In the last 11 months, we’ve seen many in Fort Wayne’s talented arts community — both organizations and individuals — turn lemons into lemonade.
What could have been an impoverished year with no music, no theater, and no artistic food to feed our souls has instead been an opportunity to pivot and find ways to be creative.
Among those who took advantage of the down time is Austin Marsh, an Auburn native well known in the Fort Wayne music scene.
Long before he picked up guitar, his love for music was nurtured in a way that is very familiar to Fort Wayne radio audiences.
“Rock 104 was on all the time when I was a kid,” Marsh said. “I gravitated to playing in my teen years with my first show at 15. It’s been off to the races since then. Early on my influences were AC/DC and Van Halen when I first started playing, but then I started to get more into guitarists like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck.”
Marsh began digging deeper into guitarists while also starting a new facet of his musical journey — becoming a songwriter.
“I love songwriters like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison,” Marsh said. “But I played quite a while before I started writing my own songs. When I started, I worked hard on my writing because it’s an art in itself. The more I grew and matured, the more I was able to become a singer-songwriter.”
It’s his maturity as a songwriter which comes to play in Marsh’s new album, Bohemians, which will be released on March 5 with a release performance at Teds Beerhall that same day.
Although his appearance at teds and his upcoming chances to perform material from Bohemians will be solo gigs, Marsh is joined on the album, billed as Austin & The Avenue, by Jonah Leatherman on guitar, Colin Boyd on drums, and Tommy Saul on keyboards.
Sage Sauder served as executive producer and was also a big part of the creative energy Marsh was looking to share on this release.
“Normally I play a lot of solo shows, especially in the last couple of years,” Marsh said. “The Avenue is a new studio amalgamation of people I knew, that I trust to provide a platform to get my songs heard and played. I got to have some of the best in Fort Wayne play on it, and I’m lucky to be able to call them my friends.”
Marsh has been anxious to share the 10 songs on Bohemians for quite awhile, but he admits that the situation last year provided a nudge.
“The pandemic fostered it, but the idea for it was already there,” he said. “After the shutdown last March, I was already heading that way because I had songs written that I felt really good about.”
Marsh has a studio in his Auburn home, and Leatherman, Boyd, Saul, and Sauder would each visit him to lend their talents to the equation.
When the recording was completed, mastering work was completed by Jordan Stoffel at Stoffel Recording Company.
It is his songwriting skills which he is most proud to demonstrate, and he feels that each song provides a different insight into who he is.
“It’s nice to have something tangible to share,” Marsh said. “What I’m most excited about is the songmanship and how it fits into my larger body of work. Individually different songs reflect different sides of my personality. It’s kind of surreal to listen to them and think where I was when I wrote them, and it’s really about focusing on the craftsmanship and songsmanship which I think are part of a great performance.”
Although grateful for the band supporting him in the studio, there are no band shows planned at this time.
“COVID is still a thing, but I think some people are starting to venture out and play more,” Marsh said. “I’m one of those people and have quite a few shows in the next three, four months, and I have these songs I want to share. There are no band shows because it’s hard to plan for those right now, not knowing how things are going to go in the next few months. But I’ll be singing all the songs from the album at my shows and will be selling CDs and hopefully soon pushing some merch, too.”
Digital versions of his music will be available on all the usual platforms including Spotify, Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon.
In addition to the release party performance at teds beerhall on March 5 from 8-11 p.m., you can catch Marsh live Saturday, March 13, from 7-9 p.m. at 2Toms Brewery; Friday, April 2, from 8-11 p.m. again at teds beerhall; Friday, April 9, 7-10 p.m. at JJ Winns in Montpelier, Ohio; and Saturday, April 17, from 6-9 p.m. at Edwin Coe Spirits in Churubusco.
Marsh said he’s adding new shows every week so fans can keep up with him on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn as well as on his website, austinmarshaudio.com.
“I’ve been doing a very regional thing but hope to be able to get on the road more with my studio band and some friends from University of Saint Francis. Time will tell, and it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. But I’m really anxious to share these songs.”