Greensboro folk-rock singer-songwriter releases second album
By: Terry Rader
Bryan Toney is inviting his friends, fans and the entire Triad to come experience each of his 11 new songs from his second album, “Cone of Uncertainty” at Leveneleven Brewing on March 8 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Toney will sing and play acoustic guitar along with special guests Tom Troyer on electric guitar, Aaron Cummings on drums, and Logan Butler on bass. The CD will be released that day and will be available for purchase at the show.
Toney will play the full album, song by song. Toney got the idea to perform his entire CD from Troyer, guitarist and songwriter for the band Farewell Friend, who did that at their “Lineage” album release show performance last year. Farewell Friend (also made up of Mark Byerly on bass and Cummings on drums) will be performing the opening set.
Toney said that he named the album, “Cone of Uncertainty” after watching the weather forecasts regarding the hurricanes we had last year. He said he didn’t know where the album was going and felt like it was “a cool metaphor for life in general.”
“You start out in a big ocean and you don’t know where you’re going to end up. Things keep coming up, and some have a lot of impacts and you wonder what the end result is going to be, for you, for others and for our country.”
Toney said he started working on putting the album together in June 2018 and he had a blast working with Troyer, who owns Black Rabbit Audio where the album was recorded. He said he turned the production over to Troyer to give it fresh ears and some songs went in a direction he had never anticipated. There is a consistency and continuity present even though each song is different. He said he started with 17 songs and Troyer played around with them for two to three weeks and when he shared it, they decided what songs to record with bass, drums and electric guitar. Then he went back and added acoustic guitar and vocals. Toney said that Troyer wasn’t just a producer, but also a “brilliant musician and arranger” that “brought the songs to life.” Toney said he would have never considered adding strings to “Charlottesville,” but on this single song, they brought in a cellist and violinist to add nine different string parts for an orchestra effect.
Toney said he had taken some time to think through the order of the songs on the album both sonically and verbally. He said it made sense to start with “Simple Needs” with the lyrics, “the first thing I remember…” as it is more introspective and autobiographical. He said what made him happy as a child- nature, family, friends and music- is what makes him happy now.
Toney said all the songs share feelings of things going on in his life and the world such as “More American” and “Wondering.” He said his song “Because” is the answer when you don’t have an answer. And asking “Why” at the end leaves it open to the next creation with lyrics, “What I took for granted was there no more. Voices chanted outside my door. Why?” Toney said “Why” was written as an immediate response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. “Charlottesville,” which was written after events in that city, asks us to “Pay attention…no more pretension.” Toney said these songs came out so fast and complete; it felt like they were channeled.
Toney said that in support of his new release, he has already booked shows across the U.S. in the upcoming months and is returning to several venues in cities he has played previously including Denver; Louisville, Kentucky; Salt Lake City; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Roanoke, Virginia; Charlotte; Asheville; Boone; Wilmington; Charleston, and Greenville, South Carolina. He has already written many new songs since recording “Cone of Uncertainty” and has just begun performing them. Toney said those songs would most likely be on a future release.
Toney is the co-founder of Gate City Songwriters and encourages singer-songwriters of all levels of experience who are writing original songs to join a songwriting circle such as GCS or Doodad Farm Songwriters.
“These circles have provided me with inspiration and ideas for different ways to write songs, and I am influenced by my fellow singer-songwriters like James Anderson, Jack Gorham, Bryan McFarland and many others,” he said. “Being around other songwriters provides encouragement and ideas to take you to a higher level.”
“Much of the music buying public doesn’t understand how technology has changed how musicians make their living,” Toney said. “Many people no longer buy CDs, and the artist makes pennies from streaming. It is becoming increasingly important to go see the artist perform. What they make that night is a critical part of their income. Without supporting local music, future artists can’t rise up to do big shows. Their biggest revenue comes from a steady stream of performances. When more people attend, the artists get invited back.”
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer, storyteller, poet, singer/songwriter, wellness herbalist and owner, Paws n’ Peace o’ Mind cat/dog/house sitting.
March 8, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Bryan Toney CD release show with Farewell Friend, free and open to the public at Leveneleven Brewing, 1111 Coliseum Blvd., Greensboro, 336.265.8600, April 13, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Bryan Toney at Fourth & Trade, 131 W. Fourth St, Winston-Salem