Raised on the East Coast and now living in Portland, OR, guitarist and singer-songwriter Jeffrey Silverstein uses music to better understand himself and those around him.
That mindset makes for very contemplative, almost ambient music, which funnels deep thoughts through a psych-folk and indie-rock lens on albums like his 2020 full-length debut, “You Become the Mountain,” and his 2021 EP, “Torii Gates.” This is named after a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine, where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred.
After two years at home due to the pandemic, Silverstein is back on the road and making his way to West Marin, where he’ll play on Friday, March 25, at Smiley’s Schooner Saloon in Bolinas.
“Music has just always been the thing I love the most,” Silverstein says. “That really became clear once I had my first attempts at being in a band, a very bad band, in high school.”
For Silverstein, failure was a part of the process of growing as a musician. Rather than letting early struggles in his music career derail his passion, it only further instilled a work ethic and drive to improve.
Now a decade into his musical journey, Silverstein’s skill and confidence shines on the patiently melodic musings he produces on the six-track “Torii Gates,” which features songs about the quiet majesty of nature and which celebrates the unknowable aspects of life in the 21st century.
Silverstein often draws comparisons to David Berman (Silver Jews) for his deep voice, and to Bill Frissell for his dreamy guitar sound. He has been able to develop his own sound and style over the years, due to the fact that he works professionally as an educator and therefore makes more experimental music than someone who relies on the tunes to pay the rent.
“I’ve said that music and meditation and running and teaching are all ways that I get to know myself,” Silverstein says. “Hopefully as you get older, you know yourself more, and somehow I think that makes its way into your creativity.”
This month, Silverstein excitedly shares his creativity with a full band on this current tour. Bay Area alt-rock band Credit Electric and folk songwriter Mikayla McVey will join him in Bolinas for a spirited outdoor show.
“I’m hoping this run of shows will feel like I’m going through the other side (of the pandemic),” Silverstein says. “I’m really excited for the opportunity.”