As you all know by now, discovering new-to-me talent is one of my favorite things and such is the case with this week’s artist: Caitlin Canty. This young singer-songwriter-acoustic guitarist is currently out touring in support of her third self-released album titled “Motel Bouquet” and she’s coming to Maine for a gig at One Longfellow Square in Portland on May 1.

The Nashville resident gave me a call on March 28 to chat about that album and the tour that’s bringing her to our state. I began by wondering if she was calling from her home town:

Canty: I am, yup — a rainy morning in Nashville.

Q: I suppose I should start right off by asking if you’ve ever played in Maine before?

Canty: Oh, yeah. So I grew up in Vermont and I made my first real record in a proper studio in Maine; in Portland. It was called “Golden Hour.” I had made a handful of EPs and recordings before that, but this was the first thing I did as a touring musician. I spent a lot of time in Portland cutting that record, which was in 2010, I think, and since then I’ve come back and played mostly at One Longfellow.

Q: Well, that’s great because that’s where you are coming on May 1, and I don’t need to pitch that venue to you either, seeing you’ve been there before.

Canty: That’s right and it’s going to be me and Noam Pikelny. He’s most known for playing banjo in the Punch Brothers and his solo record that came out last year was nominated for a Grammy for Bluegrass Album of the Year. This is the first record he produced, actually, other than his own projects, and he played electric guitar on most of the songs. He also played his plectrum guitar and electric banjo on a couple. He was in the band and it was a live band. It was a beautiful session — it was energetic, it was focused and it was relaxed at the same time. It felt really natural and neighborly, because we made it in Nashville with a lot of our neighbors, a lot of the folks who are really busy in town and luckily were around.

Q: Now, you say it was recorded live in the studio?

Canty: Yup. All the vocals are entirely live, all of the core band, the five people playing in the room, was entirely live. The only overdubs are Aoife O’Donovan, one of my favorite singers on earth, and Gabe Witcher played fiddle while they were on tour with Noam. They just overdubbed a couple of things. But the heart of the album was live; that’s really the only way I like to do things, too.

Q: When was the last time you played at One Longfellow?

Canty: I was probably on tour for “Reckless Skyline” at the time; that was my last record. I put it out in 2015 and I covered a lot of ground for that one. I was all over the place in the U.S. and Europe and opening for a lot of bands like Milk Carton Kids and Darlingside.

Q: You’re out touring now, correct?

Canty: I just got back. I was out on the West Coast in L.A. all the way up to Seattle, and Noam and I played the duet show in that form. Playing duo with Noam is probably my favorite format of all the variations I’ve tried. I don’t have a full-time band. I’m a full-time singer-songwriter touring musician. I write my songs, I collaborate with a whole bunch of different artists, and when I tour I have a different arrangement of side-men or a band for whatever tour it is. So, on this one I feel so lucky to be able to have Noam out, because he produced the record and even further we co-wrote two songs on it. I’ve never done that with a producer at all. That’s next level for sure. He’s well-acquainted with the songs, because before anyone else had played them, Noam and I had played them together and that feels like the coolest way to tour and share those songs. We’ll play stripped-down arrangements of what “Motel Bouquet” is as a record, and we’ll play some of my songs that I love from past albums. Noam’s got a good personality. A lot of folks, when they back you up, zip their lips and they don’t really participate in any of the banter, but Noam (laughter) has got a thing or two to say … it’s fun.

Q: What can people expect at your Portland show on May 1?

Canty: Well, what they can expect is Noam Pikelny and I playing as a duo around one microphone.

Q: Is there anything, Caitlin, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Canty: Um, let me think about that — it’s a nice question. I think I’d like to underline what a rarity this is: hitting the road with a new record and you get to do that with the only other person who is as involved in the whole project. Releasing a record almost feels like a traveling birthday party for new music — there’s something really fresh about hearing the new songs while they’re fresh. So, if you’re ever going to come out to a show, I would say that this is the one to come out to. Oh, and the One Longfellow show is the last show of the tour, as well.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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