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'Fresno' Bound

The Easy Leaves preview their new record at HopMonk

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COUNTRY TIME Easy Leaves' new record features an expanded lineup of players.
  • COUNTRY TIME Easy Leaves' new record features an expanded lineup of players.

The Easy Leaves, self-proclaimed North Bay ambassadors of country-western music, never set out to write an ode to Fresno, but on their upcoming Fresno EP, out on April 7, the band gives the Central Valley hub its due.

On April 3, the Easy Leaves preview their upcoming record with a show at HopMonk Tavern in Sebastopol, and they're bringing a full band to show off their slow burning honky-tonk goodness, with local favorites Brian Whelan and the Bootleg Honeys opening.

Talking over coffee, the duo of guitarist-vocalist Sage Fiefield and bassist-vocalist Kevin Carducci discuss developing their classically western sound.

"I don't really sit down and say, 'I'm going to write a song about Fresno,'" says Fiefield. "It was just in the consciousness, and it's an interesting town. Kevin described it a bit as some of the towns he grew up in back east."

Carducci grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio, area—"underdog towns," as he calls them. Fiefield spent his formative years in the Sierras. The two met in Sonoma County at open mic events around 2008.

In the early days, the Easy Leaves played as an acoustic duo, with Fifield switching between mandolin and banjo while Carducci slapped and spun his standup bass with aplomb. Over the years, the duo have expanded their palette, with a full band recording on their previous album, 2012's American Times. And since then, they've performed at a nonstop pace around the country.

"We've focused on developing our sound and turning our music into something sustainable," says Carducci.

"Just barely paying the rent and shopping at the Mercado in Roseland," laughs Fifield.

The pair performs alongside different types of musicians. For Fresno, they took these varied experiences and transformed them into a four-song honky-tonk fest with colorful character-driven tunes and a tight band.

Recorded at Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, it was the band's first time going straight to tape. The all-analog process was also the first time all the players were in the same room together. "We were all kind of feeling each other out at first," says Carducci. "But soon, everyone was high on the energy in the room."

Recorded in one day, Fresno also features the Easy Leaves utilizing accordions and organs, giving each track its own distinctive personality, and conjuring visions of open plains and valleys that span from Fresno to Reno to Mexico, always turned toward sundown.

The Easy Leaves debut 'Fresno' April 3, at HopMonk Tavern, 230 Petaluma Ave, Sebastopol. 8pm. $20. 707.829.7300.

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