Folk music is all about the lyrics, Kevin Fisher said, and the story that they tell.
Fisher is an acclaimed singer-songwriter, who has sold songs to artists like Rascal Flatts and Uncle Kracker and also performs with his own band, Naked to the World. Fisher comes through Gig Harbor on Saturday, to perform as part of the “Americana” series at Morso Wine Bar at 8 p.m.
“Americana music is storytelling,” Fisher said. “It’s a little bit of country, a little bit of folk. My stuff is all of that – my biggest cuts have been in country music, and my favorites of the songs that I’ve written have all been stories.”
He’s been playing music his whole life, but only started singing in college, as a student of music and literature. He was writing both songs and poetry, and gravitated toward music that focused on the words.
“I love music that I have to pay attention to,” Fisher said.
He’s settled in Los Angeles now, with his wife and children, and mostly works out of his home studio. But he’s been touring more and more recently, playing his own songs, and said that he looks for places to play where the audience will pay as much attention to his music as he does,
“The more of a listening room it is, the better time I’ll have. I’m not background music,” Fisher said. “I’ve been in cover bands before, and you’re there so people can dance and get drunk and scream. My stuff, and most Americana, singer-songwritery stuff, you kind of have to pay attention to.”
His priorities align with those of his friend Michael O’Neill, an accomplished musician in his own right who’s also responsible for booking Morso’s Americana series. The two met at a convention about 15 years ago, and have stayed in touch every since.
O’Neill, who grew up in the Northwest and has toured with U2, the Grateful Dead and Stevie Ray Vaughn, said that a “listening room” is exactly the kind of atmosphere he’s tried to cultivate with the Americana shows, which are in their third year. O’Neill has brought in other nationally recognized singer-songwriters including Steve Poltz, who co-wrote Jewel’s hit “You Were Meant for Me,” and Wendy Waldman, who wrote for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
“What I look for is an artist who’s flying under the radar of commercial radio, but who has a following of music lovers,” O’Neill said.
Morso’s room only holds around 50 people, which makes for a more intimate, performer-centric experience, O’Neill added. He said that his mission is to help his Gig Harbor audience better known these successful but unsung musicians he tries to book.
“I’ve tried to create a really comfortable audience for these artists,” O’Neill said.
Fisher said that he loves playing in rooms like Morso’s where he can interact with the audience. He doesn’t know many people in Gig Harbor, though he does plan to stay with an old friend in Seattle while in the region this weekend.
But, Fisher said, his goal is always to connect with his audience through a set that’s humorous, bittersweet and personal.
“I might not know anybody when I show up, but at the end I know everybody,” he said. “It’s a bunch of stories put together with life experiences. If they didn’t actually happen, they should’ve happened.”