Music joins Raitieres and Norrises

December 21, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Aaron Raitiere likes the guitar. He likes being a vocalist. His first love, though, is songwriting.

"I like to write lyrics and invent progressions and melodies," says the Boyle County native, adding he'd like to learn to play the drums. "I can't read music but I can tell a good story.

"Anyone who can play three chords on a guitar can play my songs. I just like the fact that the stories are mine."

Raitiere, who recently graduated from Cornell University with a degree in American studies, says his music is "nothing complicated."

"Just simple chords with my own words," he notes. "I say it's the blues if that's what people are listening for. Whatever gets me a job.


"In Texas, I say it's country. You can't really get any shows if you don't play country. In New York, I said it was Bluegrass, just because there weren't many other Bluegrass bands around there to compete with. So I guess people who like the blues and Bluegrass usually like my music."

His father, Dr. Colin Raitiere, who is a member of local band Billyblues, calls Raitiere a poet.

"He writes songs like Guy Clark or Townes van Zant," Dr. Raitiere says. "He's a storyteller. He sometimes throws in perplexing melodic twists that I just love.

"His songs sometimes seem far more passionate and perceptive than you would expect from someone his age, but then again, he can be sardonic in a kind of jaded way. A lot of it is upbeat, and frenetic - lots of different stuff."

Raitiere performs Dec. 28 at The Dame

Raitiere's early exposure to music was through is father, whose band will open for Raitiere Dec. 28 at The Dame in Lexington. Raitiere also performs Dec. 30 at Fat Moe's in Paducah.

"I've been around (my dad's) guitars for as long as I can remember," Raitiere explains. "But more importantly, he has always encouraged me to think for myself. He's made it easy for me to pursue my interests without giving me too much instruction, and encouraged me with honest criticism rather than clichd advice.

"He gave me my first guitar, but I taught myself how to play."

Dr. Raitiere says he remembers his son first playing the guitar with it flat on his lap, facing up.

"He would play with his hands facing down, sort of fingering like a piano," Dr. Raitiere explains. "He began to mimic songs he heard on the radio, making up fingerings for chords that were tonally consistent with what he heard. I was impressed with his ear as well as his determination and patience.

"I never really tried to teach him anything. I just encouraged him and left the door open. He also has been very receptive to hearing music that is new to him. And I've been able to learn a lot from watching him play, listening to the music he appreciates."

Dr. Raitiere says his son has a friend who works at The Dame, who suggested he send a demo of his work.

"Billyblues followed with some of our stuff," Dr. Raitiere says. "I think with Aaron's encouragement the idea of playing on the same night evolved.

"The really amazing thing is that Mike Norris' (another member of Billyblues) son, John, is playing at The Dame the night before Aaron and Billyblues. We hope John will be able to sit in with us on the 28th for a big 12-bar blues generational merge thing. Should be fun."

Norris playing at The Dame on Dec. 27

Norris says he called his son, who is in his final year of working on a master of fine arts degree in painting at Louisiana State University, about a week ago to find out his Christmas plans. John Norris, a Centre College graduate, said he was going to be in Kentucky Dec. 20 because "he was going to be playing at The Dame on the 27th."

"I said, "Really,'" Norris adds. "I told him we were playing with Colin's son on the 28th. We were all just shaking our heads."

Norris describes his son a multi-instrumentalist who plays the guitar, drums, keyboard and bass, and sings. John Norris released a CD of original music titled "Harlan," for which he played all the instruments, Norris adds. Harlan is JohnNorris' middle name.

"The music is very inventive, very original," he notes. "I would describe it as a sort of alternative sound with influences from classic rock.

"While it's not exactly like something you've ever heard, you will hear echoes that remind you of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and The Replacements. It's very musical and very tight. To my ear, it sounds like a real tight band playing together rather than one young man doing all the parts."

Norris adds that his son has a group of friends around the country who have formed a virtual band called Harlan.

"They exchange CDs of original music they've written and learn it individually," Norris says. "They get together and having learned the songs already, they practice putting it together and play.

"The plan is on the 28th, when we play, when we have the finale, we'll have the six of us - the three members of Billyblues, our drummer, Aaron and John on a couple of rave up numbers at the end."

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