Folk artists own the night at The Cabin armed with a double-feature showcasing local talent

Double-feature at The Cabin showcases up and coming folk artists Dylan McFarling and D. Janakey


Photo by Gabe Lagarde

Folk artist Dylan McFarling performs a medley of his songs during an intimate performance at the Cabin 8 p.m. Friday night.

Folk enthusiasts should keep an eye on their calendars for future performances by Dylan McFarling and D. Janakey as both artists stole the evening at The Cabin with little more than their guitars, their voices and their own unique stories to tell.

Friday night’s double-feature showcased the talents of McFarling and Janakey, two up and coming talents who thrive in small, intimate settings in which they’re able to convey the complexities and nuances of their lyrics with light, soulful vocals and acoustic guitar riffs.

McFarling, a native of St. Cloud, Minn. who’s been performing publicly for close to a decade, said he was first introduced to music through his father, who loves bluegrass, and then later through the music program of his local high school. To this day, the man has the demeanor and ruggedness of a backcountry traveler, yet he speaks of his art with the flair and jargon of a music academic.

He first started performing once he got involved in the Twin Cities music scene nearly ten years ago when he was only 16-years-old, McFarling said.

Primarily, folk and punk form the bedrock of McFarling’s aesthetic. He doesn’t consider the genres an odd coupling but as two related styles that may have more in common than most people think, McFarling said.

“If you tear it down and look at what the ethos both of those genres are,” McFarling said. “I think the ideal of the simple three-chord song, the simple backing track for the message, that’s where they overlap for me.”

As a result McFarling’s music is deceptively simple. He incorporates straightforward songwriting that deals with universal themes and combines it with complex guitar arrangements to convey his message. Ultimately, he cultivates a textured, masculine performance that may not be fully appreciated by the casual listener if they don’t pay close attention.

While he performs squarely in the folk tradition when he’s alone, McFarling said he hopes to utilize other genres—including soul, funk, rock, jazz and others—into his recorded music. He cited the Wood Brothers and their versatility as an inspiration and looks to capture the passion and skill of classic soul singers from the glory years of Motown and Muscle Shoals.

“If I hear Otis Redding sing, it just drives me absolutely insane,” he said. “Whatever he was singing about, you can feel it every time he sings. It just moves you.”

McFarling admitted he felt limited at times with his live performances. On the other hand, David Janakey – who uses only an initial for his stage moniker as D. Janakey – feels liberated by the small setting where he can concentrate on his art without his bandmates, Janakey said.

Janakey’s musical roots started in church with his parents, who lived in Wisconsin and traveled to Bolivia as missionaries during his early years. He took his talents from the sanctuary to the stage and has been performing for four years, Janakey said.

His performances are more somber than his counterpart. Raw and less polished than McFarling, the power of Janakey’s performances lie in the personal and sometimes introspective lyrics of his songs, whether they’re his own works or covers of artists he admires.

Small venues like The Cabin offer a unique experience, both for the artist and for the audience, which lends itself well to folk music, Janakey said.

“Folk music is transcendent when people choose to get into it,” Jannecke said, “when they watch the performer, when they try to understand what is happening and try to be present in the song.”

Becca Wickler, a freshman nursing student said The Cabin offers a good environment for people to come together and enjoy music as a community.

“All of our friends come here so we just kinda hang out and listen to new and good music by really talented artists,” Wickler said. “It’s a fun way to spend the night.”

Geoff Carter, a sophomore English education student and volunteer at The Cabin attributes this appeal to the wide variety of music presented that reflects the vibrant art culture of Eau Claire as a whole.

“We’ve got guys who play guitar, we’ve got bigger bands, we’ve got hip-hop artists, we’ve got pianists,” he said. “There’s a little something for everyone.”

McFarling plans to have a new album completed by April and hopes to be touring by that time — with a stop included in Eau Claire, he said.

Janakey said he is booking a tour for March in which he hopes to perform alongside longtime collaborator and friend Gabe Larson and his project Waldemar.