Smile Politely

Morgan Orion at Red Herring Tonight

Last spring, local singer-songwriter Morgan Orion stood in front of a living room filled with friends and supporters while singing his simple but astoundingly honest songs. Since then, he has been frequently playing in various local venues while also touring throughout the United States and, most recently, Europe, with the likes of Ryland Bouchard (The Robot Ate Me) and Viking Moses. At the forefront of his sincere songs is the DIY — “do it yourself” — spirit.

Tonight, he will be playing at the Red Herring along with fellow DIYers Milly Geronimo and Peninsula. The show starts at 8 p.m.

Smile Politely talked to Morgan via the wonders of Facebook about Headlights, anti-folk and peforming in a Bavarian Restaurant. Click the jump to continue reading.

Smile Politely: So you recently came back to Champiagn-Urbana from a European tour. How did it turn out; who did you play with?

Morgan Orion: The UK/Europe tour went astonishingly well! I was accompanied by my new and very talented friends: Jack F.E. of Brighton for the whole tour, and MoreEats of Liechtenstein for three shows. Along the way I was lucky to play with such amazing bands as Jeffrey Lewis and the Jackals, The Wave Pictures and Withered Hand.

Traveling with a small backpack and guitar on trains is much less stressful than all the driving that is needed in the States.

SP: What kind of venues and shows did you play? Any memorable moments?

MO: We played in art galleries, the back of a Bavarian restaurant, on a boat and also the traditional bar and stage set up. It was really nice to meet Andre Herman Dune in Berlin, and also when we became a three piece in Vienna there was quite a lot of fun to be had. I kept a diary as I went that I will try and release aided by narrative, poetry and songs at some point in the future.

SP: How would you describe your music? Do you prescribe to any genre or aesthetic?

MO: I usually like to call it anti-folk, but within this realm there are a lot of possibilities. My music is currently a mixture of folk, doo-wop, soul and love. I prescribe to honesty.

SP: Who are the Constellations? Do they always play with you?

MO: The Constellations are my local band, the current full line-up is:
Arianna Valochi: Vocals, Piano, Bassoon, Bells, Native American Flute
Kathleen Heinricher: Vocals, Cello
Miranda McCarthy: Drums
Jim Gorton: Bass Guitar

I play with as many of them as much as possible.

SP: You are somewhat involved with the online DIY site, The Collective Family. If someone where to stumble upon it, what would they find?

MO: A wealth of free music from brilliant people they probably have never heard.

SP: Favorite album or song of the past year?

MO: My favorite album of this year is probably Some Stopping, Some Racing by Headlights. They live in this town, go see them and dance!

SP: How do you approach your live show?

MO: What I find so rewarding about live shows is the spontaneity. I rarely write set lists, and play differently depending upon a variety of factors, including who’s in the band, the shape of the room, the vibe of the audience, phase of the moon, etc. It’s always different and more often than not a lot of fun.

SP: What can we expect from you in the upcoming year?

MO: There will be a song released on a compilation called Berlin Songs, Volume 3 this spring. “I’m Not Here For The City” is the title and it was written on a train in Germany then recorded with Jack F.E. and MoreEats at a studio in Liechtenstein. There will be a songbook, a European tour zine, at least one new Morgan Orion and The Constellations album, a split 7” and as always touring and local shows!

If you want to stay posted, check on my Myspace page for info as it comes, or join the mailing list by sending a hello message to

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