Most teenagers, when they take on part-time work, are looking to fund wheels, maybe top up a video game collection or just have some spare pocket change.
Layten Kramer, though, now 16, has been pocketing his change for the past couple of years to put together his first album project – Lost in the Woods – which will be released, Friday (June 17) at Communitea Café.
The Canmore Collegiate High School student will be joined by Logan Thackray (guitar, vocals), who will also open, Eli Panning Osendarp (drums) and Ray Reddekop (bass).
Lost in the Woods is an eight-track project which, for Kramer, has been in the works for about three years; since he began playing guitar. Now he’s embraced being a singer/songwriter guitar player who is releasing an album and has booked a summer tour to support it.
Possibly, as John Lee Hooker put it in “Boogie Chillen,” “it’s in him, and it got to come out”.
Possibly, though, a blues reference isn’t suitable as Kramer is an alternative folk guy, whose influences range from Bob Dylan to The Tallest Man on Earth, from Neil Young to Dan Mangan. “The Canadian indie scene, mostly,” he said.
Kramer played in the CCHS jazz band in Grade 9, “but I dropped out of that in Grade 10. I was too busy with this (album project) and working. I’ve worked for the last couple of years because I knew I’d be spending a lot of money on music.”
Some of that money went to recording with Calgary producer and musician Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and sound engineer Josh Gwilliam. The album was recorded in the Kramer living room. “Michael brought stuff from his studio and he’s really helped us out.”
Musically, Lost in the Woods offers songs like the guitar-driven and somewhat haunting vocals of “Harvie Heights”.
“My songs are inspired by living in Canmore,” said Kramer, “and friends and family and how I feel at this time in my life. I like to make people think by saying things in different ways.
“Alternative folk is what I’ve listened to and what I love in my heart.”
Once the school year wraps up, in July, Kramer and friends will play The Banff Centre and, not being old enough to play the bar scene, hit some coffee shops and restaurants en route to Vancouver before coming back to play the Canmore Folk Music Festival.
“And we’ll see if we can book some more gigs in there somewhere.” Rides will be provided by bandmates, family and friends.
“Musically, we’re all on the same page and we’re all good friends, so I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” said Kramer. “We’ve grown up together, skied together and been friends since day one.
“This is what I want to pursue. I’ve loved music all my life and it seems as time goes on, I’m playing more and more and playing more.
“Two years ago, I was barely playing, I was kind of a closet player.”
Post high school, Kramer said he doubts he’d pursue music as a study, rather, he might explore business administration or visual arts.
“I think music is something you feel, not study. Who knows? Maybe this summer will be the start of it all. For the tour, we all have the same mindset – keep it cheap and have fun.”