Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel starts over with a folksy debut album and solo tour

Jason Boesel with Dawes, Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons and the Quinns
6:30 p.m. Wednesday
The Conservatory
8911 N. Western
$8 advance, $10 door

Perpetual sun, easy beach access and living a stone’s throw from countless celebrities really do a number on people. Consequently, Los Angeles’s pop scene ” the birthplace of bands like Phantom Planet and Maroon 5 ” is rife with child actors and industry progeny adamantly carving a privileged niche in the greater music industry.

You probably don’t know Jason Boesel, but if you’ve likely heard of Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes, you’re at least familiar with his work. He has been drumming for 15 years, most recently with his regular band, Rilo Kiley, and as a touring and contributing member to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.

Musically, Boesel was born from prized California stock, as Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett are both recovered child actors of some note. Despite this, Boesel has flown under the radar, musically. Rilo Kiley’s albums were never really about the drumming, and Boesel didn’t make his recorded lead vocal debut until the Mystic Valley Band’s 2009 album, “Outer South.” Since his start, the drummer has been decidedly less famous than his band, which has been
just fine by him ” until now.

In January, he released his first solo album, “Hustler’s Son.” The title track is actually the first song Boesel ever wrote, although by now, it’s hardly classifiable as new.

“I wrote it in 2004, probably, and then tinkered with it for a while,” he said. “I played it for Conor in early 2005, and he encouraged me to keep writing. I wrote a couple of others then and a lot of songs over the last year and a half.”

With his low, sleepy vocals and lazy guitar riffs, Boesel’s songs are rife with travel memories and lost loves. He admitted that breaking out as a solo artist was never his primary ambition, but an idea he toyed with for some time.

Five years after penning his first song, he recorded “Hustler’s Son” in his home studio with a little help from his friends. Sennett, Blake Mills of Band of Horses and Orenda Fink from Azure Ray appear on the album, to name a few. No doubt his indie-rock colleagues have made his transition from drummer to front man easier, but he is aware hurdles remain.

“I’ve never played a show with these songs,” Boesel said. “It’s gone pretty well. I had to get over that initial panic, which I think happens with any sort of new creative endeavor.”

Boesel is currently on tour with fellow California Americana band Dawes and Wisconsin folk-rock outfit Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons. The tour stops tonight at the Conservatory, likely the smallest venue Boesel has played in some time.

His new beginning leaves a lot to chance, and while he doesn’t know what will happen on first solo tour, his expectations are fair ” breezy, but realistic ” in other words, distinctively Californian.

“I guess I expect a pretty moderate response. I don’t think I’m going to sell a lot of records,” he said. “I think the shows will be rad, but not teeming with people. I mean, it’s not a huge release. I didn’t write a Killers record, you know? I have no problems with that.” “Becky Carman

Becky Carman

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