For Jesse Ray Smith, music has always been a catharsis from the heaviness of life. Far from creating escapist bubblegum, however, Smith leans into meaning with a full and open heart. His brand of Americana is earnest and uplifting, an open hand reaching through the inherent melancholy of the genre, while his voice rings with echoes of Chris Stapleton and Bob Seger. He recently released "Easy on Me," the first single off his upcoming solo debut Yolanda Station.

The Marin County-born and raised Smith is owner/manager of Gulch Alley music studio in SF, which organizes the Gold Rush summer music gathering and hosts Off The Record live-to-vinyl events. He's also a member or former member of half a dozen bands from Northern and Southern California. Currently based in San Diego, Smith tells me the song was recorded around a birthday gathering with his musical pals Adam Dragland, Michael Carney, Mark Kaufman, Jeff Irwin, and John Varn. The video was shot partly at Gulch Alley and could serve as a promo for the studio with the dreamy reclaimed wood walls and subdued bold colors.

The album is being released at Brick & Mortar Music Hall on Thursday April 19, where Smith will be backed by the "classy sister folk" trio T Sisters. The Ian Heid Band opens and boot-stomping folk-grass from the Risky Biscuits closes the night out.

Jesse Ray Smith, the Risky Biscuits, the Ian Heid Band
Brick & Mortar Music Hall
April 19, 2018
8p, $15

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