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For this songwriter, school is back in
Tyrone Wells plies his folky trade on the college circuit, and Low Vs. Diamond grab the alt-rock brass ring.

January 18, 2007

Things are rolling now

He has busked in Brea, strummed outside the cineplex at the Irvine Spectrum and sung over the whir of espresso machines at most any coffeehouse that would have him. But the most serendipitous 15-minute performance of Tyrone Wells' career came a year ago at
the National Assn. of Campus Activities convention in Boston.

"I played 'No Good Without You,' then I told a story," Wells says of the showcase in front of collegiate talent buyers that led to about 150 offers to play gigs. The son of a preacher from Spokane, Wash., ended up taking more than 100 of them; then, in a manner of
speaking, he ran the table on 2006, getting signed to Universal Republic, which on Feb. 6 will release his debut "Hold On."

"Sometimes I felt like I was pushing a boulder up a hill," Wells says. "Then I got to the top and everything started rolling."

Wells' stock in trade is a sincerity that gives shape to his soulful, peace-love-understanding balladry. He's as liable to lapse into storytelling at his shows as he is jamming - "Anybody can hop onstage and play a couple songs," he says - and his charisma is very real, friends say.

"He will play anytime, anywhere," says Wells' producer, Orange County-based Chris Karn. "If he's at Denny's having breakfast and meets a group of people who might be interested in his music, he will grab his guitar, stand up in his booth and play."

Wells headlines the El Rey Theatre on Saturday.