If it weren't for the Americana tag, North Carolina's Tyler Ramsey would be almost any record label's marketing nightmare. Heck, even the flexible, wide-ranging "Americana" doesn't do him justice. Ramsey draws from both folk and acoustic blues for inspiration, although he's no staid purist -- he combines aspects of John Fahey, Norman Blake, and Mississippi John Hurt as they fit. Vocally, Ramsey sounds like Neil Young in his Buffalo Springfield days. On his latest disc A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea, several instruments are played by Ramsey, but unlike many overdub-oriented solo projects, Dream maintains an organic and intimate, almost back-porch ambiance -- for the most part. A few songs have a regal, more refined texture akin to the proto-Americana of Randy Newman (ever hear Good Old Boys?) and Van Dyke Parks. Ramsey violates one of the tenets of hipness by covering "These Days" by Jackson Browne, who symbolizes the despised West Coast hippie cocaine music of the Me Decade, but damn if it isn't a fine song, and one Ramsey performs with heartrending beauty. Ramsey is a member of Band of Horses, but he also follows a path of his own. Ramsey and Sean Smith open for Drone Hooligan.
Thu., May 1, 8 p.m., 2008