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About

The role of the Rocky Mountain trader is often forgotten, like the practicality of chain mail or the technological superiority of the VHS tape. The same people that call Connor Jay Liess a musician are the same people that call tomatoes a vegetable. No, no. If you traveled all this way to find a musician, well then keep looking. Cause you found yourself a trader. Whether it’s songs or skulls or souvenirs taken from the tangles of Idaho’s diverse wilderness, Connor Jay is the roving rambler of his day, the Boise Basin Bounder, lost in the wrong era, bartering somethings and nothings from the shelves of his Rocky Mountain library, asking not for the money in your wallet but a moment in your time. And if you give him enough time away from the noise and commotion of Boise City, he’ll usually return with a palmful of artifacts and stories plucked from the floor of Idaho’s backwoods that he is more than willing to share, if not part with, if you lend your ear, doesn’t matter which. 

 

Early Days

It took mighty persuasion and a few slugs from the whiskey bottle for Connor Jay to pick up a guitar and sing in front of other human beings. In the early days back in 2017, Connor Jay and longtime artistic companion Christy Rezaii co-founded the Aldape Bootstompers, a folk/bluegrass duo that took its name from the intimate mountain top above Boise where they and other bluegrass enthusiasts started “making Aldape jam” as they put it. The swiftness of the band’s live performances became a startling revelation after graduating from an open mic to performing at Bogus Basin in front of 2,000 people in the span of a month. After a year of various bluegrass river shows, Liess and Rezaii picked up a wise old stallion named “Mustang” Mark Stolpe (double bass) and a scrappy, unkempt Missouri Fox Trotter named Ethan Mansfield (fiddle). The foursome soon took their sacreligious approach to orthodox bluegrass down to the Boise River and various Southwestern breweries and honky tonks, including opening for Lindsay Lou, William Elliott Whitmore, and The Last Revel. After nearly two years since those first days up on the Summit, the Bootstompers gave up performing live in public and instead kept their relationship alive both in the studio and on the river.

 

Honky Tonk Revival

Like most high school sweethearts after their first big breakup, the members of the Bootstompers began experimenting with other people, namely the talented Matthew Skipper (Dry Buck, The Wild Hares). Liess and Stolpe, with the newly added Skipper Kid, formed a Western country/rockabilly outfit called The Chuckwagons in early 2021. The Chuckwagons fought through the throes of the pandemic like an anti-vaxxer swatting away a face mask. With shows scheduled few and far between, Liess began constructing ultimately his grandest project yet in the spring of 2020, a self-produced, self-engineered full-length album that would become his second since Ponderosa (Fall 2019). 

 

Trapper’s Attic & The Rocky Mountain Music Trader

In his home studio adorned with various animal hides used as crude sound treatment, Connor Jay embarked on a 13-month journey of what is now come to be called Trapper’s Attic. Enlisting the help of former bandmates Rezaii, Stolpe, Mansfield, and Skipper, as well as cameos from fellow artists including Adam Straubinger (Lonesome Jetboat Ramblers), Austin Clark (Jonathan Warren & The Billy Goats) and Joel Bueckert (Jolie Blue), Liess produced and engineered his second full-length album without the help of any dictatorial record labels. Trapper’s Attic, as the album would later be titled, features 12 original songs, from epic spaghetti Western soundtracks, whimsical folk ballads about the Canadian Rockies, immersive nocturnal soundscapes insulated by a high-mountain snowstorm, and acapella field songs about a scarecrow’s fortunate role on one Buhl, Idaho farm. Mastered for vinyl by Sef Idle and Simpul Studios, and for digital release by Boise’s Audio Lab Recording Studios, Trapper’s Attic is a celebration of the iconic frontiersmen and women who pioneered the West, the merriment inside an overdrunk trapper’s shack, the friskiness of wild horses, the acceptance of death from doomed mountain men, and the unrivaled love for the Rocky Mountain wilderness and the various critters that call it home.

 

Connor Jay Liess produces music inspired by the Rocky Mountain wilderness and Western frontier chapter of an older time, preserves roadkill, collects skulls from the prairie, and doesn't like crowds or inauthentic people. And by association of these pastimes, prefers a quiet life disconnected from the modern world.