SEAN MCCONNELL – Tickets – The Evening Muse – Charlotte, NC – September 7th, 2017

SEAN MCCONNELL

MaxxMusic & The Evening Muse Present:

SEAN MCCONNELL

Logan Vath

Thu 9/7

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 7:30 pm

The Evening Muse

$12.00 - $14.00

This event is all ages

SEAN MCCONNELL
SEAN MCCONNELL
“From a very young age, I just knew that I was gonna spend my life making music,” Sean McConnell states. “I never really questioned it, so I just forged ahead and didn’t let anything stop me.”

Although his self-titled new Rounder album will serve as his introduction to many listeners, the personable young artist is actually a seasoned, distinctive songwriter and an experienced performer with a quartet of D.I.Y. indie releases to his credit. Having built a substantial grass-roots fan base through tireless touring and old-fashioned hard work, McConnell is primed for a mainstream breakthrough.
Sean McConnell demonstrates exactly why McConnell has already won such a devoted audience. He writes vivid, forthright, effortlessly catchy songs whose incisive melodic craft is matched by their resonant emotional insight. Such instantly memorable tunes as “Holy Days,” “Beautiful Rose,” “Bottom of the Sea” and “Best We’ve Ever Been” are both catchy and personally charged, conveying an unmistakable sense of personal experience while exploring universal truths.

“This record’s a bit of a step for me,” McConnell asserts. “It’s a real storyteller record, and it’s pretty autobiographical. I’m learning how to be more honest and understated in my writing, and I wanted to match that sonically and vocally. When I look at this collection of songs, I see a lot of nostalgia, and looking back on sacred moments. I’m kind of nostalgic and reflective by nature.”

McConnell recorded the album in his adopted hometown of Nashville with producers Jason Lehning and Ian Fitchuk, who also contributed keyboards and drums, respectively. The recording took place prior to McConnell signing with Rounder, with the artist financing the sessions himself.

“This project started,” he explains, “when I went to a cabin by myself for a week, with the intention of writing some songs. In that week, I wrote about half of the songs on the record, and I could see the thread of what this record was gonna be. That was exciting for me, because it normally takes me a year to find an album’s worth of songs that belong together. The whole recording process was really fun and liberating, and the energy in the studio was really positive.”

Songwriting and music-making have been a part of Sean McConnell’s life for as long as he can remember. “My mom was a singer and my dad was a guitar player and songwriter,” he notes. “They’d play in coffeehouses and I’d go along and watch them perform, and seeing that lifestyle showed me that music was an option. And seeing my dad painstakingly writing songs had a huge influence on me, and gave me license to feel like I could enter into that world.”

By the age of ten, he had become proficient on guitar and was writing his first songs. “I fell in love with the instrument first,” McConnell recalls. “Learning guitar gave me a feeling of uncharted territory laid out in front of me. And as I got better on guitar, the songs started to come naturally. At around the same time, we moved from Massachusetts to Georgia, and the first song I wrote was about the feeling of leaving the familiar and feeling lost in a new place. Music gave me a focus and became an emotional outlet for me.”

His supportive family background helped to instill the confidence and drive to pursue his muse early on. “I started playing in middle school, doing any gig I could get just to get my chops up,” he says. “By high school, I would be doing local gigs and really promoting them, bringing out a couple hundred kids to my shows a few times a month and starting to make a decent living at it. That made me think that maybe I could do this in other towns. So I started traveling around the southeast a little bit, and there was always enough progress to take things to the next level. While I was in college, I did a lot of college touring, just me driving all over the United States in a Toyota Corolla. It was hard work, but it showed me that I could do it.”

McConnell was just 15 when he self-released his first album, Faces, in 2000. Followed by 2001’s Here In The Lost and Found, 2004’s 200 Orange Street, 2006’s Cold Black Sky, 2007’s Tell The Truth, 2008’s The Walk Around EP, 2010’s Saints, Thieves and Liars, 2012’s Midland and the 2014 EP The B Side Session.

“I had a guitar teacher in Atlanta who had a home studio, and he was the first one to say ‘Hey, you should make a record,'” he says. “If I go back and listen to that first record now, the songs are kind of crude, but at the same time there’s a directness about them that I like. My writing has evolved since then, but at the same time I’ve tried to hold on to some of that directness.”

“I’m really attracted to songwriters who just put it out there honestly, and I feel like I’m getting back to basics and expressing things in a simple, direct way on the new album,” he continues. “I’m just trying to learn how to be a more honest storyteller, trying to get my mind in a place where I’m not actually thinking and the music’s just kind of happening naturally. When I read interviews with songwriters that I admire, they always say that the best songs are the ones that just kind of happen, like they’re operating from the unconscious. That’s a place I want to get to.”

Having spent much of his life honing his craft and paying his dues, Sean McConnell is eager to launch the next chapter of his career.
“I kind of feel like I’ve been in a really long boot camp,” he concludes. “I’m really grateful for that, because I feel like I’ve gained enough experience to know the deal and be prepared for anything. I’m excited to see where the next part of the journey takes me.”
Logan Vath
Logan Vath
In the Presence of the Kingdom EP

“I’ve always been impressed with Logan and his music, but this EP is a huge step forward. It reminds me of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams.” — Singer-songwriter Tyler Lyle

Heritage is a funny thing. So funny, in fact, you might say sometimes it acts like a recessive gene. Growing up in Nebraska, Logan Vath didn’t acquire his passion for songwriting from his mom or dad, who split up when he was young. Excepting his own interest in grunge legends like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and the eclectic roster of nearby indie label Saddle Creek, his home environment wasn’t notable for its love of music. But then he inherited his grandfather’s guitar, a 1962 Gretsch White Falcon.

“It’s a strange item,” says the 26-year-old singer-songwriter, now based out of Portsmouth, Virginia. Vath never knew his biological grandad, a gig musician who died in a car crash before he was born. “It has so much meaning to so many people in my family, but I feel pretty distant from it, and a grief I never knew. I don’t know quite how to handle it.”

Yet Vath’s natural ability as both a vocalist and songwriter, dual talents he had been nurturing since high school, gracefully bridges that distance, stitching together past and present in a wonderful folk narrative called In the Presence of the Kingdom, his new EP.

Vath sings with the warmth of a country artist, but there’s enough smoke and gravel in his tone that suggests the genre’s folkier fringes, like the dust-caked howlings of Townes Van Zandt, and the shuffling edge of Dylan. Packing enough feeling into these five songs for albums twice as long, Vath explores a dynamic, shifting, emotional landscape where broken hearts, regret, and doubt share equal billing with wonder, joy, and the wisdom that comes with age.

“I would definitely say it’s a coming of age album,” Vath says, “as it deals with some loss of innocence.” He explains the album’s title refers to his feelings when he left the Navy after a four-year stint directly following high school. It’s lifted from the third track, “Battle Royale,” where he deals with the subject explicitly.

“I had a lot of pressure from my family, about money and what I was doing, chasing this little dream of mine. It’s about everything that’s bigger than me, my parents, the government, money, taxes, and how those things influence our ability to pursue what feels comfortable to us. For me, it’s figuring out life post-Navy, without the income I was used to, which was pretty good for a 23-year-old kid. I wrote ‘Battle Royale’ at a time when I was a little regretful about leaving this comfortable world, but at the same time understanding that comfort can be a little dangerous.”

The theme is recurring. Opening track “Nebraska,” a bittersweet nod to his home state, explores in meandering prose the tremendous influence that family and place has on a person, for better and worse. Over a languid acoustic guitar, Vath sings wistfully of his grandfather’s legacy—“My eyes/They been passed down from your hands to mine/The blue in them it seems to remind of/Summer wine and the songs of your time”—and the more mundane aspects of life in a flyover state: “That’s home/The place no one else cares to go.”

Adding to each song’s compositional heft is the delicate production of Daniel Mendez (Noah Gundersen, Dashboard Confessional, Duran Duran), who Vath contacted about the project personally. “I wanted to be pushed by someone and he’s good at that, and he’s a studious worker who could teach me about the professional recording world,” Vath says. Mendez in turn provided just that, bringing in an aces studio team eager to work with the artist in Mendez's Brooklyn studio. Gentle flourishes of electric guitar, drums, piano, and bass add a lush Americana feel while positioning Vath’s vocals and rhythm playing front and center.

As it should be. After sorting through the confusion of what other people wanted for him, Vath came to realize he was to pursue the songwriter’s life, with all its ups and downs. “I never really knew what I wanted to be until I started playing guitar,” he says. “When I was in the military, I gathered a lot of material items because that’s what you do. And they were things I liked and at the time they were milestones.” He pauses, considering the very different path he’s chosen since then. “But you don’t have to live a milestone life to be happy.”

Perhaps that’s what makes In the Presence of the Kingdom so right in time. Sonically, it doesn’t push too hard, and listeners aren’t pummeled with pedantic lyrics. Instead, Kingdom finds its way steadily, following its own instincts, ever in tune with Vath’s squarely centered heart. Surely there’s some magic here, passed along from grandfather, but there’s no question Vath’s Kingdom is all his own.
Venue Information:
The Evening Muse
3227 N. Davidson St.
Charlotte, NC
http://www.eveningmuse.com/

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