Singer-songwriter Dakota Livingston knows his music is not for everyone.
Where he sees rock music leaning towards sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll and country going for beers, trucks and romance, he’s part of a new crop of local artists that embrace darker subjects.
“There’s a very fine mix of what we have here in town with music. We have punk with Almost Enemies, we have outlaw country with Grindstone Creek, we have metal with Capital, reggae with Kalani & the Mainlanders ... and while we all cover similar topics, none of our genres are the same,” he said.
For Livingston’s band, called Dakota and the Angry Suitcase, they’re a throwback to the days of folk murder ballads. They’ll perform as part of Lanham Music’s “Summer Sessions” streaming series, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 12. The performance will be available at www.facebook.com/lanhammusic.
Since he was young, Livingston grew up around music. His great-grandfather Tex Owens had two radio shows where he interviewed touring musicians. His Uncle David played bass for a short time with Hank Williams Jr. and Hank Snow.
Continuing that legacy, Livingston started playing music in church. After he graduated high school, his thoughts on religion changed.
“I did some soul searching and, no offense to people that are religious, but I decided faith wasn’t for me. I wrote a song about it that will be on my EP,” he said.
Operating under the name Dakota and the Angry Suitcase, Livingston is working with Christgen Solomon and Jason Johnson on the untitled EP. Its first single, “Ditch Pitcher” is proof of the darker subject matter, telling the story of a lover who was murdered, with a closing refrain “I threw her body in the ditch.”
Livingston said he felt the song was a good introduction to his sound. There were some nerves about both performing and releasing it, he said, out of fear that it wouldn’t play well in St. Joseph. But as he plays at venues like Cafe Acoustic Concert Hall and Unplugged, it’s finding its audience.
“Some people, typically the younger people that come out to the shows, clap their hands and stomp their feet and have a great time, given some of the subjects of the songs are about tragic losses, breakups, and rebelling against whatever mainstream agenda has been taught to us for however long,” he said.
While he continues to work on his EP, hoping to release it sometime in the fall, he’ll be testing songs at his shows, like the Lanham concert. He said it should be a fun one to check out.
“I know my music isn’t meant for everyone, and that’s okay ... My music is meant to appeal to people that have been through or are going through dark times and want something to relate to,” he said.
The concert show will be available to stream starting at 2 p.m. Saturday at www.facebook.com/lanhammusic. People of all ages also can attend the concert at 2401 N. Belt Highway.