By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Brian Chartrand spent the summer of 2012 working as a cruise ship musician. To prepare for it, he needed to know 300 covers—even before he stepped foot on the boat.
It took some preparation, as he chose tunes by artists like James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles.
“It was a really good history lesson for me, and an ego check as well,” Chartrand says. “I got on this ship and I would find people would request a new artist or other artists like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Crosby Still and Nash. I started my research to learn more about these bands. I never dug into their history much, but I started to see how they were connected.”
Chartrand wanted to share his knowledge with fans at home, so he created “Live at Laurel Canyon,” a reference to the Hollywood Hills neighborhood that was home to musicians like Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, King, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Canned Heat, The Eagles and Neil Young.
“Live at Laurel Canyon” hits the stage at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 5, and Monday, May 6, at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The 90-minute retrospective shares the music and stories of Laurel Canyon musicians between 1965 and 1975.
“The first time we played ‘Live at Laurel Canyon,’ I thought this could be a thing,” he says. “That as 2013. We’ve had a lot of fun playing at the MIM. That’s our home base. They’ve been so supportive of the project and the band really early on.”
Besides singer/acoustic guitarist Chartrand, the band includes electric guitarist Adam Armijo, keyboardist Lamar Gaines, drummer Todd Chuba, vocalist Holly Pyle, vocalist David Freeman and bassist Alex Kyhn.
“I’m really proud of the Arizona-based band I was able to put together,” he says. “Last year, we signed a booking deal. We’ve been getting on the road and it’s been a ton of fun. It’s a show that isn’t short on songs. There are so many amazing songs. I could put together a show that lasts the entire day.”
Along with the music are the stories, which are priceless. Chartrand adds multimedia to the show, which he calls “compelling stuff.” “Live from Laurel Canyon” is relevant as well.
“The timing is really good,” says Chartrand, who moved from Massachusetts to Phoenix in October 2003. “People want to get connected to real music again.”
Going forward, Chartrand would like to see “Live from Laurel Canyon” evolve.
“I see more touring in the future,” he says. “I’d really love to develop the multimedia aspect of it. We’re just getting started and hitting our stride.
“One thing to remember is we’re not a tribute act. We will reinterpret and reinvent classic tunes. We don’t dress in period clothing. We just celebrate the amazing music and try to give it new life.”
What: “Live from Laurel Canyon”
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, May 5, and Monday, May 6
Where: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix
Info: 480-478-6000, mim.org