Austin singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sasha K.A has waited a long time — like, practically his whole life — for the Feb. 21 release of Family, his first solo album. But he’s already tasted some early icing on the cake, in the form of two song premieres at prominent websites the Bluegrass Situation and Americana Highways.
BGS, the roots-music beacon cofounded by actor/picker Ed Helms and executive director Amy Reitnouer, has debuted the mid-tempo folk-pop ballad “Tall Grass,” while Americana Highways posted “Rolling Sky,” inspired in part, according to Sasha, by the TV show This is Us.
He’ll feature those tracks and others during his album release show on Saturday, April 4, at Radio Coffee & Beer, 4204 Menchaca Road, Austin. Showtime is 8 p.m.; Sasha goes onstage at 8:15. Admission is free.
Sasha K.A, who uses those initials instead of his “too long” last name, is not exactly a newcomer to Austin’s music scene; he has performed solo and as a member of the orchestral-folk ensemble American Dreamer, with whom he released two albums. He also directs the jazz ensemble at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and teaches privately and at the Armstrong Community Music School, which sponsors the Musical Lives outreach program he operates at Austin’s SAFE Children’s Shelter. In addition to creating arrangements for string quartets and recording sessions, Sasha also stays busy working with Music to Life, the nonprofit organization founded by Peter, Paul & Mary’s Paul Stookey and his daughter, to foster change through music. And he’s been composing songs and instrumental pieces intended for licensing as part of his 2-year-old songwriting deal with Another Victory Publishing (now Axume Publishing). His output includes film scores and songs for TV and film soundtracks; he also placed a song in the Tom Clancy video game Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
All of which helps to explain why it took a while — and six studios, including one in Holyoke, Massachusetts — for Sasha to complete Family’s charming, pop-influenced folk tunes and lush instrumentals. But he was intent on exploring a wide variety of musical influences and styles.
“I like folk tunes, pop, rock, bluegrass, blues. I write orchestral string music; I like electro sounds,” Sasha explains. “This album gave me a chance to show some range and express all the sounds, textures and ideas that I am drawn to. It allowed me to stretch a little bit.”
Sasha, whose mother was a folk singer, began playing and performing in grade school; he began drumming in his first band at 13. Since then, the Northampton, Massachusetts, native studied guitar at a Berklee College of Music summer program, earned his bachelor’s degree in music theory at Oberlin College and obtained a master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied jazz piano with Jeff Hellmer, director of the jazz studies program at UT’s Butler School of Music. Sasha’s teaching history includes spending six summers teaching music to arts camp kids at the famed Deerfield Academy, one of the nation’s oldest prep schools.
Combining his sense of musical history with a zest for exploring new territory, Sasha has crafted an album that’s both retro and forward-leaning — and perfect for right now.