The Whippoorwill Presents
with Justin Lavik and Grace Caston
Sat, Sep 24 at 7pm
When Chris Beland picks up the phone to do an interview for this bio, a friend is having a baby in the living room of his Arroyo Grande home as a chorus of roosters crow in the background. It’s an apt thing to happen to Beland — not only because his life has been anything but traditional, but also because his forty-plus years on this Earth have been replete with beginnings and endings, a constant cycle of rebirth.
A troubadour in the tradition of Bob Dylan, Andrew Bird, and Neil Young, the California native has weathered homelessness, being a single and step-dad to finding true love again, battling with drugs, and finding his real father at age 32 to create a discography of gorgeous work that both grapples with and pays homage to his history. From 2005’s ode to his wife and loved ones, Outer Space, to 2012’s Danger of Love, which he made with his biological father, Beland’s music traces his biography through becoming a father to losing his faith to finding it again.
When the pandemic hit, Beland became even more introspective — especially since musicians were no longer able to tour or play shows. “I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to play music again,” Beland says, explaining that it was then he decided to undertake the most ambitious record of his career thus far, What I Believe, out in August. “If this was the last thing you were going to hear from me, it was going to be really good,” he adds.
The result is a collection of songs that touch on the world today, as well as Beland’s evolution as a man. The album features Ryan Allshouse on drums, Phil Siems on bass and Adam Nash on electric guitar. There’s “Family Tree,” a swinging track about how despite how polarized our country is at the moment, we’re all still the same. “We’re all part of this together,” Beland says. “Even if you don’t like the person on the other side of the aisle, you’re still connected.” Then there’s “Stare at the Walls,” a honeyed, crooning song about, well, just that, and “World,” a blazing rocker about unity. Album-opener “What Is Georgia?”, an almost Springsteenian folly jammer, brings in current events, weaving the story of the historic election in that state.
“It felt like I had something to speak to this generation,” Beland says of the upcoming album as another generation comes into the world in his living room. “I want to bring people together instead of divide.”