Whiskerman, Tommy Alexander, The Heligoats (Solo)
Chris Otepka of Heligoats
Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 9pm
- $8 advance and day of show
Whether entranced in a ballad or clawing out some frenzied rock and roll, Whiskerman is seeking the heart of the matter. Lush instrumentation combined with front man Graham Patzner's profound lyricism and unflinching delivery culminate in a sound that is soulful, mythical, and raw. Patzner’s voice, both smokey and soaring, leads a passionate live show as the band’s classic rock sound seamlessly cascades through realms of bluesy devotion, psychedelic melancholy, and twangy celebration. Whiskerman's shows tend to set spells, either sweeping the audience up in revelation, or dropping them into knee-slapping frenzy. Joining Patzner (vocals, guitar, violin and piano), is Will Lawrence (bass and mandolin), and Charles Lloyd (guitar and sitar), Dan Schwartz (drums), and Trevor Bahnson (guitar).
Over a short period of time, Tommy Alexander has emerged as a modern-age DIY trailblazing troubadour. When he was in his early twenties, the now 31-year-old songsmith had just dropped out of college, quit baseball and was sleeping on a friend's couch, working at a pizza shop. His parents bought him a Fender acoustic, and as he started writing songs and playing guitar, his life changed. Although the opportunity to play had presented itself earlier on in life, Alexander was comfortable with his relationship with music being just a listening relationship. Now, he discovered, he had something to say.
In 2009, Alexander traveled to the Northeast United States, landing in Vermont with only $100 and his Fender acoustic. Alexander 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.
As touring progressed and the sound continued evolving from soft and folky to rock 'n rolling without losing sight of where he had started, a lineup solidified and Ty-Alex was formed in the winter of 2016. A modern-indie rock outfit with folk roots, Ty-Alex is Tommy Alexander, Adam Witkowski, Ian Wade, and Django Koenig.
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.
Ty-Alex released their debut EP, 'Lets Do This' in June of 2017.
From NPR: "The Heligoats' Chris Otepka writes songs that are brainy in the best way: clever without straining for cuteness, wry but never smug. Ideas flow out of him in a barrage, which means that a song about science — like "I'm Pretty Sure I Can See Molecules,"by his ludicrously underappreciated former band Troubled Hubble — ultimately unfurls into a knockout commentary on what we're made of, what our lives mean, and how the two notions intersect."