After 15 years of being a solo singer-songwriter, releasing five CDs, and even gaining some attention with some locally focused songs about Highway 17 and the Starlite Drive-In, Michael Gaither decided it was time to find some “New Best Friends.” Initially, he just liked how fun this inclusive name was for a backing band, but after a year-and-a-half of being in his new group, Michael Gaither and His New Best Friends, he’s finding that the name is actually quite true.
“We see each other every week and we trade Christmas gifts. We check in even when we’re not playing,” Gaither says. “It’s been a really nice experience to get to know these people better, and to have four new best friends.”
The band is essentially playing the same material that Gaither played as a solo artist. Before, he would play alone, or with one or two musicians backing him to give a little bit of depth to the songs. Now it’s transformed into a full-on, Americana-rock outfit.
“Now I can add a great lead guitar player and a full rhythm section and a female harmony singer. So it gives the songs a whole new sound and breath,” Gaither says. “It’s still mellow enough for a brewery, and big enough for a venue or a festival.”
One of the biggest unexpected benefits of the group is that it’s broadened where Gaither is able to perform his music. Even with the brewery scene, for instance, he could play some of the smaller ones before, but not the larger ones, like Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery. This year, he’s hoping to get out there as much as possible with his new best friends—and hopefully make some more.
INFO: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, Jansen Music, 7960 Soquel Dr. #J, Aptos. $10-$20 (suggested donation). 724-4798.