Coffee shops. Open-mike nights. Acoustic guitar. Facial hair. Combine all ingredients. Yield: one average singer-songwriter.
ACOUSTIC ROSS, however, is anything but your average singer-songwriter, and much more than the sum of those parts.
ACOUSTIC ROSS is a solo AntiFolk artist and recovering Fat Person from Ohio who calls Tulsa home. His fiercely original take on life is a one-man assault on all things stale and boring: equal parts folk, punk, rock, blues, country and pop, with a dash of standup comedy to taste, it's AntiFolk al dente, high-energy Service with a Smirk. Nothing is safe as ACOUSTIC ROSS skewers targets far & wide with biting wit, fearless wordplay, wild irreverence, and a medley you have to see to believe.
A childhood filled with comedy records, an instinct for pushing boundaries (“I was always a smart-aleck, and I got sent to my room without dessert a lot,” ROSS explains in a fake interview, “so I learned to lead with my best material”) – mixed with ROSS’s instinctive sarcasm, built-in BS detector, and acerbic wit, honed his pointed sense of humor and sharpened his tongue.
The mid-90s find ROSS moving from his native Ohio to Springfield, MO, where he would cut his live-performance teeth at open mics and with a standing gig at a local coffee shop. Getting compliments and complaints about exactly the same material, he decides he must be doing something right, and soon he finds himself settling down in northeast Oklahoma. Appearances at local clubs lead to features on local TV, airplay on the legendary Dr. Demento radio show, and (thanks to a miscommunication that sticks) a new stage name.
In 2002 the newly christened ACOUSTIC ROSS self-releases his first CD, "News From Around the Bend," garnering him a Tulsa World Spot Music Award nomination, and launches acousticross.com. Two years later comes "The 918 UFN EP," cementing ROSS's status as the Court Jester of the Tulsa music scene. He spends three summers as Executive Producer of Tulsa’s edition of an American Idol-esque TV singing competition, and concludes 2004 touring the American Southeast with several indie press authors, sharing songs, stories, and issues of his own little-known zine, coincidentally titled "News From Around the Bend."
The mid-to-late-aughts bring another Spot Music Award nomination (“Best Singer-Songwriter”), four years fronting a side project (a four-piece rock band called MATH LAB that sounds nothing like him), and high-profile shows (including multiple appearances at Tulsa's Mayfest & D-Fest events). His latest album, "The Anarchist Fakebook," is recorded, released, and well-received in 2008, and features a selection of darker, edgier songs alongside the twistedly funny ACOUSTIC ROSS fare.
In 2010 ACOUSTIC ROSS joins forces with Tulsa’s original sword-swallowing, knife-throwing, fire-breathing, snake-dancing carnival sideshow troupe, the Crispy Family Carnival, becoming its house troubadour, MC and road manager, among other things.
Solo or with his carnival family, ACOUSTIC ROSS continues to perform regularly at a variety of venues around northeast Oklahoma, and around the country, still trying to prove that solo acoustic music doesn’t have to be boring, quiet, or mellow - it just has to be good.
200+ shows (NYC to Pensacola, Philadelphia to New Orleans, Austin to Tulsa & points between) including:
twice @ Tulsa Mayfest (2007 & 2008)
thrice @ Tulsa's D-Fest (2008 & 2009 solo; 2006 w/Math Lab)
six-ice @ Tulsa's Freaker's Ball (2005-2010)
Tulsaoriginalmusic.com showcase (2009)
multiple live radio/TV appearances
(local ones like KOTV, KJRH, KMYZ the Edge, RSU Radio, oklavision.tv; non-local ones like the legendary Dr. Demento radio show)
Tulsa World Spot Music Awards (2002, 2005) - also produced the in-show videos 2005-2007 & was a presenter twice
Oklahomarock.com (2003) & Paynecountyline.com (2005) Music Awards
Acoustic Ross also wo
Acoustic Ross - guitar and vocals. That's pretty much the whole symphony.
News From Around the Bend (2002)
The 918 UFN EP (2004)
The Anarchist Fakebook (2008)
"Fakebook" has been in regular rotation on tulsaoriginalmusic.com; all three albums have been in rotation on RSU Radio's "Local Flavors" (http://www.rsu.edu/rsuradio). Acoustic Ross has also been played on the legendary Dr. Demento syndicated radio show.
"Blizzard Blue #1" (2003)
"Conceptual Continuity" (Zappa Tribute) (2010)
"TulsaMusic.net Sampler #1" (2011)
Misanthropic Love Song #95
Pushin' 40 Mid-Crisis-Life Blues
The RIAA Took My Baby Away
Life Imitates Life
48 Days Adrift
Spot Music Awards nomination
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Acoustic Ross can be funny peculiar, but most of his songs are funny ha-ha. Several of them are LOL ...Acoustic Ross can be funny peculiar, but most of his songs are funny ha-ha. Several of them are LOL and ROTFL. He's a smart aleck with a guitar, but he's a smart smart aleck, writing songs with a lone acoustic guitar that continues the tradition of Tom Lehrer, Wally Pleasant and everyone else who's ever been shoved into Dr. Demento's particular pigeonhole. His friendly demeanor belies his acid wit, and his take on modern life is good medicine.
-- Spot Awards 2002 nominee bio
Anti-Folk Frolic: Acoustic Ross' new CD takes a comic look at everything from Elvis to duct tape
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by Matt Gleason, World Scene Writer Acoustic Ross digs DVD commentaries, which usually feature di...by Matt Gleason, World Scene Writer
Acoustic Ross digs DVD commentaries, which usually feature directors and actors rambling on about how great they are. Well, the local anti-folkie, who makes humorous reference-based acoustic folk songs, selected three tracks on his latest release, “The 918 UFN EP,” to be his own version of a rambling, special-feature commentary.
They give insight into the 33-year-old's songwriting process and explain jokes from the ode to Elvis, “Talkin' Don't Pick on the Big Guy Blues,” the ditty about the wonder of Duct Tape, “Just the Thing,” and his medley of tunes by the anti-folk hipster Adam Brodsky, “Brodsky Megamix.”
Ross did it “because then you'll see just how clever I really am -- or something,” he said, tongue firmly in cheek, on the 54-second intro to the commentaries.
Each song was written for just one use, Ross said on the “Talkin' Don't Pick...” commentary.
“That's the kind of mileage I like to get out of my stuff,” he said, “because, frankly, once you hear it two or three times it's kind of stupid and you know where the jokes are.”
“Talkin' Don't Pick...” was written for an Elvis tribute show. Instead of playing an Elvis cover, Ross opted to write an original.
“I really wanted to write a funny song about Elvis without actually taking any direct shots at Elvis himself,” Ross said. “You know, going to those same old jokes about the Fat Elvis... peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches, shooting TVs and all that junk. Everybody's done that, and, frankly, it's not funny to me.”
The lyrics include a supernatural appearance by Woody Guthrie, who tells Ross to “save all the jokes about the drugs, the weight and the craziness for Brian Wilson's birthday.”
“Just the Thing,” commonly referred to as “the Duct Tape Song,” is a reworked version of the original tune Ross submitted to a Duct Tape songwriting contest.
In the updated version of the tune, Ross describes “the gray stuff” thus: “It smells like athletes feet... It binds us all together and keeps us safe from terrorists.”
The rules specified the entry should include “Duct Tape” in the lyrics, but Ross challenged himself not to use “Duct” or “Tape.”
His entry lost.
“Brodsky Megamix” was written for Brodsky's CD release party in Philadelphia, at which Ross was invited to play. Ross chose Brodsky's “UPS” to perform but, as was the case with the Elvis tribute, Ross didn't want to do just a straight cover.
“What's the point of driving all the way to Philadelphia just to do that?” Ross said in a recent interview.
So Ross went through Brodsky's catalog and found lyrics from about 12 of Brodsky's songs, which he inserted into “UPS.”
Ross thought about doing a commentary for the EP's lead track, “Swept Down the Plain,” but with all its regional inside jokes about storm shelters, Sooners, cockfighting, 3.2 beer and more, Ross figured it wasn't worth doing.
“Anyone who gets the regional jokes will get them,” he said in the interview. “Anybody who doesn't is never going to get them, even if I explain them.”
© 2004 Tulsa World.
AntiFolk to the Rescue: Acoustic Ross – The 918 UFN EP
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Acoustic Ross – The 918 UFN EP (Independent) OK, I’ll admit it – I’m a closet fan of Arlo Guthr...Acoustic Ross – The 918 UFN EP (Independent)
OK, I’ll admit it – I’m a closet fan of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant, occasionally wishing it was less than 25 minutes long and got played on the radio more often than just holidays, when the DJ needs a smoke and bathroom break. If this applies to you as well, Acoustic Ross just may answer your call – look at him as a more current Arlo, if you will.
“Swept Down The Plain” caught my fancy immediately for I could thoroughly relate to the story of a northern guy transplanted in Oklahoma. “Where I grew up we never had tornadoes, but there was a basement in every house in town; now I live in Oklahoma, where it’s the other way around...” Filled with humorous observations of the differences in location and mindset, it sets the tone for the rest of the disc.
Other songs tackle such topics as Elvis Presley, “duck” tape, and spending the night with an ex – all with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and filled with inside jokes and pop culture references. The last of the new songs is a tribute to fellow anti-folkster Adam Brodsky.
With just 6 new cuts, Ross lets his geek flag fly by filling the space in DVD fashion with a “bonus features” section that includes the “Director’s commentary” for three songs, explaining the jokes and references in each as they play in the background.
Granted, the “bonus features” can grow old quickly, but he even acknowledges that they’re really only good for one listen in his commentary/ramblings. The main course of the disc actually holds up to repeated listens better than I expected, however, as the songs seem to become yours as you catch on the all of the little inside jokes and references.
Acoustic Ross’ 918 UFN EP may just what the doctor ordered as a remedy if the summer heat has got you drained and suffering from a serious case of the “blahs”. This disc’s relaxed shuffle and sense of humor should have your head bobbing, your toe tapping, and a grin on your face in no time.
Recommended for: Fans of neo-folk pop, novelty-pop, and Arlo Guthrie.
- Gary Hizer, Urban Tulsa Weekly, August 5, 2004
Anti-Folk Alternative: Tulsa gets a primer on movement that promises 'service with a smirk'
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by Thomas Conner, World Entertainment Writer Ross is a good ol' boy who could easily be mistaken ...by Thomas Conner, World Entertainment Writer
Ross is a good ol' boy who could easily be mistaken for, well, a good ol' boy. Armed with an acoustic guitar, he strides onto the stage in a worn pair of jeans, and no doubt most of the audience braces for some standard singer-songwriter fare and another séance conjuring the ghost of Woody Guthrie.
But if you look more closely, Ross's guitar bears a scrawled slogan that, instead of Guthrie's "This Machine Kills Fascists," says, "This Machine Kills Fashion."
Five minutes later, that same audience is busting a gut laughing.
Ross wields the acoustic guitar for the ridiculous more than the sublime, writing his "comedy rock with a dark side" in the style of his heroes: Dr. Demento staples like Tom Lehrer and Stan Freberg, plus the fierce, blistering acoustic attack of Ed Hamell (Hamell on Trial). If he sings a protest song, it's more of a comedy routine, or as he says, "a one-man assault on all things idiotic" and "service with a smirk."
He's one side of a musical sub-genre known on the East Coast as anti-folk - acoustic singer-songwriters who act more like rockers, with fewer sensitive ballads and no political protest. Adam Brodsky, the king of Philadelphia anti-folk, calls it "Woody Guthrie meets punk rock."
Brodsky and Ross, along with local songwriter David R, will conduct a survey course in this new musical category at the Anti-Folk FootStomp.
"It just means we're in contrast to the mellow Jewel stuff," Ross said in an interview this week.
Ross has been performing in Tulsa for five years, after moving here from Missouri and Ohio. In Ohio, he led a band called the Vaguerants that "sounded a lot like the Violent Femmes": the band didn't follow him to Missouri, so he was forced to go solo.
Set list can be anywhere from 1 song to 100, everything from a short festival set to a full-size two-set club night.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.