Gill Landry is that rare singer-songwriter whose narratives take listeners on a distinctly American journey, a storyteller whose songs call to mind Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and Lead Belly.
"There are ghosts in every line I'm writing," says Landry. "My songs are not about hooks and catchy one-liners. I love old American folk music, and I go for a cinematic approach in the writing of a song. I see the wind in the trees and the highway coming at me."
Landry brings his unique take on folk, Americana and country to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Jan. 14, joining local newgrass band Honeybucket as part of the Sonic Sessions series introduced to commemorate the museum's 20th anniversary. The Louisiana native ended his 10-year association with Old Crow Medicine Show last spring to concentrate on his solo work, including his third and latest album, the atmospheric Gill Landry. "I loved collaborating [with them]," he says, "but what I'm doing now is a lot more personal."
With roots in New Orleans, Landry gained a deep sense of the celebration and struggle of life. "Music is part of the culture there," he says. "It's really a coping mechanism for how hard life can be."
Landry enjoys the freedom of driving to all of his gigs and taking time to explore each town he visits. "Traveling can't help but inspire everything that I write," he says. "I've gone through 37 cars over the years. I used to buy 'em for $75 at the tow yard and ride 'em till they died."
When reminded he will be driving to Cleveland in January, Landry recalls his van breaking down in Connecticut last winter.
"I love winter tours," he laughs. "There's so much potential for adventure."