Richmond Fontaine shares the darker side of life in 'The Fitzgerald'

Willy Vlautin, lead singer and song writer for Richmond Fontaine, loves coming back to play in Nevada. He grew up here. He started playing music here. He used the people and the landscape as the catalyst for his songs.

Every one of the band's six studio albums contains a reference to the city or the area and their latest release, "The Fitzgerald" is titled after the downtown casino.

"When I left home I started staying downtown at the Fitzgerald. A lot of the lyrics from that album were written while I was staying there so it only seemed appropriate," Vlautin said.

Richmond Fontaine will be performing at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Barkley Theatre in the Oats Park Art Center, 151 East Park Street in Fallon. The concert is being presented by the Churchill Arts Council. Tickets are $17 for members and $20 for non-members.

The alt-rock band has been making music and touring for over a decade, with increasing popularity in Europe and Australia spawned from their "Post to Wire" album.

"For the kind of music we play the crowds are really good and they enjoy the songs. It's definitely a great opportunity for me. Up until four years ago I didn't even have a passport," Vlautin said.

While the 38-year-old Vlautin has spent his whole life playing music, it is the song writing that keeps him in the business.

"You always think the band is going to quit, that we are done and this is the last album. Then you write a couple more songs and say 'well, lets just do it one more time.' I don't know what keeps me writing. It's my hobby, it's my favorite thing to do," Vlautin said.

In addition to writing lyrics, Vlautin has also published a book, titled "The Motel Life." Already available in Europe, the book is set for domestic release in April 2007.

But Vlautin is quick to point on that while he is proud of every song he had penned, "White Line Fever" still holds a special place in his catalog.

"That was the first good song I ever wrote. I'd been trying to write a great song for 12 years and I finally had it," Vlautin said.

With "Fitzgerald" the band took a twist from their usual style in favor of a more stripped-down acoustic sound. The album focuses on the lives of the cast-off and the downtrodden, using slow-drawn melodies to tell their stories.

"A lot of my stories are dark, kind of working class stories. I didn't pull punches on 'Fitzgerald.' I didn't put any pop-type songs on there to cut it," Vlautin said.

Having worked in music all of his adult life, Vlautin said being on stage is still a stressful eexperience.

"I still get nervous when I take the stage but it's better that it used to be. I didn't perform sober until I was 26," Vlautin said.

The band consists of Vlautin, bass player Dave Harding, drummer Sean Oldham and guitarist Dan Eccles.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.


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