Andrew Shaw of The Platte. Photo: Katie Panzer
“Independent record stores are important because they care about the music, and they care about little music. I feel like little music’s where it’s at,” says Andrew Shaw, the musician behind local music project The Platte. His newest creative endeavor, Bantam Brother, is set to release on April 17, the third annual Record Store Day. Founded in 2007, RSD is a nationwide celebration of independent record stores and the local music scenes that encircle them. Many bands take advantage of this music-lover’s holiday to release new albums, limited prints and special vinyl.
Shaw was directly inspired by the community behind Salt Lake’s RSD when he came up with the concept for Bantam Brother: a cover album of local artists. The bands covered on this seven-track EP include Band of Annuals, Future of the Ghost, Tolchock Trio, The Devil Whale, Glade, Bluebird Radio and David Williams. “The idea was to record something that didn’t just belong to me, but that belonged to these other bands and that belonged to Salt Lake City. So the idea is that hopefully, if someone happens to encounter Bantam Brother before they encounter these other bands, they might latch on to one of my songs and say ‘I have to get that Future of the Ghost album,’ or ‘I really want to check out Band of Annuals’ [and] be able to showcase not only what I do, but the songwriting talent in Salt Lake. I want the people who I covered to take it as me kind of honoring them, like a tribute,” says Shaw.
Shaw moved here from Nebraska a little over six years ago, partly because he was enticed by the local music scene. “I thought that the culture here was really interesting ‘cause the underground culture wasn’t underground, it was in your face. I got to go to a couple of local shows and it was just fun to see the diversity of the scene here. People are open to experiment and try new things and they know that they’ll still get shows and they’ll still play with other cool bands, and on any given bill you can have pretty much anybody on it. I’m always surprised by how many local bands there are,” he says.
Though some may be skeptical of the integrity behind a cover album, Shaw’s arrangement is a unique interpretation that gives fans a fresh perspective on local favorites. All of the artists are friends and collaborators of Shaw. They make up an eclectic group whom he deeply respects, chosen simply because he loves their music. After the laborious songwriting project that was Grus, The Platte’s 2009 album, Shaw wanted to try a minimalist experiment with textures and percussion. He says, “I thought a covers project was perfect because these songs were already written and I could see what I could bring to them.” Mary Toscano, local visual artist and Shaw’s spouse, says, “Watching Andrew go through all these things ... was kind of fun for me because not only do I like Andrew’s music and like hearing what he’s doing, but it makes me like other music more. Hearing the way someone else interprets something sometimes makes me feel like I appreciate the original thing, not more, but again.” Toscano and Shaw make up Hankie Frankie, a music and art collaboration, and Toscano is responsible for much of the The Platte’s hand-printed album-cover art.
In fact, Record Store Day is even more significant to Shaw because local record store Slowtrain is ultimately responsible for bringing him and his wife together. They were introduced at a backyard party where Shaw performed at Slowtrain’s suggestion. Slowtrain is also part of the inspiration behind Bantam Brother’s release, because they have partnered with Advanced Media Solutions to provide discounted pricing on pressing CDs for local artists releasing on RSD. This sort of community support that local record stores provide is exactly what RSD celebrates and what draws Shaw to the local scene. “Chris and Anna [Brozek] and Vanessa [Wardy of Slowtrain], they live and breathe [local music], and they research it, and they know everything about it. They become friends with the musicians. It creates this community you don’t get from Tower Records … It’s a personalized experience,” he says. “Also, they let their customers know them and know their tastes. So when you go in there and ask about music and you already know what they listen to, then you can get an answer that actually means something to you so you can trust what you’re listening to,” says Toscano.
Pick up The Platte’s Bantam Brother on April 17 at Slowtrain and check out all the Record Store Day events and special releases going on at your favorite indie record store that same day. The Platte live, which includes Tyler Ford-drums, Glade Sowards-keys/harmony, Wren Kennedy-guitar/harmony and Jesse Ellis-trumpet, will be playing at Kilby Court at 7 pm on April 16 with Retribution Gospel Choir. Preview The Platte at hankiefrankie.com, facebook.com/theplatte and myspace.com/theplatte.