Brian Rath
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Brian Rath

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Heir Apparent: Brian Rath is emerging singer-songwriter royalty"

Another one was getting out. Rock 'n' roll troubadour Joff Wilson was finally pulling up Rochester stakes to hang in the Big Apple. The cat had exuded Bowery all along anyway.

Fans, friends, and fellow musicians gathered at Monty's Krown recently to send Wilson off, hoist a pint, and wish him well. The Krown was crowded and rowdy. The throng's volume, buzz, and steam went head to head with the bands on the tiny stage.

Just prior to Wilson's farewell set, an unassuming, nondescript young man in a black sport coat took the stage with a beer and a guitar. He began to play, and the noise dialed down to barely a murmur. I could hear the woman next to me cracking her gum. A couple of bottles clinked.

"He has the voice of God," someone whispered.

For the next 20 minutes or so Brian Rath and his guitar --- his acoustic guitar --- held the crowd's attention; their ears and eyeballs were glued.

"I always bring my A-game vocally," he says.

But "A-game" alludes to effort. And part of Rath's allure is the apparent ease in which the songs roll off his tongue --- his casual demeanor and total lack of shuck 'n' jive.

There's just something about him.

"I hesitate to use the word 'soul,'" he says. "I put a lot of feeling into it. I'm influenced by so much voice-wise. I'll hint at a style --- it might just be in a line. I'm just open to different sounds."

Born in Rochester, Rath honed his chops in Boston-area coffeehouses --- Club Passim, The Cantab Lounge, The Middle East --- while majoring in English at Northeastern University.

The music that emerged is straightforward and deceptively simple. There are subtleties and allusions lying just below the surface. And as opposed to most singer-songwriters brandishing guitars, Rath isn't really all that folk. He plays more of a bluesy madrigal --- if that makes any sense --- plucking and strumming with a simple finger style that doesn't crowd the melody or the lyrics. For it's the lyrics where Rath shines, despite the accolades and salvos for his golden tenor.

"I studied a lot of poetry, I liked lyrics," he says. "That was always my favorite part of getting an album, when lyrics were printed and I could follow along. It immediately gets me into the song than if I was just to hear the music."

Rath's lyrics are crystal. Throughout his various lyrical phases he has not been one to wallow in the abstract.

"I think early on I definitely had a phase where I was doing unrequited love, heartbreak," he says.

So basically he got dumped.

"Yeah," he says. "That's exactly what happened. I just kind of got burned for the first time. That was kind of the start of it. And I always liked singing."

"Said I treated you bad / Four years later, you're sad / But I was 21 old / I got a way to fall down / You called me at three in the morning / I dropped dead, you gave me no warning," Rath sings in "21 Old."

"Some songs I think you want people to hear," he says. "And sometimes they're just for you. It's just like your way of recognizing a certain part of your life, commenting on it, and then putting it away, shelving it, and then moving on."

Rath addresses other issues with wry humor and keen wit, peppering his songs with phrases about "hypocrites with haircuts," people with "24 carat secrets" in their eyes, and "dirty hands that are quick to shake, never knowing what's at stake."

And as stinging as his observations may be, Rath doesn't get too fired up.

"I'm not so much into that anger vibe right now in my life," he says before reconsidering. "I can definitely tap into some anger. I just don't know if I could do it and make it sound that good."

Though an official album isn't out yet, assorted demo CDs are floating around with up to 10 cuts on them. Rath records in a makeshift studio in his basement in Chili. And he has begun to work with other musicians, like Wilson-disciple Nate Coffee.

With a five-song EP in the works with Coffee, Rath wants to put together an electric band "more in the line of the Dylan sound," he says. But he won't forgo the simplicity of his voice, his guitar, and a beer.

"I wanna do both basically," he says, "because I'm very interested in rock bands. That's what I listen to."

So in the rock 'n' roll continuum, an heir apparent to Wilson's recently vacated throne emerges. It's what we'll listen to.

- City Newspaper

"Local Beat: Folk Singer Brian Rath"

Brian Rath's career is in jeopardy. He brews coffee and mops the floor, but a part of his job at Boulder Coffee Company on Alexander Street is slicing bagels.

Guitar players should never handle sharp objects.

True, Jerry Garcia proved you can play excellent guitar minus a finger. But at age 26, Rath gets the point: People tell him that he's onto something here with this folk-singing thing. So coffee may not be in his future, despite his 8 p.m. Wednesday show at Spot Coffee.

Perhaps you heard Rath this summer, singing Saturdays at the Rochester Public Market. He has a commanding voice, which may be hereditary: His father was a radio announcer for the Red Wings.

Rath's written some excellent songs to go with it. On "Mayday," he borrows from one of the best, inserting a bit of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" among his own.

"I have a habit of doing that," Rath says, explaining that the lyric collage of his "Edgar Allen Poe's Baking Contest Blues," borrows from David Bowie.

That randomness suits Rath, who also has a 1 p.m. Dec. 10 gig at Abundance Cooperative Market, off Monroe Avenue. "I've had friends surprised at some of the gigs I take," Rath says.

"I'm proud of taking certain gigs that are off the spectrum, playing while people are checking out their groceries."

It demonstrates a down-to-earth attitude. One that suits acoustic guitar, drawing inspiration from people buying produce. A vegetarian, perhaps?

"Not," Rath says, "that down to earth."

- Democrat and Chronicle

"6 To Watch in '06"

The acoustic troubadour
Brian Rath

There are probably hundreds of singer/songwriters in New York City's Greenwich Village who would like to smack 26-year-old Rochester native Brian Rath. Because the velvet-voiced guitar player's soulful lament on young love, "21 Old," was recently included on the 14 Best Singer/Songwriters of Greenwich Village Vol. III compilation disc produced by UMO Music in New York.

But unlike those others, Rath has never lived in Greenwich Village. Ever.

He just happened to visit a friend there last winter and played a few songs at an open-mic afternoon at a bar called The Baggot Inn.

"After I played, the host asked me if I wanted my songs included in the contest for the Best of CD," he says. "A year later I (found out) my song was picked."

Rath honed his laid-back, Jeff Buckley-meets-Tom McRae vocal style and stage presence as a college student at Northeastern University in Boston a few years earlier.

He returned to Rochester from Beantown in 2003 and has been a regular in the coffeehouse circuit since, playing Daily Perks on Gregory Street, Java's on Gibbs Street and a steady gig at Spot Coffee on East Avenue.

"(I've played) Pretty much anywhere that has a stage," says Rath who's currently promoting his self-titled disc.

Pick up his album or learn more at:

- The Insider


Brian Rath (2005)
- streaming tracks at
- "21 Old" played on Rochester stations 90.5, 98.9


Feeling a bit camera shy


Brian Rath's relentless pursuit of the stage and audience is finally starting to pay off. He was recently chosen as one of the "6 Musicians to Watch in '06," by Insider magazine. And his song "21 Old" was also selected for the "14 Best Singer Songwriters of Greenwhich Village 2005" Cd compilation through UMO Music.

Even though NYC beckons Rath lately, he has decided to stay in Rochester for the time being, enjoying the recognition as a local musician. Between CD sales, mailing lists filling up, and steady gigs, Rath is putting NYC on the backburner for the time being.

In 1998 Rath left his hometown and began a series of stints at various colleges. Finally, a move to Boston in 2000 led him to a degree in English Literature from Northeastern University. It was in Boston that Rath began playing his first gigs and feverishly writing new songs.

Rath started wandering into Cambridge at night to play his latest songs at the famous Club Passim Open Mic, where Bob Dylan and Joan Baez started out. A place with lots of history and relevance, it was a perfect habitat for the young musician.

In 2003, Rath returned to Rochester and has become a recognized face in the local music scene. Recent press compared him as a cross between Jeff Buckley and Tom McRae, which suits him just fine since Buckley is one of a handful of his influences. "My influences are constantly shifting; I consider Dylan an acoustic bard or a misfit professor. I've worn out most of his albums. Rufus Wainwright, REM, Radiohead, Jump Little Children all have impacted me."

"Singing live allows me to release emotions in public that we as a society typically keep shielded from others. I think our role as artists is to let that guard down. Thom Yorke, Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan….these artist all have/had a freedom of the heart. Whether it bleeds or shines, the point is, show it, make them feel it.”