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Artist of the day: Lauris Vidal




Lauris Vidal is a true Floridian, with roots that run deep in the state.

After growing up in Ormond Beach, he moved away and did a stint in Washington, D.C. About five years ago, he moved back to Florida to help renovate the family house in Evinston, which sits on land that has been in his family since before the Civil War.

Upon returning to Florida, Vidal got serious about music. What the 33?year-old does now is a vast departure from his previous high school and college bands, but he said, “I like to think I bring a lot of the punk energy with me.”

Vidal performs at 10 p.m. Friday at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, 5119 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. Cover is $5.

Vidal plays an amalgamation of blues, folk and psych-rock that is as refreshing as it is surprising. By layering acoustic guitars, lap steel and ukuleles, the power of Vidal’s songs sneaks up on you. He keeps things as raw and organic as possible, but before you know it, what seemed like simple front-porch blues jam has the depth that most five-piece bands strive for.

“I love to strip it down as far as it can go to old blues, old folk and old rock 'n’ roll,” he said.

When recording, Vidal plays everything except drums. “The only person I’ve used on my recordings other than myself has been a drummer,” Vidal said. “Right now, my drummer, Billy Dean, is basically the only full-time member of my band beside myself.”

Vidal’s “punk energy” isn’t just reflected in how he plays, but in how he creates his music. He takes DIY one step further by building a lot of his instruments.

“I’m moving towards building everything I play, especially electric,” he said. “Right now, I’m playing live a lap steel I made, a ukulele I made and an electric guitar that I made. I’m working on a banjo and a new ukulele right now.

“A lot of it has to do with the beauty of imperfections and raw materials. Everything I’m making is basically scrap. This ukulele I’m making is out of an old desk and a 1920s neck. My other one is made out of a cigar box and a 1920s neck. My electrics are made out of cypress barn wood that was on the family land.”

Vidal’s hard work and great songs haven’t gone unnoticed. He recently signed on with P Is For Panda, a small boutique label in Atlanta.
“I toured with two good friends, Damion Suomi and Andy Zipf, and both of them are on P Is For Panda,” Vidal said. “We ended up playing this house show for this producer in Atlanta, and at that show ended up being people from Favorite Gentleman Records, Columbia Records and Chad Pearson from P Is For Panda. Evidently, they all liked what I was doing and encouraged Chad to sign me.”

Vidal’s first release for the label will be a seven-song EP due out in late September.

For not being from the bay area, Vidal plays down here quite a bit. In fact, he’s got nothing but good things to say about his frequent shows here.

“Tampa, I would absolutely say, is my second home in Florida,” he said. “I love the area and the people. WMNF is phenomenal. What it seems to me that they do for the community is invaluable. They’ve been so good to me.”

-- Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:07pm]


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