Time Sawyer is anxiously awaiting the fall release of its upcoming album, an Indiegogo-funded project that was recorded at Asheville’s famed Echo Mountain studio and produced by Steep Canyon Rangers’ Mike Ashworth.
In the meantime, the Charlotte roots quartet is introducing its own limited-edition Time Sawyer-themed beer (made by Triple C Brewing Co.) on Friday, during the Sawyer Soiree at Evening Muse. The band partnered with Triple C, Ink Floyd and JJ’s Red Hots – which is also serving a Sawyer dog this week – to commemorate the show with giveaways and T-shirts.
In February, fans contributed to the band’s fan-funding campaign so the Elkin, N.C.-bred foursome could work with Ashworth. They raised almost $5,500, nearly three-quarters of their goal.
“It was awesome,” frontman Sam Tayloe says. It’s now been a few months since they cut seven tracks in Asheville. “Echo Mountain has such a great, illustrious career. So many people have come and made great records there. It’s daunting, but it’s so up-to-date and current and ready to work with you.”
It marked the first time the band worked with an official producer.
“It didn’t change our material, but helped us find ways to get to the place we wanted to be,” he says. “We were very vocal in the way to get there, but we had a helping hand from someone that had a lot of musical knowledge.”
“We had one song we took in there and left with a completely different song. We tried something and it wasn’t all the way there. We stripped everything back, and it ended up being really neat,” he adds, echoing the experience Ashworth’s Grammy-winning Rangers had working with new grass royalty Jerry Douglas on its last album.
Like the Rangers, Time Sawyer has rural roots. Tayloe started the band with three friends from his hometown of Elkin, after moving to Charlotte for college (the band still throws its own Reevestock Music Festival in its hometown each August).
Drummer Clay Stirewalt and guitarist Kurt Layell brought a rock influence to the group, while Houston Norris’ bluegrass-roots come through his banjo playing. Combined with Tayloe’s love of folk music, they created a bridge between bluegrass and rock with a strong focus on songwriting.
“I always liked folk music. Merlefest is something I’ve gone to forever. Houston has been going for the last 24 or 25 years – since his mom was pregnant with him. His family has a large bluegrass background,” says Tayloe, who foresees the upcoming album illustrating the band’s growth.
The band hit the ground running, garnering support from music fans and local writers like Jody Mace, who invited Time Sawyer to play house shows after seeing it at a coffee shop.
“The Charlotte fan base we have is phenomenal,” Tayloe says. “It started off doing house shows and playing coffee shops. We’ve got to the point where we’ve had a lot of great sellouts at Evening Muse and a great show at Neighborhood Theatre last year.
“It almost doesn’t feel like there’s people we don’t know there. We feel like we’re friends of all these people. It makes the situation less tense to step on a big stage or go to a festival and to look out and see people from Charlotte.”
When: 10:30 p.m. Friday.
Where: Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St.
Details: 704-376-3737; www.eveningmuse.com.