Words & Music hosted by Ingrid Graudins
A very special evening featuring performances from a diverse group of gifted songwriters. Hosted by Ingrid Graudins. Featuring Robbie Fulks, Steve Dawson, and Liam Davis.
Singer/songwriter Robbie Fulks was one of the more heralded talents in the alternative country movement, displaying an offbeat, sometimes dark sense of humor in many of his best moments. As time passed, Fulks moved away from the country twang of his early work and into a crunchier roots rock hybrid. Fulks divided his childhood between Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, and received his schooling at Columbia University. He moved to Chicago in 1983, and first served as vocalist and guitarist in bluegrass band the Special Consensus, appearing on their Grammy-nominated 1989 album A Hole in My Heart. He later performed in the musical revue Woody Guthrie's American Song, and formed his own rock band, the Trailer Trash Revue, with whom he cut a locally popular single, "Little King" b/w "Jean Arthur." Fulks got his first significant exposure via Bloodshot Records' 1994 compilation Insurgent Country, Vol. 1: For a Life of Sin, which included his track "Cigarette State"; the 1995 follow-up, Insurgent Country, Vol. 2: Hell Bent, featured Fulks' "She Took a Lot of Pills (And Died)." Both cuts were produced by Steve Albini, who also helmed Fulks' Bloodshot debut, Country Love Songs, in 1996. The album received highly positive reviews, and featured backing from roots rockers the Skeletons, as well as former Buck Owens steel guitarist Tom Brumley. The follow-up, South Mouth, took a similarly retro-minded approach, drawing from classic honky tonk and Bakersfield country. With a growing cult reputation, Fulks earned a major-label shot with Geffen, but many critics felt that his 1998 label debut, Let's Kill Saturday Night, undermined the organic strengths of his previous work with overly slick roots rock production. Fulks returned to Bloodshot for the bleak follow-up, 2001's Couples in Trouble, a more creatively successful foray into roots rock. He followed it up later that year with 13 Hillbilly Giants, a covers collection that spotlighted lesser-known songs from country's earlier days.
Steve Dawson was born in California, raised in Idaho, and currently lives in Chicago. His songs show evidence of all 3 places – the California folk-rock of the early 70?s (Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Jackson Browne), the country music he heard growing up in Idaho, and the blues and soul music of Chicago. Dawson first picked up guitar at age 12 and began writing songs almost immediately. His first professional gig was playing guitar with Cadillac Carl and the Road Rangers at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Bellevue, Idaho. After high school, Dawson attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, studying jazz composition and songwriting, while also performing in the local folk music scene. In the early 90s Dawson moved to Chicago. Upon his arrival he met Diane Christiansen and they formed the band Stump the Host, which became a training ground and a showcase for Dawson's eclectic songwriting. In 1995 Stump The Host changed personal and evolved into a new band, Dolly Varden, releasing the first of five albums that would reflect the growing craft and depth of his songs. Critics from Rolling Stone, Uncut, and the Village Voice, among many others, have praised Dawson’s gift for melodic, evocative songwriting. Dolly Varden has toured all across the US and Europe over the last 14 years. In 2006 Undertow records released Dawson’s first solo album, "Sweet Is The Anchor" a collection of quiet, layered songs recorded in Steve’s home studio. Critics noted Dawson’s heightened strength as both a songwriter and singer, combining elements of country and soul: “Sweet Is The Anchor" is a vocalist's album awash in the languor of country music and the Saturday night highs of soulâ€ť (Chicago Daily Herald) Dawson’s latest solo album, "I Will Miss The Trumpets And The Drums"ť (Undertow, 2010), was once again self-produced and recorded in Dawson's home studio, Kernel Sound Emporium. The follow up to "Sweet Is the Anchor"ť, the new album features 13 haunting, melodic songs about change and letting go, sung in Dawson's plaintive tenor, with echos of classic country, pop and soul. In addition to performing and recording Dawson teaches songwriting at the world famous Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.
After ten years as a songwriter, guitarist and singer with ciritically-acclaimed chicago power pop oufit Frisbie, Liam Davis brings his sensibilities to bear on the acoustic, man-with-a-guitar context. Oft referred to as one of Chicago's finest vocalists, Davis combines a unique instrument with a penchant for personal storytelling and an enthusiastic respect for songcraft. His first solo album, The Dread Knot Awaits, is in production. Samples here are demos of the songs to be included in the release.
Liam was recently nominated for a 2011 Grammy™ Award as producer of Justin Roberts' Jungle Gym.