A good ol’ old-time variety show will be staged at Fratters Speakeasy next week by Red Deer band Tyler Allen & The Part Timers.
Allen is only 24 years old, but has a deep regard for working-class roots music from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.
“I think it’s a lot more honest and raw than modern music, said the singer, who will also play guitar, banjo and mandolin with his strings trio on Thursday, March 24.
He likes the songs of Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Nina Simone and Flatt and Scruggs and feels they “speak across generations” in a way that today’s music does not. “It doesn’t have the same staying power as some older roots music has.”
Allen has performed with The Part Timers — local guitarist/percussionist Paeton Cameron and stand-up bass player Lorne Malaka — since September. But Cameron and Allen were formerly in the band Waskasoo.
Allen said he loved playing bluegrass with Waskasoo, but felt hemmed in by one genre. His new band, Tyler Allen and the Part Timers, play all kinds of roots music, including blues, swing jazz, country, bluegrass and folk.
“I wanted to make it a variety show — not just perform one specific style. I guess I’m not able to just stick to one thing,” Allen added, with a chuckle. “I like making music that’s an amalgamation of styles.”
His trio plays standards that are in the public domain. Allen also writes original music based on life experiences.
His song Ten More Miles, for instance, was sparked by a dangerous incident — Allen fell asleep while driving. He veered his vehicle into a ditch, narrowly missing a parked piece of construction equipment. It was a real wake-up call, he said. ”I’ve never driven tired since.”
His tune Shape Me Up is about “wanting to be anywhere but where you are,” said Allen, who admitted he has wanderlust. He recently returned from a trek through Southeast Asia, and plans to spend the summer in Dawson City, Yukon, with his girlfriend.
Allen isn’t worried about talking this short hiatus from the band, saying Cameron and Malaka both have other musical projects to occupy their time.
He grew up in Olds listening to his guitar-picking grandfather playing songs by Roger Miller, The Beatles and Hank Williams. “I enjoyed the simple effectiveness of a lot of the lyrics.” The stories about loss and love never grow old, said the singer. “People back then led simpler lives, but they also dealt with more difficult times…”
Allen has enjoyed Red Deer’s supportive music scene since moving here three years ago. “Sometimes it’s hard for people who only see Red Deer as this industrial city to fathom that there’s a real entertainment scene here. It’s become a hub for bands from all over the place,” thanks to live-music clubs like Bo’s Bar and Grill and Fratters, added Allen.
He’s grateful to anyone who’s seen him perform — and invites those who haven’t to come out for the Fratters “variety show.”
There’s a $5 cover for the 8:30 p.m. all-ages concert by Tyler Allen & the Part Timers.