This is my first recollection of Tyler Ramsey: Him standing behind the counter at the since-closed Almost Blue record store (Thirsty Monk now fills the space) and me saying, “Is this new Van Morrison album any good?” and him saying, “Um, I don’t know.”
But most people around Asheville know Tyler from bands. The Tyler Ramsey Trio, Junior James & the Late Guitar, Hollywood Red, Robot, Wayne Robbins & the Hellsayers, Tropical Disease (a precursor to Floating Action), the almost-successful DrugMoney and, of course, Band of Horses.
You google Tyler these days and you’d think the guy was born in 2008, just prior to being introduced to Band of Horses by fellow band mate and former Asheville resident Bill Reynolds. Not so. Tyler’s career in music stretches back to before anyone in Asheville knew him. (According to his wiki page, he’s from Cincinnati.)
And, aside from the hugely successful, world-touring, commercial soundtracking, stadium-playing, video-making, plaid-shirt-wearing Band of Horses (Tyler contributes lyrics and vocals on that band’s latest album, Infinite Arms), Tyler does his own thing. Writes his own songs. Which are good. Better than good. In 2007, Stereogum singled him out for their “Artist to Watch” series, but Xpress was on that train from back when Tyler dropped his first solo disc, the self-titled 12-song collection (all sparse and sad and lovely) with a letter press cover. That he made himself.
And then again, in the beginning of 2008, when he released the lush, expansive A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea, we were all like, “Ramsey picked this moment to drop what may well be the best local recording made to date” and “Highlights include the sweepingly epic title track, the sweetly harmonic, Beach Boys-influenced ‘Once in Your Life’—perhaps the greatest departure from Ramsey’s previously stripped-down numbers—and gorgeous instrumentals like ‘Chinese New Year’ and ‘Birdwings,’ which showcase the musician’s considerable finger-style prowess.”
Then the whole Band of Horses thing took off, sweeping Tyler away to, like, Switzerland and stardom and now publicists are writing us and saying, “Surely you know about Tyler Ramsey” and we’re like, “Yeah, pretty much.” (We even know where he gets his hair done.) And, because Tyler still calls Asheville home, he plays a solo show once a year or so. Which is the point of this whole blog post.
Tyler’s playing at the Grey Eagle tomorrow night. With Josh Carpenter. 8:30 p.m., $10 advanced/$12 day of show.