When last we checked in with the musical career of Homer-grown musician Andrew Vait, Vait had these projects in mind:
• Distinguish his solo career as an acoustic, alt-country-folk singer from that of his retro-rock band, Eternal Fair;
• Produce an extended play album for Eternal Fair, “Eternal Fair: Volume 1,” and
• Build his and Eternal Fair’s fan following in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
On the Andrew Vait career building-project punch list, put a big X to each of those. Vait, 28, returns to his home town this week with two performances over the New Year’s weekend. At 6 p.m. Saturday Vait and Eternal Fair perform a set and conduct a master class at the Homer Council on the Arts. On New Year’s Eve at AJ’s Old Town Steakhouse and Tavern, Homer fans will see both sides of Vait’s music. He starts the night at 6 p.m. with an acoustic dinner show. At 10 p.m., and with Eternal Fair, Vait performs at AJ’s to ring in the New Year on Alaska time.
The son of Nancy and Leo Vait, Andrew was born in Homer and raised in Nanwalek — his first year — and Homer. He studied jazz with the late Howard Hedges. Intending to play and study jazz saxophone at the University of Miami, he wound up singing in the jazz vocal ensemble. In 2007 he moved to Seattle, where he’s been building a career as both a solo musician under his own name and as part of a three-man group, Eternal Fair.
This month, Eternal Fair passed its goal of raising money through Kickstarter, the social media fundraiser program, to produce its first LP — that’s “long playing” in the ancient recording vernacular — album, raising $8,775, $1,200 above its goal. LP means what it says: the unnamed album will come out as both a compact disc and a vinyl album with an A and B side.
Many musicians today try a market strategy where they release multiple EPs and singles to keep work constantly in the public mind.
“The idea is the market is so saturated you need content constantly,” Vait said in a telephone interview Monday from Anacortes, Wash., where he’s visiting his girlfriend’s family for Christmas.
Eternal Fair’s LP will be different.
“We sat down and looked at these groups of songs,” Vait said. “They belong together on one record, side A and side B.”
For those born after 33-1/3 rpm vinyl albums became archaic, albums once had two sides and had to be turned over to play the complete work.
The unity of the album also evokes an idea The Beatles revolutionized with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” — the concept album.
“It deals a lot with dreams and the long term vs. the short term goals we set for ourselves, and how it eventually leads back to the same place,” he said.
Two songs anchor the album, “The Horse That Carries the Wheel 1” and “The Horse That Carries the Wheel 2.” It all ties in with the idea of how we want to be remembered and what we want to teach our children, Vait said. Vait writes most of Eternal Fair’s songs, but the second “The Horse That Carries the Wheel” was written with band mates Chris Jones on bass and Daniel Nash on drums.
Vait said he recognizes the influence of 1960s and later concept albums and rock operas.
“We’re drawing heavily, shamelessly on our influences,” he said. “We’re wearing them on our sleeve, but we’re hoping our concept will be fresh.”
The album isn’t a reaction against a trend in the musical business so much as a response to what Eternal Fair has to say.
“What do we have to say? What we have to say right now takes approximately 46 minutes in 10 songs or so,” Vait said. “We’re not trying to power move the music industry. We do hope what we have to say resonates with our listeners.”
That’s the approach Vait takes with his career: build an audience and fan base.
“For me, it’s the idea we can create a deeper connection with our listeners and create a true fan base that will stay with us through the peaks and valleys,” he said.
Vait also believes musicians can help the next generation of musicians build their art and craft, just as Hedges helped him. Vait has done summer music camps in Homer, and on his visit continues that with his HCOA master class.
“There are musicians from Homer playing pro in the world,” Vait said. “I’m interested in doing my part to see there’s an outlet for Homer musicians to do that. I can only offer my experience.”