A belated birthday wish can reignite a friendship.
It happened about three weeks ago when Sawyer Gebauer, an Oakland-based musician who performs under the stage name, Catch Prichard, sent me a message on Facebook.
He spilled the beans about his upcoming Daytrotter session and show this Friday in Davenport — a dream of his since high school — and asked if we could catch up in person during his visit.
“Not sure if that’s your thing, but I thought I’d reach out since I’ll be in the area,” he wrote.
We grew up together in Madison, Wisconsin, attended the same parochial school and dedicated countless hours to shooting hoops, skateboarding and video gaming after class and on the weekends.
We eventually lost touch in high school, however, when we went to separate schools. But our folks still socialize, so I’ve caught snippets of Sawyer’s globetrotting adventures throughout the years and followed his work online.
His voice sounds much deeper than I recalled, which he reminded me is a good sign considering we last spoke at least a decade ago.
His signature baritone vocals can be heard on his new five-song LP, titled "Eskota," which is named after a small town in Texas where he recorded the entire album in an abandoned grocery store.
While the guitar-strumming singer-songwriter’s music blends features of country and folk, Sawyer doesn’t tie himself to a specific style.
“I’m not one for labeling genres or getting stuck in a box of what is or what isn’t,” he said. “It can be whatever you want it to be.”
As for the name, Catch Prichard, it “means absolutely nothing,” and that’s why he chose it.
“I like it because it could be anything, just like my songs,” he said. “I draw outlines and let people color them in with whatever colors they want to use.”
Within 30 seconds of listening to Sawyer’s “enigmatic” and “melancholy” voice last month, Daytrotter’s booking manager Benjamin Crabb knew he wanted to add Catch to the legacy of artists who have recorded sessions here before him.
“Everyone in the office really liked it, so it was a pretty easy sell on getting him in for a show,” said Crabb, who noted Sawyer’s sound mirrors the likes of Townes Van Zandt. “His voice is just something I haven’t heard before.”
Sawyer, whose mother, Tish Lafferty, plans to drive him and his girlfriend to the Quad-Cities, will be here briefly on Friday before returning to Madison.
“It’s really special,” Tish said. “Since he is so mobile, whenever I can snag him, it’s important time.”
On Saturday, he'll head back to the Bay Area, where Deli Magazine just named him artist of the month.
He'll perform next on Oct. 26 in New York City and Nov. 2 in Los Angeles, following the full release of "Eskota" Oct. 21.
For now, he's focused on his first-ever experience with Daytrotter, the independent music website founded more than 10 years ago.
He compared the recognition to "getting on the honor roll for a semester."
"When I realized music is something I had to do, and I had no choice, all my favorite artists were doing Daytrotter sessions," he said. "So naturally, I thought, 'If only I could play Daytrotter someday,' and now, all of a sudden, it's happening."