Calling something a “soundtrack of your life” may be the most overworked phrase in music, but for many of us “Live from Laurel Canyon” may qualify. The show, scheduled for Feb. 22 at the Crystal Palace, courtesy of Rick Kreiser and Guitar Masters, “is a musical journey through the evolution of American folk rock told through stories and songs by the artists who lived in this legendary canyon in the Hollywood Hills between 1965 and 1977.”
That was some canyon. It would have paid to have just driven through Laurel Canyon with your windows open. Rock 'n' roll would never be the same again because of the bands who lived in Laurel Canyon or the bands who were inspired by the sound of those who did.
That included The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles. As much as there was a Bakersfield Sound 100 miles away, there was the folksy, harmony rich, introspective, love of California sound happening to the south.
The show is the brainchild of Brian Chartrand, who performs the songs as well as charts the musical journey with bandmates Holly Pyle, Shea Marshall, Alex Kyhn, Lamar Gaines, Adam Armijo and Todd Chuba.
“I had the idea for the show back in 2012,” Chartrand said. “I was working as a one-man lounge act on a cruise ship for the summer. I had to learn a bunch of covers for the gig and I started to see the connections between some of the artists I was getting to know.”
Chartrand realized there was a thread between the artists. They either lived in Laurel Canyon or drank of its musical waters.
“I was blown away to discover not only was this is a tight-knit community of young artists, but their individual stories were super compelling,” he said.
Chardtrand, who is a full-time musician based in Phoenix, put the show together trying to incorporate the intimacy of a house concert while integrating the music and conversation that would explain the genesis of the songs.
“We started performing locally in Phoenix in 2013 and last year started taking the show on the road all over the country,” Chartrand said. “We even took a trio version of the show to Germany last November and they went nuts for it! What is not surprising is that this music resonates with every crowd we perform for.”
The crowd is mostly baby boomers but kids like this stuff too as Chartrand has been pleasantly surprised to discover. Reviews have included the words “remarkable,” “stunning” and “fascinating.”
Rusty Young of MusicWorks wrote that "Tight harmonies and inside stories from folk and rock’s greatest era separate Live from Laurel Canyon from other tribute bands.”
When it comes down to it, there's nothing wrong with a "soundtrack of your life" when the music is good. Just ask your kids, some of our soundtrack has become theirs. Whether they fess up or not.