Wednesday, July 15, 2009
There are plenty of talented country songwriters in NYC, but for the most part they go unnoticed. Check the local music listings in this town, and you'll inevitably come across the same patronizing qualifiers: "hoedown", "hootin' ", "hollerin'", "hootenanny", "hell-raisin' ", honky-tonkin'" (all beginning with an "h" for some reason). What's missing is the word "hillarious", which is how most of Gotham's music cognoscenti would describe the scene if they were being a tad more honest with themselves.
The idea behind this music series is to showcase local country & Americana performers who are committed to the craft of songwriting. Accordingly, this is no opry, tribute, hoedown, or Hee-Haw medicine show. There will be no delirious yelping of "one more time!" before yet another fiddle solo during "Folsom Prison Blues" (cf. the Doc Marshalls). Instead, we'll be featuring three songwriters performing originals in a genre they genuinely love. What better tribute to Hank, Cash, and Merle?
So, who are these people with nothing better to do on an evening in July?
Irish-Australian singer-songwriter Vincent Cross doesn't hyphenate his genre of choice: bluegrass. Since arriving in the city in 2006, he has championed the high lonesome sound with his band, Good Company. In addition to leading a monthly jam at Banjo Jim's, "Strictly Bluegrass", Cross has kept a high profile in all the local roots music haunts, from Freddy's Back Room to Hill Country and Rockwood Music Hall.
His latest release, "Home Away from Home", avoids irritating cliches of the genre, such as references to "hollers" or ballads where girls named "Polly" or "Katie" are murdered by farm-raised sociopaths. Instead, Cross uses traditional bluegrass instrumentation to address the pitfalls of life in the big city.
Visit Vincent's Myspace for upcoming shows and info.
After years of fronting his own band, local guitarist and mandolin picker Matt Wissler is lending his chops to a wide range of local country outfits. Despite playing bass for the Whisky Rebellion, mandolin for the Ambassadors of Love, and lead guitar for the likes of Jake Leg Strutters and the Red Tail Hawk Band, Wissler also has his own solo acoustic project the works.
Far from being just another jerk who learned all his pentatonic scales, this multi-instrumentalist brings tasteful country tones to a scene short on first rate pickers. A great admirer of tunesmiths like John Prine and Guy Clark, Wissler has no qualms about professing his love of "singer-songwriter" as a genre.
"What Am I Supposed to Do Without You"
Trivia: Member of a secretive Free Mason-style society that runs the NYC country scene.
Nicolas Beaudoing (beau-dwanh')
The host of "No Hank, No Cash, No Merle" fronts NYC's Cajun and honky-tonk troubadours, the Doc Marshalls. Since forming in 2001, this five-piece has released two albums, No Kind of Life (2005) and Honest for Once (2008). Album number three is simmering in its own juices, awaiting its release in early 2010.
"Why I'm Leaving" (unreleased)
Visit the Doc Marshalls' Myspace for upcoming shows.