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Catching up with Tyler Westcott of Folkfaces (and others)

Tyler Westcott cannot be tamed.

The guitarist, vocalist and one-man-band of a hirsute dude has his fingerprints on a variety of genre-varied bands, including Black Rock Zydeco (guitar), the Observers (banjo) and his focal point, the Americana-steeped Folkfaces.

The local quintet has filled venues like Buffalo Iron Works and Sportsmen’s with the kind of rollicking, washboard-utilizing thump that was once a Queen City commonality through its Erie Canal heyday.

Live performances of Westcott-led stompers like “Arrows We Break” or the toe-tapping “We’re on the Move Now” have made the collective favorites of the Maker’s-sipping set, and have wedged the act into the thick of the city’s beard-stroking roster of live talent.

Local quintet Folkfaces has already packed Buffalo Iron Works and Sportsmen's Tavern.

Local Americana quintet Folkfaces has already packed Buffalo Iron Works and Sportsmen's Tavern in previous shows.

But as the raspy-voiced Westcott has proven, he’s not one for labels, illustrated again by “Brassband, Dixieland, Americana and Burlesque III” event at 9 p.m. Dec. 12 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.).

Cacophonic, salacious—and just in time for the holidays—the event seems emblematic of the artist’s big-tent approach to music. Many styles are welcomed into Westcott’s circus of ruckus, and earlier this week, he took some time to discuss his influences, bands and upcoming plans.

Hometown: Hunt, NY

Years in band: Just about four years.

Musical/vocal influences: Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Joe Strummer, Bob Marley Tom Waits, Hank Williams, and Bessie Smith.

First Buffalo-area show, and at what venue: Nietzsche’s, with LZ Dillon playing rhythm guitar. We covered some Sade.

Favorite album in high school: Depends on what year. “Deja Entendu” by Brand New; “Raw Power” by Iggy and the Stooges; “Loaded” by Velvet Underground; “Energy” by Operation Ivy; and “Double Nickels on the Dime” by the Minutemen.

If you could have a drink with any musician, who would it be? I wish I could've [had a smoke] with Satchmo [Louis Armstrong]. How do you balance your time with Folkfaces and the Observers; and what are some major differences between the two bands?

Tyler Westcott: I make sure to keep time for each group. The two bands play a different repertoire without too much crossover. Folkfaces and the Observers play music that’s in the same vein, like with Americana and bluegrass songs. The Observers is made up of three different songwriters with Josh [Gage], Allen [Greystone] and Ben [Perrello], so we play their songs—which are great. In Folkfaces, we play a mix of jugband, old-timey blues and jazz in our own way, originals and some of [slide guitarist] Dan Borodzik’s songs like "Institution Blues," which we cant wait to share.

Question: Now that you've been playing around Buffalo for a while, do you think the city's conducive to your brand of hairy Americana? If so, why?  

Answer: Because we get rowdy. People can stomp and dance. We have fun playing, and sometimes the feeling is contagious.

folkfaces by folkfaces

Question: You're about to dive into your third installment of "Brassband, Dixieland, Americana and Burlesque" at Mohawk Place on Saturday. How'd the event initially come together, and what makes it work?

Answer: I like horns, and I love the way people act when they hear horns. I like when Buffalonians dance, and I like Burlesque. It's inspiring to me. The strip-teasers are good friends of mine, and I just thought the idea of all the bands having horns and the girls dancing to them seemed attractive. So far, it has been.
Question: What's next for your band(s); and when's your next show after this weekend's collaborative extravaganza?

Answer: Folkfaces are about to release our single, "Freedom Fries," then we’ll have another full-length album to follow. We're planning on releasing music every month or so in 2016. The Observers are headed to record a second album soon, too.

Folkfaces have a few shows left this year, with two in Rochester (December 18 at Abilene Bar and Lounge, and December 23 at Sticky Lips Pit BBQ) and our last show of the year on New Year’s Eve at Nietzsche’s, with Lazlo Holyfield, Rhubarb and Intrepid Travelers.

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