Jordan Chassan
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Jordan Chassan


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The best kept secret in music


""Best of 2005""

#6 Jordan Chassan - East of Bristol, West of Knoxville - Strong Recordings 2005: Chassan gets back to his roots with this genre bending exercise in neo-country. A welcome return from a formidable talent, flawlessly conceived, delightfully written, and impeccably performed. - An Honest Tune Magazine

"Best of 2005 Lists"

See Below, or check out the website - Jim Fusilli (Wall Street Journal, NPR); Acoustic Guitar World; An Honest Tune Magazine; Grimey's New

""Possibly the best under-the-radar album of the year.""

Smart, friendly, well-crafted and gently kooky songs framed by eccentrically shrill organ and sweetly fingerpicked guitar are what Jordan chassan dishes out on east of Bristol, west of Knoxville... - Isaiah Trost in Guitar World Acoustic Magazine, Oct/Nov '05

""...the world might be a better place if everyone listened to "East of Bristol, West of Knoxville" at least once a day.""

Recorded on vintage equipment in an old barn behind Mr. Chassan’s home in Nashville, the new disc moseys along with a gentle rollicking rhythm, its countryish music delivered by folk guitars, purring harmonica, upright bass and oddball touches like a whistling organ on “Wound Up Way Too Tight,” which features Gillian Welch on harmony vocal. The sweet singing Mr. Chassan is a disarmingly clever and self-effacing lyricist: You’ve got to love an album that opens with the line “I ain’t smart like I used to be” and ends with “It’s hard work bein’ a fool.” You’ll come away feeling the world might be a better place if everyone listened to “East of Bristol, West of Knoxville” at least once a day. - Jim Fusilli in The Wall Street Journal -- June 21, 2005

""WARNING: This record is fingerpickin' good.""

Jordan Chassan
East of Bristol,
West of Knoxville

By Carrie Havranek

Warning: This record is finger-pickin’ good. Listeners of a certain age may not remember Chassan, who hails from Montclair, New Jersey –although you’d never know it, thanks to the homespun twang of this singer-songwriter’s first album in 12 years. Chassan cut his teeth at CBGB with bands such as Stuart’s Hammer and The Young Hegelians, moved to Nashville in the early 1990’s, released an album and started working as a producer.

As a result he’s created a quirky, sad sack song cycle of mostly acoustic hillbilly blues. Chassan’s plainspoken singing is nicely complemented by the angelic Gillian Welch on “Wound Up Way Too Tight”, a freewheeling ditty punctuated by crazy organ warbles. On “Things Just Do” he sounds like Nashville’s answer to Randy Newman, and harmonicas wail on “A Day Like Today” and “That Destination.” Though Chassan has explored various musical terrains throughout his career, he’s landed in the earnest backyard of country-fried blues.


Johnny Cash - American Recordings
Lyle Lovett - Road to Ensenada
Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits
- Performing Songwriter

""A Unique Voice, Making Top Rank Music""

Jordan Chassan, East of Bristol, West of Knoxville (Strong, 2005)

By Gary Whitehouse
Jordan Chassan may be the best country singer you've never heard of. Actually, he's not really "country," except in the way Johnny Cash was country -- the best possible way, if you ask me.

The title is a bit of an enigma. Bristol and Knoxville, both burgs in Tennessee, are two of the lynchpins of American country music, of course. Bristol is where Ralph Peer made the first recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family, and Knoxville plays a key role in one of the best-known murder ballads, "The Knoxville Girl" (it's also the setting of Del McCoury's bluegrass version of Richard Thompson's highwayman ballad "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," for what it's worth). But if you go east from Bristol, you're pretty much out of Tennessee; if you go west, I suppose you'll come to Nashville (where Chassan currently lives) and Memphis, so I guess Chassan is hinting at the direction his music is taking. Which is to say, it's eclectic, within the framework of mostly acoustic country/folk with some pop leanings and an occasional blues or jazz influence.

Eclectic is what you should expect (and what you get) from Chassan, whose family has roots in New York's Greenwich Village, and who himself was part of the Downtown music scene in the 1980s. But his lovely, catchy American music today is a far cry from CBGB and New Wave.

East of Bristol, West of Knoxville ranges from the slow country shuffle of the opener, "Brandywine," to the country soul of "A Day Like Today," to the bluesy folk of "Lost Along the Way" and the bit of folksy honky-tonk (think Jerry Jeff Walker) that is "Cheater Cheater Cheater."

Chassan sings in a near-tenor range with a very self-assured delivery. He plays most of the guitars and other stringed instruments on the album, in addition to an occasional sit-up-and-pay-attention clarion call on the Baldwin organ. Gillian Welch sings harmony on the sweetly bluesy, shambolic "Wound Up Way Too Tight," and throughout there are contributions from hot shots like Larry Atamanuik and Pat MacInerny on drums or Byron House and Dave Jacques on acoustic bass. It's all lots of fun and in good taste. Jordan Chassan is a unique voice, making top-rank music.
- Gary Whitehouse in Green Man Review

""Chassan's living in his own private Tennessee, but it's nice of him to let us into his world.""


East of Bristol, West of Knoxville
Rating: 7 (Damn good)
US release date: 26 April 2005
UK release date: Available as import

by Steve Horowitz

Critics love Appalachian musician Gillian Welch. After four solid albums, years of touring, and her work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, Welch frequently receives praise for her Americana efforts. But there was a time, when she first started out, that critics lampooned the Manhattan-born, Los Angeles-bred, and Boston-educated lass as inauthentic and even somewhat of a usurper because of her lack of genealogical and geographical Southern roots. Welch contributes vocals on Jordan Chassan's first album in more than 12 years. Like Welch, the Montclair, New Jersey native also sings Southern-style country folk music, but he's no more or less authentic than Welch is. Although Chassan currently lives and records at his home outside Nashville, the Tennessee location referred to in the title of his latest disc East of Bristol, West of Knoxville exists mostly in his head. He's not really trying to fool anyone. He doesn't affect a fake accent or anything. Chassan just imagines a musical space where he thinks his songs would fit, and "East of Bristol..." seems sufficiently descriptive for his simple and often absurd tunes full of homespun values.

The most striking aspect of this disc is its sonic roominess. Chassan plays a number of different instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, Baldwin and Wurlitzer organs, electric bass, mandolin, and spoons. Jellyroll Johnson provides harmonica accompaniment on most tracks, as does drummer Larry Atamanuik. Chassan recorded most of the songs on a vintage two-track analog recorder at a studio he built in a barn. The songs sound spacious, an effect that the relatively easy pace of many of the tunes enhances.

Lyrically the songs concern life, love, and desire. Chassan plays with the words in a lighthearted manner that recalls the works of Roger Miller and John Prine, singing in a blithe voice, "Maybe I'm lucky but I don't know / People always ask me wherever I go / Is it hard work being a fool? / I make it look so easy as a general rule". Many of the songs express positive sentiments, a refreshing if difficult task. Anyone can write a blues song. Complaining is easy. Chassan knows this and usually takes it the other way. "Sometimes things just don't work out" he sings, but quickly continues: "Sometimes things just do / Things just do / Things just do." He sounds happily startled by his good fortune at finding the right girl to love.

Chassan even sounds chirpy on the sad songs. He sings the title words to "Cheater Cheater Cheater", a tune about a girl who's been unfaithful to him every since the wedding night as if he's a kid going "liar, liar, pants on fire". There's no venom or hurt in his voice. Some songs have more serious concerns, but Chassan lays off the heavy sentiments for more heartfelt responses. "Oh there is nothing wrong with me / That love sweet love won't cure," he sings on "That Destination", a song about death. He expresses his belief in the power of love on almost every cut on the disc.

The most peculiar song musically is the one on which Welch accompanies Chassan, "Wound Up Way Too Tight". The track features a chiming Wurlitzer playing the melody. The ringing organ would sound more at home at a roller rink or carnival than as a lead instrument on a country tune. As the title suggests, the song's narrator is crazy. When Welch and Chassan join together in vocal harmony to croon "I want my mind back feeling all right", the vocal inflections make it clear that the narrator has already lost sanity. It's a strange tune, one sure to end up on some future Weirdsville or Dr. Demento compilation. Welch and Chassan sing it deadpan, as if it's normal to be nuts, and maybe it is. The song acknowledges that we live in dark times. Maybe being mad is the sanest response. Chassan's living in his own private Tennessee, but it's nice of him to let us into his world.

- Steve Horowitz in PopMatters

""It's as if the young Townes Van Zandt had gotten hold of some happy pills." "

August 5, 2005
Jordan Chassan, East of Bristol, West of Knoxville
By Jon Sobel

On his new CD Jordan Chassan displays a sunny disposition that's unusual for this country-folk sort of music. Even in a slow, sad song like "A Day Like Today," there's a sense of play in the spacious arrangement, the Jimmie Rogers-style melody, the almost pathologically simple solos on organ and guitar, and especially the lyrics. "It's hard to be blue on a day like today," Chassan sings, "But I think I can do it." In the gentle love song "Things Just Do" he proclaims the hopeful side of fatalism: "Sometimes things just don't work out right, sometimes things just do." It's as if the young Townes Van Zandt had gotten hold of some happy pills.

"Wound Up Way Too Tight" is a boppy little tune narrated by a guy searching for relief from insanity. It features Gillian Welch on straight-ahead vocal harmonies, and Chassan's wonderful Baldwin Organ that gives the CD a chirpy, carnival quality and a tiny flavor of Springsteen. Chassan's zeal for simplicity goes too far in "Lost Along the Way," a song that seems to have lost its songitude. But he's back to form in "Cheater Cheater Cheater," which could be the bounciest song about betrayal ever written. And that crazy organ returns in "Stranger in a Stranger Land," a drawling rewrite of The Doors' "People Are Strange" re-imagined with a dusty highway sensibility.

"Am I Pleasin' You" encapsulates the reductivist philosophy that underlies many of Chassan's lyrics. "Situations comes and go/Truth is hard to find/That's all that you need to know/If you know your own mind." A deceptively easy task - which may be why, as he notes in the closing song, "It's hard work bein' a fool." Chassan's witty but heartfelt music speaks truth to the fool in all of us.
- Jon Sobel in

""Pretty darn original in this trash heap of modern rock.""

East of Bristol, West of Knoxville
Strong Recordings (2005)

NYC Punk Legend Gets Rootsy
By Christian Conlon

Singer-songwriter Jordan Chassan delivers a unique blend of musical styles on his newest effort East of Bristol, West of Knoxville . Chassan, a New Jersey native, first made a name for himself in the seventies on the Bowery at CBGB's during the legendary New York club's glory daze of punk rock destruction. Once he had established himself in the Big Apple, Chassan migrated to Nashville where he perfected the unique musical recipe you hear today. The Chassan musical pie calls for one cup of countrified folk sensibility, with a half stick of jazz, and just a pinch of the blues.

On East of Bristol, West of Knoxville , Chassan has written songs which deal with the longing and sadness of the open road. His lost but loveable voice accentuates his songs, and the lonesome spirit of these tunes benefits from the shaky ache of Chassan's voice. It is as if these songs are lonely and sad but hopeful for happiness, sort of how a long, deserted stretch of highway can be. A perfect example can be found in track five, titled "Wound Up Way Too Tight," which features guest vocals by Gillian Welch.

I'm goin' away, don't you want to go? /
California, Mexico/ I'm goin' away don't you want to go?

Copyright 2004 Name Brand Songs/BMI

"Stranger In A Strange Land" is another tale of the road, which chronicles a man's search for happiness. The song's bluesy opening line hits home the idea that a search for happiness can also be an escape from misery.

600 miles down that old two lane highway/ tryin' to find my way/
out of the woods

Copyright 2004 Name Brand Songs/Scarlet Sister Music/GMMI/BMI

Chassan is adept at writing lyrics in which he remembers the sadness of the past, but looks ahead to another destination in life and living. The open road is Jordan Chassan's metaphor for escape from the melancholy of existence. East of Bristol, West of Knoxville has a lonesome feel to it, but Chassan's songwriting and musical presentation keep him from sounding too pathetic. While Chassan's songs abound with the lonesome spirit of the road, it is his self-deprecating sense of humor that keeps him from coming off anything like the Morrissey of Nashville. Balancing the record with more bluesy feeling songs like "Stranger In a Strange Land," and more light hearted ones like "Cheater, Cheater, Cheater" made the recording more
enjoyable and interesting, and it is this fact that keeps Chassan from coming off stale or boring.

Chassan's lyrics are bluesy, without trying too hard to be that way. He can easily lose all seriousness about himself and remain soulful in his songwriting without being too pitiful, as heard on track two, entitled "A Day Like Today":

It's hard to be blue on a day like today, but I think I can do it/
it's hard to be blue, but I'm up to the task, ya gotta really put you're mind to it/
all I gotta do, is start thinkin' of you, and pretty soon I'm blue as can be/
ain't even tryin'/ already cryin'/ on a day like today.

Copyright 2004 Name Brand Songs/BMI

"A Day Like Today" is excellent at capturing that sense of self-deprecation that I discussed before. In this day and age it seems like it would be very easy to walk through life without having to try too hard to feel sad, but in this track Chassan just has to think of his muse and whammo!, woe is he. Anyone can relate to this song, because it always seems that when we are reminded of past loves, we have no trouble conjuring up those old feelings of heartache. Even when that lover is deep within the realm of our past, all we have to do is pass by that old restaurant, coffee house, or park that we would share our sweet nothings at, and we too can "be blue on a day like today."

The highlight of the record, for me, is "Lost Along the Way," the best example of Chassan's blend of musical styles that is distinctly his own. The track starts out with a nice blues riff played on an acoustic guitar that can be heard throughout the song. This riff is accentuated with a harmonica solo that manages not to sound too much like it came out of one of the Blues Brothers movies, and a chorus that I think is just perfect for capturing the feeling of the record.

Lost along the way, a little something got lost along the way/
damn those rainy days, lost along the way

Copyright 2004 Name Brand Songs/BMI

Chassan has blended roots music with other distinct elements, most notably being the blues, to bring us a loathing but humorous voice. In retrospect this voice is pretty darn original in this trash heap of modern rock. The more I heard Jordan Chassan, the more he became sweet, like the voice of an old friend I hadn't heard from in a while. In some weird way, the fact that Chassan got his start as a punk doesn't surprise me. I guess that punk rock lets decent musicians and songwriters get rid of some of the more usel - Christian conlon in Treblezine


On many songwriter nights, THE BLUEBIRD CAFE sounds like a live and unplugged version of a country radio station. The songs are stripped to their basic elements, but the formula is the same: simple, down home sentiments and humorous ditties set to easy-to-swallow melodies. Hundreds of songwriters who yearn to acheive commercial success have sat in the Bluebird's performance chairs in early evening hours to air their attempts at grasping this formula.

Then there are those songwriters who have little interest in joining that particular Music Row club. JORDAN CHASSAN and R.B. MORRIS are as different from each other as they are from any other Nashville songwriting specialist, and that's the way they want it. Jordan Chassan is a musical sophisticate who pens deceptively simple songs that accomodate unusual chord changes and wry, pithy messages. Morris is a scruffy, soulful poet who enjoys wrapping his multidimensional wordplay in earthy roadhouse arrangements. Last Wednesday at the Bluebird they presented a memorable night that celebrated musical individuality -- and that's a rare and wonderful thing in a city that sometimes treats songs like an outlet mall treats its merchandise.

...Chassan underlined his standing in the Nashville music community by showing off the top flight players he's been able to recruit to back him: Jelly Roll Johnson on harmonica, Larry Atamanuik on drums, and Viktor Krause on bass. Chassan is an astutely discerning guitarist on his own, and delivers his pithy songs with a casual grace. His well-crafted songs embrace uptown blues and country folk and nearly everything he does comes across with a breezy, playful intelligence and a kind of studied effortlessness... - The Nashville Scene


"East Of Bristol, West Of Knoxville" -released 2005 on Strong (Ryko distribution)
"Jordan Chassan" - released 1992 on Polygram Records
"Live at CBGB" - released in1976 on Atlantic Records


Feeling a bit camera shy


"...the world might be a better place if everyone listened to 'East of Bristol, West of Knoxville' at least once a day" -- Jim Fusilli, The Wall Street Journal

"Possibly the best under the radar album of the year." -- Isaiah Trost, Guitar World Acoustic

"Warning: this record is finger-picking good." -- Carrie Havranek, Performing Songwriter

Though now based in Nashville, Tennessee, singer/songwriter/guitarist Jordan Chassan actually got his start as a songwriter and bandleader in the New York underground movement of the 70s, with a critically acclaimed performance appearing on the seminal Atlantic Records compilation album "Live at CBGB". He signed in New York with Polydor Records, and his debut solo album "Jordan Chassan" was recorded live in the studio direct to stereo, capturing his seemingly effortless finger style acoustic guitar and vocal compositions in arrangements that included upright bass and brushed drums accompaniment. On his new album "East of Bristol, West of Knoxville" available domestically on Strong Recordings with Ryko Distribution, he really comes into his own with that stripped down and compelling style of his, delivering what Guitar World Acoustic recently called "Possibly the best under-the-radar album of the year (2005)."

Jordan Chassan began by studying classical piano, violin, and guitar, but by the tender age of seventeen he was leading his own band Stuart's Hammer in regular weekend gigs at the now legendary underground dive CBGB in New York City. Atlantic Records showed some interest in the blossoming scene and the band appeared on the Live at CBGB anthology. Rolling Stone magazine called the Chassan-penned tune "Everybody's Depraved" the "best song on the album... ... (it) never succumbs to the easy decadence the title implies." Said young Chassan "I'll be rich and famous!" This historic recording was recently reissued by Atlantic. Next came a succession of bands with independent releases, most notably The Young Hegelians, touring England and garnering rave reviews as "the best unsigned band in New York". After the demise of that highly promising band (whose excellent live recordings will soon be available on the new indie label Strong, Chassan decided to go it alone and began performing as a solo artist, first in Greenwich Village nightspots like Folk City, Tramps, and The Lone Star (but very recently at Joe's Pub and Irving Plaza), eventually building a wider Northeast base playing rooms like The Birchmere in Washington DC and Passim in Boston.

Fortune smiled again when record producer and impresario Davitt Sigerson heard a live recording and immediately signed Chassan to an exclusive contract with Polydor Records. The resulting album was recorded live in the studio direct to two tracks, featuring his distinctive songwriting, acoustic guitar, and vocals. The 1992 release won him many new fans and long deserved national attention. During the mid 90's Chassan relocated to Nashville, Tennessee where he now lives. Most recently he has been consumed with all aspects of recording, having built the Inglewood SoundBarn out of an old barn on his property. The studio features vintage analog equipment and an old school approach, and has been the center of lots of activity lately. In the related world of TV and film production, Chassan worked with the legendary musical historian Peter Guralnick as location sound recordist for the A&E Biography presentation "Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock n' Roll" which recently had its debut at the Museum of Television & Broadcasting in New York City.

Chassan has also been involved as a producer with several projects in various stages of completion. Amy Allison's album The Maudlin Years (Koch International) got lots of attention when it was released and popped up on Elvis Costello's list of 500 albums "essential to a happy life" as published in a special music issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Also completed is a solo album (vocal and guitar recorded live to stereo) by the late Walter Hyatt, much loved but as yet unreleased.

"When I finished construction on the Inglewood SoundBarn a few years back, the first guy I ran into in a trip back to New York was the great renegade writer / artist Mark Johnson" says Chassan. "His album 12 In a Room is an underground classic. To make a long story short, I kind of kidnapped him and brought him down to Nashville for the maiden voyage of the SoundBarn. We hung out and wrote some songs together and I got to really stretch out in terms of production quality." That project is now complete, and Mark’s new mini-album “Green Summer Rain” will be available sometime in 2006 on Strong Other production credits include former United Artists recording artist and Hollywood actor George Gerdes, hipster-revivalist Greg Garing, and Holly Yarbrough (daughter of folk legend Glenn Yarbrough).