Aaron Lee Tasjan
East Nashville-based musician Aaron Lee Tasjan has always considered himself a songwriter first and foremost, writing his own off-kilter folk-inflected songs since he picked up his first acoustic as a teen guitar prodigy. "A lot of the stuff I did previously was never the main focal point," Tasjan explains. "It's all just been pieces along the way." His soon to be released Silver Tears (New West Records – Oct. 2016) will offer a glimpse through the eyes of one gifted songwriter and versatile musician. Whether playing guitar in the late incarnation of riotous glam-rock innovators the New York Dolls, the gender-bending, envelope-pushing sleaze n' tease arena rock band Semi Precious Weapons, the Neil Young-signed alt-country act Everest, British roots rock band Alberta Cross, Southern rock stalwarts Drivin' N' Cryin' or even as frontman of the devilishly cleverly-named Heartbreakers meets Replacements rockers Madison Square Gardeners, offer a glimpse through the eyes of one gifted songwriter and versatile musician.
While those stints may have never been his main destination, each one has been a stepping stone that has uniquely informed his songwriting and made him a compelling, singular artist. Tasjan's songs, as first heard on his debut solo EP, 2014's Crooked River Burning, are indebted to great American storytellers like John Prine, Tom Petty, Guy Clark, Steve Goodman, Arlo Guthrie and Todd Snider. They are imbued with wry wit, a sharp tongue and a lot of heart.
Last year's self-released LP, In The Blazes, received accolades from American Songwriter, Rolling Stone, Nashville Scene and NPR and suggested Tasjan was an artist to keep an eye on. While that album hinted at Tasjan's enormous potential, it's his sophomore effort, his New West Records debut, Silver Tears, that best realizes his artistic ambitions and solidifies him as one of the most intriguing singer/songwriters to emerge in sometime. An inspired and confident set of songs, the 12-track album, which features a cover with Tasjan decked out in a reflective suit and Stetson, careens from woozy pot paeans to brooding, cinematic observations to laid back '70s country-rock and galloping anthems to introspective folk and rollicking honky-tonk. "I might have made something that will surprise people," Tasjan admits. "I didn't completely abandon the recipe, but I really stretched myself and pushed beyond what people might expect from me. Being true as a musician, I'm not just one thing – and a variety of styles is a way to accomplish that. "
As in the song "On Your Side," which sees Tasjan warble, "I sing jokes/And call 'em songs/Nobody knows where they belong/I've come up short/For far too long/And what felt right/Now feels so wrong," Tasjan often turns the mirror on himself, never afraid to cast himself in a negative light. "One of the reasons I've been able to connect with people is by being honest and saying this is a really realistic picture of who I am," he says. "It's not always the good but it's me."
Brian Wright (www.brianwrightsongs.com) was born and raised in Texas, but spent his first few years of life traveling in a VW bus, living in motel rooms while his father, a Vietnam Vet, worked as a pipeline surveyor before they settled in Lorena, TX, a farming community just south of Waco.
!In 2002, barely out of high school, Wright moved to Los Angeles where for many years he became one of the more revered centerpieces of the famous Hotel Cafe music scene in Hollywood - a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and band leader of The Waco Tragedies, an eight-piece band of some of Hollywood’s finest musicians and harmonizers. During that time, Wright made two albums, Dog Ears and Bluebird, with this band and began a touring career in the US, Europe and South America, creating a buzz around Wright’s depth of songs and musicality.
!In 2010, he holed up in a Laurel Canyon studio and created along with co-producer, Mike Vizcarra, his third critically acclaimed album, House on Fire. Wright played nearly every instrument, and the album caught the attention of Grammy award- winning producer and engineer, Gary Paczosa, who also serves as A&R for Sugar Hill Records. Paczosa signed Wright, which was followed by a publishing deal with BMG/ Chrysalis.
!Sugar Hill released House on Fire, and as Wright spent a great deal of time on the road sharing the stage with the Milk Carton Kids, Joe Purdy and LeeAnn Womack he quickly followed up House on Fire with Rattle Their Chains.
!Just before the release of Rattle Their Chains, Wright moved to Nashville and was quickly welcomed into the thriving East Nashville music scene, where he has since been showcased the last five years at the Americana Festival, appeared on Music City Roots, written songs with Guy Clark, played and collaborated with the scene’s top players and songwriters like his most recent spot as electric guitar player for New West recording artist, Aaron Lee Tasjan.
!In addition, Wright pieced together his own recording studio in a backyard shed, where a new chapter of songs and collaborations has been born. Now after expanding the studio, Wright co-owns Cafe Rooster Records, a two year-old independent East Nashville record label.
!In 2016, Wright released, The SneakUps, a compilation of his more rock n roll, never released recordings, once again where he played most of the instruments himself; and Cafe Rooster Sessions, Vol. 1, followed up in 2017 with Cafe Rooster Sessions Vol. 2, a compilation produced by Wright. He is currently putting the finishing touches on a new album due for release in early 2019.