Graham Weber
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Graham Weber


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Beggar's Blues review"

Graham Weber is a young man with an old soul. He brings a poetic stoicism to tales of death, despair, devotion, and so much more on Beggar's Blues, his second album and first since moving to Texas from his native Midwest.

Weber is a rich lyricist who furthers the progression of contemporary folk-based artists like Adam Carroll, Todd Snider, and Slaid Cleaves.

Each song is a graceful composition in verse: It's a beautiful Sunday in lower Manhattan / And I'm hoping that one day / These pains fade away / They won't serve bloody Mary's till twelve hours till Monday / So I'm shakin' and waitin' / On Avenue A (from "Avenue A"—listen).

He possesses a Dylanesque ability to craft densely packed lyrics, yet make their low-fi delivery seem natural and effortless, as on "After All" (listen) and "Crackin' Up" (listen).

While gloom suffuses Beggar's Blues, Weber also is capable of producing more whimsical songs—like "Love and Money" (listen), which playfully explores the mismatched desires, and "Stars and Circles" (listen), which toys with fads and consumerism.

Weber is a relative newcomer to Texas, yet he already has established a number of fruitful friendships. Carroll (harmonica), Jeff Plankenhorn (dobro), Lloyd Maines (pedal steel), and Daniel Makins (drums) are among the central Texas musicians who lend their talents.

Beggar's Blues is a hauntingly beautiful work of raw artistry and rich talent. Weber certainly is a welcome addition to the Texas scene.

(Note: You may purchase Beggar's Blues at Graham Weber's live shows. It soon will be available from CD Baby, which curently carries Weber's debut, Naive Melodies.)

October 1, 2005

"Beggra's Blues (Dutch Review)"


Graham Weber (25) is een van die zelfbewuste, jonge gasten die in Austin en omstreken het heft in handen beginnen te nemen. Denk ook aan rijzende sterren als Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleaves, Jeff Plankenhorn, Adam Carroll, Kirk Wheeler en Grayson Capps, om ons even tot de herenafdeling te beperken. Een aantal van hen doet mee op Webers tweede cd Beggar’s Blues. Een smaakvolle verrassing, deze bijna zestig minuten lange, uiterst gevarieerde trektocht door alle uithoeken van het altcountry-landschap. Onderweg horen we de nodige bekende geluiden. Nu eens doet Weber ons denken aan Tom House (zoals in het uitgelaten Stars and Circles), dan weer lijken we wel met John Prine – en dan nog wel een behoorlijk zwartgallige ook - van doen te hebben (zoals in My Nightmares) en zelfs komen we de schim van Jerry Jeff Walker tegen, in het schitterende Along The Line, subtiel doorvlochten met een zwierig pedal steel motiefje van de hand van Lloyd Maines, ongeveer zoals die dat ook zo mooi deed op de platen van Jerry Jeff zelf. Graham Weber komt uit Kent, Ohio, maar zetelt tegenwoordig in Austin. Zelf zegt hij daarover: ‘Als ik het hier kan maken, dan maak ik het overal. Optreden in Austin, daar word je hard van, want ze hebben alles hier al duizend keer gehoord.’ Ik denk dat het dik voor elkaar komt met Graham Weber.

-René Leverink

"Houston Press"

In this country, we're facing a population explosion that's verging on a crisis of catastrophic proportions. An overabundance that threatens to rip apart the very fabric of civilization as we know it! I speak, of course, of musicians whose breathless bios utter the phrase "Austin-based Americana singer-songwriter." But wait! Out of the pack of mindless clones name-checking Townes Van Zandt comes Graham Weber, whose talents both in front of the blank page and on the stage are actually real. His sophomore CD, Beggar's Blues, shows him as a first-rate songwriter, with equal parts Freewheelin'-era Dylan-esque dense wordplay and Lyle Lovett-esque sonic portraits of desperate lovers, wistful drunks and dead friends. Alternatively witty and bouncy ("Love and Money," "Stars and Circles") and deep ("Cincinnati," "Avenue A"), this 25-year-old Austinite (via Kent, Ohio) is more than a cut above the rest of the souls crowding the Cactus Cafe's open-mike nights. Which isn't surprising when you find his mentor is the similarly gifted Slaid Cleaves. With Weber's rich voice and deft acoustic strumming, along with a rotating lineup of backup musicians, Beggar's Blues is a pleasant surprise that also repays concentration and repeated listening. A true talent on the ascent.

- by Bob Ruggiero

"Sound Advice 2-22-06"

Graham Weber is a Cincinnati native, at least by Cincinnati standards -- he went to high school here, which is, of course, 80 percent of your identity in the QC. Fortunately, the rest of the world will remember the young balladeer for what happened after his Lakota West graduation. His first move was to Kent State University. Initially torn between acting and songwriting, he followed his heart to L.A., where it was summarily trampled. Upon returning to Kent, he joined Roger Hoover's Whiskeyhounds, polishing his showmanship with the acclaimed Americana band. Weber finally made his solo debut in 2003 with Naive Melodies, a sparse but moving collection of haunting Folk tunes. Inspired by its success, he made a gutsy move, diving into the biggest singer/songwriter pond of all: Austin, Tex.

"The scene is very competitive, but I knew that going in," Weber says. "And I've done much better than I could have imagined. It's the place to be for Americana, and the city has taken me in with open arms."

If proof of his naturalization is required, it's contained on his brand new disc, Beggar´s Blues. Backed by a who's who of Texan sidemen, he hits very close to the mark made by his Austin mentor, Slaid Cleaves. Like him, Weber's Folk/Country hybrid is an inviting mix of the familiar and the unexpected. He hopes this album "will lay the foundation for a few different records I'm getting ready to make when the time is right." This recursive inclination might lead him into the footsteps of forebears like Bob Dylan and John Prine, artists who eluded pigeonholing with an ever-evolving approach. For now, has his sights set on a simpler goal: a homecoming.

"I haven't been back since I moved to Austin," he says, "but I'm planning to really focus on this area 'cause it's home and I've got a good fan base here." Weber has three local appearances this week: Wednesday at the Southgate House, Saturday at Parrish Auditorium (at the Hamilton branch of Miami University) and Sunday at Leo Coffeehouse. (Ezra Waller)

- Cincinnati City Beat


Beggar's Blues 2005
Naive Melodies 2003


Feeling a bit camera shy


From a certain glass-half-empty point of view, Austin, Texas needed another singer-songwriter when Graham Weber moved to town about as much as young Graham, six years earlier, needed to be dumped by the girl who left him for another guy named Graham — weeks after he’d moved halfway across the country to live with her in Los Angeles.

But because the last thing the world needs now is more pessimism, let’s reassess things through glass-half-full glasses. Fact is, even a music town as glutted with songsters as Austin could use a hell of a lot more of ’em of Graham’s caliber, even if they have to be imported from decidedly non-music towns like Kent, Ohio. And had it not been for the gal who dumped Graham in the City of Angels, leaving him heartbroke and a long, long way from home, he might never have hit rock bottom and put himself back together as a songwriter in the first place. Which means he probably wouldn’t have moved back to Kent to meet the woman who married him and record his first album, Naïve Melodies. Which means he probably never would have migrated south to Texas to make his second record, Beggar’s Blues.

And if there were no Beggar’s Blues, you, good sir or ma’am, would most certainly not be reading about Graham Weber right now, on the cusp of discovering not just another damn singer-songwriter of the Americana persuasion, but rather one of the very few really good ones who jumps out from the middling crowd and makes a lasting impression the first time you hear him do his thing. Just ask fellow Austin transplant (and fellow “really good one”) Slaid Cleaves.

“He really struck me when he opened for me at a show in Pittsburgh,” says Cleaves of his introduction to Weber’s music. “Usually, opening acts that you’ve never seen before don’t make much of an impression on you, but Graham really did. He’s bright, quick and very agile on stage. He has a gift for reacting really well to the audience and is very comfortable in front of a crowd — much more so than I was when I was starting out.”

Weber’s songs impressed Cleaves, too. Among the songs in Weber’s short set that night was “Oh Roberta,” a tune from his first album that Cleaves — who’s since asked Weber to open several more shows for him — has recorded for his own next album, a collection of songs by some of his friends and favorite writers. Ask any songwriter who’s ever had a song cut by another artist they really look up to or admire, and they’ll tell you there’s no higher honor.

“Slaid’s really been a mentor to me,” says Weber, 25. “He’s single-handedly helped me along this year. On my third day in town after moving to Austin, I played during his break at the Cactus Café. And getting to play a real listening room like the Cactus for the first time was a huge deal for me. I could tell right away that people in Austin, they really appreciate a songwriter if you can prove you have something to offer. They pay attention.”

And the songs on Beggar’s Blues serve notice that Weber is a songwriter worth paying attention to. The opening “After All” sets him up as a stern disciple of the Woody Guthrie/early Bob Dylan school of rapid-fire, image-rich word-play over simple acoustic strumming and folksy harmonica. But long before you have time to grab hold of any one line to dissect it, Weber’s moved on to something completely different. The words fly even faster through “Love and Money,” darting in and around a playful Vaudevillian/rag-time clarinet, and then, just when Weber’s got you smiling, he slams on the brakes and hits you unaware with “Starving Days,” “Devil’s Night” and, a little later, “Cincinnati” — three minor masterworks of mood and haunting, heartbreaking melody that recall Wilco, John Prine and even Closing Time-era Tom Waits at the peak of their powers.

“Musically, I wanted to create some kind of roller coaster feeling for the listener,” he says. “I like going from just myself on guitar on one song to full production on the next, because I try to look at it as, ‘What would keep me interested if I heard this record?’”

Lyrically, Weber admits he has a tendency for leaning toward “a lot of melancholy introspection.” “I’ve got a lot of songs about leaving places, and songs about thinking about what I left behind, and songs about trying to figure out what’s going to come next. But I’ve got my light-hearted songs, too,” he says — pointing a little sheepishly to Beggar’s Blues’ resident goofy howler, “Stars and Circles.” “It’s good to make people laugh, then turn around and break their heart and then make them laugh again. If you just get up there and play sad songs, it’s like sending people off to a warm bath with a razor blade.”

“I heard Rob Reiner describing his movies one time, saying, ‘Whatever I do, I try to deal with the human condition,’” Weber continues. “I liked that line, and that’s what I try to do, too. Everybody’s got the same emotions, and a good song is one that everybody can identify with on some level.”