Before Outside Lands: the Easy Leaves prep for summer fests, hope to catch Willie Nelson

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The Easy Leaves in their natural environment.
PHOTO MY MIKE SHERWOOD.

Kevin Carducci and Sage Fifield of the Easy Leaves really are pretty easy-going. But take away their opportunity to do what they love and you might have a problem. Luckily, they’re currently living their dream. And lucky for us, it makes for some well-crafted, enjoyably smooth folk tunes.

The Sonoma County duo recently played at the Independent with Langhorne Slim and the Law and will be playing the Petaluma Music Festival, and Outside Lands next month (Aug. 9-11 in Golden Gate Park).

I talked to the Easy Leaves about the power of folk, musical inspirations, and their love of performing:

SF Bay Guardian How does it feel to be playing with Langhorne Slim at the Independent?

Kevin Carducci Really excited about it. I actually know Langhorne from way back West. I saw him when I went out West. When I moved out here, it was one of the first shows I went to. One of the problems of being in music is we never get to go to shows because we’re always playing them. But I’ve been a really big fan of his for a long time. It feels like a full circle thing to play with him. One of those cool moments, feels like a little milestone.

Sage Fifield I love that stuff; it’s super exciting. Every person you get to play with always feels like an honor. To be on the same bill with him it’s genuinely exciting, like in a big way. I’ve actually listen to one of his early albums a lot of times, one of the albums Kevin introduced me to.  

SFBG What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?

SF I’m just going to reach to something relatively recent within the last few years. I went to an Avett Brothes show in South Carolina, it was not too many years after Kevin and I started playing. We got tickets and went to it. It was one of those shows where you’re transfixed by the performance itself, just the energy of it. The energy was just hot the whole night, I just literally stood almost in one spot the entire show. I think they’re great.

KC I think I maybe have seen them more than any other band. I think I’ve seen the Avett Brothers 12 or more times, they’re a huge inspiration for me. Back when they were just touring up and down the East Coast, the energy they brought every time. Me and my friends would drive hundreds of miles just to see them perform. They would just transform crowds. The energy would be so powerful, a big sweaty dance party. Certain fans would just stop and stare and be sucked into it. They’re such engaging performers. They were working their asses off, you could see it in the lines in their faces – that hardworking attitude that really resonated.

SFBG What drew you to making folk music?

SF To really give an honest answer, for me it’s become the culmination of everything that I’ve wanted to do with my time here. It’s sort of like on a bigger level, to be able to perform things that you’ve created, it’s just really amazing. And so I just think it’s like a lifestyle thing, I love performing, it’s fun. When the energy’s right, it can be the best thing – very enjoyable.

KC Collaborative energy with crowd, that’s a defining factor that goes back to roots about what the music’s all about. Country music and folk music is just about passing on stories and connecting with folks, sitting around and playing songs. We started this band just sitting around the fire sharing songs with each other and eventually it became something.

Ideally we’d have a crowd of folks who sing along. That’s the thing that just makes the shows that much more exciting for us, when we’re playing to have folks on board and something they can connect with. We feel lucky people feel that way about our music.  

SFBG Favorite song to perform live, cover or otherwise?

SF Right now I’ve really been enjoy playing some of our more traditional country-type tunes like one that jumps to mind is called “Since You Gone,” it’s not on any albums. It’s a really straightforward country song. We almost always play it. When you play a song that much it almost becomes more than muscle memory, almost like the song plays itself. When that happen you can really relax into it in a way. For me “Get Down” got to that point. Of course, after saying this I’ll probably totally blow off the bridge.

KC I agree with what Sage said. Constantly changing tunes like “Get Down”. Another one is “Purgatory,” which I like because I get to sing lead. We’ve been playing it for so long; it’s become a fan favorite. And “Get Down,” we’ve gotten really tight on it. You have room, you get to play around and take chanced you wouldn’t take on a new song.

SFBG Any groups you’re for sure not going to miss at Outside Lands?

KC We’re so bummed we can’t go on Saturday because we have a wedding that whole day. At the top of the list for Sunday is Hall and Oats and Willie Nelson.

SF Same here, Willie Nelson. I’ve never seen [him]. I’m always excited to see someone for the first time because you’re on the same bill.