Wednesday’s guest on The Portland Playlist was singer-songwriter Ky Burt, who arrived in Portland after traveling over 15,000 miles in his van, “Huckleberry,” throughout the Western United States. He is a multi-instrumentalist, playing acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, and mandolin. His music path began with playing the cornet in middle school. When he was in high school, he found his older sister’s guitar and has been playing one ever since. Music is the language that has resided in him since he was a child bouncing to the beat on the school bus, never allowing him to sit still, and we are the lucky beneficiaries in that he found a medium to get it out for us to listen to.
Ky’s music influences span Andrew Bird, for the way Bird uses his voice, instrumentation, and how he combined his classical music background with a rock sound. The Beatles, and he tells a great story of dressing in Sgt. Pepper garb on Halloween, for his Beatles class in college; Gregory Alan Isakov (introduced to him by a former girlfriend, loves his production style and lyrical content), Nick Drake; Bob Dylan; Mason Jennings; The Tallest Man on Earth; Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott; and Doc Watson.
The second hour of the show focused on Ky’s original material off his new EP, The Moon and The Sea. This EP is one that has evolved with Ky’s travels over the past couple of years. Inspirations came from an artist residency in Colorado while residing in a crooked windowed cabin named The Gingerbread House (“Gloria May”). “Deep Dark Woods” was written at the tail end of his trip to Portland, reminiscing about walking through a fruit orchard with a friend. “Lady in the Moon” was about the time he lived in the Flagstaff woods for four months, while by day he would go to work at his “cubicle” job in environmental conservation. Ky is happiest when he can be in nature, and his songs reflect his experiences there.
His live performances included one off the new EP, “Oregon Snow.” This is a beautiful song that came out of his travels from Flagstaff to Portland on Amtrak, a girl named Olivia, jam sessions on the train, and arriving to falling snow when he got here. Debuting a song not yet recorded, “The City Sleeps” is about moving to a new city (in this case Portland), and the loneliness felt when you don’t know anyone. He recalls overlooking the city on the Skidmore Bluffs, “watching the city sleep.” His final live performance was “All that I Leave Behind.” Ky tries to go through life not leaving too much behind yet sometimes he does.
One of the things Ky did during his sojourn on the road was put on some free shows to serve people that wouldn’t otherwise see a live music performance, i.e., the homeless, those in women’s shelters, the elderly. With his friend Melanie Jean, they launched a successful Kickstarter, Project in Pursuit, to fund these performances. They played approximately 25 free shows and any tips received were given back to those shelters/organizations.
Taking his father’s advice to heart, Ky tries to “find a great melody” in every song he writes. After spending a couple hours with Ky and his music, we can honestly say that he has served his father well. It is stated in his bio that “Music has been the well-traveled suitcase he carries on his journeys,” and what a fabulous treasure trove you will find inside that suitcase! Ky’s music provides the listener with a rich tapestry of lush forests, glistening seas, heartfelt longings, and falling snow. Once you hear it you will want to take that suitcase and embark on your own journey in pursuit of your life’s passion.
Ky is releasing The Moon and The Sea at a show with SamDensmoreDamSensmore on October 1st at the Alberta Street Pub. While the EP’s official release isn’t until 10/4, he will have advance copies available at the show.
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