Folking it Up

Luna Red’s chosen artist of the month

In his three years on Luna Red’s live music line-up, Chris Beland has always demonstrated an uncanny ability to bridge the gap between the restaurant guest and the live entertainment. When he performs, a mutual journey is started between the two worlds, and the guest is instantly converted from a sangria-and-tapas diner to a Part of a Bigger Experience.

Beland’s anthology of original songs is infinite. Easily the most prolific artist on the Central Coast, he has been known to write new songs on a daily basis. Fan favorites include “Freedom Anthem,” “Horse Meat,” and “Diana,” just to name a few. When Beland does draw upon his influences to perform work from another songwriter, the reverence he holds for the selected artist joins him onstage in a duet with a tangible and gentle cameo in ghost-form.

In a time of instant-fixes and short attention spans, Beland stands out as an offering for the audience to tap into something more. His music falls into the Folk genre in the truest sense: he is a human sharing stories of his experiences through a musical outlet. The depth and genuine self glimpsed through Beland’s lyrics nod toward the 1960’s era rather than more contemporary artists. There is a simple, understated binding element of humanity that permeates through his work and makes the audience nostalgic for a time without cell phones and Facebook.

“Honest Music”

His biggest influences are Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, though his first and perhaps most profound musical inspiration was the first time he heard Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” on vinyl at his grandfather’s house at age five. It was around this time that Beland started to play music himself, and so began his life-long journey of self-discovery and adaptation as an artist.

Chris Beland’s accomplishments this past year include performances at the Live Oak and Beaverstock music festivals, the release of his live album Chris Beland and Harmony, and the donation of a kidney to a personal friend in dire need. (He jokes that the second kidney was weighing him down and that he sings much better without it.)

Chris Beland performs at many local venues in both the San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. He is frequently joined onstage by his partner in his latest album, his ten-year-old daughter Harmony whose youth is trumped by the power of her remarkable Etta James-esque vocal range in their undeniably synergistic chorus.

When asked why he enjoys being a part of Luna Red’s live music program, Beland takes a minute before answering:

“Everyone is kind. Not just the people who work there, but the audience too. Everyone just kind of… sits with you. They’re there for you.”