IF YOU GO
What: M. Ward in concert with Dawes.
When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Track 29, Chattanooga Choo Choo campus, 1400 Market St.
Admission: $23 in advance, $25 at door.
Venue website: www.track29.co.
M. Ward said he's looking forward to the release of his next solo record, which should be out in 2012. In the meantime, his side project with actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, She & Him, will release a third album, "A Very She & Him Christmas" on Oct. 25.
It's hard to imagine the music of someone as soft-spoken and mellow as Matthew Stephen Ward achieving international recognition.
In the last 10 years, Ward, known by his stage name, M. Ward, has made numerous appearances at major international festivals, on late-night TV and as a guest artist on records by highly acclaimed acts ranging from Bright Eyes to My Morning Jacket.
That kind of notoriety can beget boisterousness and pride, but the Portland, Ore.-based singer/songwriter was earnest and humble during a phone interview after he returned from a tour of Sweden earlier this month.
Ward's contemplative music began attracting attention beyond his local scene in 2000. Since then, he has worked with a wide range of artists, from Lucinda Williams and Neko Case to Esperanza Spalding and Norah Jones, many of whom have been vocal in their admiration of his songwriting.
Ward said it's a case of share and share alike.
"It's a weird thing to think about, actually," he said. "It's a mutual-admiration society. It's a nice place to live and work because I love what they do, so what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
Although Ward has become well known in his own right, he has achieved equal notoriety performing in other groups.
Two of his most noteworthy partnerships have been She & Him, a duo in which he performs with actress/singer Zooey Deschanel, and Monsters of Folk, a supergroup composed of Ward, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, and My Morning Jacket's Jim James.
Both groups are ongoing, but even in his solo work, Ward has said he prefers the versatility and creative freedom he gets from incorporating other artists to standing alone in front of the mike.
"I'm fortunate to have a lot of talented friends," Ward said. "One of the best parts of what I do is getting to collaborate with great artists.
"I've never been that interested in making a record on my own. ... Maybe someday, if I get really lonesome, I'll do that, but I like people."
Saturday, Ward will make his first Chattanooga appearance at Track 29. He'll be performing with the Los Angeles-based rock band Dawes, friends with whom he'll join onstage for a few songs, he said.
The show will be the cap to Ward's first Tennessee tour, which he said he has been highly anticipating.
"Just the whole state of Tennessee has incredible musical history," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing all four corners. This is my first time trying to do a ... Tennessee waltz, and I'm looking forward to it."
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...