Band of the Week: Angela Perley

Singer-songwriter headlines Beachland on August 12

click to enlarge Angela Perley. - Courtesy of Angela Perley
Courtesy of Angela Perley
Angela Perley.
MEET THE BAND: Angela Perley (vocals, guitar)

BACKED BY A ROTATING CAST: For several years, Columbus, OH-based singer-songwriter Angela Perley toured and recorded with her backing band, the Howling Moons. When those musicians started to drift away, she pivoted and started to employ a “rotating cast and extended family” of musicians who could pay with her for live gigs and record with her in the studio. For the past year, the band for live shows has been Nick Kurth on lead guitar, Nate Smith on bass and either Jake Levy or Jon Coale on drums. And then, sometimes, Perley has had either Brandon Bankes or Tebbs Karney on pedal steel for shows. The upcoming Cleveland show will have Levy, who lives in Nashville now, drumming with Coale doing extra percussion and back-up vocals. "For the last year or so, it has been kind of a band, and there have been five or six people total playing consistently with me,” Perley says via phone. “It’s hard to tour and find people who can play for more than a couple of years. I like to not burn people out, so it’s a little more open now.”

AN INSPIRATIONAL PHRASE: Perley released her last album, 4:30, in 2019. She had just started to ramp up live performances in support of the album when the industry came to a halt. “I was late to touring behind it,” she says. Stuck at home, she didn’t initially feel inspired and simply “took a break from everything.” But toward the end of 2020, the songs started to come to her again. The idea for her latest single, “Here for You,” a catchy country-pop number with some subtle slide guitar work, came during the height of the pandemic. “I felt like that was a phrase that everyone was using,” she says of the tune. “I kind of got inspiration from that. I was saying that to my friends, and they were saying that to me. And I was just daydreaming of hitting the road again and getting back out there and having more adventures.”

A WEEKEND WARRIOR: Perley says she’s mostly playing outdoor shows this summer and has scheduled a few “weekend warrior” gigs for the rest of the year. “I want to organize some more shows for the fall and am putting that together,” she says, adding that she and local singer-songwriter Emily Keener will play a song together at the upcoming Beachland show.

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR HER: For both 4:30 and her forthcoming album, Perley went to Earthwork Recording Studio in Newark, OH. Brandon Bankes, who plays pedal steel with the group, served as an engineer for the album. Perley's well-crafted songs measure up to anything you might hear from popular country-ish singer-songwriters such as Sheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert. “It’s a great group of musicians, and it’s essentially self-produced,” says Perley, adding that she fell in love with the place when she cut a live record at the studio with singer-songwriter Erica Blinn. “When we did that live record, I really liked the sound of it. 4:30 was the first time of recording there. It felt so natural and effortless, and it has great energy there.” The new single makes it sound as if Perley has embraced her inner ‘70s singer-songwriter. “For comfort, I love delving into ‘70s rock ’n’ roll and psychedelic rock,” she says. “At the beginning of the pandemic, for some reason, my comfort albums were Donovan and the Flying Burrito Brothers. I also love country music, and when I first started playing music, I got really into folk and bluegrass.”

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR HER: angelaperley.com.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE HER: Angela Perley performs with Emily Keener at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12, at the Beachland Ballroom.
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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