Angela Perley will bring some Howlin’ to Park City
Angela Perley said she’s learned a lot in the past eight years as the main singer and songwriter for Americana rock band Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons. And the lessons haven’t just been about music.
“I’ve learned about myself and the people in this band,” Perley said. “I also feel like I develop close relationships with people who come see us, and with the other artists we meet on the road. And that everything just turns into a gathering of people to celebrate life.”
Perley will bring that celebration to Park City on Thursday at O.P. Rockwell. The singer and songwriter promised a thoughtful, high-energy concert that is the culmination of her career and influences up to now.
“The first songwriter that inspired me to seriously write songs and express myself was Bob Dylan, and that was in high school,” Perley said. “From there I got into a lot of 1960s and 1970s singers and songwriters including Neil Young, The Band, David Bowie. You know, the greats.”
Her musical palate widened while she attended Ohio University before graduating with a degree in English in 2008.
“I got into really old folk music, and that, in turn, got me to go back to old blues of Robert Johnson and Son House,” Perley said. “So I went back to search out the roots of rock ‘n’ roll.”
The road led to contemporary artists, such as Lucinda Williams, who paid tribute to the founding fathers of the blues.
“I fell in love with Lucinda’s ‘Ramblin’’ album, which was just her doing a lot of traditional blues and folk songs,” Perley said. “I also fell in love with her voice.”
While blues, folk and Americana are the pillars of Perley’s influences, she and her band also cite jazz and metal as influences.
“We’re really all over the place — even Black Sabbath,” she said with a hearty laugh. “We’re the sum of all the parts. I realize that more as we listen back to songs we did and see where the band has evolved to.”
Still, Perley doesn’t sit down to write songs in particular styles.
“I just write what I feel and as the song develops you can hear the blend of all these influences,” she said.
Perley’s lyrics cover a range of topics, but love and personal experiences are the threads that tie the songs together.
“I’ve always been obsessed with literature and the sad romantic characters,” she said. “I do put a lot of personal things in my songs, but I’ll put in an element that isn’t real to protect the people I write about. So I take liberties. It’s like the art form of life.”
Perley knows her songs mean different things to different people.
“I think the cool part about songwriting,” she said. “They can apply it to their own lives, and they can connect on different levels.”
Sometimes the best expression isn’t just in the lyrics, Perley said.
“The music can express so much as well,” she said. “And the band is amazing when it comes to that.”
The Howlin’ Moons feature bassist Billy Zehnal, guitarist Chris Connor and a stable of drummers who include Jake Levy, Aaron Bishara, Ed Davis and Greg Camplieti.
“We’ve always had studio drummers on albums, and whomever is available for shows,” Perley explained. “The drummer for this tour is Jake. He will record our next record with us, too.”
Each recording, whether its an album or extended play, has been a record of the musical evolution of Perley and her band.
“It’s hard for me sometimes to look back on songs, because I feel like they were naively written,” she said. “But our EPs were important because they were opportunities for us to develops as songwriters and musicians.
“It took some time to find my voice and it took a while for the band to find that comfortable place of playing with each other,” Perley said. “And you can see the progression in the releases.”
Perley also said each recording session pushes the band to go farther and play better.
“The biggest challenge is figuring out how can I best express what I’m feeling inside and make it work,” she said. “While I write all the songs in the band, but the guys bring everything together, and everyone has their own style and adds their own flair. So I feel it was kind of meant to be that we found each other.”
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