Pete Yorn keeps things flowing free without a set list

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The last time Pete Yorn came through town—for a show at the Commodore in 2011—he was accompanied by a full band, but this time around things are different.

When he plays the recently refurbished Imperial at Main and Cordova it will be as part of a solo tour, so it’ll just be him—and a couple guys named Gibson.

“I got this one old Gibson that I bought in a pawnshop years ago in Bloomington, Indiana,” Yorn says. “I have never toured with it before, but it’s the one that’s been sittin’ around, and I’ve been using it a lot to relearn a bunch of songs. It just feels good. And then there’s a Gibson Dove that I’ve been playin’ for years that is kind of a workhorse, and it’ll probably make an appearance too.”

Armed with his most reliable six-strings, Yorn will set off on his Me Acoustic mini-tour that will be limited to five West Coast dates. He describes the quick jaunt as a “hard reset”, but when contacted at his home in Santa Monica has no clear idea what songs will be featured.

“We’ll know when I start doin’ the shows,” he points out. “My plan is to not have a set list. I just really want it to be very free, and let it flow where the night goes.”

Whether the set is free-flowing or not, there’s a good chance that some material from Yorn’s latest project, the Olms, will make the cut. The duo he put together with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist J.D. King released its self-titled debut album last year, and it reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.

“I met him when he started dating this girl I knew,” recalls Yorn. “She came in one day with this guy who looked like a cowboy and I said, ‘Who’s this character?’ We just hit it off and over time we ended up having a musical relationship.”

While King is nearly 10 years younger than Yorn, the elder Olm describes him as “an old soul”. And King has a few other things going for him.

“He’s a very interesting songwriter,” says Yorn, who turns 40 in July. “He’s always learning new, weird chords and stuff like that. So between the two of them—my simplicity and his experience in branching out—I feel like the Olms have a type of sound that has a little bit… I mean, the songs seem simple, but if you try to play ’em, a lot of chords are pretty tricky. When I was learning songs for this tour I was like, ‘Whoa, I forgot about that chord!’ I had to really dig in.

“He’s also kind of a superpurist when it comes to recording,” Yorn adds. “He’s one of those guys who’s all about certain kinds of tape and tape machines and old microphones and gear, and he loves that. I’m more open to different things, so I think we balance each other out in an interesting way.”

Pete Yorn plays the Imperial next Thursday (May 29).

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