Bill Deasy
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RANSOM SEABORN by Bill Deasy (Velluminous Press)

Last year, I reviewed a tasty little novel written by Arthur Edwards titled STUCK OUTSIDE OF PHOENIX. It was a heartfelt story about an introspective (and physical) journey, and written by the former bass player for The Refreshments.

Well, it turns out musicians (especially songwriters) have a real talent for penning novels, because today's pick, RANSOM SEABORN, was written by Bill Deasy. Yes, that Bill Deasy, the singer/songwriter from The Gathering Field. I guess sometimes you just need to tell a story that requires more than you can fit into a set of lyrics.

Deasy's novel is a sort of coming-of-(late)-age tale about young Dan Finbar and his relationship with college buddy Ransom Seaborn. Poor Ransom only survives forty pages, leaving Fin and Ransom's girlfriend, Maggie, to sort out the whats and whys of what happened--and how to move on. It's an earnest and rewarding journey, a simultaneous opening up and closing down of the human spirit, like a gentle walk through the woods--while learning how to avoid tripping on the broken branches. Bill Deasy knows how to pen compelling prose, capturing the mood and style of classic American writing.

The book is filled with delicious snippets of the transition from adolescence to adulthood, like this one, where Fin had been drinking before a dance at his Christian-infused college:

The song ended and Lynn asked, "Can we step outside for a minute?" This was going even better than I'd hoped. Standing in the cool, night air, I gazed into her almond eyes awaiting her cue. After what seemed like an eternity she said, "Have you been drinking, Finbar?"

It gets fuzzy after that. She became the missionary and I the unconverted native. I mostly tuned out her speech, which revolved around her God and her values and the dangers of alcohol and the fact that I had held her too closely. It became the sound the TV makes when a station runs a test of the emergency broadcast system.

The book references J.D. Salinger--both literally as well as in writing style--repeatedly, and fans of Salinger's magnum opus will certainly not be disappointed here. Fin wanders through his days at college in a haze, reconstructing his life piece by piece, page by page, until you reach the unexpected and vaguely hopeful end.

If N. Frank Daniels' FUTUREPROOF is the post-modern adolescent abyss, RANSOM SEABORN is several fields from the edge of the cliff. This is a sweet, enjoyable read--absolute fantastic literature. And at $12.95, it is exactly what Random House would charge you if they had published it. One final note: This novel has one of the best covers (front, and especially the back) that I have seen in the realm of POD to date. Buy two copies; the holidays are upon you.

http://girlondemand.blogspot.com/2006/10/ransom-seaborn-by-bill-deasy.html


- POD-dy Mouth


Deasy's Spark Of Inspiration
Bill Deasy
by Andrew Ellis

Just how does an artist better an album widely perceived by fans and critics alike to be his best work? That was the dilemma facing singer-songwriter Bill Deasy when he contemplated making a follow-up to his acclaimed debut solo album, 2003's Good Day No Rain.

"I loved Good Day No Rain and I was really proud of it," said Deasy when I recently spoke to him during a brief hiatus from his Pittsburgh base. "The success of that record was more of an inspiration for me rather than a cause for fear, but I wanted to make sure I at least stayed at that level, if not take it up a little bit on this record."

Ask anybody who has heard the rich tapestry of rootsy melodies and stirring lyrics evident on Deasy's newest release, Chasing Down A Spark, and they will tell you he has done the latter. But as an independent artist acutely aware of the necessity to build his audience and develop his songwriting, making a carbon copy of Good Day No Rain was never part of Deasy's strategy.

"Last time out, I consciously steered away from making an electric guitar-driven record," the Pittsburgh native says. "But I'm over thinking in those terms now, so now I'm happy to reintroduce the electric guitar and feature it more. I wanted this record to be all encompassing in terms of all the different styles of my career. I just wanted to be open to all aspects of my writing."

The more muscular, guitar-driven sound of Chasing Down A Spark owes a debt of gratitude to the studio expertise of songwriter and producer Kevin Salem and the stellar playing of The Clarks' guitarist, Rob James, and Deasy admits the process of working with such talent in addition to his studio band was highly satisfying.

"Rob is a real brother of mine, he is such a good friend and he plays with me whenever he can," Deasy says. "My dream band would include him, but he'll never leave The Clarks!"

While James is a long-time Deasy ally, a twist of fate helped bring him and Salem together.

"My manager, Holly Greene had a passing acquaintance with Kevin, who had been working more and more as a producer for different artists," he explains. "She had this feeling that we he would be the right man to produce my record, then she ran into him at a Rachael Yamagata show. So it was a lucky break for me, as he took me in some slightly new directions that helped further the growth of my music."

Typically brilliant pop-rockers "Until I Get It Right" and "Now That I Know What It Means" pick up where Good Day No Rain left off, but the new directions Deasy refers to are most evident on the rich sonic landscape Salem brought to the fore, with pedal steel, cello, mandolin and accordion all featuring at one time or another, together with the new territory of "Wishing Well".

Deasy elaborates. "When I first played that to Kevin, he liked the song and the darkness of the lyric, but he thought it was a more interesting song than the way we had been playing it. We had been playing it like a bar band would play it.

He adds: "Kevin is very intuitive as a creator and he flushed out this new concept for it. We didn't have the idea for the bridge yet, but we knew that would be a departure from the rest of the song. I am thrilled with the way it turned out. It has been controversial for some of my fans that are used to the old way we did the song!"

The scuzzy blues rock of "Wishing Well" may be something of a departure, but the new and the more familiar mingle with ease on Chasing Down A Spark: "Turn Your Light On" has a refreshing, soulful edge, while "Levi" hints at a return to the epic, character-driven songs of Deasy's former band, The Gathering Field; something he says was not exactly intentional.

"It occurred to me after the fact that "Levi" might, in a way, be a sequel to the song "Lost In America", because that's about a drifter who I really wasn't painting too good a picture of. Maybe that same drifter wound up in NYC and went through this final odyssey that I talk about in "Levi"."

Fruitful co-writing partnerships with Teitur and Molly Bancroft gave rise to the songs "Pass Me On" and "Until I Get It Right" respectively, and as you would expect of a man who has built a second career writing for the likes of Martina McBride and Kim Richey, the dynamic of writing with other artists is something Deasy thrives upon.

"I first met Teitur in NYC five years ago, when we did some writing," Deasy reveals. "Then last year, he and I got scheduled at the same club in Pittsburgh on the same night and he opened for me. He stayed at my house and we had a nice conversation about traveling and what it's like to play for people, the life of a musician, basically. The next morning we got together and wrote "Pass Me On" in an hour. I'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly what it's about though," he says with a laugh.

"It is fun to collaborate," he adds. "I couldn't have written "Until I Get It Right" like the - Ink 19


Pittsburgh's own Bill Deasy, frontman for '90s band The Gathering Field, has been releasing his own solo albums in recent years. The follow-up to 2003's well-received Good Day, No Rain is another collection of terrific choruses and uplifting lyrics.

The new CD is produced by Kevin Salem, a singer/songwriter who emerged out of Boston to become recently an in-demand producer and session player for many indie-minded artists. Over the years, Salem has worked with indie rock bands Dumptruck and Madder Rose, as well as singer/songwriters Freedy Johnston, Matt Keating, and (more recently) Rachael Yamagata.

The album's lead-off tune is "Until I Get It Right," a hopeful song about perseverance in the face of troubles. "Down this road might find anything, rocks or gold," sings Deasy, over a backing track that falls somewhere between alt-country and jangle-pop. The song, with its gently soaring chorus and diamond-in-the-rough lyrics, sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The song "Levi" is an almost film-noir-ish pastiche set in New York City, featuring lines like, "She greeted me sadly then asked me my game/A five-dollar whore with a ten-dollar name." Both "Fireflies" and "Now That I Know What It Means" are engaging songs about trying to make a go at love, and "Pale" is about after a relationship heads south.

The CD features a number of familiar names. The Clarks' Rob James is one of the band members throughout the album. Scott Blasey and Donnie Iris also pop in to contribute backing vocals on one song each. Non-Burgh friends on the disc include Maia Sharp, who adds some harmonies on four songs, and Chicago singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata does so on two tracks.

Chasing Down a Spark is a dozen rootsy songs which continues the evolution of a fine Pittsburgh songwriter. Well-crafted songs, giant choruses, rock guitars, and whole ton of talent. What more can you ask for?

- Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director - WYEP 91.3 FM


The former lead singer of Gathering Field, Pittsburgh native Bill Deasy has been through the major-label wringer, and has emerged with his second solo record, Good Day No Rain, on his own Bound to Be label.

Sounding like a folkier Matthew Sweet, Deasy has a world-weary voice, and his lyrics have the feel of a wise and wounded romantic walking in a rainstorm.

That's not bad, mind you, when you can do it as well as this guy does. With huge hooks, songs like "It's All Right There," the orchestrated "Blue Sky Grey," and the funky shuffle of "In My Head" all demonstrate the hand of a skillful writer adept at hitching a sincere, soul-searching tone to easily infectious melodies.

Sensitive singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen, but really good ones are a rarity. Bill Deasy is the real deal. In a perfect world, you'd already know this.

— Steve Leggett - All Music Guide


Bill Deasy has distilled the aesthetic and no-bull outlook of his hometown Pittsburgh on Good Day No Rain.

Accomplished at writing small phrases that speak volumes—much like fellow Pennsylvania native Matthew Ryan, an artist with whom he shares a number of similarities—Deasy delivers his vocals without any superficial embellishment, cutting straight to the lyric.

On tunes like “In My Head” and “Who We Are,” Deasy possesses a heart-stopping ability to wrangle an emotion and hold it still for investigation. He calls to mind Paul Westerberg and many of the finest rock songwriters who mix poetry and drunken bluster, yet somehow sound macho and sensitive at the same time. 

A cross between Matthew Sweet and Michael Penn-style smart pop and flat-out rock, Deasy’s songs are the real deal—intelligent, honest and catchy as hell.

- Clay Steakley - Performing Songwriter Magazine


With better luck, Bill Deasy could have shown John Mayer --and James Taylor, who's apparently forgotten -- how it's done when this year's Grammy broadcast turned its attention to shining a light on the singer-songwriter scene.

But Deasy's self-releasing these days, just in time to hit you with a song that comes on like the breakthrough hit he never knew -- outside of Pittsburgh, anyway. Not that his earlier work was inaccessible -- or even close to inaccessible -- but "Blue Sky Grey" is such an instantly engaging folk-rock treasure even Atlantic would have had a hard time fumbling the ball on that one.

And it's not alone here, either. "Good Day No Rain" hits the streets today on Deasy's own Bound to Be Records. And fans of his work with the Gathering Field would do well not to miss this latest chapter in the Deasy story.

Cut in New York City with a band of session aces and a couple of friends from Pittsburgh (Liz Berlin of Rusted Root and Clark Slater of Push), the production is warm and rich and, even in its loudest moments, intimate, whether supporting his heartfelt vocals with strings on "Blue Sky Grey" and "Who We Are" or scaling it back to acoustic guitar and percussion. Even when the energy kicks in on "Prisoner," the vocals remain in the forefront.

And that's where you want the vocals with a lyricist as strong as Deasy spinning turns of phrase as inspired as "You make poetry from lies till it almost sounds like the truth" and "Where did you go last night while she slept in sheets of white dreaming of you?"

-Ed Masley
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


I’m used to seeing The Clarks play either in bars or in outdoor amphitheaters, so I was curious to see how they would do in a historical theater setting.

The show at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, for which the Buzz Poets and Bill Deasy opened on Friday, May 9, turned out to be one of the all-around most enjoyable experiences I’ve had at a rock concert.  The theater was by no means packed, but it was a rowdy crowd that made a lot of noise, especially for The Clarks. Hearing the characteristic roar of fans after The Clarks’ opening song, “Snowman,” lead singer Scott Blasey and guitar player Rob James exchanged pleased looks and Blasey shouted, “Yeah! It’s that Wheeling feeling!”

Clarks fan that I am, however,  I would have been content to go home even before the boys took the stage. Why? Two words: Bill Deasy.

Lead singer for six years with The Gathering Field, Pittsburgh musician Deasy has put together a new band of stellar performers on guitar, bass, drums and keyboard. They played several cuts from the album released earlier this year, “Good Day No Rain,” including the cathartic “Blue Sky Grey,” which can be heard on Pittsburgh public radio station WYEP-FM 91.3 “I Want to Know” has just been added to YEP’s rotation, and listeners to WDVE-FM 102.5 can call in to request “Prisoner.” 

They also played one of my favorite Gathering Field tunes, “Lost in America,” and Blasey joined him, singing harmony on the chorus. Rob James also took the stage playing the mandolin.Deasy left The Gathering Field in 2000 and headed to Nashville to participate in several songwriting sessions, during which he co-penned the tune “Good Things Are Happening,” which ABC producers picked up for the new “Good Morning America” theme song. Deasy even was featured in PARADE Magazine’s Personality Parade column in September 2002 when a reader asked about “the gorgeous guy” who sings the theme song.

What’s so great about Deasy? It’s not just his soul-searching lyrics, his humble attitude or his good looks. Mostly, it’s his incredible voice.  After his set Friday, I told Deasy that of all the voices out there in the world, his is my favorite. It’s clear and throaty at the same time, resonating with emotion and conviction.

Having been a fan of The Gathering Field since 1997, I have listened to Deasy sing so much that he has entered into that realm of singers whom I consider my friends — musicians who I feel have become part of my life through their art form. Deasy’s voice is a comfort to me, just as are Bono’s and Sting’s and those of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers (the Indigo Girls).

The down-to-earth, good-vibe quality of Deasy’s music is reminiscent of John Cougar but contemporary enough to compete with John Mayer.  If you like good, clean rock music with thoughtful lyrics, pick up Deasy’s new CD.

And a good night it was.

-Betsy Bethel - Wheeling News Register/Intelligencer


WYEP has announced the top selections on their annual listener poll. "Good Day No Rain" comes in at number 4 on the national chart, right in-between Damien Rice and Radiohead.

The Top 5:

1. Jayhawks-Rainy Day Music

2. Warren Zevon-The Wind

3. Damien Rice-O

4. Bill Deasy-Good Day No Rain
"Every song sets its own mood and tell its own story - and there's something new to be discovered every time you sit down to listen to Good Day No Rain."- Linda, Oakmont

5. Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
- WYEP FM


Deasy's is a voice that deserves -- and even demands -- to be heard, and with an album as exquisite as Good Day, No Rain , ignorance of it is definitely not bliss.

Aware of the fickle nature of the music business, the former Gathering Field front man has decided to exercise full control of his labors by releasing this, his second solo album, on his own Bound To Be Records.

From the first bars of the sprightly and clever "I Want to Know," it's clear just how much this Pittsburgh native revels in his independence. The melodies draw you in immediately. The production is sparse yet rich, and Deasy's vocals are as affecting as ever.

His voice has shades of Springsteen on the delicately beautiful "In My Head" and there's a hint of U2 in the soaring "I'll Rescue You," which develops from barely a whisper into a song of epic proportions. Yet, Deasy's sound is one all of his own and has such depth and power that the magnitude of songs like the majestic "Who We Are," the intense "Prisoner" and the quite breathtaking "The Gift of Seeing Through" can't be fully appreciated by a mere cursory listen.

Deasy's lyrics are just as stirring as his music, and "Blue Sky Grey" showcases this talent brilliantly.

In short, Good Day No Rain is a thoroughly engaging and accessible album of folk tinged pop-rock which proves that being an independent artist is certainly no barrier to making music of the highest quality.

-Andrew Ellis
- Ink 19


After Bill Deasy wrote 'Good Things Are Happening' for ABC-TV, good things really did happen for the Pittsburgh singer-songwriter.

No one is more excited about Martina McBride's new CD than Bill Deasy, the former leader of popular Pittsburgh band the Gathering Field.

Nope, he hasn't gone country. Rather, McBride has gone Deasy. She recorded "Learning to Fall," a song he co-wrote with Odie Blackmon for "Martina," due out Tuesday.

"That's my biggest break," said Deasy, who got a sneak listening of the finished version in Nashville. "It was so great. Her producer had this real bold vision for the song and it totally happened. My co-writer and I sat there kind of stunned by it."

Landing a song on a major star's CD should boost Deasy's profile. If McBride should release the song as a next single, look out. The rest of the country will realize what Pittsburgh has long known: Deasy is a terrific songwriter. With poetry and grace, he writes reflective, emotionally incisive songs that ache with longing, drip with regret, swim in melancholy, brim with sorrow.

"I think I'm sort of evolving as a writer," said Deasy.

Prime example: "Wishing Well," a brand-new song that's knocking out fans during his live shows. (He returns to Docksider on Saturday.) "It has a little bit of a Delta-rock-blues thing. It stands out from the whole set; it just feels like a slightly different genre. I don't know what it is, but it's cool. Like a real rocker."

When Deasy does it — actually rocks out — it's in a folk-rock or Americana mode, which was the Gathering Field's strength. That group released a fine album for Atlantic, "Lost in America," which unfortunately was lost on most of America. Though the powerful title cut earned airplay at assorted stations around the country, including Erie, Atlantic never really gave it huge push.

The band later decided to break up, though it reunites occasionally (including Nov. 26 on the Gateway Clipper).

"WE KIND OF HIT A WALL," DEASY SAID. "The thing didn't seem to be moving forward anymore, and I got kind of disillusioned with the experience with Atlantic. So I re-evaluated and stepped back from everything around me for a while. I also did a little solo record, 'Spring Lies Waiting.'"

He actually recorded "Spring" while still with Gathering Field, but the project thrust him more into a singer-songwriter mindset. After the split, Deasy began visiting Nashville, where he wrote songs on his own and with Blackmon. ABC-TV picked one of his first new efforts, "Good Things Are Happening," for its fall 2001 TV campaign. After that, good things did happen. He wrote enough good songs to record a solo disc.

"Good Day No Rain" — released about five months ago — is an inviting, melodic work that showcases his knack for chiming hooks and strong arrangements. The acoustic-driven thrust of songs like "I Want to Know" and "In My Head" doesn't stray far afield from Gathering Field. But the cinematic production and the CD's burnished, textured feel give it more punch and warmth. Greg Wattenberg (Five for Fighting, Dishwalla) produced four tracks, and "Saturday Night Live" band member Sean Pelton drummed throughout.

"That was the caliber of studio cats I had playing on it," Deasy said. "It was a wonderful experience. I just went for it."

He went so far as to showcase at labels while in New York. Nothing materialized. Still, at a time when singer-songwriters rule once more — John Mayer, Pete Yorn, and others — Deasy seems destined to break through. He's already put together a band to back him as he tours behind "Good Day No Rain."

"I'm enjoying this stage of everything," he said. "I have a new band, and I'm real thrilled to be performing again and reaching out to people. And I love this record; that's the center of everything. I'm real proud of it."

-Dave Richards
- Erie Times-News


Discography

BILL DEASY CDs:

The Miles
Chasing Down a Spark
Good Day No Rain
*Spring Lies Waiting (*recorded while still with the Gathering Field)

GATHERING FIELD CDs:

Lost in America
Reliance
So Close to Home
The Gathering Field

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Bill Deasy is the former lead singer/songwriter of the Gathering Field, whose regional hit "Lost in America" led to a deal with Atlantic Records. His new CD, "Chasing Down a Spark" is the follow-up to his 2003 release, "Good Day No Rain," which received rave reviews and airplay nationwide.

Performing Songwriter Magazine says: "He calls to mind Paul Westerberg and many of the finest rock songwriters who mix poetry and drunken bluster, yet somehow sound macho and sensitive at the same time" and All Music Guide suggests that "Sensitive singer/songwriters are a dime a dozen, but really good ones are a rarity. Bill Deasy is the real deal. In a perfect world, you'd already know this..."

Deasy has been touring the country both acoustically and with his new band and has also appeared as an opening act for artists such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Patty Griffin, John Mellencamp, John Hiatt, World Party and Norah Jones. His songs have been recorded by a wide array of artists including The Clarks, Michael Stanley, Kim Richey, British pop star Howard Jones and country star Martina McBride. Deasy has also been featured on national television singing his own song, "Good Things Are Happening," in a national promo for ABC's Good Morning America program.

"Chasing Down a Spark" was produced by Kevin Salem (Emmylou Harris, Freedy Johnston, Rachael Yamagata) and mixed by the legendary Joe Blaney (The Clash, Blues Traveler, The Raveonettes). The new CD features guest appearances by Maia Sharp, Rachael Yamagata, Donnie Iris and The Clarks' Rob James and Scott Blasey. In August of 2006 Bill Deasy added "published author" to his list of accomplishments with the release of his first novel, "Ransom Seaborn", which went on to receive the 2006 Needle Award.

A more in-depth bio. can be found at http://www.billdeasy.com/bio2.html or http://www.myspace.com/billdeasy