Buzz- Blurring the lines: Local songwriter Brian Patrick releases debut
For local award-winning songwriter Brian Patrick, nothing is more important than connecting to a great song. He's not referring to that moment when an audience realizes they are hearing their favorite Journey cover; in fact, his Brian Patrick Band refuses to play any covers unless they are obscure, personal favorites–- and yet his audiences have recently been clamoring for more. But winning over audiences only wanting to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd remakes is all in a day's work for the winner of Rapunzel's 2009 Songwriter's Contest–- a feat he hopes continues with the release of his debut solo album, Nowhere Left to Fall.
"It was the first time I allowed myself to put all of my influences in one basket–- it's kind of eclectic, but it's exactly who I was when I wrote and recorded it," he says. "Regardless of what other flavors there are there, it is rock 'n' roll music, seasoned with folk, country, and blues."
Patrick references the work of folk rock greats Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty as inspirations for his own writing. The sophistication of both artists doesn't mar the common-man appeal of their songs, allowing the blending of country and rock nuances to speak to wide audiences. Patrick, with Ohio, Philadelphia, and Austin roots, finds a similar need to blend blues, folk, and rock–- a convention he finds appreciation for in Charlottesville.
"In Ohio, within circles of rock 'n' roll music, country music was very uncool–- that's just not true in Charlottesville," Patrick notes. "It wasn't until being in Charlottesville that it was okay to synergize [country] with rock 'n' roll, it's okay to blur those lines–- that's what I love about here."
Twangy guitar riffs and country basslines accompany Patrick's musings on lost dreams, hard working waitresses, and relationships–- much as Nowhere Left to Fall represents the first time the songwriter has struck out to focus on his own career. As a guitarist and songwriter for Austin-based band Mr. Goldtooth and Charlottesville ensemble Modern Epic and soul/country outfit The Misery Brothers, Patrick fell into the team player role, relegating his original pieces out of the spotlight to support the larger goals of his bands.
"I like contributing to other people's songwriting as much as I like doing my own," Patrick says. "I've spent a lot of time over the years being involved in other people's projects, but now I'm at the point where I wanted to focus on my own."
Gathering his Ohio childhood friends to help him record his debut, Patrick combined his solo-songwriting self of the mid-2000s with the collaborative arranger of today. It may not have taken him long to discover his musical interests–- a sprinkling of blues here, a dab of folk there–- but connecting with his audience is a skill he has refined over his nine years in Charlottesville. After entering the Rapunzel's contest three years in a row, he finally emerged victorious in a competitive field of songwriters last year.
"It was a shock to win–- there were a lot of people who could have had first place and deserved it," he says. "I must be doing something that people can emotionally attach themselves to."
Nowhere Left to Fall may be just that–- an everyman album with a sophisticated sheen.
Brian Patrick releases Nowhere Left to Fall Saturday, January 22 at The Southern. Carleigh Nesbit and Carl Anderson open. The show starts at 9:30 pm and tickets are $6.