Trevor Hall at the Rogue Theatre
As a senior at Idyllwild Arts Academy near Los Angeles, Trevor Hall looked to have the world by the tail. Set to graduate, he had landed a recording deal with Geffen Records and soon would start a promising music career with a debut album.
That's when reality got in the way. He made two albums for Geffen only to see them shelved by the label and then get dropped from its roster.
For most young musicians, this setback would have represented a crushing blow — one that in many cases would have ended a music career before it ever really started.
But Hall wasn't discouraged. He simply went back to writing songs and, before long, self-released his 2008 album, "This Is Blue."
"I thought I could sit here and be sad and just chill out, or I could just use it as fuel for the fire," says Hall in a phone interview. "So I just took the second option and kept moving."
Hall and his band will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass. Andy Casad and the Fret Drifters will open the show, along with acoustic guitarist Cas Haley. Casad and the Fret Drifters are based in the Rogue Valley, and Haley was the runner-up in season two of NBC's "America's Got Talent."
Perhaps Hall didn't get thrown off the rails because he is a person who takes what life throws at him as it comes.
A native of South Carolina who began playing music around the age of 14, he was pleased when his parents suggested the idea of attending Idyllwild. But despite his passion for music, he didn't have big plans to make music a full-time endeavor.
"I think at that time, I just loved music so much that I thought the school would be great for me to expand my horizons musically," says Hall. "But I wasn't thinking about (a) career."
He started playing some gigs around the Los Angeles area during the Idyllwild years, which created the buzz that got the attention of Geffen Records. It was only then that Hall began to see music as a career pursuit.
When Geffen gave him the boot, he showed that he was serious about music by wasting little time in getting things restarted with "This Is Blue."
During this period, Hall was playing acoustic-duo shows with drummer Chris Steele, so the two recorded "This Is Blue" in that format, finishing the album in just two days.
"I wasn't really expecting it to blow up, which it didn't," says Hall. "I just wanted to give the people some music to listen to, to hold them over until maybe we can get on another label and make a big album."
That big album turned out to be called simply "Trevor Hall." It was released last summer after he signed to Vanguard Records. It is indeed a far more ambitious album than any of Hall's previous releases: a 2006 EP titled "The Rascals Have Returned" and a 2008 concert CD titled "Alive and on the Road With Chris Steele."
This time around, Hall had a full band at his disposal, and he created a 12-song disc that puts his music in a variety of settings. Drawing from chief influences of reggae, rock and folk, "Trevor Hall" has several reggae-rooted songs that range from stripped-back ballads to songs with more muscle, a couple of tuneful, full-on rockers and even a song that melds electronic rhythms with rootsy rock ("Internal Heights").
The prominent reggae element in Hall's sound is no surprise. Reggae, says Hall, has been a favorite style of music since he was a kid.
"I was a surfer in my youth, and there's a lot of reggae music in surf culture," he says. "That kind of got it started. I listened to all types of music, but I always found myself coming back to reggae music."
Hall's headline tour continues through this spring. It's a step up from playing his share of opening-act slots.
"(I'll) definitely try to play some more stuff off of the new album, and I also have some newer songs that were just written recently that I want to try to integrate into the set," says Hall. "It (the live show) usually just takes on a life of its own. I try not to plan it out too much, so we'll see what happens."
Tickets for the Rogue Theatre show cost $15 in advance, $20 at the door. See www.roguetheatre.com or call 541-471-1436.