Raymond Raposa w/ Alameda and The Mountain Movers
$6 advance, $8 doors. 9 p.m., Sept. 20. Cafe Nine, 250 State St., New Haven, cafenine.com
Dan Reeder's “You'll Never Surf Again” will absolutely crush you. Over the folk song's gentle thrums, Reeder's raspy, aged voice follows a man's life shattering in seconds. “I went to the doctor. The doctor said, 'Sit down, I got some bad news./Put your pants back on and tie up those shoes,'” Reeder recites, lingering on his words. “When I braced myself for the worst, I knew this could mean the end/He said, 'You'll never, ever, ever surf again'/Never surf again.”
Under his new alias of Raymond Byron and the White Freighter, Raymond Raposa — a guitarist/vocalist best known for spearheading the perpetually shape-shifting folk project Castanets — recently covered the song. Raposa's version is a touch faster and more confident, trading Reeder's pure anguish for a tone rooted in solemn understanding. Reeder is broken by the revelation, Raposa is coping.
“It's sort of a jokey semi-autobiography. I used to surf quite a bit when I was in San Diego. For a while, it was the way I made my money when I was a kid,” the 31-year-old says of why he took on the track, referencing surf-related contests and photo shoots he participated in as a teenager. “Then, for a little while, it was just the way I enjoyed myself. Moving around so much and not really having any impulse to get back to southern California or really finding any beach culture in the states that would feel like home to me, I find myself at the opposite end of the spectrum from that now.”
Little Death Shaker, the debut from Byron and the White Freighter, is rich with several other pensive moments delivered with a handsome, slowly developing grin. Raposa has built Castanets discography by surrounding himself with musical partners while still sounding impossibly distant and alone. His work on the bluesy/folky Death Shaker isn't miles removed from his previous band by any means (The hushed “Allegiance 2” is as much an effective downer as any Castanets track), but more prominent beams of light leak here and there. “There's certainly a little less obfuscation going on [as Raymond Byron]. It's more direct. There's less trickery involved on a number of levels but not like a pejorative 'trickery,'” he says, likely a nod to Castanets' electronic/acoustic experiments. “I think the things in the Castanets records are meeting points of different strands of American music that I'm interested in whereas this one is more inhabiting one form or being in one place.”
After burning himself out on touring with Castanets, the Raposa Ind.-born, Calif.-bred, Portland, Ore.-based musician says that Byron represents a break. This new project temporarily discards the baggage of Castanets' vast performance ranks and starts over with a more concentrated lineup. “The record after this is a solo record just as Raymond Byron — the White Freighter boys are all out of town for a little while — and that's about two-thirds done, so [my plan is to] take the band out for a little while early next year and then this solo record'll probably be out by spring [and] travel [on] that for a little while,” he says before his solo show at Cafe Nine. “Between the two of those things, I feel like I have my outlets all checked off. I'll just save Castanets for the big money reunion or something.”