Patrick Park Aims to Please

Yardfest artist promises to put on good show between his very different bill-mates

COURTESY OF PATRICK PARK

“I have played colleges before,” Patrick Park says. “But I’ve never gone on before a rapper.” Sandwiched between Wale and Kid Cudi on the bill for this Sunday’s Yardfest, Park is hardly playing the kind of gig he’s used to. However, the Colorado singer-songwriter—who has just released his third album, “Come What Will”—is no stranger to touring and promoting his material, and hopes to continue raising his profile over the coming months.

The 33-year-old Park is best known for his track “Life is a Song,” which was chosen as the final song on the 2006 series finale of the Fox TV drama “The O.C.” This may have been Park’s big break—he notes the strangeness of seeing his song covered on YouTube by hundreds of fans—but Park himself didn’t tune in. “I’m thankful for [the opporunity]. But I’ve never seen the show,” he admits, chuckling.

Luckily, Park is perfectly comfortable with near-contradictions like breaking through on “The O.C.” without ever watching the show. His music, for instance, is usually labeled folk, but he cites early blues artists like Brownie McGee and Robert Johnson as his most affecting influences.

The influence of blues isn’t immediately evident in the sound of Park’s music, but his background helps explain his affinity for it. His father was a blues guitarist, and Park grew up in a small mountain town where “there was a lot of time and space to think and play music,” he says. This abundance of relaxation and reflection shows through in the unaffected, folksy sound of his songs.

Whatever his music is labeled, Park is confident that it will connect with Yardfest attendees. “It used to be that kids listened to one or two types of music and that was that,” he says, “but [today] it seems that peoples’ tastes are so much more eclectic.”

Certainly, “Come What Will,” released April 6, suggests the diverse nature of Park’s range of influences. The new songs, fine-tuned by longtime collaborator and producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, OK Go), have a certain hard-edged melancholy that conjures the blues in spirit if not in musical styling.

“The Lucky Ones,” one of Park’s favorites from the new album, captures that spirit with its cathartic chorus releasing the tension built by a darkly churning guitar intro. His other favorite, the title track, captures the album’s thematic designs. Park sings, “We’ll turn our backs while yesterday goes up in smoke / Tear down the walls that bar the diamond sky.”

Underlying the album, Park says, is a simple message: “Day after day it’s more bad news and problems that seem insurmountable, but... you do what you can to be happy and be a good person and live your life the best you know how.” The directness of this message matches the straightforward feel of Park’s songs, which are often stripped down to his gently vibrating vocals and his soft guitar work.

The sure-handed tenderness of his music complements Park’s message. “There’s a thread of redemption running through these songs,” he says, offering “Blackbird Through the Dark” as a track from the new album in which that thread shows through. He attributes the album’s redemptive focus to current events, expressing his feeling that “this is really the moment where we can make things better.”

This is also a significant moment in Park’s career. Yardfest comes at the beginning of his tour promoting “Come What Will,” and Park is excited to hit the road and share what he considers his best work to date. Attendees can expect to enjoy Park, his guitar, and a bunch of sweetly simple folk tunes in a show tailored specifically for the event. “I’ll work out how the vibe feels and play songs accordingly,” he says, explaining his process of working from a group of possible songs rather than a rigid set list. Park is confident that, whatever the vibe in Tercentenary Theater this Sunday, he can deliver the goods and please his audience. “I’m definitely going to put on a good show,” he promises.

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