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Celebrating the songwriter
Dwane Ferren's Songwriter's Night
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
Back in 2012 Dwane Ferren put out one of my favorite local releases, For Glare & Gun. It was a mix of rusty Americana, jangly alternative, and even touches of gothic pop that showed he was leading the pack in singer/songwriters in the area. Since then, he's been working hard on a follow-up to that album over at Off The Cuff Sound in Fort Wayne. For a guy that does the 9 to 5 and is happily married with kids, dedicating time for making an album can be challenging. But believe me, it's worth the wait. I've listened to some rough mixes and all I can say is this record is going to be incredible.
Even though the album making is slow going, Ferren isn't stopping. He's been out and about playing shows here and there, and in April he's curating a songwriter's showcase at the Brass Rail. I caught up with Dwane and we talked about the show, his album, and whatever else came to mind.
Ferren begins by saying he’s taking a short break from his album, which he’s been working on for a little over a year. “I've made a conscious effort to deliver an album that has a different sound and presentation than the two albums before,” he says, “so I am taking it slow and trying to do it right.”
E.A. Poorman: That makes sense. So are you and your band the Sad Bastards getting out and playing shows? Getting the songs road worn?
Dwane Ferren: The Bastards have been playing more shows, so we have been rehearsing a lot and fine tuning our live sound. In the past I have had a rotation of people that would play live shows with me, almost every show had a different line-up. It looks like I have finally narrowed the band down to a solid core of musicians that I am very excited about.
E.A. Poorman: Speaking of playing live, tell me about this upcoming songwriter's night at the Brass Rail in April? How did this come about?
Ferren: I always write songs alone. That's not to say I'm not open to the idea of writing with other people or with a band, but I've never struggled to come up with the ideas. I may or may not like everything that I come up with, but I know from past experience that writing as a "singer songwriter" is different than writing with a band. Sometimes you say things in songs even if there’s a small chance of them being true. Sometimes you say the truth as you saw it, or as someone else did. Either way, you're kind of on a tight rope alone. And that's how I thrive as a writer. Creatively speaking, I enjoy that familiar desire, so I wanted to celebrate the singer/songwriters in this town.
E.A. Poorman: Celebrating the singer/songwriter. I like that. So who are you celebrating that night? Who's sharing the stage with you?
Ferren: Lexi Pifer is one of the bravest young voices around right now. She sings through her eyes which is what they used to say about George Jones. Kevin Hambrick has been one of my favorites in Fort Wayne since the first time I saw him perform in 2000. Mark Hutchins is hands down one of my favorite songwriters. Someone once said "Songwriting is a bitch, then it has puppies". I kind of feel like that with Mark's songs. They are so beautiful, but I know that writing beautiful songs has nothing to do with beauty. I don't know how he does it.
E.A. Poorman: How did you decide on this group of musicians? A great group, by the way.
Dwane Ferren: The Brass Rail has been kind enough to allow me to do this showcase on a Friday night, so I really want to present the audience with a variety of performances. I think some will perform alone and some may have a few guest musicians. I am planning on playing with my band The Sad Bastards.
E.A. Poorman: Could you see this becoming a regular thing? Songwriter's Night once every month or every other month?
Dwane Ferren: Well I think having THIS show at The Brass Rail was important because every night is "songwriters night" there. Its pretty much the backbone of the original scene in Fort Wayne, and I can't thank Corey and John enough for letting us do this show.
E.A. Poorman: Since we're talking about shows, you've got one coming up on March 6th. It's a fundraiser for your friend and fellow Sad Bastard Felix Moxter. Can you tell me about that one?
Dwane Ferren: If you know Felix then you get it. If you don't know him, there just isn't a better ambassador for the city of Fort Wayne. He's a fantastic musician and a close friend of mine. We are so excited to be a part of this and I URGE any fellow musician to attend and support Felix and Rhonda on this journey. They are in need of traveling expenses as they adopt their son and 100% of the proceeds will go to the them so they can travel to China. If anyone would like to help, please attend the show at O'sullivans on Friday March 6th, or you can donate at this web address as well. http://www.gofundme.com/ek8muc
E.A. Poorman: Let's talk about the follow up to For Glare & Gun. How's it coming? Will we see it released in 2015?
Dwane Ferren: It's a 10 song effort with 9 songs started and 6 of those are completely done. Just a little tweaking on 3 and one complete song to go. I'm hoping to mix it by summer and then take it to Chicago to have it mastered at The Boiler Room. My goal is to have it out by November of this year.
E.A. Poorman: So musically how does it sound?
Dwane Ferren: For Glare & Gun was primarily an "alt-country" album. With this one I am playing more electric guitar. Using less "country" sounding instruments. But we still have some of that fun playfulness that was on tracks like "Elephant Tears". I think that this one covers even more ground than FG&G.
E.A. Poorman: Besides the Songrwriter's Night in April and the upcoming Felix Moxter fundraiser, what you do have planned as far as shows go?
Dwane Ferren: We are playing a new venue in Alexandria called Creative Sanctuary 765 on Saturday March 21st. I know Ryan Kerr and The Pink Balloon Band have played there recently, and had nothing but good things to say about the place. I've heard we may be playing Rock The Plaza this summer, and I'm waiting on a confirmation date for The Melody Inn in Indianapolis.
E.A. Poorman: Well I wish you the best with the Songwriter's Night in April. It sounds like a great line-up, and filled with artists that deserve more recognition. If you had narrow that show down to one goal, what would that be?
Dwane Ferren: Singer/Songwriters are sometimes overlooked because they play shows without a band or in an acoustic format. A full show of acoustic songs is hard for some people to sit through. But not me. I think that it's brave as hell. That's why I'm bringing my band. (laughs)
E.A. Poorman: So the main reason for this show is what?
Dwane Ferren: I just wanted to play a show with my friends.
Sounds like a good enough reason to me. Get out and see Dwane Ferren and his friends on April 24th at The Brass Rail. And get out tonight and see Dwane and the Sad Bastards at O'Sullivan's at 9pm. It's gonna be a great show and for a great cause. Also, be excited for this new Dwane Ferren album. From what I've heard of it, it's absolutely killer.