Anderson gets personal with ‘Nowhere Nights’ 

Kasey Anderson’s new, critically acclaimed album “Nowhere Nights” is filled with deeply personal songs describing his own life — except one.

“It’s not about me,” says Anderson, referring to “I Was a Photograph,” a tune he wrote after seeing a graphic photo and reading an article in Rolling Stone magazine about James Blake Miller, a U.S. soldier in Iraq who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and was dishonorably discharged.

“He had a bad go of it. I hope to help put him in a situation where he has more support,” says Anderson, whose tour brings him to the Hotel Utah in San Francisco next week.

But the rest of “Nowhere Nights” stems from his feelings and struggles particularly in connection with a move from Bellingham, Wash., back to his home in Portland.

While his previous recordings were “100 percent fiction” — despite a clearly successful attempt to make songs that connect with people — he began work on the new CD thinking, “I’d like to get stuff off my chest — out loud.”

Playing guitar since he was 12, he grew up in a family where music always was around. His grandfather was a big band musician, and songs by the likes of Woody Guthrie were present in his home. “I was born into a good record collection,” he says.

A literature major in college who studied the Black Panther Party’s influence on American literature, including writers such as Toni Morrison and Paul Beatty, he calls his own music “folk” but adds, “it’s louder,” and laughs when it’s suggested that he sounds like Peter Case. “Pete’s a good friend of mine; he’s such a gifted songwriter. He’s wiggy, too — in the best way.”

Anderson particularly enjoys being in the studio making records, but also likes touring these days, particularly since he started his own label.

“It’s great to be working. The response has been surprisingly good,” he said, while admitting that there’s a lack of familiarity the farther away he gets from home.

Recently, he’s gotten better control over feeling bad when people talk while he performs, although he sometimes wonders why: “You’ve paid the cover, my assumption is that you have come to see me.”

He won’t expect that reaction in San Francisco, a place he likes and has visited fairly often. He says, “City Lights is cool. But the last two times I was there, the pedestrian thing was way worse than I’d remembered.”

Kasey Anderson

Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 4th St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $8
Contact: (415) 546-6300;
Note: Anderson also appears at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Red Rock Coffee, 201 Castro St., Mountain View

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Leslie Katz

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