Don’t think the ukelele and banjo are punk? Lauris Vidal begs to differ, and has the manic live show to prove it.
Lauris Vidal with Chase Kerby, Justin Joslin and Taylor Gary
9 p.m. thursday
Blue Note Lounge
2408 N. Robinson
Florida isn’t just retirement resorts and Disney World. It’s lush greenery, pristine beaches and assorted wildlife, or as singer/songwriter Lauris Vidal would call it, the perfect muse.
“A good friend of mine said when she visited the land I’m on right now, ‘Wow, this explains a lot of why your music sounds the way it does.’ There’s Spanish moss hanging off huge, old oak trees with geese and sandhill cranes flying over next to a lake with gators. I’d say that’s a bit of a picture behind what I’m writing,” he said, laughing.
The natural beauty is stirring for him, and it’s obvious in the music that Vidal labels as punk, despite its similarities to the loose, beachcomber vibe of Jack Johnson or Rogue Wave — especially with his latest release, “Better Part” — although it may be all the more punk for it.
He spent his formative years on a skateboard, navigating the sunny streets of central Florida to spend the day surfing before heading in to practice with the number of garage bands Vidal had contributed to over the years. He then began to develop his own definition of punk.
“I don’t see it as music or a genre.
I see it as an ethic. I started to see that it was more about the freedom from expectations of what something should be. It’s just believing in what you do and embracing it for what it is,” he said. “I would say the punk aspect of what I’m doing comes from the complete and utter conviction in what I’m doing and the commitment to expression of that conviction.”
Conviction is the piece that propels him forward, and it spills into his live performances, including Thursday’s show at Blue Note, that are geared toward making you believe in what Vidal is doing just as much as he does.
“It’s pretty in-your-face,” he said. “I end almost every show in the middle of the crowd. That sounds kind of confrontational, but I do it in a very positive way.”
He’s taken to making the shows as bewildering and special as possible, and although he plays the same songs night in and night out, they hardly come across the same.
“I play ukulele, banjo and guitar, and on any night, I’ll play any song on any instrument,” Vidal said. “It changes the whole feel of the song, and that brings a whole new side to the song. I look at my songs like people, and I like to interact with them in different ways through things like that.”
It all may be a big contradiction, and he’s certainly more compassionate than your everyday Ramone, but it doesn’t matter. His music comes from a very un-punk place of tenderness and awareness, stemming from the seemingly endless sea of optimism in which he swims, but if he can communicate his conviction to people and inspire them through it, then he considers himself successful by both punk standards and his own.
“Success for me as a musician is to inspire or ignite other people to pursue whatever their passion is,” he said. “I’ve been getting phone calls from friends whose kids are requesting to hear my record in the car or are dancing to it ... just inspiring the next generation.”