Country star on the rise with support from Steamboat locals
December 19, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Editor’s note: The Camaron Ochs show Thursday at Ghost Ranch is $5.
The lyrics could recall any small town, but to Los Angeles-based songwriter and Steamboat Springs High School graduate Tyler Johnson, the song is about home.
"No matter where I go there's always happiness as I go down this road," Johnson wrote in collaboration with singer and songwriter Camaron Ochs.
It's her lilting indie-pop voice that gives life to the words, but to Johnson, the song tells his own story of growing up on a ranch in Steamboat Springs and the resonance this place will always have.
That song, "Down This Road," was one of the songwriting duo's first forays into country music. Although Johnson has worked for acts like Fun. and Pink, the country genre was a natural bend in the road.
"I don't know any specifics, but it was more about how I felt like I could authentically write country music," Johnson said. "I've been around it, and I grew up on a ranch."
Now Ochs, in the midst of launching her own recording career with a debut album produced by Johnson, is traveling to Steamboat Springs for the first time this week.
But she won't be here alone. She'll have a team of former locals in Johnson and fellow 2004 graduate Lindsay Marias by her side, ready to introduce the smiling blonde to the Steamboat community.
Ochs plays the Ghost Ranch on Thursday, a Heritage Christian School fundraiser on Friday at the Steamboat Christian Center, and the Tugboat Grill & Pub on Sunday.
"I'm realty excited to go to Steamboat," Ochs said. "Literally everyone I've met from Steamboat is amazing. It just sounds so beautiful, just the scenery and the small, tight-knit community."
About three years go, Ochs and Johnson met in Los Angeles and began working together and selling their songs.
A year later, Johnson was visiting his hometown when he ran into Marias, a former classmate, at Slopeside Grill, and the two discovered they were both working in the music industry. Johnson began sending recording and demos of he and Ochs' music to Marias, who works at a music venue in Chicago.
"I freaked out," Marias said with a laugh.
Marias helped organize and promote this first tour through Colorado and is proud to show off her and Johnson's town to the young star.
"That's very exciting for us," she said. "When you're from Steamboat, after you leave you talk about it a lot. You don't really appreciate until you leave and you brag about it to everyone you can."
For Ochs, Johnson's authentic roots are a shared understanding. At heart, she said, she's a storyteller.
“I think the thing I love about country is that the melody and lyrics match the cadence of how people talk," she said. "When you're making up melodies it's so much more relatable. It's the way someone would really tell you if they had that emotional inflection of a conversation you'd be having one on one. That's one of the most amazing things in the whole world.”
Johnson and Marias will both be home for the holidays with Ochs, who also is playing the Grizzly Rose in Denver while she's in Colorado. And while Johnson said he might get up and play a few songs with his partner, he's perfectly happy with his role behind the scenes.
"I spent a lot of my life being a performer," he said. "I love not doing that. (Songwriting) is way more satisfying than being the one that has to be up there."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com