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No apologies: Akron’s Brian Lisik finally returns

Thursday, April 26, 2018

If YOu Go

Who: Brian Lisik

When: 8 p.m. Saturday (21 and over)

Where: Riser Tavern, 1135 W. Western Reserve Road, Boardman

Admission: free



Brian Lisik hasn’t been intentionally skipping Youngstown.

The opportunity just hasn’t presented itself, said the Akron rocker.

That will change Saturday when Lisik comes to Riser Tavern in Boardman for a solo show. It will be his first appearance in the area in four years when he played the Lemon Grove.

Since his last visit, Lisik released his fourth and fifth albums: “Curtisinterruptedus” (2015) and “We’re Sorry” (2017).

Beautiful blasts of thoughtful heartland rock with a ragged edge, the two releases drew wholly justified comparisons to Paul Westerberg.

The former includes “Jan. 13,” which falls under the Perfect Pop-Rock Song category.

In a phone interview, Lisik posited that he might have been jumping over Youngstown on his way to shows in Pittsburgh.

Or maybe Zelienople, Pa. A gig in the small town north of the steel city inspired the lead track on his latest album.

“It was an interesting night,” said Lisik. “I don’t remember all the details, but I had a show at a theater there, and it was a bad night. So after the show I went to a bar across the street and wound up playing and finished the night there.”

Much like that night, the song (“Hey Zelienople”) begins with a false start due to a missed cue. It seems to be setting the tone for the album – remember, it’s titled “We’re Sorry” – but don’t fall for it. Lisik and the Unfortunates immediately right the ship.

“All of our album titles are just goofy plays on words that are hilarious,” said Lisik, explaining and chuckling at the memory. “When you hear [the phrase] you say ‘Yes! That’ll be the title.’

“This one is ‘We’re Sorry,’ as in ‘sorry about the last album title’ (‘Curtisinterruptedus’), which radio directors were afraid to say. And also like ‘if we suck, we’re sorry, but we don’t care if you don’t like it ... and sorry about that, too!”

Lisik is pretty well booked through the end of the year, but most of his shows will be solo affairs.

When it was pointed out that Ray Flanagan, the guitarist in the Unfortunates, played Cedars West End last Saturday, Lisik cracked, “so the whole band is coming to town... just on different nights.”

Because most of his shows are solo, Lisik said his next album might be more stripped down, with the focus on him.

But all of his songs, he noted, can effectively be presented solo, or by a duo or trio.

One thing that will likely never change is his rough-yet-poetic songwriting.

“I don’t want people to miss the thoughtful parts but it all ends up as rock’n’roll,” he said. “I don’t want to lose either side. I want it to be both John Prine and David Lee Roth. That’s the balancing act I walk.”