Folk featured artist performs at Cabin

Story by Ryan Spaight, Staff Writer

This past weekend, amidst the usual barista sounds from the UW-Eau Claire’s Cabin, singer/songwriter Will Hutchinson performed several tracks from his new album: “Goldfish Diaries.”

Three regional artists are selected every semester to perform in The Cabin, and this semester Hutchinson was one of those three. The fact that he was performing in Eau Claire didn’t escape him, as was evidenced by his choice to cover Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.”

Hutchinson’s music is a pleasant blend of folk, acoustic and soft rock sounds that have the ability to numb and soothe the listener while stirring up myriad emotions.

Every song Hutchinson played was the same basic set up: a man and his guitar. However, I wouldn’t call him a one-trick pony, and I was never bored throughout his performance. I think this is partly due to his killer vocal range and smooth instrumental arrangements, but also because he was — plainly and simply — a funny guy.

Hutchinson stepped into what he called a mad house, with approximately 20 people in attendance at the Cabin. Without the joke, the attendance would have, quite frankly, made the show a bit awkward, but Hutchinson took it in stride and handled it candidly.

In fact, he really embraced the small performer feel of the place by adorning his guitar case with a sign that read, “ten buck a roos” for each physical copy of his new CD.

Audience participation was encouraged — nay, required — during the show as Hutchinson enlisted anyone with vocal cords to belt out choruses they had recently learned.

Hutchinson wasn’t afraid to be a vulnerable on stage either as he talked about a song he co-wrote with his now deceased grandfather. His sincerity added quite a bit to how I perceived him as an artist.

For me, the stories Hutchinson told were one of the highlights of the show. Only a traveling musician would have stories about a truck stop’s $8, all-you-can-eat steak buffet. As he told it, the steak tasted pretty good, but he couldn’t shake the feeling it was too good of a deal. The logical conclusion, then, is the meat was probably not steak, but rather, recycled trucker meat.

Still, humorous stories were not all Hutchinson had to offer; he also provided a few of his insightful, philosophical life tidbits.

His philosophy is experientially-derived and stresses the importance of never dating girls you meet while street performing — something he learned after three unsuccessful tries in Los Angeles.

I was impressed by Hutchinson’s live performance even though it was notably different sounding than his studio album.

Usually if the two sound different, the live version ends up flopping in comparison with the studio version, but both have a charm of their own.

I’m always drawn in by an artist’s lyricism, and that was definitely not something Hutchinson’s music was lacking. His songs were honest and unapologetically his own. I mean, the man used rescind and callous in the same sentence. The Lincoln, Neb. native weaves together words in a way that is foreign enough to be interesting, but not so foreign that it impedes understanding.

Unequivocally and without reservation, I would recommend Hutchinson’s music; I can honestly say he made me a fan.