Rustic Overtones open for Matisyahu at the State Theatre on New Year’s Eve in an all-ages show. For Dave Gutter, the band’s frontman, it has been a year of collaboration and fruition for projects that highlight his wordsmithing for others and influence on their musical careers.
“A lot of stuff I’d been writing the last three years culminated this year,” Gutter said in a recent interview with The Phoenix.
Aaron Neville released “Apache,” with lyrics Gutter co-wrote with Eric Krasno based on Neville’s poems.
“Working on the Neville record has been a dream gig,” Krasno said of the release. On it, he worked with Gutter, imagining Neville’s life through at least 50 poems he had sent them.
“The cool thing for me was laying down music and melodies, like painting a picture. We created the sketch and Aaron would add the color. He was very involved in the process, something he had not done on his records in a very long time,” Krasno said. “The excitement level between all of us was high.”
Gutter pushed Krasno, the songwriter, to move to the front of the stage and sing his own songs, which resulted in Krasno’s debut album, Blood from a Stone. Krasno credits Gutter and other Maine musicians with helping him make the jump, giving him the necessary confidence in his own voice.
Another high note, literally, for Gutter was his work on a single from GRiZ’s new album. In addition to the novel song, Grant Kwiecinski, who at 25 is already an electronic funk icon, also introduced GRiZ Kush, the artist’s own strain of weed that is sold legally in Denver, Co.
“With the writing thing, it’s been a busy year,” Gutter said, but added that the creative, collaborative process dates back even longer. “We started that four years ago. So sometimes after you write the songs, the bands tour and play them, record them. Now we’re at a place where it’s looping around and seems current.”
Over time, Gutter’s vocal range has moved from sandpaper scratchy rock anthems like Paranoid Social Club’s “We All Got Wasted” to hauntingly mellow love ballads, like those off his new album Armies, a duo endeavor with Anna Lombard.
His songwriting may have been overlooked comparatively, but industry insiders know he can crank out catchy bumper sticker lyrics and social commentary with music’s best. In a year that saw Bob Dylan win a Nobel Prize for Literature, the establishment types are starting to appreciate songwriting as a serious art form.
For Gutter, a low note this year was the death of David Bowie. The Maine minstrel joined up with other local legends in a tribute to Ziggy Stardust held at the State Theatre days after news came down. He played “Sector Z” with Jeff Beam, Dominic Lavoie, and Mat Zaro.
Another high point for Gutter — again, literally — was when he and fiancée Kaitlyn Gradie had their engagement photographs taken on the side of a cliff in the White Mountains.
“We went to the top in the early morning dark,” he said. “They dropped us down with harnesses, and as the sun came up, they took the pictures.” Philbrick Photography provided the aerial hijinks on Cathedral Ledge. The couple plans to get married, perhaps in the new year, but they are waiting to announce a date, “waiting to throw a crazy party."
More big news for the coming year: Rustic Overtones have begun work on a new album, one that will be a decidedly different product than in years past.
“It’s a collection of instrumentals I’m currently writing over,” Gutter said. “A world music vibe, heavily South American and Brazilian. I discovered some cool music from the late ’60s and ’70s, from Brazilian psychedelic rock bands. We love to make music like that, always trying to push forward.”
From the studio to the stage, the band continues to break barriers. “We resurrect all of our music when we play live,” he said of the upcoming State show, “and we’ll have fresh new versions with a different feel.”
Gutter has not played with Matisyahu before, but knows several of the guys from his band, having met them through Krasno. “I’ve never even seen Matis live, so I’m looking forward to do my set and then just chill, hang out with the drunk guys who know every word to your songs.”
Matisyahu w/ Rustic Overtones & Alec Benjamin
Doors: 8 pm / Show: 9 pm
$20 Early Bird / $30 Advance / $35 Day of Show
This event is ALL AGES
Latest from Tim Gillis
- Music Matters: Marcia Butler's Memoir The Skin Above My Knee at Print
- Have Fingers, Will Travel
- WHAT IS A CRIMINAL? The intersection of racial justice and policing in Portland
- "Protecting the environment is not a partisan issue" Why Mainers resist Trump's EPA pick
- Bridging gaps through music with the Portland Culture Exchange