Shannon Labrie ‘honest’ about life as an indie artist

Nashville-based singer to play The Bridge this Saturday.

By Heather Finn | Feb. 21, 2013

Tags: Music

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When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: The Bridge

Tickets: $5

When you’re an average up-and-coming indie artist, it’s expected that you’ll have some shows that exponentially exceed your expectations and some that are total duds. But when you’re Nashville-based artist Shannon Labrie, sometimes you have shows where the bartender has an anaconda tattooed onto his face.

“It was very abrupt and aggressive at first, but once we started playing, everything just softened up and everyone was so nice,” Labrie says. “It was actually probably one of the more exciting venues we’ve played because it was kind of unexpected."

And Labrie has the potential to run into more than her fair share of unexpected experiences over the next few months. She released her debut album, Just Be Honest, earlier this February, recorded a song for the soundtrack of Derek Hough’s debut film, has been on the road since the start of January and has shows (including a gig at SXSW in Austin, Texas) scheduled all the way through May.

“The one thing I love about touring so much is it kind of shapes you into a live artist because every single show is different and every audience is different,” Labrie says. “It teaches you how to adapt ... I really enjoy that.”

So she’s a busy indie artist on the rise, but what exactly is Labrie’s sound? Though music trade magazine Music Connection has compared her to the likes of Grace Potter, Labrie has her own way to explain her style.

“It’s hard to describe my music because it’s like a melting pot for jazz and blues and country story-telling (with) a little bit of pop and R&B,” says Labrie. “What I usually tell people is I was raised on Lauryn Hill and James Taylor. That’s all I listened to growing up and I think that my music really is a mixture of (them).”

It seems that her Hill/Taylor-esque sound is doing a pretty good job of setting Labrie apart from Nashville’s large pool of independent artists. But that doesn’t mean that her work is always easy.

“(The venue) was practically empty when we got there and there wasn’t even really a soundboard,” says Labrie, referring to that same anaconda-tattoo-bartender show. “We just kind of set up and crammed in this corner.”

Though the bar eventually filled up, Labrie wouldn’t have let the lack of an audience get her down.

“It definitely gets discouraging but I had guy say one time that, in a live show, if you are playing for just one person but you can make that person love your music and become a fan, then you’ve done a better job than if three people were there and they just kind of liked it,” Labrie says. “So if it’s one person, then we’re going to have a damn good time.”

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