Musicians send Letters From Paris to Youngstown

Chris Rutushin treasures the cultural atmosphere and vibe of Paris so much, he wants to bring it to the live stage.

That is the inspiration behind the pseudo-gypsyesque jazz sound of Letters From Paris, which performs Friday at Cedars West End in a show billed as “An Evening In Paris With the Golden Age Orchestra and Can-Can Burlesque Dancers.”

“We will be covering a few songs from the soundtrack of Woody Allen’s 2011 romantic comedy, ‘Midnight In Paris,'” Rutushin said. “We are spreading the set around, covering some songs from the acclaimed composer, Cole Porter. He was a long-time respectable songwriter who was in love with the city of Paris. A lot of the inspiration of his songs came from the atmosphere of Paris.”

The set also will include more contemporary songs by Blur, Morrissey and Rutushin’s other band, Radio Lark, that fit the mood.

Letters From Paris includes Chris Rutushin on vocals and acoustic guitar; Nathanael Welch (of the Tullsen Brothers) on vocals, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, and piano; Donnie Yallech (formerly of Youngstown’s The B-Minors and The Psychedelic Furs) on drums and percussion; and Jeff Bremer (of Rainbow Tribe) on upright and electric bass. Guests musicians who will be joining the band at Friday’s show include Rande Isabella on trumpet, cornet and flugelhorn; Sandi Quotson on violin; and Lex Calder on keys.

“We are hosting an evening of guest musicians and I wanted to do this because I love Paris, but I can’t afford to go there, so I want to bring this atmosphere to the event,” Rutushin said. “We are performing 20 songs, and we are splitting our set up. We want to create that atmosphere as if you were walking into a club with an Art Deco and Big Band-era kind of feel.”

Letters From Paris shot a music video for their song, “April.”

“The song ‘April’ lyrically is a metaphor for a girl with whom I was in a relationship. The month is absolutely beautiful, warm and bursting with life, but at any moment it can be tumultuous, cold and stormy. We wanted the music to reflect the lyrics and it’s supposed to represent a sunny day as rain moves in and turns into a storm and then tappers off. A lot of our tunes magically come together. We almost have a new tune every other practice.”

Rutushin and Welch were inspired to form Letters From Paris by their common love for the Norwegian band Kings of Convenience.

“We did not want to form a cover band, but after my Kings of Convenience conversation with Welch, we kept running into each other and we decided since we had a common interest, we should get together and start a band. With Letters From Paris, we draw influences from world music and music from Spain and France. (Welch) is really into Brazilian, Latin and Spanish style of music. I am into Flamenco-style music.”

Friday’s show will be the band’s live debut, but the group already is looking to the future. The band members currently are in the process of writing new material that will work alongside those standards.

“We would like to be a band that has a lot of original songs, but every now and then we want to pay homage to the songs we love.”