earl musick


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 earl musick biography

Fort Worth, Texas — “The place where American roots music rules,” as one international broadcasting agency boasts, is not necessarily America. Texas-based songwriter Earl Musick is finding persuasive evidence of receptive audiences for his new CD, Privateer (Reload Records), in such distant locales as the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Australia.

For Musick, a prolific tunesmith whose catalogue of original works numbers in the hundreds, this broadening awareness represents a plateau to compare with such breakthroughs as singer Dan Roberts’ use of Musick’s collaborative ballad “Angelina Dance” on the CD Viva la Cowboy; and the selection of two of Musick’s tunes for the soundtrack of the acclaimed independent film EvenHand (2002).

Barely two months into its release from Reload Record Co., and with a strategic advertising campaign in such publications as the alt-country journal No Depression, Privateer has begun generating new levels of popular recognition for Musick. The singer-songwriter and bandleader has recently completed high-profile showcase engagements at North Texas’ Wildflower and Cottonwood festivals and is in rehearsals for an appearance in August at Rainbow, Texas’ Raz on the Braz Music Fest.

Meanwhile on all those other sides of the planet, such selections from Privateer as “Texas Moon,” a heavy-weather song; the romantic laments “San Antone” and “Santa Cruz”; and the jazz-laced “Bright and Shiny Blues” have gone into steady rotation since late May via Radio Parkstad, Radio LOK, Radio Bogdike and Music Café ’t Veendammertje in the Netherlands; Jolly Roger Radio in Ireland; and the globe-spanning U.S./U.K. frequencies of Twang Town U.S.A. and Real Roots Café.

Privateer can be obtained domestically at such Web sources as www.amazon.com, www.lonestarmusic.com and www.cdbaby.com. The label’s Web address is

Coupled with an extensive run of favorable published reviews of Privateer and Musick’s formation of a new backup band for his selectively booked, in-person performances, the worldwide exposure has lent additional momentum to Musick’s songwriting interests. He has occupied himself between solo-album projects, as well, as a producer of acclaimed CDs by the balladeers John Gomez (Head First) and Amos Staggs (Scattered) and the Brazos Bros. Band (Harmony Road).

Producing chores and performing notwithstanding, Musick insists: “It’s all about songwriting, first of all. And then it’s about songwriting, songwriting — and songwriting.”

The escalating foreign interest poses no mystery to Musick.

“Americans have the attention span of a chicken-fried rat,” he says. “Europeans are more laid-back and don’t put much stock in glitz.

“I’m not sure of how large an audience it is,” Musick adds. “I do know they appreciate the simplicity of roots music. Also, the roots-music audience in Europe, unlike America, seems to understand the soul of good storytelling.”

Musick has tracked the progress of Privateer on a daily basis since the CD’s release. His awareness of an international scene comes with the territory, largely as a result of Musick’s belief in his work and his direct participation in tracking its progress in the marketplace.

“I have a work ethic,” he explains. “I go to work every day, and I check on things. If I don't hear from someone, I have my record label contact them — simple, really!”

The exposure alone amounts to favorable feedback, Musick adds.

“The fact that my album is getting attention is the feedback,” he says. “These people receive up to 500 albums a week. If my album is getting reviewed and is receiving airplay, then that’s a pretty good indication that I’m doing something right. It doesn’t have to be verbal.”

None of this attention, however, will influence Musick’s approach to songwriting, he says, explaining that the international response indicates he already is in touch with international tastes.

“I’m a songwriter — it’s that simple,” Musick says. “I don’t gear my songs toward anyone or anything. I write what I write, and if folks like it, that’s great. If not, it means I haven’t done a very good job of songwriting.”

His passion for storytelling in songs — from the lonesome character studies of “Angelina Dance” and “Santa Cruz,” to the upbeat, personalized ironies of “San Antone” and “Hook, Line and Singer” (also on Privateer) — has sustained Musick over the long haul as a member of Texas’ competitive community of roots-music artists. With Privateer and the earlier CD Done Deal (Reload Records), Musick has emerged decisively as a solo artist after a lengthy span of near-anonymity as an ensemble player.

“I’d always thought that using the name Musick might seem a little pretentious, even though it’s my authentic family name,” Musick says. “Kind of like calling yourself ‘Rock Starr’ or something like that. And so I kind of low-profiled myself for a long time as a bandleader operating under the name of the band.”

But no longer. Toward the end of the 1990s, Musick set aside the familiar band-name — the Unsung Heroes — that had long served as his performing identity and stepped out front as Earl Musick.

Done Deal went into a second pressing shortly before the release of Privateer. While working as a composer and featured artist on Reload Records’ collaborative production of a Texas ballads CD called Mortal Coils, Musick also has begun planning his next solo disk.

“It’s all over the place, in terms of styles,” Musick says of his taste in songwriting, “but it all boils down to a selection of original songs that must work as purely acoustic pieces — just guitar and voice — before we’ll start adding a rhythm section and other layers of instrumentation. This hand-made Texas music that we specialize in covers a lot of ground: Some of it has a country flavor, some might be called folk, or rock, or blues — even jazz — but it all comes down to songs that tell a story in direct, simple terms.”

In addition to being a prolific songwriter and a versatile entertainer, Musick is also an accomplished left-handed guitar player, utilizing an array of custom-designed, “backward” guitars — right hand on the fretboard, left hand on the string-plucking end — instead of the upside-down configuration that many other left-handed guitarists employ.

Following is a selection of excerpts from reviews of Privateer:

Chad Wheat, of Roots Music Report: “With a good combination of deep rooted vocals, a little Texas swing and a touch of Southern rock, Privateer has something for just about anyone. It will appeal to anybody looking for that singer-songwriter sound mixed with a little Texas flair.”

Country Recinsie of the Netherlands: “… succeeds in making an album of different styles and does not leave the country path too far… has the quality to get far in the alternative country scene.”

CtrlAltCountry of the Netherlands:Done Deal was a success, prompting more pressings…  We would not be surprised at all when Privateer has more success.  Musick offers us a very varied Texan musical meal.  All the styles are present.”

Americana U.K.: “… classy and effortless music… the songs of a true hardcore troubadour, where you can hear the years — in the playing, effortless and groove-y without being slick, and in the vocals, gruff and worldly without being jaundiced.”

The new surge of activity from Musick is part of a 20th-anniversary venture involving an aggressive new business plan for Fort Worth-based Reload Record Co.

“Sooner or later, you have to take matters into your own hands.” as Earl Musick tells it. “You can’t assume that a record deal is just going to materialize — especially when you’re a long way from Nashville or New York or Los Angeles.”



Check out the new video of Burrough's Blues from Earl's newest album, "Duck & Cover"

Click for video!

(.mpg - 33 mb)

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