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Brian Granse | Barstow to Reno

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Folk: Singer/Songwriter Country: Americana Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Barstow to Reno

by Brian Granse

Brian Granse paints a working class tale, Barstow to Reno, with haunting honesty and a lyricism that reflects an awareness of working class vulnerabilities, capturing a scene of struggle amid the post-recession landscapes of rural America.
Genre: Folk: Singer/Songwriter
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1. Barstow to Reno
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Album Notes
Brian Granse has released his first song in thirteen years, Barstow to Reno, a working class tale that follows the personal hardships of a character’s life amid the post-recession landscapes of rural California and Nevada.

Granse’s delicate vocal tension captures the stoic, yet somber disposition of one man’s life, the bleakness of hotel living, and the loneliness of itinerant dwelling, brought on by underemployment.

Barstow explores the endless search of the laboring class for a better life, in the form of a better tomorrow that never comes.

Layered with haunting honesty and a lyricism that reflects an awareness of working class vulnerabilities, Granse’s past work in construction lends itself to the authenticity and feel of the song.

Granse is releasing Barstow to Reno as the lead single off the six-track EP, entitled The Longwall, due out in January 2020. The Longwall is a recentering of his music career, highlighting a deeper maturity and focus within the Singer-Songwriter/Americana genre.

After years of gigging as a solo looper around the Pacific Northwest, Granse stepped away from music in order to become a teacher and start a family, all the while honing his songwriting and recording skills (recording and mixing the upcoming EP himself). The release is proof that good things take time. And as Granse puts it, sometimes stepping away is actually stepping ahead.

Despite the notable guest musicians from Portland’s local scene that appear throughout the EP, The Longwall is Granse’s passion project, having written, arranged, and produced all of the songs, choosing to sing and play live for most of the record in an effort to capture a genuine and authentic delivery of his parts. Granse acknowledges how challenging the record was, his hand seizing each day after hours of live guitar and vocal takes, pushing for the vibe he desired. Wearing deep string gouges into his fingertips, Granse finished each session with pain that would spread from his palm to his wrist and fingers, sometimes stopping sessions for a couple of days to heal. Granse was reminded of his days spent swinging a hammer, where he learned that the real foundation holding up any creation is the unseen labor and grit in the daily grind. Barstow stands as a timeless recording, a testament to the merits of such work, and a tribute to those who rise at dawn to do the heavy lifting in America yet find themselves on the fringe, struggling to make rent.

In his 20s, Granse found himself paying the bills with regular gigs all over the Pacific Northwest: playing pubs, wine festivals, college campuses, ski lodges, coffeehouses, and just about everything in between. He flirted with a few commercial songwriting jobs, receiving small advances from a publisher in L.A., but preferred writing from the heart and quickly stuck to his own material. Granse ultimately found himself at a crossroads in 2009, while bowling alone in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Due to his own scheduling error on the tour, he had no performance that Friday night, alone in a town where he knew no one. Granse recalls this as a time of profound introspection, and a sense that life was evaporating under the drone of his own soundtrack, singing to the backs of strangers in brewpubs and sleeping in Motel 6’s. In his own right, Granse achieved a major feat for an independent songwriter by paying rent with a guitar and a notebook, even stepping up from couch seeking and tent camping to motel rooms with hot showers and some privacy, and at least the illusion of control. But he felt inclined to step back and re-evaluate: a day of reckoning that the majority of artists face in an industry that only becomes a sustaining career for a select few. Within months, Granse began taking online classes while touring to complete a degree. Two years later, he married his girlfriend of five years. And three years later, they welcomed their son into the world.

Granse’s new life proves liberating as a creator. Now a public school teacher by day, Granse produces Hip-Hop in Portland working with youth at an alternative high school, where he teaches beat production, audio engineering, and songwriting, including a partnership with a local community college where high school students earn college credit by taking his classes. Granse also teaches Social Studies with a heavy focus on social justice. And now, with renewed inspiration and focus, Granse is ready to release more music. He continues to perform locally in Portland, but through a half-grin, drawn with a twinge of self-mockery, says he hasn’t felt the urge to again bowl alone in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, so there’s no big tour on the horizon. However, Granse is excited about a few upcoming performances in his birth state of Illinois next summer, as well as an upcoming album release show in January in his homebase of Portland, Oregon. Granse hopes to land some performances at larger music events as part of his career reboot, with the sole aim of sharing songs with a larger audience and connecting with dedicated music lovers. And who knows, it could land him in a motel room or bowling alley yet again, but this time he’ll have a five-year old jumping on his bed at 6 a.m. and a warm place to land at the end of the road.



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