A local favorite is coming back to the Brewery Arts Center to perform Saturday. Reno’s The Novelists perform at the Levitt AMP Carson City Concert Series presented by The Change Companies. The concert is a double headlining performance with singer-songwriter Alex Nester taking the stage at 7 p.m.
“When we found out we were going back again, we were stoked right away,” Joel Ackerson said.
The Novelists performed at the Carson City concert series in 2017. He said it’s a good community for live music and it’s getting better all the time. Even though it is close to their hometown of Reno, they don’t play down here enough, he said.
“We had a blast every time,” he said. “People are super appreciative. It’s a joy for us.”
The last time Ackerson (vocals, guitar, mandolin) performed in Carson City was a duet show with Eric Andersen (vocals, piano), half of The Novelists, at the Governor’s Dinner last year. Shaquille O’Neal requested that the play UB40’s “Red Red Wine” with Shaq. Ackerson learned how to play the song on the spot and Shaq posted it online, where it collected 100,000 views.
Each member contributes to vocals in The Novelists. They pride themselves on their four-part harmonies. While there is never a shortage of good musicians to choose from, Ackerson said, finding people who sing and play can be difficult — especially bass players and drummers. They secured a core lineup in 2009, with the addition of Zack Teran (vocals, upright and electric bass).
“That’s when the band really took shape and started touring more,” Ackerson said.
The three-part harmonies were more toned in since then, and they added drummer Miguel Jimenez-Cruz (vocals, drums).
“He’s a phenomenal drummer and he’s also a great singer,” Ackerson said.
The band’s name, The Novelists, relates to their lyrical writing skills, but it’s a double entendre where they are also novel with their stage presence. They like to tell a story and paint a picture through their music, although the name is ironic, Ackerson said, because novels are traditionally going to be fiction, while their stories are the opposite.
“Our stories are true stories,” he said. “We don’t tend to write fiction. They’ve been events that happen to us or events from the newspaper.”
The songwriting evolved when they first began as a band. In the band’s early days, they had four songwriters, who wrote separately. The band would trade playing each other’s songs. In 2013 that all changed when the band started co-writing the music together.
“And we’ve never looked back,” Ackerson said. “It really starts to sound like a band when you write together. It’s very collective.”
Besides the rarity of a band that has all four members who sing, Ackerson noted another reason that makes the music theory they’ve learned. The music has more classical elements throughout compared to a local garage band.
“I think we have writers in the band who have classical writing chops; more from the music theory,” he said.
He also said Teran is a fantastic bass player. Teran went to the jazz program at UNR. Through a pedal board, his sound comes through like lead guitar.
“He’s the type of guy who can be soloing lightspeed and playing every note on the instrument,” he said.
Ackerson said the entire band inspires him with their talents.
“I look at what Eric can do and I still get chills.”
The Novelists have a new album in the works. They traveled to Los Angeles and recorded four songs with producer Matt Wallace. Matt Wallace is known for his work with Faith No More, Maroon 5, Train, O.A.R., David Baerwald and The Replacements. They recorded another five in Reno.
CO-HEADLINER ALEX NESTER BIO
In an industry saturated with fly-by-night singles, auto-tune madness, and packaged artist-development, Alex refuses to conform and instead brings back the musicians to the art of music-making. Her music can only be described as a Hell-hath-no-fury collection of original music chronicling her trials and letdowns with the state of music business today. But the industry is not the only factor surrounding the creation of this musical tour-de-force.
Alex’s bout with cancer has helped shape her unique sound filled with messages of love, faith, positivity, and healing while channeling the retro soul artists of the 60’s and 70’s... Which only makes sense as she is currently touring with Salvador Santana, recently toured with Tito Jackson (of Jackson 5 fame), and has opened as a solo artist for such acts as Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, The Rascals, Evelyn “Champagne” King, The Stylistics, and Dave Mason. Most recently she has added multi-platinum selling artist Rachel Platten to that list as well. Her resume already includes 12 albums, countless jingles, and over 25 theatrical productions, as well as working with established musicians such as Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Fifth Dimension, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Desi Arnaz, Jr., Alphonse Mouzon, Brandon Fields, and Eric Marienthal.
As the music industry settles for what’s “safe”, Alex will continue to push the boundaries of music making. Her songs are a musical testament of loss and hope, failure and triumph. It is a promise to the listeners that her music will never be anything less than sincere and honest. And most importantly, it’s 100 percent Alex Nester groove.