Kris Lager enjoys nearly every aspect of his job
His band will play O.P. Rockwell Saturday
It’s a good think Kris Lager likes to make new music, because he’s in it for the long haul as an independent musician.
“From a personal standpoint I love to create, and I love the constant challenge and quest of making new melodies, music and finding ways to express myself,” Lager said during a phone call to The Park Record from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. “The possibilities are endless from what you know as a musician. There is so much out there. You just have to tap into it.”
The Kris Lager Band will play some of its bandleader’s new and old songs when it finds its way to Park City to open for Andy Frasco and The U.N. at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main St.
Playing live is another thing Lager loves about his job.
“From a music standpoint, it never gets old, because there are always the elements of the craft of how the band plays together and the chemistry,” he said. “I’m in a band with these great instrumentalists, so I don’t have to tell them what to play. I just show them the songs I have and tell them what key it’s in, and they just jump in.”
Lager’s band features drummer John “Scooby Sha Bo Bo” Fairchild, saxophonist Mike Lefever and bassist Aaron Underwood.
“Scooby’s been with me the longest,” Lager said. “It’s been about 13 years now. I needed a drummer. I played in open mics all over Lincoln, Nebraska, and that’s how we met.”
Lefever’s been with Lager going on just a little more than two years.
“I met him in Kansas City [Missouri] where we were playing a venue called Knuckleheads,” Lager said. “During a set break, he said he wanted to sit in with the me.”
Lager asked a mutual friend if Lefever was any good and got the thumbs up.
“I called him up to the stage on the next set and didn’t let him go until the set was over,” Lager said with a laugh. “I told him if he ever wanted to hit the road with me to let me know, and I scooped him up the next tour and he has been with us ever since.”
Underwood hails from Wichita, Kansas.
“I ran across him because he used to tour with Terry Quiett and Kentucky Gentleman,” Lager said. “He threw his hat in the ring after I posted on Facebook that I needed a bassist.”
Although Lager originally wanted someone who lived in Lincoln or somewhere else close to home, Underwood came in for a three-day run and the whole band jibed.
“He really wanted it, so we decided to make it work, and he’s been with us since last October.”
Lager said his bandmates know how to respond and react to his music.
“I know it drives the guys nuts, because every night we play a different show,” he said. “The arrangements change. The dynamic shifts are in different places, and that requires musicians who can think on their toes.
“As the bandleader, I have to get the audience and band engaged in order to create that magic that I’m looking for. I change things up on purpose to make sure we’re fully present in the moment. I also think that’s what makes them love playing in the band.”
The only part of the job Lager doesn’t enjoy is the business.
“That’s where it starts to get frustrating,” he said with a laugh. “That’s where you sometimes start wondering if doing what we’re doing is worth the time and energy.”
Lager knows why the business side of being a musician is such a drag.
“[It] comes from the climate we’re in now with so much entertainment at our fingertips,” he said. “I mean, it seems just a few people make the effort to get out of the house or even have the money to spend to go to shows. It’s an interesting game I’m in.”
The challenges of maneuvering the hustle is rewarded by the live shows and putting out music, such as The Kris Lager Band’s new album, “Rise and Shine,” which was released in November.
“I feel like this album is the best representation of the band,” Lager said. “All the songs have been mainstays in our set for the past couple of years.”
Lager originally had 30 songs he wanted to record, but was able to whittle the list down to 16.
“Cutting down the first dozen wasn’t hard, but the last few were,” he said. “But I think we got the right ones, because we could tell which ones have that mojo.”
In addition to the new album, Lager is also releasing new songs on his website: http://www.krislagerband.com.
“I’ve been working for years on this solo record that I haven’t had the guts to release,” he said with another chuckle. “So, I’ll post new songs on the website that people can download.
“If people feel like they want to donate, they can throw us couple of bucks. If not, they can just get some free songs.”
A majority of the songs were recorded with a portable tape machine.
“I took it to my friends ‘bud and breakfast’ called Aspen Canyon Ranch in Colorado,” Lager said with another giggle. “He let us take over a cabin and I recorded a handful of those tracks. I want to upload three or more tunes before we take off on the next tour.”
Kris Lager Band will open for Andy Frasco and The U.N. at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main St. Tickets range from $17 to $32 and can be purchased by visiting http://www.oprockwell.com. For information about the Kris Lager Band, visit http://www.krislagerband.com.
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