Apr 25, 2013 Lists
Recently I went to a friend’s house for a game of “have you heard…” and I found that he hadn’t heard a lot of what I thought he should have and vice versa. So I began formulating this list in my head.
As always I came up with some completely trivial rules to govern the list : One album per artist, has to be someone that doesn’t get a lot of radio play or fill big venues across the country and a record that I often find myself playing for other people. Some of these albums I’ve covered before on the site, some I have not, so I will just include links to some of them.
Here’s the list in no particular order:
1. Graham Weber: Beggars Blues (2006) : The second record for this Austin based, Ohio native is a good starting point for getting into Weber’s music. He really began to come into his own on this album as a songwriter. Track Highlights: “Love and Money”, “Avenue A”, “Talia”
3. Jonathan Byrd : This Is The New That (2007) : Some people write good songs, Byrd writes phenomenal ones. This is my favorite of his records, but you should own them all. Track Highlights: “Cocaine Kid”, “Jesus Was a Bootlegger”, “Learn to Rock n Roll”
4. Tommy Womack : There I Said It (2007) : I’ve said it before, but I will say it again, some folks show a little bit of themselves when they write a song, some show a lot and Tommy Womack rips his heart out and places it on the table in front of you when he plays one of his. This album is full of those songs. Track Highlights: “Nice Day”, “Alpha Male”, “I Want a Cigarette”
5. Larry Hooper : Rust (2005) : This Texas songwriter only has two records to date and Rust is his debut. Hooper weaves his way through country, folk and bluegrass and delivers some damn fine tunes. Track Highlights : “Locomotive Man”, “Background Music”, “Outwork the Sun”
6. Greg Klyma : Rust Belt Vagabond (2008) : Born and raised in Buffalo, Klyma lets his hometown and all the cities like it be heard through his amazing storytelling on this album. Track Highlights : “Two Degrees in Buffalo”, “Roll Me Away”, “Helen Rose”
7. Roger Hoover and the Whiskey Hounds : Jukebox Manifesto (2007) : Hoover has been through a couple of backing bands since this record came out, but his songwriting and singing is always a constant. I think everything came together for this incarnation of the band on this record. Track Highlights : “Cobblestone Road”, “Please Pick Up, I’m Calling”, “Drifter”
8. Cory Branan : Mutt (2012) : I largely ignored Branan’s previous two releases. That is, until I heard Mutt, and now I love them all, which is a testament of how great this album is. You can read more of my thoughts on this one here. Track Highlights: “Survivor Blues”, “Yesterday”, “Bad Man”
9. Kelly Pardekooper : Haymaker Heart (2005) : I love the combination of folk and rock on this record, it’s not like he really blended the two, but more just smacked them together a few times and see what fell out. Track Highlights : “Tell Me (I’m the One)”, “Folk This”, “21st Century Trailer Park”
1o. Mark Jungers : More Like a Good Dog Than a Bad Cat (2011) : The latest release for Texas based, Jungers displays his songwriting and unique sounding voice in a way that makes you want all of his albums in your collection. Track Highlights : “Show Me a Sign”, “Tired of Being Lonely”, “Drive”
That’s it for the list, which really could have gone on forever. Do yourselves a favor check all of these albums out, go see these artists in concert and thank me next time you see me.
Mar 19, 2012 Youtube Clip
Sorry for the two week absence, but I’m back on schedule this week. I first heard of Jonathan Byrd, when Greg Klyma did “Cocaine Kid” at a show I saw a long time ago in Columbus. The song really struck me, but I really did nothing about it until a few years later when at another show Klyma sang the Byrd song, “Jesus Was a Bootlegger”. At that point I had to buy some of his records. Here are a few videos of my favorite Byrd songs:
First is “Happy Father’s Day”, a song that nearly brings me to tears every time I hear it.
Next is the aforementioned “Cocaine Kid”
Finally, “A Tape Full of Love Songs”, enjoy:
Feb 24, 2012 Lists
This week’s Friday’s List of Five will focus on live stage banter. If you spend a lot of time going to see shows whether it be at a local bar or large venue, you have certainly experienced all kinds of banter from the stage. Some artists excel at this aspect of the show, while others seem awkward when addressing the crowd and still others choose not to do so at all or very little (Bob Dylan). For this list I have included five great examples of banter enhancing the lie experience normally in a humorous way. I did not go into the bootleg collection to pull these out, instead I used officially released live recordings. Here’s the list:
1.) Todd Snider : “The Mushroom Story” from the album, Todd Snider Live, The Storyteller:
The undisputed heavy weight champion of in between song rambling, as he says, “sometimes I may ramble on for as many as eighteen minutes in between the songs”. He has honed the ability to engage the crowd to the point where that is one of the big reasons to go see Todd live. On this particular release, he has a couple of tracks dedicated to such speeches. “The Mushroom Story” is an account of him quitting his high school football team because of an experience with magic mushrooms.
2.) B.B. King : “Worry, Worry, Worry” from the album, Live in Cook County Jail :
B.B. was just born to be an entertainer, and when he talks to the crowd they listen and participate. Towards the middle of this track, B.B. launches into a rant on how women and men should interact in the inevitable events where they are not getting along. My favorite quote from this one, “When goofed last week, I was high … when you’re high it don’t count”.
3.) Greg Brown : “Canned Goods” from the album, The Live One :
Folk singers are contractually required to interact with the crowd and Brown was really good at it when he still gave a shit about his contracts. This recording from I believe 1987 showcases this talent. In the middle of “Canned Goods” Brown recounts his childhood trips to his grandma’s house in rural Iowa, and explains why chickens aren’t really animals.
4.) Roy Book Binder : “Candyman” from the album, Live Book…Don’t Start Me Talkin :
Acoustic blues legend Book Binder tells the story of learning the Candyman Blues from Reverend Gary Davis as a young college student. The Candyman Blues went on to “ruin” Roy’s life. After recounting learning the song from Rev. Davis, Roy goes on to tell the story of asking Pink Anderson about the same song and funny enough, Anderson told him the same story that Davis had.
5.) Greg Klyma : “A Song For Me” from the album, Klymalive in Buffalo :
Buffalo native Klyma breaks out the mandolin for this particular tune and while building into it, he explains the story of unrequited love that inspired the song. Klyma is another performer that truly understands enhancing the live experience by connecting personally with his audience.
These are just five quick examples of the banter that sometimes shows up on live records. Feel free to leave some comments on your favorites.
Jun 20, 2010 Youtube Clip
Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and I thought I would look up some videos that are about dads that I like and share them with all of you. Some of them are from the perspective of the child and some of them are the dad looking at his children. Anyways Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to all the dads out there.
“A Face Among the Crowd” Jackie Greene
“Things I Wish I’d Said” Rodney Crowell
“Your Dad Did” John Hiatt
“Happy Father’s Day” Ronny Cox: it’s a Jonathan Byrd song but this is the only version of it I could find on Youtube and I just love this song.
“Father and Son” Cat Stevens
“Missing You” Todd Snider
“Garbage Man” Greg Klyma
There’s a ton more out there, but these are a few that I like and could find on Youtube. Once again Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.
May 28, 2010 Podcasts
Finally finished and posted, episode 1 of the Broken Jukebox Podcast with guest, Greg Klyma. Greg stopped by about two weeks ago to discuss his past recordings and upcoming album, Piano Mando Nation as well as many other topics. In addition to the interviews Klyma treated us to four live tracks including a yet to be released song, “Tongue”.
Be sure to check out Klyma at www.klyma.com. Also tell all of your friends about the podcast and look for episode 2 coming soon, with Peter Cooper and Eric Brace.
May 1, 2010 Artist of the Month
Greg is from Buffalo, NY and for the last dozen or so years has been traveling the country in his van, playing shows, and recording great records. His music touches in all the areas that encompass Americana drawing from very eclectic influences. His live shows are some of the most entertaining you will ever get to see, a perfect blend of humor and serious songwriting that many people attempt and very few actually achieve. He has 6 releases to his name as a solo act, 5 studio and a recently unleashed live disc, and is currently working on putting together a live DVD as well as beginning to break ground on a new studio effort.
I first came across Greg as an opener for Todd Snider about 5 years ago and was completely taken in. He came on stage and immediately launched into a version of Subterranean Homesick Blues fused with Gloria, so right off the bat Dylan and Morrison. Midway through the song he breaks a string and doesn’t miss a beat, finishes out the song and makes jokes about having to change it. As an opener he has just lost precious time to win over the audience in a short set but, he went on to deliver a half dozen well crafted originals and walked off the stage with the crowd in his hand. Since then I have purchased all of his records and seen him numerous times here in Central Ohio.
I’d could spend time breaking down all of his releases, but that would get a bit long winded so I will focus on his last two releases which really capture what Klyma is all about.
2008′s Rust Belt Vagabond is Greg’s finest song writing achievement. It is not uncommon for someone to continue to grow as a songwriter, but this record almost renders all of his previous releases irrelevant. That is not to say that the rest are not good, but rather to say how great Vagabond is.
Often times musicians adopt new home cities and become affiliated with that new place, whether it is Nashville, Austin, New York or any other music city. In Greg’s case he is firmly entrenched in his Buffalo heritage although it has been over a decade since he officially lived there. Throughout the album the listener experiences Buffalo both in general and in a way that is personal to the storyteller. You can tell Klyma is both proud of Buffalo and saddened that like so many cities in the Rustbelt has seen better days and he is not going to let us forget it.
The crown jewel of the album is “Two Degrees in Buffalo” which really makes you feel like you are from there or need to visit. The 7:32 epic makes great use of the title in wonderful plays on the words. The narrator wants us to remember Buffalo for all of the good things it has brought to the country as a whole and to its inhabitants. The song is Klyma’s masterpiece at this point in his career and if I were anyone of import in the city of Buffalo I would be fighting to make this the official anthem of the city.”Father Baker” is the story of local hero from an orphanage that by Klyma’s time had become part of a cautionary tale for parents to tell their children. “Helen Rose” chronicles a the struggle to find common ground between a mother and her daughter in-law. For good measure Greg includes a version of the legendary folk song, “Erie Canal” to end the album.
Vagabond is not entirely about Buffalo, another city that has fallen in recent memory albeit due to a much different cause makes an appearance in two songs. Shortly after Katrina, Greg visited the ruins of New Orleans which like many before and after him gave him inspiration for song. “Roll Me Away” tells of a man that is not going to leave his land even when faced with a certain catastrophe. “Parish of St. Benard” is the story of a neighborhood hellbent on rebuilding after the tragedy, but having trouble finding the means to do so. It’s easy to see that this trip deeply affected Klyma in the emotion which these songs are delivered.
Overall this album is absolutely a must have. Klyma is showcasing his ability as a songwriter in an amazing way on this one. While the overall mood of the record may feel a little somber at times there are glimmers of hope all along the way. The production is right on and there are a good number of phenomenal musicians make an appearance including, Jonathan Byrd (guitars and vocals), Sick (fiddle and backing vocals) and Tom Bianchi (electric and upright bass).
That now brings me to his newly released live record, KlymaLive in Buffalo. Recorded fittingly at Sportsman’s Tavern in Buffalo in early 2009, this was a long time coming. As a fan I have been waiting for this since I really began to get familiar with his songs. The album calls up songs from all of his previous releases except Rustbelt Vagabond and some previously unreleased material and is currently only available at shows. What really sticks out in the live set is his story telling and between song banter, something you can never get from a studio release. When you see Klyma, you really see a show not just a guy playing music. Throughout the evening he has the ability to take you through the entire range of emotions and never leaves you bored. On this release you also get to hear him play both the guitar and the mandolin showcasing his musical abilities in addition to his song writing chops, and crowd drawing personality.
Highlights on this record include “New Clothes”, from the album of the same title, and the story of how the song which was about him wanting to leave his band and set off on his own took on a completely different meaning when a fan tells him of what she took from it. What have become Klyma classics, “Bean Bag Chair” and “One Foot in the Grave”, from Not a Complicated Guy, both of which are humorous tunes. A narration from a washed up actor in “Bad B Western” off of In The Meantime. He Closes the set with a play off of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” which along with its back story is one of the funniest things I have ever heard live and a real crowd killer, “I-40, Roland, OK”.
The live record is a complete and total success for Klyma. I know it was something that people were clamoring about for years and that he waited until he felt he could do it justice. If you go and see him and want a reminder of what you heard, this is the perfect buy. So often live records are so produced and planned out they don’t represent what the artist normally delivers live and this is not the case with KlymaLive in Buffalo. Every time I have seen him live, Greg has been this good or better which is really what makes this release special.
Well that was still long-winded but you have to love writing on the internet where there are no word counts. Be sure to look for the podcast as it becomes available and go look up Mr. Klyma if you aren’t familiar with him and if you are drop him a line and tell him you want a copy of those discs, or go see a show. You can find Greg at these places online
Official Site: www.klyma.com
Reverb Nation: www.reverbnation.com/gregklyma