You probably aren't familiar with Jason Anderson, a New Hampshire-grown musician playing in Garfield tonight. And that's OK.
"I understand that there hasn't been a lot of buzz about me," he said moments before getting into his truck in Ann Arbor, Mich., and driving here this afternoon. "That means that any sort of attention I've received or people coming out to gigs is because of word of mouth or people who caught me once and thought it was worth coming again.
"I feel like this has been 100 percent grass-roots, maybe the kind of way it used to be. It's been very organic. It feels good to know that it's just me going at it alone. I don't get the feeling that anyone is coming to these shows because some hip website is telling them that it's the cool thing to do."
With the possible exception of the one you're looking at now.
Mr. Anderson, 35, is a hybrid. The offspring of parents who were educators and music-lovers, he is a bit of both. And for the longest time, he mixed the fields.
"My grandmother taught piano," he said. "Then, like a lot of young people, somewhere there in middle school I decided that piano wasn't as cool as guitar and begged my parents to let me take guitar lessons."
For years, he balanced his life between playing music and teaching. Then the music went to the back burner while he pursued a master's degree in education from Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Last year, he graduated.
"I was offered a really great teaching position," he said, "but after spending those years settling down and being in the classroom, I just really missed being on the road and committing wholeheartedly to my music. So I passed on the job. Now that I have the master's, I can always go back to it.
"It was kind of a scary decision to make, especially with my parents saying 'Go for the job. Health insurance! Salary!' But it became evident within a couple of weeks that it really was the right choice. I've just felt so alive, so present in the moment, and the shows have been really rewarding."
The sound is melody-driven folk-rock, the storytelling songs that recount roads and relationships.
"Contrary to a lot of top 40 hits, these are based on the stuff we all go through," Mr. Anderson said.
And even if you had heard them before on some Internet link, there's no guarantee the story will be the same tonight.
"It's just me. And since I'm by myself, it gives me the freedom to curate each show," he said. "I'm someone who believes in the sacred quality of live music. I am inspired by doing different things every night. I never could understand how your average indie-rock band could play the same 12-song set list every night, tell the same insert-city-name-here jokes. To me, the idea is to make every night as special and unique as it can be."
Often as not, Mr. Anderson will drive into town knowing where he's going to play but not where he's going to crash. That, too, is OK. It adds to the experience. He may start out alone, but by the end of the night he is surrounded by musicians and friends.
Usually, he invites them to join him on stage. Such is the case tonight as local keyboardist Max Somerville -- who met Mr. Anderson on a previous visit -- will be playing with him.
The show is at Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., and it starts at 7 p.m. There's a $5 cover.
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"Labor Day" -- Jason Anderson
If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and we'll see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.mobilehome - music - neigh_east
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/