Graham Weber

Graham Weber


Weber is a rich lyricist who furthers the progression of contemporary folk-based artists like Adam Carroll, Todd Snider, and Slaid Cleaves. - "A true talent on the ascent." - Bob Ruggiero, Houston Press


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.”



Beggar's Blues 2005
Naive Melodies 2003

Set List

Sets vary depending on venue. Occasional covers by artists such as John Prine, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, etc.