Brent Kirby is a night's stroll with a rock n' roll romantic. This does not mean Kirby's merely a smitten troubadour, or a bard for the wayward but colorful life of musicians. Though his own songs bring up those immortal topics, Kirby's romanticism is much bigger than that. His songs start with the introspective stir of strum and voice, but just like his performances, quickly move outward and embrace the listener. Kirby, who grew up in Wisconsin and has lived playing music in places as varied as Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Cleveland, has acquired a keen narrator's eye. Playing bars and clubs since his early teens, his lyrics dictate life in the moment, not as nightly grinds, but as places where dreams really come to life in gritty color.
He’s been called by many one of Cleveland’s hardest working musicians and his actions prove that. When he is not playing solo or with his band, the Shapeshifters, he writes the tunes and fronts the Jack Fords (2007, 2009 Best Rock Band Cleveland Scene), plays drums for celebrated singer/songwriter Chris Allen and the holiday band, the Ohio City Singers. He is the founder and leader of The New Soft Shoe, a band put together to specifically perform the material of Gram Parsons. He can also be found during the day teaching songwriting to kids of all ages in the Cleveland Municipal School District.
In addition to all of the awards garnered by all the other groups Kirby has been a part of, he has been individually nominated multiple times by the Free Times and Cleveland Scene for Best Male Singer/Songwriter and Best Male Vocalist. This has led to sharing the stage with Edwin McCain, Jorma Kakounen, Ellis Paul, Michael Stanley, Will Hoge, John Eddie, Southside Johnny, Bottlerockets, Augustana, Devon Allman, The Yayhoos, James Gang, Marah, The Trews, Dave Alvin, Band of Heathens, Elizabeth Cook, among many others.
Fueled by an arsenal of songs in the spirit of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, to the more recent Ryan Adams, Ray Lamontagne, and Wilco, Kirby delivers a charismatic performance with a heartfelt sincerity that's been honed by countless gigs and a sheer desire for perfection. He will be touring regionally and nationally in support of his 2010 release with his band, The Lost Fortunes, called “Coming Back to Life”.
For more information, please visit www.brentkirby.com
Al Moss - Pedal Steel & Vocals
Andy Leach - Guitar & Vocals
Jon Niefeld - Drums
Matt Charboneau - Bass
Mavis- Turn Around
2005 Brent Kirby & The Flashing 12's- The Mean Days
2007 Jack Fords- Bent Outta Shape
2010 Brent Kirby- Last Song On The Soundtrack
2010 Jack Fords- The Way Things Should Be
2011 Brent Kirby & The Lost Fortunes- Coming Back to Life
Still My Girl
Standing In Hallways
silently Stepping Out
Bent Outta Shape
The Way Things Should Be mp3
Spot Where I Stand
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“One of Cleveland’s finest singer-songwriters” Jeff Niesel, Cleveland Scene “Last Song On The Sou...“One of Cleveland’s finest singer-songwriters” Jeff Niesel, Cleveland Scene
“Last Song On The Soundtrack is part John Hiatt’s Bring the Family aesthetic and approach, part storybook romanticism and all heartfelt Americana, splayed across six strings.” Peter Chakerian,
“His rootsy, Americana music fits like a favorite T-shirt”- John Hannibal, Radio Hannibal
“Kirby’s Last Song On The Soundtrack is some of the freshest new music found anywhere” Peter Minkin, Cleveland.com
“Pop songs with catchy hooks, incredible instrumentation, and lyrics with soul” Jason Burcharski, 52 Weeks in Cleveland
“Last Song On The Soundtrack is a pioneering record that can pave the ways for the rest of the folks in this Roots Americana Cleveland music scene to follow” Jason Burcharski, 52 Weeks in Cleveland
“A real American rock’n’roll tour de force, already an instant classic and personal favorite” Joaquin Lopez, Rock and Roll Circus, Spain
Conversation With A Cleveland Musician: Brent Kirby
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Today Radio Hannibal starts a new weekly feature called "Conversation With A Cleveland Musician". T...Today Radio Hannibal starts a new weekly feature called "Conversation With A Cleveland Musician". That pretty much sums it up. I'll be talking with local Cleveland musicians about music and Cleveland.
I'd like to dedicate this new feature to the late Jane Scott. Until her passing a few days ago and the wonderful stories I've read in memory of her, I hadn't realized how influential she'd been to me.
I've stated numerous times that I'm not a critic of music but a promoter of it. If I don't like something I simply don't share it. Jane Scott went a step further by finding something positive in nearly every musician she wrote about. Some of which, I truly disliked. Still, I read everything she wrote (except for time away at school). Her style and attitude have certainly left a mark on me.
Now, on with the new feature.
Brent Kirby is full time musician. He plays drums with Chris Allen And The Guilty Hearts and the holiday group The Ohio City Singers among other session work. He is also a talented singer/songwriter, strapping on a guitar for his band The Lost Fortunes as well as Jack Fords and a Gram Parsons tribute band. When he's not playing music he repairs guitars or is talking about his passion as he did with me.
Radio Hannibal: When did you start playing and which came first, drums or guitar.
Brent Kirby: I started playing drums in 5th grade and got into some piano in high school and college. I didn't start playing guitar until I was in college. I sang and wrote songs for my first band senior year in college, however, I played drums all the way through high school and college with many bands.
RH: And your dad is a music teacher right?
BK: My Dad has always been a music teacher/band director for as long as I can remember. Some of my first memories are falling asleep using my mom's purse as a pillow underneath bleachers at band concerts. My Dad and I used to play jazz together and drive my mom a little nuts with all the noise.
RH: So that's your early influence. Did you play in the marching band? Drums seem like the coolest in a marching band.
BK: Drums definitely were the coolest thing going at the time. I started out in high school marching band while still in 8th grade.
Played all the instruments and was a drum line section leader for a while.
RH: What was the first music you bought?
BK: I think my sister and I went in on a Donny and Marie record together. I was pretty young. I liked that song "Little Bit Country, Little Bit Rock'n'Roll". Kind of a premonition I guess. First record I picked out and bought myself was Piano Man by Billy Joel. I remember listening to it at my great grandmother's house on an old tweed suitcase turntable. I played it over and over. I remember the smell it had. I could still recite every word of that record today. When we moved into the house I grew up in, I found this stack of old 78 records with a suitcase turntable and listened to those nonstop. Stuff like "I'm looking over a 4 leafed clover", and "Go vote for Richard Nixon". I remember those things were fragile and broke easily.
RH: Yeah, we all remember the smell. Chicago IV, that 4 LP live set had a great smell. I know someone who'll be happy to hear about Donny and Marie. You said earlier you were late to guitar. I presume you picked it up to write songs. Did you know you could sing before then?
BK: I was late to guitar. I picked it up so I could play something in my dorm room in college. Drums just weren't able to be played and I needed to do something. I knew I could sing but not that well in high school. I might have written a song or two in high school on the piano and sang those, but it was mostly late in college that I took that a bit more seriously. I joined choir in college for a semester, but they made me move back to percussion because they didn't think I belonged there. But I learned a lot in that one semester about hearing harmonies and singing somewhat properly.
RH: Other than your dad who are your musical influences?
BK: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Gram Parsons, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt, Ryan Adams, Jayhawks, Joe Henry, Blue Rodeo, John Prine to name the more popular ones. I have always been inspired and influenced by the great musicians and songwriters that I have played with and came into personal contact with. They almost give me a bit more inspiration than the bigger ones because I've shared moments with them and seen the power of what they could do. I feel like I'm a sum of all the parts that I've played and experienced.
RH: You told me you grew up in Milwaukee, ended up in Nashville working for Sam Ash Music who transferred you to Cleveland to open their store on Mayfield Rd. Weren't there a few other cities along the way and how'd you end up calling Cleveland home?
BK: I grew up in Oconomowoc, which is about 40 minutes outside Milwaukee. I went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for music merchandising/recording with a business minor. I then moved to St. Louis to do an internship at a studio and also worked at a vintage guitar shop at the same time. I started visiting Nashville and then moved there after it seemed to be the place for me to be. Worked for Thoroughbred Music which became Sam Ash. Moved into management and ended up very close to home in Chicago. I was offered to manage the Cleveland store and ended up here after a very short stint in Columbus. Spent most of my time in Ohio City the first couple of years and now live on the east side.
RH: And your take on the Cleveland music scene now that you've been here for over a decade.
BK: I think there are some great musicians and great bands that call Cleveland home. The hard part about Cleveland is that while there are splinters of creative cliques and scenes in all art forms, most of them don't collaborate and merge. The other tough part about Cleveland is that the audiences don't seem to value original music as much as other towns. You can't really compare it to Nashville, because it's a music center and is just a different scene completely. There's a reason the Black Keys moved camp down there. It's just easier to get musical business done. The cogs are greased. Cleveland is similar to Milwaukee or St. Louis if compared to the places I have lived and played.
I have seen some truly great shows and performances by local people in Cleveland, and I have always been a huge supporter of the underdog. The one thing I always admire about Cleveland is that always keeps it's chin up and doesn't let the crap people say who aren't from here bother them. This is my home now and I will do my part.
RH: What's the greatest thing in Cleveland and on the rare night off, where do you like to go?
BK: Coolest thing in Cleveland right now to me is East 4th. Great restaurants and people watching. Happy Dog is always great food, music and a great hang. Shows at the Beachland are always on the radar too.
On the rare night off, I'm probably starting off with sushi at Pacific East in Coventry. Maybe hit La Cave Du Vin. Cedar Lee theatre has always been an entertaining way to take in a movie. I don't visit bars too much as I spend most of my working hours in them. West Side Market during the day is a staple, along with hikes in Lake County Metroparks. Lots of park stuff really. Mentor Headlands is a summer must for me.
RH: Brent the beach bum. Two more questions. Your new album came out about two months ago. While still working that, any other projects in the near future?
BK: I am working on an acoustic record with just Al Moss on pedal steel and myself for release in September. I had recorded about 12 tunes before I did "Coming Back To Life". Probably record a dozen or so more and pick and choose.
Bobby Latina and I want to release a new Jack Fords CD this year for release in November. We have a good amount of tunes ready, but I think we need a handful more before we enter the studio.
Also, I'll be playing drums on the new Ohio City Singers record for release this December. Don Dixon will be producing this one as well and I'm looking forward to hitting those tunes.
RH: New Ohio City Singers, has me almost wishing for snow. I was thrilled to get to intro a number of those shows last holiday season. So, what's your goal?
BK: One year, 3 year or 5 year? I'm making a living making music and I want to continue to do that for as long as my body will let me. That's the main goal. The more immediate goals are to expand my reach and capability, branch out into different aspects of musicianship and creativity, and make a better living than what I'm making right now. Traveling will be part of expanding my horizons. Balancing all that with family will be key. I like where I am right now, in control of my future, and I aim to keep it that way.
Pass the Hat Local musicians reach out to fans to help fund their records
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by Keith Gribbins TOOLS facebook twitter digg del.icio.us newsvine reddit ...by Keith Gribbins
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Families are fundamentally support groups. That's one of the reasons local singer-songwriter Chris Allen thinks of his fans as family. That was quite evident on a busy Friday night a few weeks ago at the Happy Dog, where Allen indulged longtime followers by playing all of 2004's The Story of Gasoline, a record from his old band Rosavelt.
Allen has been making music for almost 15 years, in many incarnations, and his fans come out concert after concert to catch his Rust Belt take on heartland rock. In fact, it's a sound and experience they love so much, they actually helped Allen foot the bill for his past two records. "After losing quite a bit of money on my first solo album, I needed a new business model," says Allen. "People were spending less and less buying CDs, but I did not want to cut back on the quality of producing a good record — like great studios, great musicians, and a top producer like Don Dixon."
So Allen turned to his fan base to help fund his second album, 2008's Things Unbroken. He organized a party where he sold friends, family, and fans on the idea of making a record together. In the end, 100 people — each giving donations ranging from $75 to $250 — received executive producer credits on the album. Additionally, Allen offered donors a treasure trove of prizes: deluxe versions of the album, a special edition of his greatest hits, and tickets to all three release shows in Cleveland, Chicago, and New York.
They were also invited to a holiday concert, where they were greeted with champagne, a 45-minute set, and some hang time with Allen. "I was able to talk to people one-on-one [about] what they enjoyed, not only about my music, but independent artists in general," he recalls. "There is definitely a collective disgust for corporate rock. People feel like the personal side of falling in love with a record has been taken from them. They felt they were not only funding a record, but they were actually taking part in its creation."
Today, fans fueling record production is a full-fledged industry called "crowd funding," with monster websites dedicated to helping people bankroll everything from arts to business ideas. Portals like Kickstarter, RocketHub, ArtistShare, and IndieGoGo seemed liked the ideal starting place for Cleveland rockers Call Me Constant. Their upcoming concept album, The Sun, the Moon, the Dark, the Dawn, was partly paid for by fans.
"Our projected goal was to raise $7,000 in 30 days," says frontman Stephen Mlinarcik. "We needed approximately $3,000 for recording and the rest for mixing, mastering, and disc production. We generated a little more than half of our funding goal through the donations of over 90 individuals."
Call Me Constant shopped around to find an internet fund-raising platform that fit their style. Kickstarter is one of the most popular crowd-funding sites, but it also requires you to meet a monetary goal by deadline or no funds will be collected. That's one of the reasons Call Me Constant decided to use IndieGoGo, which allows artists to keep whatever they raise, minus a small percentage.
Each of these site has its pros, cons, and distinct angles. But artists need to remember these sites are tools, not magical sources of funding. "Be realistic about how much money you need for your project," cautions Mlinarcik. "Plan out everything: promotional materials, rewards, how you're going to pay for those rewards if you have to produce them, and the best way to generate a response from your fan base. It's way more work than it appears to be."
Donors typically get something in return for their money — T-shirts, posters, autographed albums, rare collector's items, concert tickets, and face time with the band. Busy singer-songwriter Brent Kirby, who plays drums with Chris Allen, leads the Lost Fortunes, and fronts the Jack Fords and the New Soft Shoe, surpassed his $5,000 goal on Kickstarter in seven days — thanks to some unusual incentives. For $1,000 or more, Kirby would actually write a song for you, record it, and frame the handwritten lyrics.
"I offered prizes like personal fishing trips, dinner the night of a show, 30-minute kid shows, and private listening sessions in the studio with food and drinks," says Kirby. Most supporters donated $100, which netted them handwritten lyrics. "At the end of the period, I had around 25 lyrics sheets that I had to write out. I haven't sat down to hand write 25 pages of anything since I was a kid. Who writes things by hand anymore? And that's the draw."
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Singer-songwriter Brent Kirby leans on his able backing band and alt-country influences for his thir...Singer-songwriter Brent Kirby leans on his able backing band and alt-country influences for his third solo release, Coming Back to Life.
It's mid-February and Brent Kirby is holed up at C-Town Sound, a modest, apartment-size East Side recording studio, tracking vocals for "Jenny Don't Cry," a Lyle Lovett-like ballad he wrote for his niece.
It's a beautifully sweet song and just one example of the wealth of great, unreleased material that Kirby, one of the region's best singer-songwriters, has yet to share.
"I just need to purge; these are tunes that I kind of don't know what to do with," he later explains while taking a break to drink a beer and eat some sushi. "I want to commit to them and slowly work on them. I don't know what direction they're headed in yet, but I'm just putting stuff down."
Kirby is known for his clear, crisp voice reminiscent of folk roots icon John Prine, but his solo act is just one of his many musical outlets. In addition to hosting a monthly singer-songwriter night at Prosperity Social Club and capturing the heart and soul of Gram Parsons' music during a tribute show at Happy Dog the second Thursday of every month, Kirby fronts the rowdy rock act the Jack Fords and finds seasonal work with the Ohio City Singers, an ensemble that performs original Christmas music during the holidays.
The priority at the moment, however, is Coming Back to Life, the self-released solo album Kirby will put out in May (there's a CD release party scheduled for May 14 at Happy Dog). "The record is a progression," Kirby says of the disc, which will include the radio-friendly "Still My Girl" and a twangy number reminiscent of the Eagles called "Spot Where I Stand," which he wrote while backpacking through Yosemite last summer. Thanks to Kirby's talented backing band, the Lost Fortunes, the songs have a natural, easy flow to them.
"We have a guitar player who works together really well with our steel player," Kirby says. "It's nice because everyone listens really well, which you don't get with every band. Creatively, I feel like I'm on the cusp of unleashing something different."
A drummer by trade, Kirby initially became inspired to write songs after hearing Uncle Tupelo's 1990 seminal alt-country classic No Depression. "Then someone gave me a Gram Parsons album, and I never gave it back," he says.
A Wisconsin native, Kirby moved around the Midwest before landing in Cleveland 10 years ago and putting out his local debut, The Mean Days, in 2005.
Because he says he was distracted, Kirby took five years to follow the album with last year's more assured Last Song on the Soundtrack. But now that he's essentially self-employed (Kirby runs a guitar repair business out of the basement of his Willowick home), he's able to devote more time to music. And the newfound dedication reveals itself on Coming Back to Life.
"Musically, I feel really lucky," Kirby says. "I feel like I'm involved in a good crowd, and I would have had to struggle much harder to get that someplace else. There's a real sense of community here, and that's been nice."
Kickstarter Project: Brent Kirby CD
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Brent Kirby, who I have often called one of the hardest working musicians in Cleveland, launched a K...Brent Kirby, who I have often called one of the hardest working musicians in Cleveland, launched a Kickstarter page to raise money for the funding of his new CD “Coming Back to Life”. With an upcoming release date and launch scheduled at the Happy Dog May 14th this is indeed a huge undertaking.
Kirby himself is a soft spoken guy. As a person he is friendly and treats his fans like family. When it comes to his art he is humble never taking much credit for his art. He makes it as if he just kind of shows up and everyone else does all the work. It’s always about the band members or the production team behind the scenes he is talking up. The truth of the matter is he is the real deal singer-songwriter. His songs tell stories of love, loss, joy, and heartbreak. While these themes are the same thing others sing about Kirby has an uncanny knack of weaving his art into dreamscapes. Lyrics and notes that take you to a moment of time that never existed, but somehow make you feel “I’ve been here before”. He sings the songs in the key of a blue collar working mans town. Songs that transcend the city of Cleveland that he calls home. Songs that come off as a beat generation roadside prophet.
My first encounter into the world of Brent Kirby was only a little over a year ago. I saw him doing a solo set for a fundraiser at the now defunct Town Fryer. I said he was like the Jack Johnson of Cleveland, and in my naivety I thought that was a compliment. I now know that is way too one dimensional. Any folk singer with a guitar shouldn’t be compared to Jack Johnson. I know now after a year on the road seeing show after show there are a million Jack Johnson’s out there. This guy works his ass off. You can see him solo, or fronting his rock and roll side show The Jack Fords with Bobby Latina, or playing drums with Chris Allen, or singing Gram Parsons tunes with The New Soft Shoe, or with Pedal Steel virtuoso Al Moss. Plain and simple if you can’t see Kirby any given week in Cleveland you just aren’t trying hard enough.
Kirby is simple, opting for a thrift store flannel shirt, dimestore shades and pair of broken in Levi’s. His salt and pepper hair a wavy mess reminiscent of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. His beard at times looking like Iron & Wines Samuel Beam, Brent Kirby is what he is. He looks like the guy least likely to be front stage sitting unassuming at the bar sipping his Dewar’s but those in the know truly do know he is about to put on one of the most entertaining experiences you have ever had for a minimum of 2 hours. When the lights go down, and the amps start to crackle Kirby takes the stage as Cleveland’s lost prophet. You can call him a throwback troubadour, but I think of him as Cleveland’s road side poet laureate. Kirby is a guy that is as comfortable busking a Cleveland street corner as he is playing the House of Blues Stage. While his library of songs is loaded with originals he has no problem throwing down some classics from Neil Young and the Grateful Dead to newer Alt-Country like Ryan Adams and Wilco.
This CD is something fans not only of Kirby’s but those of the Cleveland music scene can be a part of. Your investment or donation gets you a myriad of options from a CD all the way up to personal, intimate live performances in your home. Kirby has 30 days to raise $5,000. You can support him for $5.00 all the way up to a grand. Help make Coming Back to Life a success and be a part of something truly special. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brentkirby/brent-kirby-coming-back-to-life
Brent Kirby's Kickstart Project, Helping A Musician Make A Record
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In the days of yore when kings and queens ruled and there was no music industry, there was still a m...In the days of yore when kings and queens ruled and there was no music industry, there was still a music community. So how was a musician to make a living at it? Through a thing called patronage in which, typically well-heeled, appreciators of the art would pay the artist money to create and perform.
The practice of patronage has continued through the years but in the internet age and with the collapse of the traditional music industry it is seeing a resurgence that hearkens back to that 18th century practice. Albeit it's not necessarily the rich who are supporting the artists. Instead, it's small donations by fans of a particular musician who feel no qualms about investing in something they love, and in fact are made to feel a part of the creative process itself.
There's been some impressive contributions to artists on a national level who've been dropped by their major label yet have been able to rely on hardcore fans to keep the music coming. For a local artist, where there is no major label to begin with, this new channel for financial backing is a godsend.
Which brings us to the story of Cleveland's Brent Kirby. And I feel fortunate to be able to label him as a Clevelander. Kirby was raised in Milwaukee and has lived in Chicago and Nashville. The life of a traveling musician, trying to get his music heard by the biggest number.
While in Nashville he worked for the music chain Sam Ash and rose quickly through the ranks. Not a surprise given his amiable personality. When Sam Ash was to open a Cleveland Ohio location Kirby was chosen to manage it.
That was over ten years ago and it was here that he fell in love with a Cleveland girl and fell in with a group of talented area musicians who also shared a desire to focus on original music.
With those two support systems he was able to quit his job with Sam Ash and concentrate fully on his music. He repairs guitars as well but call that a side job. And thus Cleveland became the fortunate benefactor, able to call Kirby one of its own and enjoy his talents on an almost nightly basis as he plays in any number of venues and line-ups.
Now we Clevelanders have the chance to be his benefactor and offer our patronage to his art. It's worth the investment. Kirby's talent is real. His songwriting is as good as anything coming out of Nashville. His stage presence is disarming and appealing. He has also surrounded himself with a band that's so good he's able to blend into it as just a part of the whole. The band has changed names and is now known as The Lost Fortunes. There's his other major outfit, the rocking Jack Fords, but this Kickstarter (a site which makes it easy for musicians to look for patronage) campaign is about his new solo album.
He and The Lost Fortunes wrapped up recording a few weeks ago and the tracks are being mixed and mastered presently. The album is to go to press by late April and be ready for release in time for his party on Saturday May 14th at The Happy Dog.
And you can help make it a reality. Brent has set up a donation page on Kickstarter, Brent Kirby Coming Back To Life (that's the name of the album). Depending on what you donate there's numerous rewards and some very intriguing ones at that.
As a regular reader I trust you respect my ability to discern great music and hopefully I haven't steered you wrong...too many times. I am more excited to hear the new Brent Kirby album than I have been to hear anything else this year. That would include the new R.E.M. album, a band of which I would consider to be in my top five of all time. Perhaps that will sway you to donate.
Silently Stepping Out Surreal: Brent Kirby's Secret to Success
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Silently Stepping Out Surreal BRENT KIRBY'S SECRET TO SUCCESS Singer-songwriter Brent Kirby scratc...Silently Stepping Out Surreal
BRENT KIRBY'S SECRET TO SUCCESS
Singer-songwriter Brent Kirby scratches at his three-day-old beard as he watches a family walking out of frame at the West Side Market Café. Between bites of hash brown and over-easy eggs, the longtime Cleveland resident and Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, transplant ponders why roots rock in his hometown is a big deal.
“I guess you might expect something angrier,” he says, alluding to the Cleveland area’s post-industrial years. “But there are a lot of genuine, like-minded and hard-working people here, and that, coupled with the Springsteen vibe permeating society here, means something.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize there’s so much stuff going on here; it’s a great scene… I guess you can say it’s the Midwest, but what you feel in the music… that honesty and feeling of real life is a big part of what makes Cleveland such a great scene for roots rock.”
Those good ol’ roots have kept Kirby – a 25-hour-a-day, work-at-club, stay-at-home dad and guitar tech-handyman – extraordinarily busy. Busy enough, in fact, that unlike some of the characters he may sing about on a given night, he actually quit his day job in cellular phone sales.
“There just wasn’t enough time for a day job with that schedule and family life vying for minutes,” Kirby shrugs with a laugh. “It took too much out of me, and too much away from what I’m doing musically.”
All in the Moment
Scene hoppers are sure to recognize what Kirby has been trying to do musically over the last several years. Now, Kirby’s affable demeanor, sandpapery voice and allegories can be found on stage nearly every night of the week.
Kirby plays with five different local bands at the moment, performs solo and just last month had “a total of 23 gigs,” including a lot of double shows.
He and fellow guitar slinger Bobby Latina lead The Jack Fords through rollicking rock tunes that recall everything from Springsteen to the Old ‘97s. The Fords just released a new disc called The Way Things Should Be, which was produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (Bottle Rockets, Del Lords, Freedy Johnston).
Kirby’s also in a band called The Shapeshifters; drums in singer-songwriter Chris Allen's group called The Guilty Hearts, and does holiday gigs with The Ohio City Singers, an all-star lineup of musicians at Prosperity Social Club, where he hosts a monthly “anything goes” show called Songwriters-in-the-Round.
He also does a little shindig called The New Soft Shoe, a low-key musical revue (read: spontaneously combustible roots revival) with Shapeshifters pals and others at the Happy Dog.
The tunage tips the hat to alt-country forefather Gram Parsons and his work with The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and as a solo artist. The gigs have met with some high praise.
“It’s a seat of our pants gig,” says Kirby. “We don’t really rehearse; we just show up and do it all in the moment. But we do take the music very seriously. People who show up are pretty diehard about his stuff… maybe even fanatical. So it’s important to do it right, and I think we do that.”
Preaching Parsons was never really a mission, but Kirby’s love affair with the late, great singer-songwriter inspired him to delve into that “gilded palace of sin,” so to speak.
“It’s a good time. I’ve got this great band together already and have been singing a lot of Parsons’ songs already. It seemed like a really fun thing to do. I don’t think it’s something that will ever be a huge focus, but it’s a good outlet.”
In a Class All By Himself
What has been a huge focus for Kirby recently is his new solo disc. The aptly-titled Last Song on the Soundtrack is part John Hiatt’s Bring the Family aesthetic and approach, part storybook romanticism and all heartfelt Americana, splayed across six strings.
And it sounds exactly how Kirby imagined it would.
“I didn’t want to drown myself in guitars, but still wanted to layer the melodies,” he offers, with a nod to “my guitar band,” the Jack Fords.
“The thought was really to augment that stripped-down acoustic guitar sound with a lot of my favorite instrumentation and to do it all live.”
The premise of the 11-cut disc was “to let the songs and characters in them speak for themselves, and have the acoustic guitar anchor the songs,” Kirby relates, between sips of coffee. “Setting the scene and painting the picture is a great part of writing songs; songwriters just can’t do what they do in that second- or third-person voice.”
To wit, the characters of Kirby’s songs all live very much in the moment.
“This album is a true expression of me, and I’ve always liked story songs,” he says. “I like ‘I’m Just a Man’ and ‘Don’t Cry For Me’ for that reason. Those songs are as much about the images as they are music and words.”
Of his latest batch, “Silently Stepping out Surreal” might be the best of the lot, fortifying country-fied shuffle-n-jangle with Al Moss’ weepy pedal steel, Chris Hanna’s minimalist piano musing and a handful of restless souls searching for their path.
Fittingly enough, it’s also one hell of a road tune – fitting for a man who loves a good story and the open road.
LISTEN: Brent Kirby - "Don't Cry for Me"
This Thursday, August 5 at noon, he performs on 90.3FM WCPN’s “Around Noon” show with his pedal steel accomplice, Al Moss. Later that day, it’s a rollicking set with the Jack Fords for the “Dundee Outdoor Concert Series” at Playhouse Square at 5 pm. The following Thursday night, Kirby and friends do “The New Soft Shoe" at the Happy Dog, at 9 pm. Keep up with Kirby (and his crazy schedule) at www.myspace.com/brentkirby or www.myspace.com/jackfords
Local Spotlight: Brent Kirby is the Real Deal
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The local state of music continues to offer some extraordinary talent if you’re willing to seek it o...The local state of music continues to offer some extraordinary talent if you’re willing to seek it out. One fellow that seems to relish a full palate is Brent Kirby who can be found either playing in FIVE bands, repairing guitars, or solo performing at local bars and music clubs. Kirby recently released a new album titled Last Song On The Soundtrack which is woven with tales about the life of a romantic. “This album is truly me” explains Kirby of the live studio recording with little overdubbing. Highlights from the eleven tracks include “Silently Stepping Out Surreal” with great country riffs from Chris Hanna on piano and Al Moss on pedal steel. The simply traditional heart bleeder “I’m Just A Man”, a Texas swing dance number called “Don’t Cry For Me”, and a straight on rock ballad “Holding That’s Hard” makes Kirby’s record some of the freshest new music found anywhere. Other members of Kirby’s band The Shapeshifters include Tom Prebish on bass, Jon Niefeld on drums, and Andy Leach on lead guitar.
Brent landed in Cleveland around 2001 and joined Bobby Latina four years later as the rhythm guitarist and singer of The Jack Fords. On top of his own record release, The Fords have just released their new album The Way Things Should Be which was recorded at Suma Studios in Painesville by acclaimed producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel.
Other side projects include The New Soft Shoe which pays homage to the late great Gram Parsons on the second Thursday of each month at The Happy Dog. Kirby along with other members of The Shapeshifters don’t rehearse, but just show up ready to play songs from the godfather of alt-country. When local singer/songwriter Chris Allen incorporates a band called The Guilty Hearts, he has Brent playing his first love, the drums. Kirby hosts a songwriter in the round session on the last Tuesday of the month at Prosperity Social Club and during the holidays can be found performing with The Ohio City Singers.
Visit www.myspace.com/brentkirby or www.myspace.com/jackfords for a complete listing of performance dates.
Brent Kirby & The Shapeshifters + bonus New Soft Shoe
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I was late on this whole Jack Fords thing. The first time I got to see or hear Brent Kirby or any o...I was late on this whole Jack Fords thing. The first time I got to see or hear Brent Kirby or any of his many projects was one of my first stops on my 52 Weeks tour at the now defunct Town Fryer for a benefit concert. I was amazed at the song craftsmanship seeing this cat play solo. Throw him in front of the Jack Fords and you have pure rock and roll with this hint of an Alt-Country Wilco thing hiding in the background. Just when you thought they would get more twangy they got more rock. The talent in the Jack Fords alone is ridiculous to say the least.
Fast forward a couple weeks later and I check Brent do a solo show again at Brothers lounge. He was doing quite a lot of the material that would end up on his new CD Last Song on the Soundtrack. Just a guy and his guitar. Turn the clock ahead to Thursday April 9th and I had to check out his project he is playing in called The New Soft Shoe; a Gram Parsons tribute band. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. Tribute bands in Cleveland are all over the place. For the most part they are all pretty cliche, and 90% of them are metal. I have even seen a Santana cover band out there which I don't 100% get but that really has nothing to do with where I am heading here. The Gram Parsons legacy is legendary. Without him it is doubtful you would have the country twang of some the Stones records, you wouldn't have Emmylou, and Nudie suits never would have happened.
There are certain things in life you probably shouldn't fuck with. Live rattlesnakes, red headed girls with crazy eyes and trying to cover Gram Parsons, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers come to mind. Not only does The New Soft Shoe pull it off they also do it with respect and true homage to the man himself. We aren't talking greatest hits material here. We are talking about the entire Gram Parsons library. They don't just do it well these guys absolutely 100% nail it. I did my homework this time folks. The band consists of Brent Kirby on guitar and vocals, Al Moss on Pedal Steel from Hillbilly Idol, Jon Niefeld on drums from such bands as The Rembrandts (yeah the Friends theme folks), Tom Prebish on bass from Bar Flies and Boys From County Hell, and Andy Leach who is somewhat of a mystery man band history-wise. Put them together in one group and you have one hel of a line up. Throw in one other cat named Adam Constantine on Keys and this is also the line up for the Shapeshifters.
It is always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a band. It's even better to be surprised twice by virtually the same band. When I heard solo release I just thought like a solo set, a guy and his guitar. I knew nothing of this Shapeshifter business. So since these two shows happened back to back last week rather than focus in on the tribute show which you honestly have to see to believe I think the Last Song on the Soundtrack release show is what you need to know about. First off, the CD itself is amazing, go buy one. It is not just full of twangy pop songs either. It's the kind of shit you see VH1 Storytellers. Songs with meaning and purpose. There are songs in here if it was 1989 that I would put on girls mix tapes to try to win the affection of a young lady. What do I liken it to in this decade that the kids would understand? Pop songs with catchy hooks, incredible instrumentation and lyrics with actual soul.
The show itself was at a packed Happy Dog. Imagine that, me at the Happy Dog? The opener was Doug McKean, front man for The Boys From County Hell. He did a great short set and is well worth checking him out beyond The Pogues Tribute he pulls off so well. I think I actually pissed him off asking for a Pogues song but oh well. I had to ask, he does Shane MacGowan better than Shane MacGowan does and all with nice teeth. He sings and plays guitar solo singing some great roots style Americana songs. He was joined on stage with Brent for a couple tracks and Sorca McGrath who hail from Dublin Ireland. Sorca had an incredible voice. He was a great warm up for what was too come, and very talent songwriter himself.
After seeing the New Soft Shoe the night before from a musician standpoint I knew what I was in for. I however didn't expect what was delivered. It was a flawless show. The crowd was into it and the band was eating it up never missing a hook. The band itself was incredibly talented. I can't say there is one single standout performer at all. Every single one of them added something to the mix in this ensemble. I have never seen a Pedal Steel played live before and there is something eerily haunting about the sound of that instrument. It is melodic and completely unmistakable in sound, and Al Moss played that thing well. When it is singled out in the mix it takes you back to a 70's honky tonk listening to songs about trains, drinking and the girls that broke your heart. It does not look like an easy instrument to master. Just setting this thing up looked like putting a tent together with all of its stakes, pedals, parts and pieces. It is an instrument that requires an intense about of focus and Al owned that thing all night.
Ok...Andy Leach ladies and gentlemen. Holy shit. To say he is animated playing his guitar is an understatement. The way he plays his guitar makes you think quite possibly he was born with it in his hands. His skills playing lead or rhythm make me wonder why in the world I have not seen more of him in the area. He is really into playing. It is like he hears every single note he hits. There are times he gets into this trance like state playing this thing that I don't even know if he remembers that he is actually playing in a band. You'll catch him smiling when he is on and it sounds good, and then there are times he plays that thing like he is taming some wild stallion breaking the notes into submission until they come out perfect. When that happens he gets this quizzical look on his face that says holy shit did I really make that noise come out of this thing? It's as if his hands are somehow a part of the guitar, like some mad music scientist fused his hands to the thing to make these amazing sounds come out of his amp.
The beats were kept going by Niefeld who never missed one. He was on fire the entire night with this Charlie Watts-esque mellow thing going on. Understated in the background, smiling yet serious he kept rocking his kit the entire night. Tom Prebish himself has a great voice doing a lot of the back up duties as he manhandles his bass most of the night pounding out the grooves like it's nothing. He had this smugness to his playing that said oh yeah, this thing? I play a little...and play it well he does. The only cat that wasn't with the Soft Shoe when I saw them was Adam Constantine. He is a great keyboardist who was able go from honky tonk player to absolutely rocking the thing out on certain songs slapping those plastic ivories like he owned his corner of the stage. There were a couple guest musicians up there with Chris Allen doing a couple songs on the guitar and Matt Charboneau on bass who plays on the CD release.
Kirby...I have said a lot about Brent in previews reviews. He is a talented entertainer who is comfortable on the stage. You can tell he is proud of the CD he put out, and he has every right to be. He is an incredible Songwriter and it is proven in his live performance and on Last Song On the Soundtrack. All the while being 100% professional on the stage he smiles and genuinely loves what he is doing up there. His respect for the musicians he plays with on and off that stage is legendary in the area. He respects those in the Cleveland music community from the bar owners, folks that book him to play and his fans. Even I got a shout out at the show and to my surprised got a decent amount of applause. I am still not completely comfortable with my D-list celebrity but honestly it is nice to be recognized by someone up there that is actually out there playing bars and clubs 4 or 5 nights a week at times.
His artistry those last couple nights as a Frontman was spot on. First off with The New Soft Shoe he can pull off Gram Parsons. As a long time Parsons fan knowing this is as close I could ever get to hear Parsons music live and I was beyond impressed at his command over the vocals. I never thought I would hear $1,000 Wedding ever done live or Ooh Las Vegas for that matter and done so well for that matter. He can pretty much pull off anything in that Alt-Country vein of music as I have heard him do Son Volt, Tupelo and Wilco pretty damn good too. His new solo record was the feature of the night though at The Happy Dog and it really is a great piece of work. Well worthy picking up when you check him out next time he is playing in his many musical incarnations. He is a Roots and Americana singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist that writes incredible songs that capture the heart and soul of life inside or outside of Cleveland. These are road songs, love songs, and pop songs that run the gambit of emotion. He is a storyteller with a guitar plain and simple.
The CD is reminiscent of the blue collar Midwest. It's pretty raw without sounding gritty, yet not overproduced at all. There are the heartstrings tugging ballad-esque cuts like Somewhere Down the Line, honky tonk sounding cuts like Don't Cry For Me, and introspective catchy Dylan-esque pop tunes like Silently Stepping Out Surreal. What it really boils down to is Kirby put out a blue collar working mans record that fans will enjoy, but will most likely never get into mainstream airwaves. I am not saying it shouldn't, not at all and I am sure fame and fortune were not the driving force behind putting this out. I am saying this is a pioneering record that can pave the ways from the rest of the folks in this Roots Americana Cleveland music scene to follow. It just proves you can make a good straight forward rock and roll record these days without screaming vocals, and speed metal guitars. While the band, and the instrumentation is great it's Brent Kirby as a true Midwest American balladeer that shines through on this release.
There is this new focus in Cleveland on just writing songs these days. It is artist like all these above mentioned that are changing the landscape of Cleveland Music. It's the roots thing that has slowly been taking off over the last couple years. You have everything out there these days from the balls out rock and roll from bands like the Hot Rails, Jack Fords to the rockabilly riots of Scoliosis Jones, Uncle Scratch, Whiskey Daredevils, to the new grass sounds of The Misery Jackals and Heelsplitter. Even bluegrass is making head waves with bands like One Dollar Hat and The Hiram Rapids Stumblers. Cleveland has a lot of offer in the realm of music. It is a tight knit community of bars, clubs, bands and fans. They all know each other and treat each other with respect, and help each other out. It's actually a pretty cool scene to be a part of right now, and it was definitely a blast checking out those last couple of Kirby shows.
Brothers Lounge Wine Bar with Brent Kirby
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sunday, february 28, 2010 Brothers Lounge Wine Bar with Brent Kirby I have written a novel thus ...sunday, february 28, 2010
Brothers Lounge Wine Bar with Brent Kirby
I have written a novel thus far today based on my day Saturday. West Side Market in the morning followed by breakfast at Mi Pueblo. I would have one or two more to write had the weather been better and I made it out to Reddstone and or the Winchester if it weren't for the roads being snow covered. We did make it out to Brothers Lounge to see Brent Kirby from the Jack Fords in the Wine Bar, and I was pretty impressed with Mr. Kirby himself and the Wine Bar. I was also surprised to see one of my photos gracing the flyers for the event which was kind of cool even though they never asked permission. I had mixed feelings about it for like 2 seconds but with me being an attention whore I really liked it.
It's been a while, like 6 years, since Brothers went through it's reconstruction period. The old Brothers was a complete dump. I mean seriously the dregs of society would crawl to this joint. There were some pretty shady folks that used to hang out at this place, myself included to play the occasional round of darts and drink on the cheap. I am speculating but based on folklore and witnessing some weirdness with my own eyes booze and beers weren't the only thing being slung at the old Brothers Lounge. I never thought I utter the words let's go to Brother for a glass of wine, but that's all changed. I am guessing the renovations to the place were in the 7 figure range. Three bars including the main bar, the wine bar and the concert hall. This is if I recall correctly because I only hit the wine bar Saturday night.
Now here's the issue I have with Brothers and why I never went back after the last time. They spent a lot of cash on the sound system in the large concert hall room, but they are not listener or fan friendly. If you actually come here to see a band you are only going to leave pissed. Maybe it has changed in the main hall. I don't know. They always seem to be packed with private parties in the big room or its just packed period. It's mostly not packed with people to see the bands. It's packed with people that like to talk, and talk really loud so you can't really enjoy the show. The Wine Bar was a little different, but barely. The music at Brothers seems to be nothing more than an afterthought. They have great local bands that play both sides of the Lounge but it can at times seem like nothing more than background music to loud conversations.
That being said I did not leave pissed Saturday but I think only because we got there early enough to score great seats at the bar very close to the stage. Had I been in the back I think it would have changed things a bit. The Wine Room is gorgeous with tin ceiling tiles and rich hardwood all over the place. The chairs are super comfy. The service is pretty good but 2 bartenders might not be enough at times. The wine and beer selection is pretty extensive with a little something for everyone. They offer 2 ounce flights of 3 wines for $9.00 to sample to find what you are looking for which I thought was very cool. The menu looked decent but we only had the Wine Board. It was decent, you got a couple bread rolls in this giant cone shaped thing and a plate with some capicola rolled up, a couple slices of prosciutto, 4 cheese wedges, a smattering of grapes, crackers and craisins which I thought was a little on the tacky side as a fruit offering on a "Market Price" wine board. The rest of the menu seemed like standard bar food with an upscale twist. Prices were moderate but nothing stood out that made me say I must come back to try this.
The reason we came out on a snow covered Saturday night though was to see Brent Kirby who we saw for the first time a couple weeks back do an abbreviated solo set at Ali-Fest at the Town Fryer. Brent does triple duty with his solo career, and as front man for The Jack Fords and his new Gram Parsons tribute The New Soft Shoe. He is a very talented musician and singer songwriter. He does his own material which is excellent and covers of bands like Wilco, Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo and Ryan Adam to name a few. The way he does his covers you would think he wrote them himself. He owns the stage and can captivate an audience. He is a modern day Dylan mixed with a little Jeff Tweedy meets Jack Johnson. Brent is the kind of guy that would be the center of attention around a campfire slinging his guitar like a master and blowing his harmonica with an equal amount of soul. He is a professional musician and you can tell he is meant to be on stage. You can tell he not only enjoys what he does, but he truly gets behind every note he plays and sings.
The sound at times was hushed by the droning nonstop chatter from the bar patrons. Again, I have to say at times the music seemed more of an inconvenience to some than entertainment. I guess that's just the way it is at Brothers though. Brent drew a nice amount of fans to Brothers on Saturday night but it was about 50/50 on those who wanted to enjoy the show and those who wanted to just hang out and talk. It is weird going to a bar like this wanting to see a performance. I am spoiled I think by the many music venues I go to where people are there to watch the bands. I will say this though, there was no cover and I think with a small door charge it might help remedy that a bit. So, I didn't have to pay for the show so I shouldn't really harp on it.
I'd really do plan on seeing Kirby again either solo or with his other projects and possibly booking something under the 52 Weeks of Cleveland banner. I just think he is that good. He really gets behind his craft. He's the kind of guy I'd hang out with and talk music for hours on end with which we did a little bit. I can't really say I would come back to Brothers without reason though. It would need to be to see a band or something. The parking can be challenging, and I am just not part of that scene. I am there for the music and certainly not the atmosphere. I am not hating on it although it seems I might be. I think it is gorgeous lounge. It is probably one of the nicest looking places I have been to in a while. I just don't think it is a true music venue. It's bar first, lounge second in my ever so humble opinion. They are obviously doing a great business and what they did to the place needs to be applauded at the very least. So Brothers I truly love what you did with the place but you just missing the mark a bit on the music venue piece of the equation.
Music Pick Of The Day: Brent Kirby - Last Song On The Soundtrack
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Music Pick Of The Day: Brent Kirby - Last Song On The Soundtrack Living in diverse cities such as C...Music Pick Of The Day: Brent Kirby - Last Song On The Soundtrack
Living in diverse cities such as Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, and now Cleveland (lucky for us) has certainly informed Brent Kirby's songwriting. His rootsy, Americana music fits like a favorite T shirt.
It all comes together in fine fashion on Brent's second solo release and my pick of the day, "Last Song On The Soundtrack". With the help of talented musicians like Chris Hanna on keyboard and Al Moss on pedal steel this album doesn't sound like a local release. No Depression Magazine and Bob Harris at BBC Radio 2 should be all over this one.
Kirby's no slouch when it comes to his playing chops either. Aside from his solo gig he plays guitar and sings for The Jack Fords, holiday band The Ohio City Singers and Gram Parsons tribute band The New Soft Shoe. He also plays drums for Chris Allen And The Guilty Hearts.
The new album gets an official release this Friday, April 9th, at The Happy Dog on Detroit and W.58th as he performs songs from it and offers it for sale. Get a double shot of Brent when he performs with The New Soft Shoe (a band I posted about a few weeks back) on Thursday night at the same venue.
Less is More
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Less is more: After exploring a Bruce Springsteen-meets-Tom Petty vibe on his solo debut, "The Mean ...Less is more: After exploring a Bruce Springsteen-meets-Tom Petty vibe on his solo debut, "The Mean Days," singer-guitarist Brent Kirby decided to switch gears for more of an Americana feel with his follow-up effort "Last Song on the Soundtrack," which includes Andy Leach (guitar), Al Moss (pedal steel), Tom Prebish (bass) and Jon Niefeld (drums).
"I just wanted to simplify things and go in and do it live and get some really good players," said Willowick resident Kirby, who moved to Northeast Ohio eight years ago. "I've always been influenced by Gram Parsons, as well as Springsteen and Dylan. But Parsons is someone I've always been into, and this time, I let it seep in, whereas before I wasn't letting it take over. The previous album was definitely more grandiose, with just a lot more overdubs and instruments."
Kirby, who remains a busy man with other ongoing groups including The Jack Fords, Chris Allen and The Guilty Hearts, The Ohio City Singers and brand-new Gram Parsons cover band The New Soft Shoe, has booked a CD release show for 9 p.m. Friday at The Happy Dog, 5801 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. Cover is $5. Call 216-651-9474.
Saturday Night Rock and Roll Happy Dog Hockey Party with Brent Kirby
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Shit, that tag line is longer than the review. Saturday night found us heading up to The Happy Dog ...Shit, that tag line is longer than the review. Saturday night found us heading up to The Happy Dog for a couple reasons. I knew they would be showing the Winter Classic on the tube, or at least I hoped so and they did not disappoint on that front. Walking into the the bar in my Penguins jersey super fan #93 Peter Nedved scoped the place out seeing nothing but bowl games on. Lucky for me some Pittsburgh folk were already there in front of one of the TV’s waiting for the game as well. They flipped on one of the TV’s for us like 5 minutes before the game. We stayed seated at the bar for most of the night watching the game, shooting the shit with other Penguins fans and watched them get beat by the fucking Capitals. Outside of the fact it was a pretty shitty played game by the Pens it was cool seeing a hockey game played outside. Hockey fans are good people overall. Football fans are complete drunk dicks, basketball fans are pretty relaxed and baseball fans are nerds, but the love of hockey is an inborn trait from birth.
There were a couple openers, pretty sure they were both named Jones, not Scoliosis either. Both had some decent folky thing going on. I liked the girl better than the guy, but as I was kind of more watching the game I don’t want to review something I half assed. Brent Kirby and the gang brought the rock and plowed through a couple hour set loaded with originals and covers. What more can you say about Kirby and crew that hasn’t been said. It’s a great backing band for Kirby’s blue collar Cleveland style rock and roll. Andy Leach on guitar, Matt Charboneau on bass, Jon Niefeld on drums and the hauntingly beautiful pedal steel sound from Al Moss. If somehow Cleveland could harvest the energy of the work ethic of Kirby and these guys I bet that Medical Mart would be built already.
I had a late night dog and tots, caramelized onions, standard mustard, and the red pepper relish. A damn fine hot dog indeed. Tots came with the saffron aioli, and oaxacan red chile and chocolate mole. I find myself in a pattern and hardly ever stray at this point. One day I’ll figure out how to make a Tucson style Sonoran, but why mess with a good thing as is. They do their thing, and I never had a side or topping I didn’t like. Great beers too that night starting off with the Founders Stout and digressing to PBR by the end of the night. I got to meet Jay Minkin and Hannibal (Radio Hannibal) and Otis from Smedley’s were already there. I think the music knowledge quotient in that bar was the level Matt Pinfeld on steroids. Best local bar in the Cleveland area hands down. Great food, music and atmosphere. You really can’t go wrong at The Happy Dog.
Gram Parsons Tribute Band Soon To Be The Rage In Cleveland
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March 13, 2010 Gram Parsons Tribute Band Soon To Be The Rage In Cleveland Well I know where I'...March 13, 2010
Gram Parsons Tribute Band Soon To Be The Rage In Cleveland
Well I know where I'll be every second Thursday of the month. You'll find me at The Happy Dog on Detroit Ave. in Cleveland Ohio taking in another The New Soft Shoe show. The band is a tribute to the late Gram Parsons. Their name taken from one of his songs.
I'm combining my music pick of the day...the Saturday Classic...with some admiration for these bunch of musicians who had me grinning ear to ear this past Thursday evening.
The band formed 3 months ago, and as leader of the group, Brent Kirby, states, "we don't practice. We just show up and play." It's surprising how polished they sound. Then again, take talented musicians who, like myself, have a love affair with Gram's music and know his songs by heart, and the parts just fall into place.
The band was started as a few of them were sitting around discussing their passion for Parson's music. Why not a tribute band they decided. It appears to be somewhat of a revolving cast. I can only hope for a consistent sort of line up that graced the stage Thursday night, their third gig.
The group is led by Brent on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. On lead guitar is new Cleveland resident Andy Leach who, besides playing a wicked Telecaster, is the Director Of Archives at the new Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum archive and library building on the Cuyahoga Community College campus. Here's a story from this week's Scene. Clevelander Chris Hanna who divides his time between here and Nashville these days plays keyboard. Tom Prebish, who plays with Chris Allen and the Guilty Hearts, Doug McKean and the Stuntmen and Pogues tribute band The Boys From County Hell is on bass. Al Moss of Hillbilly Idol handles pedal steel. The Drummer is Jon Niefeld who's played with The Mockers and The Rembrandts. Also joining in late in the set was guitar sensation Rob Muzik who plays with Kristine Jackson and also spends time in Nashville these days.
How about that for a line up? For Hanna and Moss this third show was their first with, hopefully, many more to follow.
With a consistent gig, as I say, every second Thursday of the month at The Happy Dog I see this band blowing up on the local music scene. Here's a crude iPhone clip of them doing 1,000 Dollar Wedding.
Brent Kirby - Beachland Tavern - Cleveland
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Brent Kirby is a well-traveled musician. He grew up playing music in Wisconsin and before ending up ...Brent Kirby is a well-traveled musician. He grew up playing music in Wisconsin and before ending up in Cleveland, he has made stops in Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois. His style is that of the classic male singer/songwriters and all his travels and experiences seem to permeate his songs. Like any other songwriter, (it would seem) Kirby's songs are primarily about love and girls and girls and love.
I have seen Brent Kirby play many times before, but it has always been with an acoustic guitar, and maybe a harmonica here and there. Last week I got a chance to see Kirby play an electric show with his excellent backup band, The Flashing Twelves. Unfortunately I don't know all the Flashing Twelves, but it does feature Greg Hido (also of Cleveland band Liquid) on lead guitar and a good bass player named Paul. These guys were the perfect band for Kirby. They accent his music, and know when to back off and let the frontman do his thing, while also knowing when to take over and rock it all out.
The playlist that night included American Stars, Girl I Love, as well as many others that will be on the debut full-length release from Brent Kirby. Kirby commanded the stage and gave various cues to let the band know what he was doing. He sang more intensely than he ever has at an acoustic show. The mix was great, the band was tight and Kirby's banter in between songs kept the smaller weeknight crowd interested.
Kirby didn't want to jinx anything, but he mentioned that he might have a deal with an independent label to release his full-length album soon. Look out for that, and if you live in the Cleveland area, make an attempt to see some of his shows.
Read more: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/brent-kirby-beachland-tavern-clevland/#ixzz1DVyNm4TQ
Club set for band, solo- 45 minutes to 2 hours- all original
Bar set for band, solo - hour and a half sets-usually 2, consisting of mostly originals, some well known and obscure covers thrown in for fan and crowd
Covers consist of mostly Americana rock- Dylan, Petty, Springsteen, The Band, Ryan Adams, Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons, etc.