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Singer-songwriter plays Goodfoot Lounge May 4



COURTESY: VICTOR DE PAULA - (From left) Kent M. Smith, Tommy Alexander, Buddy Weeks and Adam Witkowski will showcase cuts of Alexander's new vinyl record 'Old News' May 4 at Goodfoot Lounge.
In the past decade, Portland guitarist-singer Tommy Alexander has shared the stage with such acts as Rising Appalachia, Milo Greene, Spirit Family Reunion and Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

Not bad for a guy who started writing songs only 10 years ago, but who has established himself as a critically acclaimed musician determined to share his rootsy, workingman’s poetic music with as wide an audience as possible.

“I always like to get something new into every show,” he says. “It’s important to me to keep it fresh.”

Fresh is how his most recent record, “Old News,” sounds in a world overstocked with pulsing dance music and profane pop hits. Alexander’s thoughtful ballads and rootsy rockers, including “Everyday, Everydime” and “Victory Song,” call to mind such songwriters as Conor Oberst, Deer Tick’s John McCauley, John Fogerty and John Hiatt.

Alexander and his band play the Goodfoot Lounge at 10 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, along with Left Coast Country, Kent Smith and other guests. Admission is $5. You can learn more at www.thegoodfoot.com or www.tommyalexander.com.

A native of Santa Barbara, Calif., Alexander moved to Santa Cruz in 2006.

“That’s where I wrote my first song and started learning guitar,” he adds. “I played it a little the first couple years and then slowly got deeper into the songwriting addiction.”

He then moved to Burlington, Vt., and in 2012 co-founded the collective Jenke Arts, which included a low-cost recording studio and dance, martial arts and visual arts classes.

“At our most we were offering about 110 classes a month, all donation based, from guitar lessons to beat making and a lot of yoga and body movement,” he says. “We also produced over 150 shows in three years, and put out more than 15 albums on our label. It was a blast.”

After leaving Vermont, he settled in Portland, where he met musician, engineer and producer Mike Coykendall, who has worked with such indie darlings as Oberst, M. Ward, Richmond Fontaine and Blitzen Trapper.

“We connected at a local dive in Southeast Portland,” Alexander recalls. “We had briefly met years back outside of an M. Ward show. It was a trip to meet Mike at the bar and then make that connection.”

Coykendall produced and engineered “Old News,” and Alexander says, “It’s been really awesome getting to work with him and even more getting to know him. He’s truly one of the most real dudes you’ll ever meet.”

“Old News” also features keyboardist and lap steel player Rob Burger from Tin Hat, as well as Iron and Wine. Jay Cobb Anderson of Portland band Fruition plays guitar on the record and Buddy Weeks contributes drums.

Alexander sticks mostly to rhythm guitar and occasional piano, and says his own musical inspirations are diverse.

“I love great melody makers, from old rockers to new pop groups,” he says. “Anyone that’s doing what they love and putting in the real work to watch it and let it grow is a small hero to me.”

Songwriting inspiration can come at any time, he adds. For example, the album’s strolling lovelorn title track is literally a “clutch” tune.

“I wrote ‘Old News’ while stuck in Grants Pass,” he says. “A friend and I were waiting for his clutch to be replaced, and we had two days in a Motel 6. The song really just jumped out of me.”

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