Kevin Griffin

Kevin Griffin, frontman for alternative rock stalwart Better Than Ezra, dropped his debut album Friday in advance of two City Winery shows this week. Courtesy of Alysse Gafkjen

Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin plays City Winery with debut solo album

Kevin Griffin, the award-winning songwriter and charismatic frontman for alternative rock band Better Than Ezra, joked that his venture into the solo arena is about the fans — “The world had waited long enough.”

But growth as an artist means looking at different perspectives and sometimes taking on new challenges.

“Once I started, I asked myself, ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?,'” Griffin said. “This has been fun. And when you do something different, it makes the older thing feel fresh again. It’s good all the way around.”

Griffin, who released his debut solo album, “Anywhere You Go,” Friday and who will be playing two shows at Chicago’s City Winery Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 8 and 9, recognized that after more than 30 years growing in one direction with Better Than Ezra, it was time to explore some other ideas he had been toying with.

“I had a group of songs that didn’t sound like Better Than Ezra,” he said. “When you do one thing for a long time, it inevitably builds up a structure, parameters, whether you realize it or not.”

The new album, a 10-song collection with solid roots in New Orleans alternative rock, doesn’t exactly bust down those parameters, but it definitely eases listeners in a direction that isn’t entirely Ezra-like. Griffin is audibly a recognizable and common factor, but longtime fans won’t confuse the new album for an Ezra one.

“Doing Ezra for so long, your history for the most part is a big asset,” he said, “but it can also be a thing that can kind of weigh you down with expectations and things you’ve already done. The solo record doesn’t have any history to it, so I’m not expected to do anything with it. That was really freeing to have no expectations.”

Griffin, who has written and co-written songs with myriad musicians such as Sugarland, Blondie, Taylor Swift, Train, The Struts and Barenaked Ladies, is also busy touring and working on a new album with Better Than Ezra. In addition, he is a co-founder and operator of the Pilgrimage Festival, which just ran for its fifth year in Tennessee.

“As artists, our musical tastes and what you create isn’t always the same thing,” Griffin said. “I wanted to write from a different perspective with some different musicians and a different approach. Maybe some different considerations. … It was just something fun to do, and it came out as something so much bigger and better than I had hoped.”

• • •

Kevin Griffin “Anywhere You Go Tour” with Sinclair

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 8-9

Where: City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago; (312) 733-9463 or

Tickets: $31.25-$45.25

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