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The Show On The Road – Rayland Baxter Returns

Feb 2, 2023

The Show On The Road - Rayland Baxter Returns

This week, we place a call to a Tennessee front porch to talk to rock-n’-soul trickster and acclaimed singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter.


He’s our first returning artist on the show for a good reason. Besides being a personal favorite of host Z. Lupetin since his gorgeous, folky debut Feathers and Fishhooks a decade ago, Z. was able to catch up with Rayland in a Vegas hotel room (where he played through a cigarette pack mini amp) to discuss his deliciously catchy and soulful 2018 record Wide Awake and how growing up around his sideman legend dad Bucky Baxter (pedal steel and guitars for Bob Dylan’s touring band, and countless others) inspired him to make his own playful visions real and to always follow his ear.

But while Wide Awake felt accessible as a funky aural high five, his 2022 offering If I Were A Butterfly is a more challenging, experimental work — think Jackson Pollock filmed through a Super 8 camera after a mushroom trip. He uses archival audio going back to his childhood, sings about goats, demons and his forever yearning to find a love that loves him back in a way that doesn’t seem transactional. The result is a fractured but intimately moving portrait.

I’ll admit, it took a few listens to warm to Butterfly, but after our latest talk, we can see how the ever-upbeat Baxter was processing some pretty heavy adult stuff on this record — most notably losing his dad and two of his most trusted recording partners to sudden ends. He hence did much of the producing himself, laying down the record in an abandoned rubber band factory. “Graffiti Street” shows Baxter at the height of his unique game writing signature effortless rootsy-rock hooks with a new sense of gravity that never holds the butterfly within him down.

Photo courtesy of Red Light Management

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The Show On The Road - Rayland Baxter Returns
The Show On The Road - Rayland Baxter Returns