With a new EP that marks his return to music, Austin Counts brings together several new songs to go along with one that’s been running through his head for years.
Counts has been back with a blues-country hybrid style since the summer, playing a weekly gig at The Flycatcher (340 E. Sixth St.) on Monday nights with Tom Walbank, who produced and performs on Counts’ new Pima County Jail
The four-song EP will be released next Friday, Feb. 26 during a free patio show at Hotel Congress (311 E. Congress St.). The show goes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
and features performances from Counts, Walbank and Chris Hall.
“The way I approach it is telling a story,” Counts says. “I like to make my stuff true to life. When I’m singing about something, it’s something I’ve been through. The only way you can have conviction signing a song is that it’s real.”
Counts (a former Tucson Weekly
intern) had played music for many years before giving it up to earn a degree and then open his own business (4th Avenue Delicatessen). He began to pick the guitar back up last summer, when Walbank asked him to cover a couple of shows.
“I tried to pull together two sets to see if I could even do it any more,” Counts says. “That broke the ice, and I started writing new music. Coming back to it now, everything is more toward blues and country.”
Counts grew up listening to country and blues and says that while it’s something he can’t get away from, his music exists more in the grey area between the two.
“I enjoy the traditional versions, but I try to do my own thing with it,” he says. “It’s taking from this old palette and adding myself to it.”
The oldest song on the new EP is the title track, “Pima County Jail,” an honest tale that came from his experience behind bars.
“A loose version of that song was written right there in the Pima County Jail and has stuck with me for all these years,” he says. “It was a way to keep your sanity while being locked up.”
Also on the EP is “Jealous Feelings,” which updates the old suspicious, jealous lover motif for the cyber age, wondering if it’s Facebook or e-mail or text or even Instagram that may be hiding something.
“You know you’re crazy with suspicions, but it happens. That’s the blues in the 21st Century, that’s what people are going through,” Counts says.
Preview the Pima County Jail EP on Bandcamp