Thinking of his next album...alreadyPam Fortier didn't have to search too extensively to find musical talent for the benefit she was putting together for her non-profit organization that provides advocates for abused and neglected children. In fact, she didn't have to look past her own family tree to book her son, Tyler Fortier, a Eugene-based singer songwriter who at 23 has already solidified a reputation as a tenacious recording studio hound.
"He'd actually mentioned that [CASA] should do a music event and that's kind of what planted the seed in my mind," Pam says. She adds that it wasn't hard to convince Tyler to fill a spot on a bill that also includes local musicians Doug Michaels (who helped arrange the show) and Bo Reynolds. The show is a benefit for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of Central Oregon, the non-profit organization of which Pam is the executive director.
Tyler plays the type of Americana-fueled folk and rock popularized by the likes of Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst and has recently released his third full-length album, Pale Moon Rise. A Eugene-based singer-songwriter with an earthy album title...I know what you're thinking: This is hippie-dippie nonsense. You're wrong. Fortier, although still largely unknown, has put together an almost shockingly well-produced album for a musician his age that branches out to both his rock and folk influences while not falling prey to stereotypically folky lyrics or song structure.
"I hate trying to stuff my music into a genre. Recently, whenever I have to describe my music, I just call it Americana. But even that's pretty broad," he said in an interview with the Source last fall. He was wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and his shaggy side-swept hair suggested that he could wander onstage with Fleet Foxes and no one would think twice about it.
The relatively soft-spoken Tyler has a penchant for dishing out a grab bag of musical styles on his albums ranging from blues to Wilco-esque country folk which is the reason that although Pale Moon received largely positive reviews, it also prompted one publication to pose the question: "Would the real Tyler Fortier please stand up?"
The "real" Tyler Fortier almost lives in a recording studio. When I caught up with him again last week, he was in Eugene where he's finishing up a psychology degree at the University of Oregon and was planning to spend the night recording material for his forthcoming and yet-to-be titled album. It will be his fourth album...and remember he's only 23.
"I've told myself that I wouldn't record another CD unless it was being financed and in a studio. But no matter how much I lie to myself, I have to record," says Tyler, adding that this new album will be more stripped down than Pale Moon and probably more stylistically focused.
Tyler will produce this next album, just like he did on the previous one, providing a production flare that rivals those who work on major label releases. While it seems that Tyler could eventually make a career for himself behind the mixing board or up on the stage, his career aspirations (well, backup career aspirations - music is still his main career focus) are to follow in his mom's footsteps by pursuing a masters degree in counseling and family therapy.
Pam Fortier is proud of have her son playing the benefit for her organization - a non-profit that operates on a combination of state and county grants as well as their own fundraising efforts to train volunteers that represent abused children in court. She hopes the event will raise awareness and some funds for CASA, but there's a hint that she also wouldn't mind raising some awareness about Tyler's music. After all, moms are allowed to be proud, and unabashedly so.
"I'm his biggest fan. I'm so proud of him and I'm really hoping that I can make it through this show without welling up with tears," Pam says.
28 Reasons to Stand Up for an Abused or Neglected Child with Doug Michaels, Bo Reynolds, and Tyler Fortier
4-7pm, Saturday, February 28. 28 Restaurant, 920 NW Bond St. $10 suggested donation.