Gone West heads east to Playhouse

Colbie Caillat is well-known to fans — and Ridgefield Playhouse audiences from her past gigs here — as a solo singer with hits like “Bubbly” and ”Try.” She returns to the Playhouse stage July 5 with an all-new band, Gone West. The band may be new but the quartet of four longtime friends has been singing and jamming together for years and now has made it official.
The Nashville-based band featuring two-time Grammy Award Winner Colbie Caillat, her longtime collaborator, the multi-platinum singer/songwriter Jason Reeves; four-time Hawaii Music Award winner Justin Kawika Young (also Colbie’s fiancée) and ACM and CMT nominated artist Nelly Joy, who is married to Jason. They are touring with their debut EP, Tides. This show will feature Colbie’s solo material along with songs from her new collaboration with Gone West.
Opening the concert is Hayley Orrantia, best known playing Erica Goldberg on ABC’s comedy show, “The Goldbergs,” who has been earning her country music chops over the last few years, performing at festivals and events.
Andrea Valluzzo: How did Gone West as a quartet come about?

Colbie Caillat: It’s actually really cool because we all are friends for 14 years so it just naturally progressed. Me and Jason met in 2005 and we wrote my first album and just a ton of songs ever since then. I asked Justin to join my band. I was a fan of his music from Hawaii so I asked him to play guitar and sing and then a couple years in of touring, we fell in love and Nelly and James met in 2009 in a writing session in Nashville.
Nelly Joy: So I’ve been in Nashville for 14 years and Jason came out there on a co-write and it was love at first sight for Jason and then couple years later we started dating and we’ve been together for seven years.
CC: We’ve all been friends since then and worked together just for fun and a couple years ago we had the idea that we already did it so much, just call it an official band so we called ourselves Gone West.
AV: Gone West is autobiographical. Can you explain?
CC: We all live in Nashville now, but when we’re not in Nashville. we all have gone west back to our home states of California, Hawaii, Texas or Iowa.
AV: You all are so in love. Where did the idea for “What Could’ve Been” come from?

CC: It’s actually kind of funny. We are two happy couples but most of our record is heartbreak songs. We have a lot of friends around us going through that so when we are done writing about ourselves and what we are going through, we write about what people around us are experiencing and that we can tap into that so easily because we have all been through that in the past.
AV: How are you structuring your show at the Playhouse?
NJ: Our shows are pretty cool because you are going to have a lot of Gone West material that is already out and then you are going to hear some unreleased Gone West material that you can only hear if you come to a show, and then my other favorite part about it is that you are going to hear songs and snippets from all of our previous careers so Colbie’s solo music, Jason and my stuff and Justin’s Hawaii stuff so we connect the dots and weave storytelling to explain to fans how we became Gone West.
CC: And we love the Playhouse, we have played there so many times and we absolutely love that cute little town.
AV: What’s going on back stage right before your shows?
CC: The boys are usually jamming on their guitars, we’ll do some vocal warmups and sometimes we’ll do a Bob Marley song to get us in that really good mood, happy vibe. Sometimes we have meets and greets before the show, sometimes after, which is really fun to actually get to meet the fans who have either been fans of our solo careers and now are fans of our band or are new that just came out to hear our band’s music. It helps us get in the mode of excitement to get on stage and to play these songs we have had in our backpocket for so long.
AV: You’re used to big venues, what’s the biggest difference in performing in a more intimate setting?
CC: We love the small intimate shows because I mean big shows are fun but when you have a small intimate show you really get to see your fans’ faces and sometimes people can ask a question and we can hear them. We can see if they are enjoying the songs and singing along. It really feels like we are close together and I think it is more impactful for us.
AV: What’s the secret to making a quartet work?
CC: It’s been an experiment for all of us because every song is different on this record. All four of us are all lead singers. We have a couple of songs that have all four of us singing lead and then figuring out who sings what harmony. We will write a song in the room and then we will have to figure out lyrically or melodically whose voice it suits best. And then we go from there.