Bethany Dwyer
"Humor is the way I can get through the day," Jim Bianco says.

At an early age, singer/songwriter Jim Bianco was seduced by the likes of Guns N' Roses and Poison.

"But I was saved when I discovered Loudon Wainwright III," said Bianco during a phone call from the little Jayhawk Motel in Lawrence, Kan. "Then it was Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Randy Newman and John Prine. Those guys knew how to write songs. Randy was full of wit. In fact, they all had their own quirks and humor that brought their songs to life.

"I remember saying to myself, 'If I were to become a singer, I would want to do something like they do."'

And that's what Bianco has done. Except he doesn't really think about what kind of song he's writing until it unfolds before him.

"My songs are basically an extension of how I speak," he said. "I find humor is the way I can get through the day. You have to keep laughing these days."

Still, Bianco said, there are times when the songs themselves lead him in different directions.

"It is a strange business, this songwriting," he said. "I've never worried about being too personal in a song. I just write what comes to mind. And sometimes the instruments that come to mind run the way I write a song. I really didn't know how they would end up."

When making his new album, "Sing," which was released independently, Bianco and producer Brad Gordon gathered a load of big-band instruments and accordions for the sessions.

"Brad plays all those instruments," said Bianco. "He's a genius. Anyway, we took all these instruments to his living room and started recording. We put all we could in the recordings and started listening to them. If they didn't work, we would take things out. But for the most part, we had a lot of songs that sounded good."

The duo recorded 18 songs, 11 of which (including a remix version of "I Got a Thing for You") made it to the album.

"If you ask any recording musician, they will tell you that choosing the songs and deciding what order to put them on a CD is one of the hardest things to do in the world," said Bianco. "We had songs that we really liked that didn't fit the mood. And we had completely different alternate versions of some of the songs that didn't fit right.

"Those will be released in a big legacy box set," Bianco joked. "Seriously, though, I'm thinking of the next album, because that's what I do. I write songs. I record them. I release a CD and tour. And this tour is great. I get to see Kansas and spend the night in this sketchy motel and wake up to a breakfast of vaccinations and smelling salts.

"And I also think of making a new CD. The next album I think I'll make it sound like a sonic roller coaster — that goes straight down."


If you go ...

What: Ingrid Michaelson, Cary Brothers, Dan Wilson, Meilo, Jim Bianco

Where: Avalon, 3605 S. State

When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

How much: $15

Phone: 467-8499, 800-888-8499

Web: www.smithstix.com


E-mail: [email protected]