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SATISFYING HIS SOUL

AM finds his groove on second album

AM.jpg

Even though New Orleans is an undisputed music mecca, singer/songwriter AM felt as though he needed to leave the Big Easy to advance his career.

"I knew songwriting was my best asset and that there were plenty of avenues in Los Angeles to investigate musically," he says. "I also knew that New York was definitely not a place I wanted to struggle in. I thought about Nashville, but that was still the South, and I wanted a radical change."

After a visit to Los Angeles, he had found what he was looking for.

"I couldn't believe how temperate it was," AM recalls. "I remember thinking to myself that this place would be an easy place to struggle. If you couldn't pay the electric bill, things would still be OK.

"Ultimately, this was good for me and my relationship with the South. I'm really itching to live down there again."

AM is scheduled to roll through New Orleans in late December as part of his tour supporting Soul Variations, his recently released second album.

"There are very little overdubs, and the record has a lot of space," he says. "I did the whole thing on 2-inch tape, so the analog nature of the recording gives it a much deeper and richer feel.

Compared to Troubled Times, his 2006 debut, AM says Soul Variations "has a lot more groove to it. I've been listening to a lot of jazz, R&B and Brazilian music over the last couple of years."

He adds, "I also produced this album myself. Troubled Times was done in almost the opposite way. It was co-produced by me and Jamie Myerson, and he and I played almost every instrument on the album, with the exception of the bass. . . . [and] with the exception of two songs, all of the drums on Troubled Times were programmed. I told myself a long time ago that every record I make I am going to take a different approach, so taking a live band into the studio seemed like the best way to approach Soul Variations."

AM has found success with placing his songs in films and TV shows, among them HBO's Big Love.

"I really believe that if you're an up-and-coming artist, you've got to get your music out there anyway you can," he says. "The music market is extremely crowded these days, and people are moving through music and bands at a much more rapid pace.

"Also, I'm not independently wealthy, and I don't have a record company picking up my tabs. I'm a self-made songwriter and musician, and film and TV has given me the opportunity to reach people that I may not have had otherwise."

-- By Chris M. Junior

AM on tour with Bob Schneider (schedule subject to change):

* Nov. 29: Cain's Ballroom -- Tulsa, Okla.

* Nov. 30: Bottleneck -- Lawrence, Kan.

* Dec. 1: The Waiting Room -- Omaha, Neb.

* Dec. 2: Varsity -- Minneapolis

* Dec. 3: Shank Hall -- Milwaukee

* Dec. 4, 5: Schuba's -- Chicago

* Dec. 6: Blueberry Hill -- St. Louis

* Dec. 7: Music Mill -- Indianapolis

* Dec. 8: Club Cafe -- Pittsburgh

* Dec. 10: World Cafe Live -- Philadelphia

* Dec. 11: Ram's Head -- Annapolis, Md.

* Dec. 12: Knitting Factory -- New York

* Dec. 13, 14: Jammin' Java -- Vienna, Va.

* Dec. 15: Gravity Lounge -- Charlottesville, Va.

* Dec. 16: Grey Eagle -- Asheville, N.C.

* Dec. 17: Smith's Olde Bar -- Atlanta

* Dec. 18: Exit/In -- Nashville, Tenn.

* Dec. 19: Workplay -- Birmingham, Ala.

* Dec. 21: One Eyed Jacks -- New Orleans

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