Michael Deeds: Home, sweet home: Boise musicians return for gigs

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comNovember 15, 2013 

Played during sunset on the roof of Crosby's apartment in Los Angeles.

JEFF CROSBY

Sometimes being an inspired local musician means leaving Boise behind. Three Idaho acts will return for shows this month.

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After touring for five years with Equaleyes, singer-guitarist Jeff Crosby was getting restless. He’d lost interest in jam-band music, drifting to the Americana rock sound of his other project, Jeff Crosby and The Refugees.

So in 2011, he moved to Los Angeles — to “wing it” in a big market with The Refugees, he says. They’ll be back in Idaho for a series of gigs late this month.

Crosby is calling it the “Thank You Tour” — and why not? It’s been a good year.

Crosby and company gained first-time exposure in the eastern and southern regions of the United States while touring with Jerry Joseph in May and June. They made excellent money headlining a “phenomenal” two-and-a-half-week Canadian trek in September, Crosby says. He even had two of his songs featured in the FX motorcycle-gang series “Sons of Anarchy” this season.

After beginning his career gigging in McCall at 16, Crosby has spent the past decade progressing to his current state of mind. He’s no longer interested in touring nonstop to play in an empty bar in Montana or Wyoming. His new strategy involves briefer road trips to strong markets.

Living in fast-paced L.A. is a culture shock after Boise, Crosby admits: “We’re all kind of ‘How long are we going to stay here?’ But I don’t know, there’s been a lot of opportunities that have come from it.”

“I have to say I’ve written a lot of kind of broken American dream-themed songs while here,” he adds, laughing. “I don’t know how inspiring a lot of the material will be. But it’s been good.”

Nov. 23, Alpine Playhouse, McCall; 10 p.m. Nov. 29, Reef, 105 S. 6th St., Boise, $5; Nov. 30, River Run Lodge, Sun Valley (acoustic); Nov. 30, Whiskey Jacques, Ketchum. Online: jeffcrosby.com

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It’s not unusual for young, ambitious Boise bands to empty their wallets for gasoline and hit the road for a few weeks. But investing in a bonafide publicist?

Texas-based McGuckin Entertainment PR even crafted an outlaw image for Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats, the self-described “progressive psychobilly folk grass band.” The press release for their third studio album, “On This Very Evening,” likens the band to “moonshine runners” and claims ...

-- Warren wrote the song “Angeline” — “while in Ada County Jail.”

-- “At their first wedding gig, Warren & The Billy Goats brawled with the groom’s father.”

Man, these Goats are animals.

After a six-week tour of the West that finished in San Diego last weekend, Warren and gang have found their way home. The album-release bash is Saturday night.

8 p.m. Nov. 16, Visual Arts Collective, 3638 Osage St., Garden City. $7 advance, $10 door. Opening: Stoneseed, Hillfolk Noir. Online: jonathanwarrenmusic.com

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Matt Hopper was tired. His wallet was thin. He was living in a buddy’s spare room in Meridian.

So after a decade of touring in the United States and overseas, he moved home to Alaska and took a job as a meter reader. It was there, in 2012, that he found inspiration to create new music.

Hopper’s newly released “High Hopes” is a “piano record,” he says. A more guitar-oriented album, “Husky,” which he’s pieced together over several years, should see the light of day near the end of 2013.

Hopper and his backing band, The Roman Candles, will play music from those albums, along with older songs, during gigs in Ketchum and Boise this weekend. The two-set Boise performance — at The Bouquet, which is reopening Saturday — will be recorded and videotaped.

Living in Boise again, Hopper toured off and on this year. A major highlight came in October, when he took a good-paying gig handling backup guitar and vocals for British-American singer-songwriter Freddie Stevenson. It was an opening slot on a Waterboys tour, so a typical audience was 1,200 people, Hopper says.

“It’s good not to be the frontman for a little bit,” he explains. “It was so easy ... sing some harmonies, play a couple licks. It was a lot of fun.”

10 p.m. Nov. 15, Whiskey Jacques, Ketchum. $5. Opening: Josh Hart, $5; 9 p.m. Nov. 16, The Bouquet, 1010 Main St., Boise. Free. Opening: Bernie Reilly. Online: matthopper.com

Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life.

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