Friday, September 9, 2011

Post #207: Aaron Espe

***Aaron's new side project, Haviland just released their first EP, entitled An Introduction, on July 12th***

In the summer of 2007, I had the opportunity to travel to the Hyalite Mountains in Bozeman, Montana. My friend Travis and I thought it might actually be fun to ride our mountain bikes in the actual mountains as opposed to the 'bunny hills' we have here in Minnesota.  Driving through the night with our bikes in tow, it would turn in to a weekend full of long, grueling rides.  Rides that I will never forget.

What made the long weekend even more memorable was attending the 2nd annual Storyhill Fest.

Storyhill Fest is a festival built around the duo Storyhill, whom I posted HERE and HERE back in January.  Prior to their headlining performances on two evenings, there were performances throughout the day by fellow label mates or artists that they would consider their 'friends'.

This is how I came across Aaron Espe.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see his actual performance.  Due to our biking schedule, we didn't get back to the camp in time.  What I witnessed was something even better.  Each night, around a big bon fire, they had what was basically an open mic format, with no mic.  Unplugged.  The artists that were in attendance would bring their guitars and play requests, covers, and each others songs.  Aaron played a cover of a Beatles song.  It was amazing!  I was so blown away by his voice, that I didn't need to hear anything else.  My mind was made up...I loved this guy.

The next day, I purchased his 2005 release, My Whole Life, which was his only release at the time and is where you will find "Melody".  To this day, it remains in regular rotation, and when I'm in an Espe mood, I will have it on repeat for 2 to 3 days.

My Whole Life is one of those albums where you can't wait for the artist to release more material.  Thankfully it wasn't too long, and in 2008, Aaron released Songs From a Small Town, which is where you will find "Faith & Doubt".  Again, an album that finds itself on repeat on my ipod.

Over the last handful of years, Aaron has released a 7 song Christmas EP, two singles, and just recently in July a 3 song EP with his side project Haviland.  With each release it solidified his spot on the top of my list of artists I desperately want to see perform.  Unfortunately for me and his fans, he tends not to tour.  So imagine my excitement when I saw he was playing in Chicago the same weekend I was going to be there for a Fantasy Football draft.

He did not disappoint, even taking my request to play my favorite, "You've Got Me Now" with his guitar, even though it is a song meant for the piano.  And what a great venue!  Uncommon Ground was an equal combination of a cafe, restaurant and pub, with limited seating for 50 people.

We even got to hear some new material from his side project Haviland, which takes a step away from the mellowness of solo Aaron towards something much more 'indie pop' oriented.  According to friend and other half of Haviland, Michael Ayers, Haviland almost didn't happen.  With both artists relocating (Ayers to Seattle and Espe to Nashville), the 1,000 mile distance made it difficult.  After sending some ideas back and forth, "Hurricane" is where it started, and is the opening track on the new 3 song EP.  I am so excited to see where Haviland goes and can't wait to hear what they release next.

On top of witnessing an amazing performance, I had the opportunity to speak with him afterwards.  We talked about life, the music business, and what struggles artists face especially when it comes to creating music, as he is currently working on his third album.

Aside from being a talented writer and musician, Aaron is very modest and very humble.  It is almost like he carries himself with an attitude of 'I'm not that big of a deal.'  Well, with that statement, I completely disagree.

It is my opinion that everyone should have Aaron Espe in their music library.  The more people that have him in their library, the more resources Aaron will have to put into making new music.  It is simple economics.

Visit Aaron's website and contribute to his next album.  Go to itunes and download the music.  And above all else, please share this post with your friends.

The world needs Aaron Espe to make more music.


Aaron Espe
Wikipedia  (no page....yet)

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