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About Aaron Lee Tasjan
I've been bugging Aaron Lee Tasjan's booking agent for more than two years because...
I think Aaron is as good as it gets on the music scene (Nashville or otherwise).
He's got all the tools.
Wise, witty, hooky, edgy, brave, genre-bending songwriting.
Monster guitar playing.
Great singing and stage presence.
And he's a really snappy dresser with some especially cool hats and shades.
I'd heard his stuff before AmericanaFest 2017. But I hadn't seen him live until his Americana showcase performance at the Basement East, not far from his East Nashville home.
I was one of 600 people packed in the room, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, just behind the guy who shot this video of the set-closing, blow-the-roof-off version of "The Dangerous Kind" ...
... and I was hooked.
I started bugging Booking Agent Brian soon after. But Aaron is in demand. The critics were raving. Other venues were calling.
I persisted, though. And just after New Year's 2020, Brian emailed to say Aaron was free to do a solo gig at the (ware)HOUSE.
That was a good day.
And for 120 people who fill the (ware)HOUSE to capacity, April 19 will be a good day, a memorable day.
This won't be rock-the-house, blow-off-the-roof Aaron. This will be solo Aaron.
But believe me, that's just as good.
Actually, you don't have to take my word for it... Scroll down and see the videos. I posted a bunch of him performing solo, including these three from a February 2020 performance at Paste Studios in NYC (he's one of their favorites).
He's performing tracks from his latest album "Karma for Cheap Reincarnated."
But "Karma for Cheap Reincarnated" is present day, the last chapter of this continuing story. Let's rewind a few years to the beginning...
Aaron grew up in New Albany, OH, north of Columbus. By age 16, he was already a head-turning musician who won the Outstanding Guitarist Award in the Essentially Ellington Competition at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He turned down a scholarship offer from Berklee School of Music and, instead, moved to New York where he co-founded Semi Precious Weapons and then...
...moved on to have stints as lead guitarist of New York Dolls and a touring member of Drivin' and Cryin' (among other gigs).
He moved to Nashville in 2013.
He released the EP "Crooked River Burning" in 2014" which included "Don't Walk Away" and "Drugs and Junk Food."
In 2015, he self-released the LP "In the Blazes."
The album opens with "The Trouble with Drinkin'."
Yeah, that was just five years ago, but the track plays like a well-worn country/Americana classic. It remains his most popular song (One million+ plays on Spotify).
But don't assume after hearing that song that Aaron Lee Tasjan fits snugly in that "Classic Americana" section of your genre catalog.
Listen to the second track -- "The Dangerous Kind" (see video at top of the page) -- and you'll hear hints of those glam/punk/New York Dolls roots.
There's something happening here that's not the old, familiar Nashville sound.
Then listen to E.N.S.A.A.T. (East Nashville Song About A Train). On the surface, it's another strummer from the hotbed of Americana. But listen to those reverby strums in the introduction and the bass riffs through the verses. There's something different, sounds borne as much from The Velvet Underground as the classic Nashville Sound.
Then listen to the lyrics. He's singing about his new hometown. But it's not a love song.
And the major label cuts are all about trust
If this ain't country (and brother, it's not)
Then it's almost as bad as what they call punk rock
Some singers make the sweetest words profane
Move out to East Nashville and write a song about a train
Americana bands and crack cocaine
Move out to East Nashville and write a song about a train
After "In the Blazes," he was signed by New West Records (what an artist roster!). And in 2016, he released "Silver Tears."
Some critics called it an incremental step beyond the "rootsy" sound of "In the Blazes."
I think it was a monumental leap -- musically and stylistically.
Gone are the jean jacket and untucked-t. Enter the disco-ball suit (he made it himself).
So, this guy who's getting wide notice as one of the emerging singer-songwriters in Nashville, dons some glam threads and releases a new album.
He still nods plenty to what they call "roots" music. But Aaron's roots stretch much further than Nashville.
"Silver Tears" is not your Daddy's Nashville Sound. It's something new, fresh, genre-bending...
...But at the same time, it's still rooted and familiar. It's just that these roots stretch to New York and California and New Orleans and Liverpool. You'll hear a little Beatles. Some Petty. A nod to Roy Orbison. Throw in some Harry Nilsson. A sprinkle of Bowie. Even some Louis Armstrong.
All of it mixed together without ever sounding like a rip-off.
It's familiar, yet it's completely original.
It seems to ask, "What's Americana. What's a genre?" while simultaneously connecting dots: "George Harrison, meet Hank Williams."
Here are two of the official videos from the album... "Memphis Rain" and "Little Movies..."
Rumor has it that Sheryl Crow heard "Little Movies" in a coffee shop in Nashville, Shazammed the song, and called her manager to say she wanted to meet Aaron Lee Tasjan.
However it went down, this part is true: Sheryl really liked Aaron's sound and invited him to open for her on several of her summer 2017 tour dates.
Aaron connected with Jeff Trott, best known as Sheryl's long-time collaborator, the guy who co-wrote many of her best songs and produced several of her albums.
Aaron hired Jeff to produce his next album. More genre-bending followed.
In 2018, Aaron released "Karma for Cheap."
"Karma..." features Aaron's touring band from that time -- Seth Earnest (Drums), Tommy Scifres (Bass) and guitarist Brian Wright, who performed last year at the (ware)HOUSE with Sally Jaye.
This is a tight bunch of musicians and vocalists. The album has a raw, live-from-the-garage quality (something that you get on some of Sheryl Crow's best stuff). But it's not ragged.
You hear tight, four-part harmonies (with many nods to the Beatles). More nods to Petty. Plenty of psychedelia, including a trippy rocker called "Set You Free" that Aaron co-wrote with Yola Carter.
It's the same kind of genre-bending, with dot-connecting that you heard on "Silver Tears," but it's even edgier -- thanks to the brilliant guitar work that Aaron and Brian unleash. This album has a million cool licks, bushels of sonic easter eggs. I don't play electric guitar. But if I did, I might spend hours deconstructing "Karma for Cheap" and asking "How'd they do that!?"
Aaron's NPR Tiny Desk Concert gives you a taste...
And check out the official video for "Heart Slows Down." (You already saw Aaron do this one, solo, if you watched the first video on this page).
Strip away the sonic threads, and you're left with some stunning tunes, with Aaron's most personal lyrics yet.
These are songs about yearning for meaning, coping with the voices in your head, hiding from the the "strange shadows" that lurk in your mind, surviving the lonely nights, beating back the self-doubt. But the prevailing messages are ones of hope and inspiration. Listen for yourself. I can't do them justice in writing...
...Which brings me to "Karma for Cheap Reincarnated," Aaron's latest album, released in 2019. New West allowed Aaron to re-record all the tracks from "Karma for Cheap" and add one that hadn't made the first "Karma..." album. All the versions are stripped down -- solo or nearly solo.
This is where to begin if you want to hear those lyrics...
...and if you want an idea of what April 19 will sound like.
I hope you can make it to the concert. You want regret it.
~ Tom Ruwitch
p.s. Here's one of those beauties, "Strange Shadows" just as it might sound on April 19.
Connect with Aaron
Concert to Benefit Medical Health Alliance
Music Health Alliance’s mission is to Heal the Music by providing access to healthcare through services that PROTECT, DIRECT & CONNECT music professionals with medical and financial solutions.
Music Health Alliance’s vision is to create a safe and confidential place for the music community to gain the very best healthcare and health insurance solutions through defined and transparent advocacy services with an emphasis on the prevention of illness and overall wellness.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you're not receiving invitations you expect.
We're like a house concert -- only in a warehouse.
Like a house concert, our concerts are intimate events at which the audience and the artists are close to each other and interact. Guests arrive early for a pot-luck dinner, and many of our guests become regulars who connect with others in this growing community of music-lovers.
We're different than the typical house concert because...well...we don't host our concerts in a house. We've converted a corner of our warehouse into a 2,500 sq. ft. black-box event space -- great sound and lighting and a really cool vibe. We fill the space with sofas and easy chairs so it's like a giant living room.
You get the comfort, intimacy and community of a house concert. But the bigger room allows us to invite more guests and offer artists a well-deserved, great pay day.
Unless otherwise noted in the posted event details, doors open at 6:30 and music starts at 8 p.m.
Medici MediaSpace is our partner, sponsor and host. Medici is a fantastic co-working community -- inclusive, creative, diverse, funky, forward-thinking. When we came up with the idea for (ware)HOUSE Concerts and asked the leaders of Medici whether we could host them there, they said, "YES! Go for it." Medici is filled with people who come up with big ideas and work with others in the community to make them happen. "Yes! Go for it" is a common refrain here.
No. All seating is general admission. When the doors open (usually) at 6:30 p.m, guests are allowed to save their seat. But you don't reserve a certain seat when you buy your ticket.
Nope! No walk-ins allowed. You have to make a reservation in advance by clicking through to the reservation page on the website. You may pay in advance for your reservation or pay at the door (more expensive). But either way, you can't walk in without a reservation. If you don't have an invitation for the concert, you can get one instantly by joining our email list. The invitation will include a link to reserve your spot.
(ware)HOUSE Concerts are private, underground, invitation-only events. But that doesn't mean they're exclusive. We welcome any and all music lovers. You're welcome to join our email list. And when you do, you will receive invitations to all events.
The (ware)HOUSE is in St. Louis County, Missouri -- near the intersections of Interstate 170 and Page Ave. When you purchase tickets, we send you the address and driving directions.
The (ware)HOUSE has seating for up to 120 guests.
Most of the artists we've booked fall into the "Americana" genre. We've also booked jazz and soul artists. Most of them are touring artists who are not from the St. Louis area. Our desire is to bring to St. Louis artists whom you otherwise might not get to see -- at least not in such a comfortable, intimate setting. We occasionally book local artists, too.
Here's a list of previous (ware)HOUSE performers.
We love to discover artists we don't know. So please contact us if you have an artist you'd like to tell us about.
But we also have a long list of artists we've already contacted about performing here.
You are welcome to contact email@example.com if you wish to recommend an artist or inquire for yourself about performing at the (ware)HOUSE.
But please understand, we only book one show per month, and we:
- Have many artists we've already contacted to perform here and
- We receive a lot of recommendations and requests.
So we will acknowledge your recommendation / request and thank you for it. But we can't follow-up and have conversations with everyone who sends us recommendations or requests.
Please don't be offended if we say "no" or if you don't hear from us after we acknowledge and thank you for your recommendation / request.
We hope you understand.
Yes. For every (ware)HOUSE concert, we choose a nonprofit to highlight and help. When you buy a ticket, we will ask you to consider an optional donation to support the nonprofit. At most concerts, representatives from the nonprofit will be there to spread the word and collect donations. See below for more information...
That's up to the artist who is performing. Most artists are OK with that. Some are OK with photos but not videos. We'll tell you before the show starts.
CONCERTS FOR A CAUSE
For every (ware)HOUSE concert, we choose a nonprofit to highlight and help. When you buy a ticket, we will ask you to consider an optional donation to support the nonprofit. At most concerts, representatives from the nonprofit will be there to spread the word and collect donations.
Here are the causes we've supported so far...