The Set List
By Brian Washburn
New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin. The list goes on and on when people discuss the best city for musical careers and live music. Musicians and bands travel from all over the nation to get the opportunity to conquer the big-city music markets they have dreamed of their entire lives. But while some find success in big cities, they still can’t resist the pull a hometown music scene brings, such as that of Northwest Arkansas, which pulled singer/musician Randall Shreve back from the big lights in New York City earlier this year. However, Shreve did not return as a failure, he was successfully selling out clubs around the city. In fact, he returned a new man it seems.
“I moved to New York and realized it was a great spot to find out who I am musically and find out what comes when I am being completely honest. It’s scary,” Shreve said. “New York is a good place to visit and find yourself and to feel the competition, but not to launch yourself (as a musician).”
While the complete honesty frightened Shreve a bit, it was not what came out of him that gave him a scare. It was the anticipation of responses from listeners when he drops his heavy influences that were so apparent in his first release. “The Cure For Yesterday” had become his own entity through his most recent release, last year’s “The Entertainer,” which accomplishes Shreve’s goal of taking listeners and concert viewers out of the 21st century and into a place more suited to the 1930s.
“Our live show is like a party,” Shreve said. “The idea is to take everyone out of the 21st century. Places in New York have a 1930s burlesque, cabaret feel and you leave it with (a) dream because you have to walk out back into the 21st century.”
Shreve’s feeling of elation for aspects of the 1930s and early 20th century stem from his obsession with Charlie Chaplin films and the personal and national turmoil the nation and its citizens were going through at the time, which Shreve said led entertainers and artists to a true heartfelt reason to entertain.
Even though we are definitely not in the 1930s, some of the turmoil from the depression era seems to be creeping around the nation this year and Shreve’s live show might just be his heartfelt reason to entertain despite these problems.
Shreve will play George’s Majestic Lounge this Friday for a “Back to School Bash” that will also feature his brother Benjamin Del Shreve. While this show, and a few others around town in the upcoming months, will feature Shreve’s work from “The Entertainer” and “The Cure For Yesterday,” a new, stripped-down EP will be released as an iTunes exclusive in October featuring songs written and performed by Shreve, as well as his pianist Tim Grace, with the only accompaniment a piano or guitar. But even with his new EP, Shreve and his band — Grace, guitarist Danny Klein, bassist Sandy Rowles and drummer Damon Singleton — will begin working on material for a new full-length concept album in the upcoming year.
“I have started writing for the new album, but just the skeleton structure of the songs. This album will be similar to “The Entertainer,” but is the first time on an album where I will not be playing a majority of the instruments,” Shreve said. “I have roughly pieces of a story (for the concept of the album), but not the full story. “
Though most artists choose not to write their music according to a certain theme or story, Shreve feels it gives him the opportunity to fit everything he couldn’t say in one song into a longer experience and to tie it up into a really enjoyable story — stories that have found their way from New York back to Northwest Arkansas and on their way to St. Louis, Kansas and Tulsa this year when Randall Shreve and his band hit the touring circuit later in 2009.