Rayland Baxter: Feathers, Fishhooks and Folksongs

The singer-songwriter returns to Ybor City August 26.

click to enlarge Rayland Baxter and Steph Dickinson - The Orpheum, Ybor City - Tropical Heatwave 2011 - photo by Joe Frisbie
photo by Joe Frisbie
Rayland Baxter and Steph Dickinson - The Orpheum, Ybor City - Tropical Heatwave 2011

click to enlarge Rayland Baxter at The Orpheum, Tropical Heatwave 2011 - photo by Joe Frisbie
photo by Joe Frisbie
Rayland Baxter at The Orpheum, Tropical Heatwave 2011

"Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it..."
Rivers of Memory, Harry Middleton

Looking like a slightly scruffy Matthew McConaughey in a trademark red knit cap, faded denim work shirt and khakis so broken in that the only thing making them wearable is blue painters’ tape strategically placed, Rayland Baxter settles his 6’5” frame on a stool on the stage, takes a breath and begins to play. He is engaging, his blue eyes mischievous, smile crooked; but don’t be deceived: this is a man who has something to say, and he’s gonna say it in a way you can’t help but hear.

Rayland Baxter is an avid outdoorsman, and he performs the same way he fly fishes, casting lines looping into the crowd, unfurling to place his fly softly, but with effect, the lure impossibly alluring. The themes of his songs are permeated with imagery related to nature, often symbolizing the eternal struggle of men and women, and the relationships between them. “I like to talk to people,” he says, “some of the stories you hear are gut-wrenching.” Rayland ties those human emotions into flies that drift around your consciousness and touch places in your heart that you didn’t know were there. “I don’t always have to feel the emotion myself; sometimes it is okay to wear the shoes for a while, walk around in them… that’s where songs are supposed to be from. Felt emotion is timeless.” [More after the jump.]