Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jeff Crosby winds his way home

Idaho musician finding success in Los Angeles, on tour


Jeff Crosby & The Refugees play Whiskey Jacques’ Saturday at 9 p.m. $5.
Skyler and Cali Nokes of Nokes Photography

Given that much of Jeff Crosby’s musical inspiration comes from recalling his parents dancing together around the kitchen to James Taylor and Jackson Browne, it’s no wonder that after a lonely year in Los Angeles, this Idaho boy is ready to get back here for a walk in the woods.
    Since his move to a major label and partnering with Jerry Joseph last year, Crosby has been touring his album “Silent Conversations,” an ode to the transition. Two songs from it, “This Old Town” and “Oh Love, Oh Lord,” were featured on the hit show “Sons of Anarchy.”  
    Proving that the fame hasn’t muddled his connection to the Gem State, Crosby is making a return for a Thanksgiving run that will include a layover in his family’s cabin in Donnelly, where he no doubt will take that walk and maybe gather some new material.
    His smoky-toned voice and frequent wail of the harmonica make for a tremendous homecoming soundtrack, whether you’re driving to or getting away from family for a while.
    “This Old Town,” from season 7 of “Sons of Anarchy,” is one of those “watching your rear-view mirror” songs, one of those “wonder how in the world you got here and where the hell are you going” songs.
    Crosby shared his unique perspective on the recent trajectory of his music in advance of two shows Saturday, Nov. 30, at River Run Lodge and Whiskey Jacques’ in Ketchum.
IME: You have been said to have a Laurel Canyon vibe with Idaho roots. What does that mean to you?
    I’ve always taken those types of comparisons as a compliment, as I was raised on that music and it’s still some of my favorite. All the Laurel Canyon stuff: Buffalo Springfield; Jackson Browne; The Byrds; Crosby, Stills and Nash; along with tons of other artists like Elton John, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, etc. I’ll find myself subconsciously writing songs in the vein of these artists, as that’s the music my mom and dad would dance in the kitchen to and I came to love.

What’s the biggest challenge of taking your act away from home? Was L.A. a necessary evil? How does being from Idaho serve you?
    The biggest challenge for me was sort of starting at Square One again. Coming to L.A. with no fan base and only a small group of friends made for a lonely year. Not to mention it’s hard to earn a living performing here in L.A. I had to find other means of making money to survive here.
    It was good for me though. It was necessary for me, as I needed a new chapter and challenge to progress. Idaho had become too comfortable and I was starting to feel somewhat stagnant with my art. And being from Idaho does have a strange advantage, as my perspective is unique to most other artists I’ve met here. Coming from the country to the city creates tons of inspiration for writing.

How is “Silent Conversations” being received?
    I think the songs on the new E.P. are the most honest I’ve put out yet. They really represent what we sound like when we perform, more than my previous record I think, which has helped us promote it with confidence. So far, it’s had great reviews and sales have really jumped since the TV placements it’s gotten.

How did you come to connect with the “Sons of Anarchy?”
    Curtis Stigers, an Idaho musician, connected me with his old friend Bob Thiele, who is the music supervisor for “Sons of Anarchy.” I met Bob for coffee here in Beverly Hills and we hit it off talking about music, traveling/touring and what not. I gave him the E.P. and got an email a week or so later saying he was interested in using a few songs on the show! Bob’s a great guy and we’re really honored to be a part of the show.

Any collaborations upcoming?
    Supposed to be working on a new record with my friend (and now label-mate) Jerry Joseph sometime in the spring. A few others I can’t mention as of yet but big plans for the next year.

You mention “some special stuff” planned around your Idaho shows. Care to share?
    Well, a few things: We’re releasing a beer in collaboration with Salmon River Brewery in McCall, Idaho, called The Refugee Sage Pale Ale, brewed with California white sage hand-picked from a farm in Mendocino County while we were on tour there this past month. Matt Ganz, owner/brewmaster at Salmon River Brewery, is insanely talented at what he does and brews some of the best beer I’ve ever had. The beer will be available at all our shows in November.
    We’ll also be releasing two new songs (download cards will be available at the shows) that I recorded here in Los Angeles over the past few months.

Where will you spend Thanksgiving? Anything special you’ll be reflecting on before passing the potatoes?
    Spending Thanksgiving in Donnelly at the cabin I was raised in with family. Put over 80,000 miles on our van this past 10 months, so needless to say it’s been a big year for my music and personal life. So much to be thankful for and can’t wait for a walk in the woods back home.


Double shot

When: Saturday, Nov. 30, 2:30 p.m. Free.

Where: River Run Lodge, Sun Valley Resort.

When: Saturday, Nov. 30, 9 p.m. $5.

Where: Whiskey Jacques', Ketchum

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