Joe Kaplow
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Joe Kaplow

Santa Cruz, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Santa Cruz, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Folk Indie




"Joe Kaplow’s Debut Record is a Story Telling Folk Masterpiece"

Dive into Joe Kaplow’s music. You’ll find yourself immediately relaxed by the soothing pace of the finger picked acoustic guitars. You’ll feel a peacefulness in your soul when his folky voice cuts through the track. Joe Kaplow has recently released his first album “Time Spent in Between” and it was definitely worth the wait. It’s lyrically brilliant, and the music speaks to the listener with or without lyrics. One of the songs from this record is called “Mavourneen.” It contains a catchy chorus section with a universal theme “I don’t want to be just another somebody.” But what exactly is a Mavourneen?

Joe Kaplow explains that: “I had a app in my phone that would show me a word of the day every day to expand my vocabulary. One day, the word was mavourneen, an Irish-English word that means ‘my darling.’ I thought it was a beautiful word so I wrote the song right then and there.”


Another song from the record it titled “Cathartic Rambling” and it feels slightly more modern than “Mavourneen” especially because the opening lyrics talk about stick n’ poke tattoos which are very trendy right now. The lyrics go into a more emotional place, and even feel slightly sorrowful, as Kaplow speaks about being distant from the people he loves such as his family who are growing old and perhaps dying, and his friends who have changed a lot. The song is a story-telling masterpiece, keeping the spirit of folk music alive and well.

The record contains 12 songs, Mavourneen and “Cathartic Rambling” being the ending tracks, lasting 53 minutes in total. We highly recommend giving it a listen! It can be streamed on Spotify now: - Rock the Pigeon

"Santa Cruz Singer Songwriter Joe Kaplow Releases Debut LP ‘Time Spent In Between’ With Record Release Party in Soquel, CA (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)"

Santa Cruz, California Folk singer, Joe Kaplow (pronounced like a firecracker goes “pow”), released his debut record, Time Spent In Between on Friday, April 12th and marked the occasion with an LP release party at Michael’s On Main in Soquel, CA that very night. The record is a collection of folk songs that could easily find their roots in early 70’s Neil Young and The Band. This is an album of sonic beauty and space, a fullness of unrefined low fidelity with some tripped out twists that were recorded, by aesthetic choice, on an old Tascam 4-Track to which many of you might have committed demos from your garage band back in the day. The subtle hiss of the cassette recording creates warmth and lends truth to some incredibly powerful songs packed with lyrical turns that can gut punch as quickly as they can make you smile.

Joe is a graduate of Berklee College of Music but there is nothing here that hints at formal training. Here, instead, there is heart, deeply burnished soul and unflinching honesty that deals with all that makes him – and us – human. That could be said about most folk records, but this is not a collection of cookie-cutter folk tunes. Kaplow weaves his words into musical genres and instrumentation that might surprise you. There’s the “almost” 2nd Line stride grittiness of “Dust Rattler” that could be marched out on a cobblestoned New Orleans street complete with the horn section and a chorus that begs you to sing along with it. “Allison” holds some acid drippy keyboard parts that call the listener to sit back with a head full of something and engage the textures in a song pondering the loss of a friend and yearning for their company.

“Don’t Try to Stay” has a Zydeco shuffle and fiddle that could push a few people in the crowd into two-stepping around the dancefloor where “Corncob Pipe” is, in a word, expansive. It is lazy and loping in its openness but that intentional space calls us and draws us onto the porch to set and rock as shadows lengthen, the days shorten, the ocean waves get bigger and usher us from summer to fall not just in the physical sense of the season change but the seasonal change we feel within us from time to time. The harmonica and almost imperceptibly soft banjo lines put us on a farm where we stack wood and wait on the first frost. The songs tackle the life of the travelling musician, the ups and downs of love, death, bouts of sadness along with the tender moments of just trying to reckon with life and one’s place in it. The album closer, “Mavourneen”, celebrates that place and the beauty of walking one’s own path because, in the end, that pat is the only one we can truly take.

The players on this record are Kaplow’s friends. They know him, and they know his style and that is what comes through most. And they were there on Friday night in Soquel. Joe was flanked by his musical brothers Bobcat Rob Re Armenti (keyboard) and Elliot Kay (bass). The three played the night with substitute drummer Spencer Higgins (Mikey Whelan lives in New Orleans now but still makes most tours) who ably filled the chair and an occasional horn section that helped blow the roof off. Supporting the night was none other than Willy Tea Taylor (Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit) who played a solo set and then played with Joe and the boys for two of his own songs to close out the night. And that means something. There’s a compatibility between Willy and these guys from Santa Cruz that works, bridging the space between the coastal swells and rolling golden hills of California’s Central Valley with copacetic harmonies and a deft command of insightful playing. Together, they are awesome.

What Kaplow did on his record was allow room for the magic of what could happen at the show that night. The near capacity crowd was treated to a special brand of deep and rootsy Americana. From the very downbeat the room filled with a wide array of sound from guitar/harmonica to trombone and trumpet and the crowd, ranging from twenty to sixty-somethings, swayed on the waves of music. Those that had heard the record, had a relatively short time to digest it before seeing it presented on stage, but the translation was magic and the energy in the room crackled. Special guest Kat Factor lent her unique, soaring vocals to a burning rendition of “Dust Rattler” and the horns took the song straight to where it needed to go. The music and the moments mingled in a celebratory high and for good reason. Kaplow and his friends have released something into the world that has serious wings. It appeals to us from the heart and it speaks to all of us – young and old. Music on nights like this remind us of the moments we need to hold on to. It sparks our imagination and dares us to live bigger and better. Creativity may be in all of us, whether we put ourselves out there or not, but for many, a guy like Joe Kaplow can give our imaginations voice and a reason to smile into tomorrow. - Glide Magazine

"Joe Kaplow: A diverse, impressive folk troubadour."

There’s a wide diversity of sounds you can make with an acoustic guitar and voice; being able to sing Missippi blues doesn’t ensure that you can play Irish folk tunes. Some people work to become a master at one style, while others can absorb the core elements of a variety of sounds.

Joe Kaplow is the latter, as his sound is grounded in troubadour folk with influences from a variety of other acoustic genres. His self-titled debut EP showcases a singer/songwriter with a huge amount of promise, as his songwriting and distinctive voice offer great rewards to the listener.

“Bookshop Blues” opens the release with a fast, strummed folk tune accompanied by his own foot stomping. Kaplow’s insistent, urgent tenor dances over a tune that sounds perfect for busking: an earnest, upbeat tune that balances lyrical introspection and smile-inducing melodies and chords. He follows it up with the harmonica-and-swift-fingerpicking tune “How Old is My Soul,” which evokes the raw, pure sound of The Freewheeling Bob Dylan. It stays out of tribute range due to (again) the swooping vocals, which flip from tender to insistent on a dime. This ability to control his delivery calls to mind a less-abrasive Kristian Mattson of The Tallest Man on Earth, especially in the “oh-oh” conclusion of the tune.

Kaplow can unhinge his voice, too–both “It’s Me Girl” and “When I Open Up at Last” allow Kaplow to let it all air out. The banjo-led blues of “It’s Me Girl” sees him scrubbing grit and wail into his delivery to fit the mood of the tune, while “When I Open Up at Last” contains Damien Rice-style howls. “Give My Eyes” provides a respite between the two songs, a delicate pastoral tune that reminds me of a cross between Irish folk tunes and Justin Townes Earle’s American sounds. The addition of a female voice turns this duet into a highlight of the already-strong EP.

There’s a lot going on in this self-titled EP, but it all hangs together because of the bright, mid-fi production vibe. This is clearly a man and his guitar (on most tracks), as the occasional ambient room noise, gentle tape hiss and sound of foot taps show. But Kaplow’s not reveling in the tracks’ smallness–this feels like an earnest document of work, not a bid to participate in the bedroom-folk scene. (“When I Open Up at Last” is about as far from whisper-folk as it gets.) There’s no intentional obscuring, no reverb, no distance placed between the listener and the song. These songs are immediate–they grabbed me on first listen, and they still grab me ten listens on. That’s a credit both to the songs and the way they’re recorded.

Kaplow’s self-titled EP is an energizing listen. Whether it’s a slow or fast song I’m listening to, the music is exciting. Kaplow’s well-controlled voice is employed in a diversity of styles, making for a sprightly, fast-paced 20 minutes. It’s tough to pick out highlight tracks, because each has its own charms; I’m personally partial to “How Old is My Soul” and “Give My Eyes,” but someone who likes darker, dramatic music more than I could find “When I Open Up at Last” or “It’s Me Girl” to be their highlight. It’s a rare artist who can make memorable tunes in diverse idioms, and that bodes well for Joe Kaplow. I can’t wait to see how his next releases develop. Highly recommended. - Independent Clauses

"Joe Kaplow -- EP"

Joe Kaplow's debut EP is a propulsive force. It's not loud. It's not raucous. It's not rowdy. But Kaplow's raspy bluesman vocals and delicate lyrics produce an effect that lies somewhere between punk and folk.

Though Kaplow's been making music for years, this is the first time he's recorded many of these songs. That forceful feelings comes from the potential energy released as these songs get to be transmitted to more than a bar room of people for he first time. The starter track, "Bookshop Blues," establishes Kaplow's blues cred, but it's the quieter songs like "How Old is My Soul?" and "Give My Eyes" that work best, balancing Kaplow's reformed-punk delivery and his tenderness on a precarious edge. With this EP Kaplow's only given us a hint of the wealth of music he's sitting on, but here's hoping we get to hear more. - Adobe and Teardrops

"PREMIERE: Joe Kaplow’s debut album Time Spent In Between is pure folk magic"

With a string of singles and EPs under his belt, Santa Cruz-based singer-songwriter Joe Kaplow has spent the past number of years crafting a sound that feels simultaneously grounded and explorative; his music is rooted in folk, but reaches far further.

The one thing that immediately jumps out from Kaplow’s music is its vastness. He creates mini-universes within each of his songs, and strolling around inside them is an experience unlike any other. Now, with the release of his debut full-length album Time Spent In Between, these sonic universes are stretched farther. It should go without saying that we’re stoked to be premiering it for you today.
On his debut full-length album Time Spent In Between, Santa Cruz-based singer-songwriter Joe Kaplow crafts a style of folk music that feels equal parts intimate and expansive.

Over the course of the album’s twelve-track duration, Joe Kaplow weaves elements of folk, country, and indie-rock to deliver a sound that’s uniquely his own. With raw instrumentation and earthy vocal melodies, Time Spent In Between is rich with folk songwriting brilliance.

Album opener Corncob Pipe is a charmingly sharp folk gem reminiscent of Harvest-era Neil Young, while the album’s lead single I Said I Was Going And I Went is far more tender and emotionally resonant. This is a balance that Kaplow masters throughout the album—delivering quick-witted one-liners that still hold true emotional weight.

By the time Kaplow reaches the conclusion of his debut album, he’ll have roped you in completely. Walking away from this album, you’ll feel as though you’ve just engaged in a multi-hour late-night conversation with one of your oldest friends.

These still may be relatively early days for this Californian songwriter, but judging by the quality of everything we’ve so far, I think we can safely expect plenty more quality tunes.

For now, do yourself a favour and listen Time Spent In Between above. - Happy Magazine


(2015) EP (2019 Time Spent In Between



Singer/songwriter Joe Kaplow lives in a four-acre mansion in the hills of Santa Cruz. Of course, he shares the space with a group of hippies, some rats, and some very dilapidated floors and walls... but it does have a swimming pool.

For Kaplow, becoming a full-time musician - and adopting the lifestyle that often accompanies it - didn’t happen by accident. Having moved from farm life and family in New Jersey to the rich Santa Cruz music community, Kaplow has often found himself living paycheck to paycheck as he departs on three-month U.S. solo tours, records music in various bedrooms of the house where he lives, rehearses with his new band and writes constantly, dedicating himself fully and lovingly to the craft of songwriting.

Kaplow’s debut album Time Spent In Between is simultaneously grounded and exploratory; the music is equal parts intimate and expansive. With raw instrumentation and earthy vocal melodies, Time Spent In Between is rich with folk songwriting brilliance.

Band Members