MIDWEST DILEMMA - A guitar, red trucker hat, folk songs, and an old Toyota wagon on open road. Justin Lamoureux has been performing as Midwest Dilemma for nearly a decade. Over hills, valleys, across high plains, mountains, forests, deserts, rivers, oceans and enduring seemingly endless beauty to reach destinations near and far to share his experiences of life in the Midwest.
But there is nothing typical about Midwest Dilemma. Lamoureux recruited 23 musical collaborators for the debut release titled Timelines & Tragedies in 2008. The revolving cast of characters fill out the woodwind, brass, string, and percussion sections. Timelines & Tragedies is a time line of family tragedy. Tracing Lamoureux's ancestors to their days of French Canadian fur trading, the Great Depression, the struggles of his parents' generation with Vietnam, and eventually concluding with his life in the Midwest (Sioux City, IA and Omaha, NE).
Timelines & Tragedies was awarded Omaha Entertainment Award's Album of the Year for 2008 and charted CMJ Top 200 (College Music Journal). Lamoureux and Midwest Dilemma are performing at festivals, venues, and getting press / radio play around the globe. The song Chicago and North Western on the Timelines & Tragedies release was selected and featured nationwide on the PBS television series Roadtrip Nation.
At live performances Midwest Dilemma can still be Lamoureux and his classical guitar or any variety of the orchestral-folk-rock ensemble.
Midwest Dilemma's album Timelines & Tragedies can be purchased on iTunes, CDBaby.com, or directly from the artist at www.midwestdilemma.com.
Justin Lamoureux - Vocal, Guitar
Elizabeth Webb - Vocal, Clarinet
Jackie Six - Flute
Nicohai Johnson - Vocal, Electric Guitar
Django Greenblatt-Seay - Banjolin, Mandolin
Joye Trimmell - Cello
Tyler Cook - Upright Bass
Ben Arunski - Tuba
Family & Friends:
Alessi - French Vocals
Benjamin Brodin - Vibraphone
Brian Corey - Trumpet
Clark Drinkall - Vocal, Piano
Jason Ferguson - Mandolin
Mike Friedman - Pedal Steel
Deborah Greenblatt - Viola Pomposa
Brad Hoshaw - Vocal, Guitar
Adam Lamoureux - Vocal, Tenor Saxophone
Alexander Lamoureux - Vocal
Phillip Lamoureux - Vocal
Dan McCarthy - Accordion
David Seay - Musical Saw
Kate Williams - Accordion, Trombone
Sarah Xiong - Vocal
Leaving Will Be Hard, Returning Will Be Harder (2011)
Timelines & Tragedies (2008)
Fur Trader: Lamoureux’s long-awaited full-length delivers with homespun tales
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by: Jesse D. Stanek - 14 May 2008 About six years ago I received my first email from Justin Lamo...by: Jesse D. Stanek - 14 May 2008
About six years ago I received my first email from Justin Lamoureux. The bearded bard was no doubt promoting a performance at a local venue or one of the regional and national tours he regularly scheduled. While Midwest Dilemma had more of a rocking sound in the early years, the band drifted to a quieter place, first gravitating to an alt-country sound, then to a heavier-orchestrated, bare-bones-with-layers songwriter act, reminiscent of Bonnie Prince Billy.
Lamoureux drafted Elizabeth Webb for help on vocals, and clarinet. They stumbled upon David “Cello Dave” Downing playing cello at an open mic. Midwest Dilemma began refining its sound. Open mic nights at area venues proved a stepping stone. The band gained notoriety and Lamoureux connected with other local songwriters.
“Some of my biggest influences have always been local,” he offered. “I’m part of ‘the batch’ as Kyle [Harvey] would call us. You know, Kyle Harvey, Matt Whipkey, Brad Hoshaw, Sarah Benck and Korey Anderson. I really do feel honored to be included in that group and I still have all those people as comrades. It’s nice to have friends around to bounce things off of. We kind of push each other.”
“If you’re going to write songs here in Omaha, you have to make it valuable and make it count,” Lamoureux continued. “Moving here was definitely one of the best things that happened to me.”
It may seem strange that it has taken Midwest Dilemma so long to release a proper album (Lamoureux has issued several basement-type recordings on CDR). The grandiose sway of Timelines and Tragedies hints at the breadth of the project and the process. Recorded with a core band of Downing, Webb and five others on everything from flute, guitars, tuba, upright bass and percussion, Lamoureux recruited 14 more musicians to provide flourishes of piano, accordion, vibraphone, mandolin, musical saw and some rather obscure instruments.
The instrumentation and orchestration would itself have been ambitious. Lamoureux stepped up the songwriting as well, going for a coherent theme album instead of littering it with random songs. Looking for some thread to work from, he chose his family history, tracing the Lamoureux clan to their days of French Canadian fur trading, the struggles of his parents’ generation with Vietnam, concluding with his life in Omaha.
“After I got off [a] solo tour, you know, I think it was Summer of ’06,” Lamoureux said, “I knew I was going to be home for awhile and not tour until I had an album worth taking out with me. So I was thinking about a concept and I have always been inspired by my family. My dad was a musician and a songwriter and I already had songs about him and my grandfather. My grandfather had this old chest full of stuff, you know, souvenirs and old photos of the war. I found this old painting on metal and started doing some research and ended up with the song ‘Fur Trader.’ Eventually the songs and the idea kind of flushed itself out.”
Midwest Dilemma celebrates the release of Timelines and Tragedies Saturday, May 17 at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. The Black Squirrels, McCarthy Trenching and Thunder Power!!! open. The 9 p.m. show costs $8. Visit theslowdown.com.
Midwest Dilemma has about 2 hours of material... Maybe even 2 and half hours if you are very nice to us!
Timelines & Tragedies - tracks:
The Great Depression
Chicago and North Western
Damage Is Done
There are no upcoming dates at this time.