In the summer of 2012, musician Brian “Buss” Havens packed his bags for Utah, leaving behind his long-standing indie-rock band, The Lazystars, to start anew. “I had a girlfriend of two years, I had a band of five years, I had these things that were, on the surface, pretty cool. But inside I was just sort of melting away,” Havens explains candidly. “It felt like there were some things I needed to explore for myself.”
The drummer joined his brother in Boulder, Utah, signing on as a breakfast cook in one of the town’s two restaurants. “I’d never really fried an egg,” Havens laughs. “It all made sense though. In order to let something go, you have to sort of take on a really big challenge in order to keep yourself focused.” Exchanging the fast pace of Vegas for the quiet of Utah, Havens started working on new material, amassing a collection of songs that didn’t see much light beyond the occasional open mic—until now.
Having moved back to Vegas in 2015, Havens rekindled some artistic relationships and formed some new ones, ultimately marking the start of his new band, City Folk. At their most recent gig, at last month’s Southwest Tea Fest, Havens looked comfortable playing guitar (the former Lazystars drummer also held down the drum seat for The Killers in their early days). Comprising Havens (guitar/vocals), Caleb Asher (bass), Milu Angelique (drums), Monica Sterling (keys), Reanna Marie (vocals) and Tony DiVincenzo (harmonica), City Folk specializes in folky roots-rock and Americana, with a sound reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. And to their credit, the band powered through the set, even though it lost a guitarist to “different ambitions” days before the festival. With Trevor Lee Johnson filling in, the band soldiered through a twangy, effervescent set, the musicians meshing so well it’s doubtful anyone was the wiser.
The group felt confident enough to recently submit the track “Two Years Ago Since Yesterday” to the 2016 NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest, and the overall goal is to keep grinding, eventually hitting the studio and taking City Folk on the road. “I’m such a sucker for getting work done,” Havens says with a smile. “Sometimes you just love what you do.”
City Folk with Mizz Absurd. March 11, 9 p.m., free. Artifice, facebook.com/busshavens.