Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton

Tristen, Skye Steele

Thu, April 13, 2017

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Saint Rocke

Hermosa Beach, CA

$25.00 - $30.00

This event is 21 and over

This is a General Admission ticket. It does not guarantee seating.

For seating upgrades, please call 310-372-0035

Vanessa Carlton
Vanessa Carlton
On Thursday December 17, 2015, Vanessa Carlton took the stage in front of a packed audience at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN for the final date of the year’s “Liberman” Tour.

She’ll candidly admit that countless thoughts swirled around in her head—“I was feeling pretty emotional about how far I’ve come.” Here, the singer and songwriter was back in her new home of Nashville, TN surrounded by family and fans, 15 years into an illustrious career, and supporting her most acclaimed work to date, Liberman. Just two months earlier, the album arrived to unanimous critical praise from Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Boston Globe, Nylon, Paste, Esquire, and many more in addition to Pitchfork who claimed, “A million years ago, Vanessa Carlton released ‘A Thousand Miles,’ the pop song that launched a generation of piano lessons. Now, she's releasing the raw, muted, refreshingly weird Liberman, a record that could share headspaces with Perfume Genius or Angel Olsen."

The night marked a first for the artist as she recorded the show for 2016’s Liberman Live [Dine Alone Records]. Now, the nine-song collection captures the evening’s magic augmented by surprise performances from her husband Deer Tick frontman John McCauley, The Watson Twins, violinist Skye Steele and album producer Adam Landry. Moments such as “Operator,” which featured all of the guests on stage, and an emotional rendition of “River” speak to Carlton’s inimitable presence, passion, and power in person.

“The whole message of the album is expressing a lot of philosophies about my life, peace, pain, and happiness over the past ten years,” she says. “I wanted this record to not only be very personal to me, but an expression of these ideas. A performance is not just about the performer at all; it’s about the connection between the audience and the artist. You’re at your most vulnerable on stage, and you’re singing songs that are an expression of yourself. That’s when a performance works. That’s when an album works. Liberman was special because it does that. I hope the show does too.”

A victory lap and celebration, that evening begins and ends with the record. You could say an unusual light shines through Liberman, Vanessa Carlton’s fifth album. Its ten songs, built on ethereal melodies and lush orchestration, seem to climb out of the shadows, each resonating with a sense of haunting positivity. The opening track, “Take It Easy,” instantly sets the tone, inviting the listener into a sort of sonic euphoria: each note and lyric thereafter builds on that aesthetic, creating an ongoing narrative that unfurls over its classic side A and side B.

“It’s a calm record,” Carlton says. “I didn’t want any angst in there. I thought, ‘What would I want to hear back? What would make me feel better in my darker times?’ Even a phrase like ‘take it easy,’ which is in a million songs, brings happiness. This album leans toward seeing the good in humans and in the world.”

Carlton began writing in the summer of 2012, beginning with “Unlock The Lock,” an evocative piano-driven track that set the tone for the songs to come. She’d recently finished touring 2011’s Rabbits On The Run, an album conceived through inspiration from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and Richard Adam’s Watership Down. Carlton found herself in the desert and the song emerged, reflecting a newly revealing songwriting sensibility for the artist. “I imagined a group of people listening to it,” she says. “It was the first time I ever wanted to make something like séance music – something that would make a human brain feel at ease, something that would feel right in an everyday ritual. I also realized I wanted the record to be really soothing lyrically and not so much a reveal of me.”

The musician followed that thread as she continued writing for the next year and a half, this time inspired by books like Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. Carlton’s primary influence, however, was a colorful oil painting by her grandfather Alan J. Lee, who was originally named Liberman. The painting, created in 1963, hangs in Carlton’s home and showcases three woman captured in swirling pastel colors. She wrote many songs while looking at the image, eventually deciding to call the album after her grandfather.

“The swirly colors of that painting reminded me of the music and the music reminds me of those colors” Carlton notes. “Then I looked up what Liberman means and it’s ‘honorable man’ and ‘my beloved’ – all these things that just felt right to me. It’s a strong family name that, in a weird way, describes the music to me.”

At the end of 2013, Carlton gathered her songs and decamped to Real World Studio in Box, England to work with producer Steve Osborne, who’d helmed Rabbits On The Run. In the studio, Carlton and Osborne focused on the sound, on creating layers of instrumentation with classic gear that veer away from crisp pop production and reference artists like Air. For Carlton, who began her career with several albums at the mercy of prescribed aesthetics, emphasizing the art of space and sonic beauty felt like the next step. This shift is revealed particularly in the trippy ambience of “House of Seven Swords” and the moody “Ascension,” which builds a soundscape outward from the piano at its center.

Carlton rounded out the album in Nashville with Landry who worked on three tracks. McCauley played on several songs throughout the process, including “Take it Easy,” "Ascension" and “Matter of Time.” The latter is stripped of instrumentation and highlights Carlton’s voice as it soars over McCauley’s delicately plucked electric guitar, reminiscent of the old school vocal recordings of Dusty Springfield.

Ultimately, Liberman feels like a new chapter in Carlton’s storied career, revealing new facets of her musical skill and instigating fresh inspirations. Stagnancy, she knows, is the antithesis to creativity.

“Martin Scorsese said sometimes your greatest challenge is not your failure but your success,” Carlton says. “In a way I was able to persevere after having a success out of the gate and figure out a path that feels really pure to me. But I had to create this environment where I felt comfortable changing. When I was first doing records I was so young and I wanted to please everyone. But now I sort of feel ancient and I love it and I just want to make art for its own sake. Whether I fall on my face or not at least I know I did it. Everything I’ve done and everything I am is there in the songs.”
"Nashville's best-kept secret" (The Boston Globe) singer-songwriter Tristen, gained notice as an artist with "pop hooks and pure inspiration" (NPR) through her 2011 folk-oriented record Charlatans at the Garden Gate and was later recast as "a synth-pop siren" (SPIN) with her 2013 record CAVES.

Tristen grew up on the south side of Chicago, the grandchild of immigrants. Singing since she could speak, by the time she was a teenager she began writing her own songs and recording. She went on to study communication theory at DePaul University until the combination a failed marriage engagement and a deep love for David Bowie inspired her to move to Nashville to try to make it as a songwriter.

Quickly gaining attention in Nashville for being "a new breed of female songwriter", local shows turned into national touring, and before long Tristen gained a reputation for having a "preternatural sense of melody, energetic live shows and emotive vocals " (American Songwriter) and bringing along Nashville's hottest musicians as her backing band. Both of her albums were named the best local album by the Nashville Scene and placed in American Songwriter's top 50 albums of their respective years.

Tristen has emerged as a truly individual songwriter, bridging genres and emotions to create a distinctive sound all her own. Her finely honed modern pop is rich with exquisite arrangements and a remarkably intuitive lyrical approach. Tristen spent 2015 as a backing singer and keyboard player in Jenny Lewis's band and released her first book of poetry, Saturnine, in 2016 which features a foreword by rock and roll poet Ezra Furman.
Tristen's new record Sneaker Waves is due out in 2017.
Skye Steele
Skye Steele
Skye Steele spent the last decade in New York City forging a reputation as a musicians’ musician, working his way up from playing subway platforms to Carnegie Hall and collaborating with a dizzying array of artists. He has appeared on stage with household-names like Willie Nelson and Vanessa Carlton, indie darlings Deer Tick, Jolie Holland, and Shearwater, and legends of avant-garde jazz Anthony Braxton and Butch Morris.

In 2014 Skye began forging a new path as a solo performer and song-writer, trading in concert halls, jazz festivals, and a well-stamped passport for DIY venues and long stretches of American highway. He sweated out this reinvention the old-fashioned way, crisscrossing the country and refining his new sound on stage in punk-rock basements, galactic hippie-communes, and boom town honky-tonks.

In January 2015, he released Up From The Bitterroot, a collection of sprawling folk-art songs that chronicled the unraveling of his marriage, written during a winter spent hiding out in a log cabin in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Recorded almost entirely in two days with a live band of seasoned improvisers from New York’s jazz world, Bitterroot, also captures a moment of transition musically for Skye from his roots as a violinist in that scene to a vocation for songwriting. A week after celebrating the album’s release with a 10-piece all-star band, Skye emptied out the home and studio he’d kept in Brooklyn for nine years, piled instruments into his car and hit the road full-time.

That summer, Skye found himself back in Montana with a free month between tours, so he returned to the same cabin in the Bitterroot to write. This time it was July instead of January, and the change in season in his own life was as dramatic as in the landscape. On his first day in the woods he wrote “Back In The Valley,” which would become the album opener:

I’m back in the valley, down off the mountainside--
Storm carried me up there in winter and dropped me to sparkle and shine,
waiting for springtime.
Back in the valley, called out by the sun--
Dressing the trees up in emeralds to dance on the branches,
sucking up light into our blood.

By the end of the month he had twenty new songs demoed, but it wasn’t until the following Spring when he would take a break from touring to spend six weeks in LA recording them. This was a dramatically different project from his first LP. Skye was in the studio alone with one of his oldest friends, the guitarist and producer Cassorla (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Blitzen Trapper, Taylor Goldsmith). The two poured over the songs and arrangements in meticulous detail, playing all the instruments themselves.

The folk instrumentation of Bitterroot gave way to 808 beats and skronky synths. Improvised flourishes were replaced with lush orchestral string arrangements Skye composed and recorded part by part. A few friends dropped in to make guest appearances— Jolie Holland sang a duet, Vanessa Carlton added harmonies and a ghostly chorus to a tune, and the rhythm section from Skye’s first band in New York added bass and drums to another.

All That Light is an album that looks outward and upward, praising nature and life cycles and the subatomic interplay of energy and matter. There are a few love songs mixed in, but the one that stands out for its ardor is “At The Waterfall,” an oedipal ode to the Earth, inspired by a Brazilian Candomblé chant to the sea-goddess Iemanjá. Fans of Jolie Holland will be surprised and delighted by her verse on the dancehall-inflected duet “Stay With Me.” There is a call-back to the searing confessionals of Bitterroot in “I Wish You Well,” a letter to a long-estranged partner. And “All That Light,” The title track, stomps and swaggers over synth-bass and crowd-shouted chorus as Skye declares,

“invisible and indivisible,
we send light flying all over,
but we’re not here at all—
oh baby, it’s aaaaall that light.”

This ecstasy of contradictions is emblematic of the album’s sonic perspective too-- Yes, this folk song can groove over some hyper-saturated Moog bass. Sure, these Copland strings will fit under that glitchy drum loop. And if putting these things together is actually not that big a deal, maybe this strengthens the case made throughout this record-- that a sense of oneness is actually a simple and intimate experience, and the vast impossibilities of life’s blooming are as close at hand as the light arriving this moment into your eye.
Venue Information:
Saint Rocke
142 Pacific Coast Highway
Hermosa Beach, CA, 90254