Donovan Lyman: The Raggedstar rising fast in the LA Music Scene

In LA, there are hundreds of bands playing the scene.  But only a very select few rise to the top.  I've just discovered one of those guys that will.  With powerful vocals, layered music, and intense, smart, and vivid lyrics Donovan Lyman of Blue Meridian is a name to remember.
A new import to LA, Donovan came from the top of the music scene in Orlando, a proven hotbed for new talent.  After winning "Best Rock" band at the Orlando Music Awards for four consecutive years, and having one of his guitars displayed at the world's largest Hard Rock Café, (it's been there for four years and still hanging) he decided to tackle Los Angeles.  We're glad he did!  He's quickly making a name for himself here, playing at many of the top venues including The Viper Room, House of Blues Sunset Strip, The Hotel Café, and The Roxy.  Donovan remarks that he chose LA for the new challenges it presents. "This is a city where establishing yourself often means a shot at the national arena and my goal is to put my music in front of as many people as possible".

Performing Live

Donovan calls himself a singer/songwriter.  But don't let that fool you, his band rocks with the best of them.  His songs are very interesting with unique chord progressions, and layer upon layer of instrumentation.  Lyrically, they bring to mind incredibly vivid imagery; it feels almost like you can taste the song.  Lyrics like "With you my spine becomes unglued, like a novel in a pool", from Captain Courageous or "Hills of snow and things I've never seen, like fire-engine red and tangerine" from "Higher Than My Vertigo" wrap the listener up in the world of the song.

Contemporary artists that fall into the same genre, range from singer/songwriters such as Jack Johnson, Ryan Adams, the Wallflowers, and David Grey to the darker heavier rock of Live, or a more passive Afghan Wigs.  But you'll have to see him live to fully appreciate his distinctive style.  Among his influences he lists a wide variety of artists from Ray Charles to the Beatles.  Growing up, he struck a balance between what his parents listened to, and what was popular at the time.  But he claims his top three are Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson.   The first instrument Donovan taught himself to play was the Piano, and by 14 had written his first song.  And although he has excellent proficiency on all the instruments he plays, he believes his strength lies in his understanding of music theory, which most likely accounts for the wonderfully rich, interesting, and clever sound of Blue Meridian.  A song, for Donovan, is a lot like a girl: "They both have so many elements that might make them appealing, or not".  He says his ultimate goal is to write the perfect song.  When asked to describe this perfect song, he had several criteria already in mind: it must appeal to several demographics, it must sound just as good 30 years from now, and of course it must have a catchy, dynamic hook.  He claims he's still searching for the inspiration to write this song, but I believe he's already written it several times over.

His albums, along with his songs, must have the "right amount of tension and release".  The new year will bring with it the release of his fifth album which he describes as an organic and Americana sound.  This album will be quite a divergence from his previous ones in the sense that he's decided to write this one for himself instead of for the industry.  And in this reporter's opinion, musicians always sound their strongest when they're true to the song, and no one else.


Expect to hear a wide variety of instruments on this album including strings, brass, mandolin and even banjo.  Also, plenty of guest musicians loaned their talents to the album further adding to its musical exceptionality.  Experimenting in the recording studio is one of the highlights of making music for Donovan.  For example, the beginning of "Mary Model" starts with tap dancing.  He laughs, "I love that kind of stuff"!  This new album has generated plenty of interest from major record labels, so it won't be long before this guy is snatched up and put out on a national level.  In other words, you better jump on the Blue Meridian wagon (or train?) now!

With so many local bands on the scene trying to make their mark, it's hard to know which ones are worth seeing.  Well, take it from someone who sees a lot of bands, Blue Meridian is one of the best.  Full of mature, developed, intricately structured songs, commanding vocals, and an extraordinary live show, this band has it all.  Donovan Lyman is at the top of his game, and Blue Meridian is fast on the rise to conquer the LA music scene, one song at a time.  

Don't miss them at the Viper Room this Sunday, November 7 at 8pm.

The Viper Room
8852 Sunset Strip
West Hollywood 

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