hoping the record would be a step towards forming a band. "The idea was that the album would manifest a band. I figured if I could get a more full, rounded out sound it would be easier to put a group together."
Old News, was produced by Mike Coykendall (M. Ward, Blitzen Trapper, She and Him, Bright Eyes) and features guest appearances by Robert Burger (Iron and Wine), Jay Cobb Anderson (Fruition) and Buddy Weeks (Sallie Ford). Old News combines groovy rock beats with traditional folk influences, mixing modern sounds with meaningful messages.
The sound has been over and over again hailed unique and hard to pinpoint. Praised as infectious across the board, the music is palatable, powerful, and honest.
Evan & the Live Oaks
Evan Lanam started singing in the 1st grade as a choir boy at St. Matthews Catholic School in San Mateo, California and since has been an active contributor to the San Francisco Bay Area music scenes, playing in numerous bands, usually as a drummer, and back-up vocalist. After hundreds of shows, and years of supporting a variety of amatuer and professional bands, Evan finally started finally his own group, consisting of the original material he has been writing over the years. Lately, the Live Oaks are in full force, and has become Evan's focus, they just got back from their 3rd Nationwide tour where they did 25 shows in 30 days opening up for Tommy Alexander.