Written by: Alec Berry
Only four days after his West Virginia University commencement, Logan Venderlic was packed up and off on an East Coast tour. It may seem like an eager move, but to him there was little time to waste. He’s been performing and writing songs for years, and while a college graduate, he is not entirely set on giving it up. In fact, it’s the exact opposite; he’d like to go full-time – playing his energetic acoustic music wherever he can.
This Sunday, Venderlic will take a big step toward that goal by performing for NPR’s Mountain Stage at the WVU Creative Arts Center alongside Brandi Carlile. Whether or not this gig pushes him to the big-time, Venderlic is unsure, but it certainly represents a milestone in his music career because it’s one of those “dream-come-trues.” As a WVU student, Venderlic says he attended any Mountain Stage taping he could, and while in the audience he’d commit the cliche and picture himself up there before the microphones. He’s wanted that spotlight for some time, and this weekend he gets it right here in the town where his artistry was built.
Venderlic’s performing style tends to subvert the expectations set on young men with acoustic guitars. On stage, he’s more like a spark. His booted foot taps erratically, and his hand beats the body of his guitar. Venderlic says much of his enthusiasm comes from nerves, but he’s also conscious of the stereotypes placed on some singer/songwriters. He doesn’t want to be held against the typical heart-on-the-sleeve acoustic mantra as he finds that predictable and somewhat fake. Instead, he pumps himself and the crowd up, and no matter how many times you know he’s played those same songs, his charged delivery shows the connection he has to his music. It’s genuine, and it digs past the production values of the studio recordings to show you the core of the music – the musician, himself.
Though, the finished record has its own merits. Venderlic goes all out on some songs. With full backing-bands and other instrumentation, he takes his one-man folk pop numbers and expands them, giving a listener a little more to hold onto than just his lyrics. The album strays from a general theme, but it kicks around a collection of songs roaming a variety of topics. In some sense, it acts as a sampler and offers up a general idea of what the artist is interested in and capable of. Tracks like “Blue Pills, Red Cups” and “Me, Me, Me” are stand outs and act as the record’s singles with their pop-y sensibilities, but “Jerkwater Town,” Venderlic’s ode to his small town past, really showcases some smart writing. A line like “where children are born, going no where/just waiting to die from chemical air” manages to take an old, tired subject and inject it with a fresh, angry vigor.
So far, the album has caught the attention of some heavy publications like The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Music and The Huffington Post, but despite these early accomplishments Venderlic says he’s still ready to work. He’s no where near where he’d like to be, and although his friends feel he’s “made it,” his desire to push forward is constant.
After his Mountain Stage appearance, he will begin a 16-city tour, hitting a number of prime locations. For now though, check out this Morgantown Sound session we recorded with Venderlic last Fall; it features eight songs.
You can sit back and enjoy the entire performance or use the following time code to jump around.
A Walk With a Girl – 1:29
Re-Learning How to Fly – 4:07
Breakup Song – 7:25
Blue Pills, Red Cups – 12:01
Jerkwater Town – 14:51
Travelin’ Tooth Operators – 18:45
Me, Me, Me – 20:10
Soul of a Cynic – 23:31
Recorded and mixed by John Casey