Edge City
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Edge City

Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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Like a fourth dimension barely hidden just below conscious observation on the streets of your town, of any town or city, there sits another, darker world. Some optimistic residents of this world call it alternative. Others call it the underground, with all that implies. Others just call it down and out. This is the shadowy world of the outsider and the unintended free spirit. Once inside, it's a difficult place to escape. Jim Patton and Sherry Brokus of Edge City seem very familiar with this world. If you are depressed, hurting, or more than a little down, you are well advised not to listen to these songs or read the lyrics until you feel better.
The lyrics here are edgy little stories told from a place where even down looks like up and broken hearts are the norm. These are dark paintings of the uncomfortable corners of our modern society, the places most of us not only don't want to go but don't even want to know about. These are stories of men and women who live where it takes courage just to survive, just to get up in the morning and face another day with no hope, and yet to continue hoping. That's the positive side of these songs. Dark though each of these lyrics may be, each holds just a spark of hope to illuminate a distant image of a better world that might yet be. This is Charles Dickens for the 21st Century.
The music here is strong, both supporting and counterpointing the lyrics. Although the arrangements carry forward the lyrics, there is a joy to the presentation that puts the lie to the dark mood of the words. Here, as is often true in the real world, there is hope in the music that pervades this world. If the words are ignored, the music is big and dramatic and positive.
This is rock opera music with a rock and roll sound in many ways reminiscent of Meat Loaf's influential Bat out of Hell but with far more grown-up content. Underlying the driving rhythm that moves the music forward, there's a "wall of sound" fullness that falls somewhere just this side of Phil Spector but doesn't have quite the fullness of Spector or the formalized tightness of the rich arrangements behind Meatloaf.
In many ways, this release is quirky, but in one aspect it's unique. As seems the fashion, there are two so-called bonus tracks on this release, not listed on the label or in the promotional materials. Mystery Ride is the only release that I've encountered where the title song is not in the main listings but is one of the bonus tracks. This song, untitled on the CD but named "Nick" at CD Baby, is one of the better songs in this set. "Nick" is a sort of folk-rock tale of a man's sometimes difficult, sometimes hopeful journey through life, his tale almost a movie-myth of growing up in the modern age. "I hope he's alive on that mystery ride and his story is not yet complete."
"I Turn To You" shows the darker side of this world only by implication. Here is a modern hymn, making no mention of God, but clearly a prayer of redemption and support. This is one of the prettiest and the most positive of the songs on this release.
"It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is the only song on this release not written at least in part by Jim Patton. This interpretation is almost unrecognizable as a Bob Dylan composition. The arrangement is a drum and bass ridden amalgam that sounds like The Clash arranged by Jim Steinman with a little Sixties guitar-telegraph thrown in for good measure. The vocal has those Dylan inflections, but it's like some manic Dylan in a folkie's nightmare. I love it.
The second bonus track is a surprise and a tease. The final track on this release, "After the Dance" departs from the overall darkness that pervades the other songs. It's a tender melody about endings, the words the sort of bittersweet sentiment of "The Party's Over" sung so long ago by Doris Day. The lyric trails off with "You stay out on the floor, and you ask for one more, after the dance is done." At 33 seconds long, the song ends almost as soon as it's begun, and it leaves the listener feeling just like that... wanting something more that will never come.
The subtitle of this release, Music for those of us who never joined up, may well be the epitaph for Edge City. The talent and creativity that Edge City has poured into this release may never make it to the mainstream. Between the quirky arrangements and vocals and the dark-themed material, Edge City may find itself lost in a shadowy niche down some dark street with Lou Reed, Dread Zepellin, Tom Waits, and other artists "who never joined up" and never will. I'm not sure that's all bad. We need artists who dare to be different.

- Bob Mackenzie - Sound Bytes


Jim Patton & Sherry Brokus don’t have major label glory days to look back
on, but, like James Talley, they’re driven by passion, the day jobs are what
they do to fuel their real lives as musicians. Reviewing Chip Dolan’s Right Now
last month, I observed that the sideman credits on an album can show that the
act knows its way round the scene, and while they don’t perform often, Patton
& Brokus sure know their musicians, which may be why it’s taken five years for
them to follow up their debut. The kind of talent with which they like to surround
themselves doesn’t come cheap, by Austin standards at least, Lloyd Maines,
Bradley Kopp, David Webb, Glenn Fukunaga, Freddie Krc, Darcie Deaville, Jon
Sanchez and Lorri Singer, you couldn’t do much better for Edge City’s literate
brand of country-rock. Of course, these musos only assure that the album will
sound good, not that’ll be good, but Keepers Of The Flame is major leap
forward from its often rather self-conscious predecessor, opening strong with
the excellent, anthemic Fortunate Man and powering through 12 more solid
originals written or cowritten by Patton without any of the occasional weak
spots of Mystery Ride. Sometimes, the first album is a tough, even impossible,
act to follow and the second (don’t quite know why, but I loathe the expression
‘sophomore effort’) is a disappointment, but Edge City belong in the other class,
for which the debut is a learning experience and the second has assurance, style
and a keener appreciation of what works (and what doesn’t).

-John Conquest
- Third Coast Music


Edge City takes you for a Mystery Ride that, slowly, you understand is far from mysterious. Everyone knows this. The route is pleasing and familiarÖ
Darcie Deaville's fiddle on 'No Reason' really does it for me. Makes the rock shakier, more down to earth and accessible to those of us that grew up in the south. 'Yeah, your life's been kinda rough / Seems like nothing comes easy / You look in the mirror, you're kinda scared of what you see / Your dreams have disappeared, you don't know how to replace them.'
No, this isn't depressing. It's ordinary. Life is ordinary, with crushing realism setting its big fat ass on ever-shrinking goals daily. That makes up the recipe for the album. Edge City says, there's no way around some problems, so let's just put a beat to these mothers and go on and enjoy weekends out of prison. Other reviewers harp on about this being a definitely middle class album. They're right. But even the lower classes are gonna sense the joy out of desperation that Edge City somehow manages to squeeze out. Even if the performances sucked on this disc, the energy that comes out of what movie moguls call 'the human condition' is worthy of a RHPS auditorium full of fans anyway.
Luckily nothing sucks wind out of the dozen songs here. Even when 'I Turn To You' threatens to turn into a dark ballad corner, everything is UP enough to reach for the light. 'I turn to you / When the battle outside's raging / I turn to you / When the hard rain starts to fall / I turn to you.' This could make it on a Christian album without upsetting Any unclean rockers.
The music is distinctly roots rock, adding accordion, keys, mandolin, while keeping the same The Band kinda set up that crosses way over from folk without disrupting applauders of that faith. David Grissom, who did his lead guitar best for Joe Ely and John Mellencamp, comes in for lead here, while Jim Patton and Sherry Brokus alternate vocals, sometimes joining in on the same tune. Patton also takes on acoustic and electric guitars, showing off some of that self-taught knowledge he got from learning Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones way back when. The playing is homemade and professional. No McDonald's hamburger music here.

- Ben Ohmart
- Music Dish


"Jim Patton's voice is unique and as honest as they get. There isn't a trace of artifice - when he sings I believe every word he says. His songs are tender without being sentimental, strong without overpowering and thoughtful without being too cerebral. Sherry Brokus rides along with him with a natural sweetness that makes their partnership beautifully balanced and hard to resist." Christine Albert

“…works the same tradition as Dylan, Van Morrison, and Lou Reed…”
–Geoffrey Himes

“…if you like musicians to sound like they mean it, check out Edge City…”
-John Conquest, Third Coast Music

“…the ability to connect with the disconnected…”
-Baltimore Sun

“…Music for those of us who never joined up. . .”
--Annapolis Capital

"Patton writes sketches of middle class America that deal with the fears and pains that are common in all our experiences . . . there's a pervading sense of sincerity that Patton's music evokes, a comforting and challenging look at our emotions and dreams."
---Baltimore Music Review


"A double-edged sword, hinting at both youthful ambitions gone awry ("Still you do what you have to do, and you act just like it mattered") and at a resilient idealism in adulthood ("That ain't no reason for you to give up so easily")..."
---Roots & News


"Jim Patton writes about ordinary events and transforms them into important landmarks on one's journey through life. His music deals with universals --- those aspects of life which are common to all of us. Brilliant!"
-Raging Smolder Review


“…a series of stunning live shows…”
–Geoffrey Himes




- The Press


The first voice you hear on Edge City's 2006 album, "Keeper of the
Flame," is Jim Patton's, singing his own lyrics, "This isn't the life
that I pictured, but this is the life that I chose." As Lloyd Maines'
dobro bends the notes towards-but-not-quite-to a different harmony, as
the rhythm section of Glenn Fukunaga and Freddie Krc pushes the beat
towards-but-not-quite-to another gear, the resulting tension raises the
question: Why would anyone choose a life different from the one they
pictured?

When Patton grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, enthralled by the music
of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Neil Young, he pictured himself living a
life like his heroes'. He clung to that dream even as he formed his band
Edge City and married his singing partner, Sherry Brokus. But the rock
star's life is reserved for only a handful and as he reached 35, Patton
realized he was not one of the chosen few. At that point, he could have
done what many musicians have done: put aside the guitar, find a regular
job and raise a family. But that's not the life that he chose.

Patton and Brokus realized that as much as they would enjoy the
limousines and tractor trailers full of sound equipment that come with
stardom, that wasn't their motivation. They came to the music for the
thrill they got from hearing Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue,"
Neil Young's "Powderfinger" or Billy Kemp's "Janesville." They stayed
with music for the chance to create such thrills themselves. And as they
reached their mid-30s, they were finally figuring out how to reach that
creative standard. Sure, they would have preferred the life they once
pictured, but that wasn't the choice that was offered to them. The
choice was between a safe, comfortable middle-class life or a riskier
music career. They chose the latter.

They decided that the reward of making important music was more
important than anything else. They had seen how a lack of recognition
had twisted Kemp, Maryland's best singer-songwriter of the '80s, into
silence by the mid-'90s. So they weren't going to worry about their low
profile; they were going to concentrate on honing their skills. In the
early '90s, Edge City recorded a series of remarkable tracks featuring
Kemp as producer and guitarist, memorable moments such as "Million Miles
Away" and "One False Move." It didn't matter how few people heard this
music; it was the real thing. That was enough, for the time being.

I had co-produced most of Kemp's recordings, so I followed Edge City's
evolution with great interest. I suggested that they might want to
attend the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, because it was
a focal point for like-minded musicians on a similar mission. I should
never have done it, for Patton and Brokus loved Texas so much that they
moved away from Maryland, where I live, to Austin in 1994. Our loss was
Texas' gain.

Austin is the kind of a town where if you go to a party and introduce
yourself as a singer-songwriter, you're going to have to pull out a
guitar sooner or later and show what you've got. Patton did, and the
Texans were impressed by his craft and the passion behind it. Before
long he was meeting musicians he had known only from the small print on
his record collection. When Edge City released a four-song EP, "Ray of
Light," in 1998, Patton and Brokus were backed by the likes of Gurf
Morlix, Marvin Dykhuis, Paul Pearcy and Amy Farris (then Tiven). When the duo released
the 12-song album, "Mystery Ride," in 2000, the producer and dobroist
was Lloyd Maines of Joe Ely and Dixie Chicks fame, and the musicians
included David Grissom, Glenn Fukunaga and Darcie Deaville.

This was heady company. Patton and Brokus still weren't making any money
to speak of from their music, but they had the satisfaction of hearing
their songs played by terrific musicians and the satisfaction of knowing
the songs were good enough to deserve such support. Maybe it wasn't the
life they had pictured, but it was the life they had chosen. Heartened
by these first steps, Patton set out to write an album of new songs. He
reworked a set of my old lyrics, reworked an old folk song, co-wrote two
songs with his high school pals Lew Morris and Frank Mirenzi, dug out an
old song he'd written with Brokus about their daughter Meaghan and wrote
nine more by himself.

As always, the music sets up camp in that territory where mainstream
classic rock overlaps with roots music and singer-songwriters. Edge City
wants the words to be heard, but they also want the words to get pushed
along by the guitars and drums. After all, Patton does not present
himself as a detached observer but as deeply involved participant, and
the rhythm represents the urgency he's feeling. The new album, produced
by Austin fixture Bradley Kopp, features guitarist Jon Sanchez and
fiddler Darcie Deaville from the Edge City road band as well as Maines,
Krc and Fukunaga, as mentioned abov - By Geoffrey Himes


Discography

Keepers of the Flame, produced by Bradley Kopp, released 2006
Mystery Ride, produced by Lloyd Maines, released 2000

Photos

Bio

Edge City combines the singer/songwriter tradition of their home in Austin, Texas, with the East Coast rock and roll of their former home in Baltimore.

Based on the songs of singer/guitarist Jim Patton and the wall of sound vocal interplay between Patton and singer/partner Sherry Brokus, Edge City blends Patton’s lyrics about the friends he grew up with in suburban Maryland with Byrds/Band/Petty style American rock.

In Patton’s most recent songs a man discovers alternate definitions of success; a daughter waits in a bar for the father who walked out on her years ago; a father tells his child not to make the same mistakes he did; a brave woman breaks free of an abusive past; people fall in love; relationships end; relationships endure.

Patton cites 20th century American fiction (“from Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Faulkner to Kerouac and Salinger and Raymond Chandler”) and the various lives of the friends he grew up with in Maryland (“I knew doctors and lawyers and waitresses and teachers and water rats and gravediggers and the guy who drove the truck that emptied the port-o-pots all over the state”) as the main source of his lyrical inspiration.

Musically, Patton admits he learned acoustic guitar playing Bob Dylan songs,and electric guitar playing the Rolling Stones, and "that was the last time I learned anybody else's songs but my own."

Patton and Brokus have sung together for over twenty five years, and confess to listening to a lot of “Richard & Linda Thompson, the Byrds, the Airplane, the Everly Brothers, and Emmy Lou Harris singing with Bob Dylan” when they started, before they took off in a direction “that’s pretty much our own”.

Band Members