eight

Freedy Johnston to release first new-material album in eight years

Rain on the City is Freedy Johnston’s first album of new originals in eight years. Recorded in Nashville with producer Richard McLaurin, it’s one of the best song collections of Freedy’s career, featuring a diverse array of rockers, heartbreaking twang, even hints of blue-eyed soul and bossa nova. The album will be released on Bar None on January 12, 2009.

Producer McLaurin (Justin Townes Earle, Allison Moorer, Slaid Cleaves, Matthew Ryan) has framed Freedy’s voice with sympathetic arrangements, like the title track “Rain on the City,” whose slashing strings and keyboard washes sound like so much precipitation in an Edward Hopper cityscape. There is radio-friendly fare, such as the epic “Don’t Fall in Love With a Lonely Girl.” and the Buddy Holly-style rave-up “It’s Gonna Come Back to You.” There are also fine vocal performances accompanying the acoustic majesty of “Venus” and the country-rocker “Rio Grande,” where a full-throated Freedy confidently roars over some overdriven guitar pickin’.

Where has Freedy Johnston been wandering in the years prior to making this album? Some folks lost track of him after his 1994 hit “Bad Reputation” and his last Elektra album, 2001’s Right Between the Promises. He has moved around, living in NYC, Austin, Kansas, Madison and Nashville. “It takes a while to re-adjust one’s priorities and get back on track after working with the big budget that the majors give you,” muses our hero. “I went through issues with the IRS, had a relationship go south and a touring vehicle grind to a halt but through it all I never gave up writing and gigging whenever possible.”

Freedy Johnston was born in the small town of Kinsley, Kansas, famous for being the exact mid-point between the east and west coasts of the USA. He bought a mail-order guitar as a teenager after hearing Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True. Later, while briefly attending college in Lawrence, Kansas, he fell in with the likes of the Embarrassment and the Mortal Micronotz. His own writing mixed literate post-punk with outlaw country and ’70s AM radio fare. His first album, The Trouble Tree on Bar None, was titled after the nickname his Mom gave a local Kinsley watering hole.

His second album, Can You Fly, was made while living in Hoboken, New Jersey, where the music community rallied ’round the singer. At the time the local scene based around the club Maxwell’s was particularly vibrant and Can You Fly featured a number of club regulars including Kevin Salem, Dave Schramm, Graham Maby, Chris Stamey and Syd Straw. With the release of the album Freedy was touted as one of America’s finest new songwriters by Rolling Stone, Spin and many others. In the Village Voice Robert Christgau hailed it as “a perfect album.” This past year Can You Fly was cited in the book 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die by music critic Tom Moon.

Signed to Elektra in 1994, Johnston had a radio hit with ”Bad Reputation,” and the Butch Vig-produced This Perfect World expanded his fan base. He would release four albums on Elektra, including Blue Days Black Nights, produced by T Bone Burnett.

In this decade his fans had to make do with an album of cover songs, live releases and the early vintage recordings of The Way I Were. But all along he was taking his time, working to get a batch of songs together that were undeniable.

In Nashville he worked his way around town trying various studios, making the covers album Favorite Waste of Time, working the co-song writing game and playing on bills at the Bluebird Café and other venues. He finally settled in to record Rain on the City at House of David, a studio run by multi-instrumentalist Richard McLaurin and owned by legendary Nashville session cat David Briggs, known best as Elvis Presley’s last keyboard player. Briggs adds some Wurlitzer to the album on “The Other Side of Love.”

And the future? There are rumors of a new set of songs including a potential title track called “Neon Repairman.” “While making this album in Nashville, co-writing started making sense to me,” says Freedy. “It’s not about trying to write a big hit, it’s about working on a tight deadline and getting something that is better than the sum of the parts and getting it done.” To that end he’s been writing in Nashville with Daniel Tashian from the Silver Seas in a side project called the Charmers. There’s Mike Brown from up in New York state with whom he’s been swapping files (“he comes up with amazing things I wouldn’t ever think of,” says Freedy), and down in Austin he’s got a couple of songs under his belt with Texas legend Jon Dee Graham. He’s also looking to do more film work like he did on the Farrelly Bros. movie Kingpin. And there are always songs to be learned in Madison, Wisconsin with Duke Erikson and Butch Vig of Garbage in their joint cover band the Know-It-All Boyfriends.

In the meantime it will be Freedy working his way, wandering the USA, promoting a little Rain on the City in a city near you.

Elliott Murphy: On Tour In the USA For the First Time in Eight Years

Photo by Sue Rynski- for the Grateful Web

ELLIOTT MURPHY - the legendary Paris-based American rock troubadour will embark on his first U.S. tour in eight years.  The tour kicks off December 2008 in the Northeast U.S. (New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, DC, Albany, Larchmont, Amagansett), and continues on to the West Coast, where he hasn't played in 12 years) in January 2009 (San Francisco, Felton, Tehachapi, Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach). Elliott will be accompanied by his longtime guitarist extraordinaire Olivier Durand.  More shows will follow in Spring 2009.

Elliott Murphy has collaborated with Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Phil Collins and other great rock 'n roll names.  His ground-breaking, debut album AQUASHOW was recently called an "Album Classic" in a full page review in the UK's prestigious Uncut magazine.

Opening all shows will be multi-cultural singer-songwriter Jann Klose, who was born in Germany and raised in Kenya, South Africa, Hamburg and first came to the US as an exchange student in Cleveland.  His album REVERIE is now being played on over 80 stations in North America.  Jann tours aggressively in the U.S. and Europe.  Recent shows included collaborations with Annie Haslam and John Tout of Renaissance, sharing the stage with Marty Stuart, Rosanne Cash and Roger McGuinn at Martin Guitars' 175th Anniversary Concert, and a special show at the German Embassy in Washington, DC. Jann moved to the Bronx in 2000, the same year Elliott played his last show at the Bottom Line in New York City.

Elliott Murphy will be promoting his latest release NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND - his 30th album in a non-stop 35-year career. Album Music Guide (AMG) recently awarded NOTES a rave 4-Star review making Elliott one of the rare artists who have received over fifteen 4 -star reviews on this prestigious review site.

Elliott was born to a show business family in New York and began his career by winning the 1966 New York State Battle of the Bands, and then followed a troubadour's odyssey across Europe included a bit part in Federico Fellini's film "Roma." His career was launched by the critical success of his debut album AQUASHOW followed by LOST GENERATION (Produced by Doors producer Paul Rothschild), NIGHT LIGHTS (featuring Billy Joel), JUST A STORY FROM AMERICA (featuring Phil Collins and Mick Taylor) and an extraordinary duet with Bruce Springsteen on his 1996 masterpiece SELLING THE GOLD.  (Bruce often invites Elliott on stage with him during his European tours.)  In October 2008, he was honored with a monumental exhibition in Paris' Town Hall entitled "Elliott Murphy - Last of the Rock Stars – Retrospective" featuring hundreds of posters, photos, videos, album covers and memorabilia.

Elliott Murphy is also a published author of short story collections  (most recently Café Notes) and two novels (Cold And Electric and the neo-western Poetic Justice) as well as penning the liner notes for the Velvet Underground album 1969 Live. Elliott has lived in Paris for 18 years and has performed at such prestigious venues as the Montreux Jazz Festival as well as opening for Bob Dylan at the Pistoia Blues Festival.

Dec 10 2008 Johnny D's   Somerville, Massachusetts
Dec 12 2008 The Stephen Talkhouse   Amagansett, New York
Dec 13 2008 Valentine's   Albany, New York
Dec 15 2008   The Living Room   New York, New York
Dec 16, 2008   Velvet Lounge    Washington, DC
Dec 17 2008   World Cafe Live   Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dec 18 2008   Watercolor Cafe   Larchmont, New York
Jan 7, 2009     Café Du Nord    San Francisco, California
Jan 8, 2009     Don Quixote's   Felton, California
Jan 10, 2009   Hotel Café, Los Angeles, California
Jan 11, 2009     Mama's Hilly Beans, Tehachapi, California
Jan 13 2009    Acoustic Music San Diego  San Diego, California
Jan 14 2009   The Blue Cafe   Long Beach, California
Jan 16 2009     NAMM 2009 Anaheim, California

Elliott also tours in Europe and there are a number of dates posted on his  myspace.com/elliottmurphy.

****
Let us also give a plug for the Humane Society as Elliott also wrote about the importance of responsible ownership and adopting from animal shelters at the Humane Society's Shelter Rock web site. In December the HSUS will be auctioning off an autographed Elliott Murphy fashion tote bag.

And you'll see reflections from all kinds of an array of music folks including another person who collaborated recently with Jann—Annie HaslamHeavy D., Carole King, and MUTTS cartoonist Patrick McDonnell are in there, and so is Patti Page, who has updated her "How Much Is That Doggie in The Window" to "(Look at that) Doggie in the Shelter."