On the highway of life: Local musician releases new solo album

Keith Rayburn will hold a special solo album release concert at the Aromas Grange on Feb. 23. (Photo by Michael Gagarin)

AROMAS — Keith Rayburn’s musical journey began when his older brother, Craig Rayburn, first picked up a guitar and learned to play.

Growing up in the town of Upland in Southern California, the brothers spent their days making music together as they hiked around the nearby wilderness of Mt. Baldy. After years of playing in different groups together and apart, Craig brought Keith on to help record a solo album.

“We had such a good time making the album that we decided to form our own band,” Rayburn said.

The Rayburn Brothers Band released “Back to California” in 2013. The album, tinged with both country and Latin-American sounds, received high praise from local music critics and producers, and its track “Te Propongo” became popular at certain Americana music stations across the country.

Now, Keith Rayburn has fashioned his very own lineup of songs for a brand new solo album, entitled “Highway.”

“I had a large backlog of tracks that I’d been working on for years,” he said. “And I just added on from there.”

Rayburn explained that it was his son, Keith “Kito” Rayburn who first had the idea for the album. Both he and Rayburn’s other son, Alejandro, are musicians, performing in local band Pan Dulce. They and the other members of Pan Dulce contributed to “Highway.”

The album’s title, said Rayburn, is meant as both a literal representation of a road trip as well as a metaphor for life.

“It’s about driving down a highway, thinking about your life,” he said. “All the songs are thoughts you may be having as you go along.”

The recording of “Highway,” Rayburn said, was exciting and often off-the-cuff. One surprise came during a road trip that he and Kito took to Baja, California.

“We were eating fish tacos at this little eatery in Todos Santos, and there was this amazing fiddle player,” he said. “We ended up asking him to record some parts with us. It was great.”

On Sunday, Rayburn will be on air during KPIG’s “Please Stand By” show, starting at 10:30 a.m. In addition, Watsonville musician Michael Gaither recently featured Rayburn on his podcast about the local music scene; the podcast is set to release in the next couple of weeks.

On Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., the Rayburn Brothers Band will perform at the Aromas Grange to officially celebrate the new album’s release. A two-set show is planned, with a gradual increase of guest musicians joining the band as the night goes on.

“It’s going to be really fun,” Rayburn said. “Gradually the stage will fill up with more and more people.”

Tickets are available at Marshall’s Market in Aromas and online at brownpapertickets.com. More shows are planned to follow in various locations across the Monterey Bay Area.

“Everyone has a need for meaning in life,” Rayburn said. “Music can be that for people. As musicians we always aim to create joy, and bring people together. It’s really an honor being able to make music.”

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“Highway” is now available for purchase at Streetlight Records in Santa Cruz and online at cdbaby.com. It is also currently streaming on Spotify. For information, visit rayburnbrothers.com or facebook.com/bluetuba.

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