Listen to music by Paradise Outlaw, and you’ll immediately note the tight instrumentation, timbre of the vocals, and some ear-catching lyrics. An email from guitarist Kevin Langeland introduced me to this band, and as soon as I heard their track “Wastin’ the Day,” I was hooked. Why?
Well, there were the lyrics. When I hear lines like, “Wastin’ the day/and living the night”, I admire the poetry. Then there was the vocalist. I listen to a lot of music these days, and I often hear voices that get every note right, don’t get pitchy, and carry the tune perfectly. What I hear less often is timbre. And when I hear a unique voice that sets itself apart and functions as an instrument, that is very rare. Vocalist Colin Tobin does it all—I could pick his voice out of an audio lineup.
Tobin evokes Kid Rock, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynrd. Raw and visceral yet memorably melodic. So how did a Michigan band come to embrace aspects of a genre often associated with the South? Langeland explained it in his email: “We’re a heartland rock n roll band from Grand Rapids MI, but much of our inspiration, vision, sound, and songwriting is rooted in the South (as Alabama was once my home).”
A dear one once told me you could take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl. You can extrapolate that maxim to the music of Paradise Outlaw. The sound isn’t pure Southern rock, and if I had to pick a label, I’d call it Americana. I hear motifs like blues, Motown, even ragtime in their songs. If I had to pick a single adjective, I’d call their music “authentic”, a term used in their bio on the official Paradise Outlaw Facebook page.
The group is obviously working to earn their creds, evidenced by a busy gig schedule and as all indie bands do, trying to keep up with the multi-faceted demands of doing music. Langeland wrote:
“We play a warm blend of ‘Southern rock’, country, blues, and Americana, and have been likened to The Black Crowes, Bob Seger, Skynyrd, and John Mellencamp. We play around MI, and last summer we won a regional contest and played the annual B93 Birthday Bash, which gave us some radio air play, and the opportunity to open for Big & Rich, Joe Diffie, Granger Smith & Michael Ray, and play in front of thousands of people. We’ve also opened for other national acts at other venues.”
I once told my daughters music is like a carousel. People get on, people get off, but the thing just keeps going ‘round and ‘round. Any professional musician knows the prerequisites to building a fan base. Get your name out there. Perform at a variety of venues. Work your social media. Touch the heart by exploring the human condition, something every good poet or musician (not to be confused with entertainers who walk the same walk over and over again) knows. If you do all these things right, you’ll soon find you’ve climbed the next rung on that very tall ladder you’re trying to master.
Langeland said in his email:
“[L]ike most indie artists, even with some momentum, the struggle to ‘make it’ any bigger is very real. We take pride in writing music from the heart and tapping into real experiences and feelings, and not the current ‘country’ music mold. We don’t pander to ‘what’s hot’, and chase youtube hits – we try to let our music do the talking…”
Thus far, Paradise Outlaw’s music is doing plenty of talking. You can listen to songs at the band’s official website. As I wrote earlier in this column, my favorite is “Wastin’ the Day”—that’s such a paean to all creatives. As a writer, I can procrastinate with the best of them. I can find a million things to do during the day. Then at night, instead of being tired or sleepy, my brain and body come alive. I guess that’s a good thing considering the time I spend on the road with the girls. That song zeroed right in on what many of us in the creative fields do so very well. Ironically, some of my best work has been created after down time, or after spending an evening listening to live music with our circle of friends.
Paradise Outlaw is a band to watch. I think they’d go over really well here in Florida—this state supports live music on a stellar level. Meanwhile, you can listen to their originals and view their videos at their Facebook page (linked above) or their website. Be sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page—this always helps indie artists and it doesn’t cost you a dime.
As I said earlier, the band’s orchestration is tight—it melds together to make one big invigorating sound. Members of the band are: Kevin Langeland (guitar), Kyle Gifford (guitar), Nathan Vredeveld (drums), John Johnson (bass), and Colin Tobin (vocals). In this group, there’s no weak link.
Soon I’ll have a full interview up right here at Indie Arts South.
(Kay B. Day/July 17, 2018)