Rich Krueger
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Rich Krueger

Chicago, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | INDIE

Chicago, IL | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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May
28
Rich Krueger @ Kerrville Folk Festival

Kerrville, Texas, United States

Kerrville, Texas, United States

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"Rich Krueger--- Life Ain't That Long (and Ain't It the Truth?)"

Sometimes you need only one song and sometimes it takes years but if an album is really good you will eventually know it. For Life Ain't That Long, it didn't even take a song. The first few measures of “A Stoopid Broken Heart”, I knew. By the end of the second song, I really knew and by the end of the third I was laughing, it was so damn good. Rich Krueger, where have you been hiding?

I am no real fan of Randy Newman but I love his play of words and infusion of comedic context. Krueger has it too, that seeming genius ability to tie words into knots and unravel them at the same time. Just about anyone else would make a mess of it all, stumbling over words piled one on the other like a wreck on a freeway during an icy winter morning at rush hour. Krueger, however, makes short work of it, telling us all about that which cannot be seen.

You are going to miss this if you're not careful, I want to say. Allow me to use the lyrics of “77/17” to prove my point, starting with a preface available only in the liner notes... “(You) really creep me out... it was thirty years ago... get over it,” (signed) Nancy H”. Which turned into, in the song, “A couple hundreds nights and, Christ, I really loved you Nancy”. I don't know Nancy but I want to meet any lady who captures a man's fancy for thirty years, even if only in a creepy way. That, Sports fans, is love.

And the album started so innocently too, a nice country-leaning tune (the aforementioned “A Stoopid Broken Heart”) opening the album, a song which could have been taken from Michael Dinner's excellent The Great Pretender album, minus Dinner's signature voice, of course (Krueger's is as good in its own way) but taking a whole 'nother direction with “The Gospel According to Carl”, the lyrics one long run-on sentence but so easy to follow because Carl has a lot to say and not much time to say it because, as the title of the album says, life ain't that long.

The title of the album is, in fact, a line from song number four, “A Short One on Life”. Funny but I always expect title tracks or songs with the best lyrics to supply the title, but ol' Carl, as good as his spiel is, takes home a red ribbon to this track. Which does not prevent me from marking “The Gospel According to Carl” a song of consequence. I have heard few like it and only at few of those as good.

Krueger draws from the wells of gospel here and there, as did Newman on occasion, the songs maybe only hinting of actual godliness but full of goodliness, nonetheless. I mean, if you like Newman, you will find a lot to love here but it is more than that. Krueger reaches way down and creates his own musical paths, song after song. Paths which suck you into an altered universe in which you get lost in other peoples problems and successes for a change.
It feels like daydreaming, does Life Ain't That Long. Like sitting in a favorite food court, creating fantasies around the people you see. Call it people-watching-put-to-music, and very very good music, at that. Now that I think about it, maybe perfect music for the moment.

Rich, ol' buddy, we don't know one another but I get it. I hear you have earlier albums available, too. I will get to them, I promise, but give me time. Because I get it. And I thank you. And, just so you know, you're right. Life ain't that long and, yes, there oughtta be a law against stoopid. Thanks for the reminder. - No Depression


"ANTIFOLK (UK) Review of Overpass"

For an intemperate hoarder of gaudy artifacts of 20th Century pop culture, Dr. Krueger steadfastly avoids the pop tropes of the contemporary world. Here you’ll find no slushy lo-fi three-chord rave-ups, nor computer-bred beats, nor gratuitous hip-hop urban sprechgesang, nor autotune, nor chilly subsonics, nor dance floor breaks, nor whispery girl vocals, nor webs of delay loops. In fact, you may find no hint of the 21st Century at all. But for all that, this is a surprisingly eclectic collection: each of the four songs (putting aside the hidden track) is provided a unique setting with an appropriate cast of guest musicians.

At his core, Krueger is an old folkie at heart (although an esotericist in practice), with a folkie’s love of text above all. You may lose count of the times he sings past the bar haphazardly into the next line. None can dissuade him in this. An anglophile par excellence, dare I say a not-so-young English romantic in the manner of Graves or Housman or D. Thomas, tuning their inner radio to such exquisitely refined sensitivity so as to receive the etheric broadcasts of some idyllically throbbing world soul from two or more universes away.

Typically, Krueger’s modus operandi involves digging out a small shard of memory or impression, not enough to even call a story, and spin a phantasmagoric avalanche of imagery around it. This may prove antithetical to the contemporary audience, who may grow restless with his protracted enthusiasms; nonetheless, his is a precious contribution. Krueger’s loquacity is a singularity.

No one ever asked me to write liner notes, and I would never usually volunteer such a thing, involving as it does some physical effort. But heck, since there are only four songs (plus one – SECRET!), here’s the quick rundown for the attention impaired:

Track One: A Short One on Life. Of course, the “short one” runs well past the four minute mark. As always once Krueger starts to unload he can’t stop hisself. Sonically, he seems to be making a bid for the Nashville radio mass audience, but he almost immediately self-sabotages with, well, length, vulgarity, embittered politics and unguarded anatomic observations.

Track Two: In Between Kingfish. Probably the heart of this collection, yet the hardest to parse. If I understand this correctly (probably not), it takes place in a semi-nomadic Hooverville cum refugee camp of destitute working and middle class cast-offs in California’s Central Valley. (The ghosts of ?) Huey Long and Sam Walton have established their haunt here and reminisce freely. Franklin Roosevelt and Woody Guthrie also show up, sleeping in an abandoned car. So m takeaway is: in the next life no one has any say in where they go or who they hang out with.

Track Three: Yesterday’s Wrong (Green). Each successive song seems to grow less structured and more discursive. This one takes a turn toward South Asia with tasty tabla and sarangi (a kind of vertical viola/hurdy gurdy honeycombed with resonating strings). There seemed to be no discernible narrative and also: Why Green?

Track Four: What We Are. This brings this collection to a satisfying conclusion, with its gospel overtones and wooden hearts and namechecks history’s most evil fiddlers, Emporer Nero and Spade Cooley. My fave.

Overpass is a preview of his current project, a half-finished two-disc collection gradually assembled from songs old and new. If this handful of songs is in any way representative of the whole, followers would be well advised to reserve room for three spots on their CD racks for the follow-up. - ANTIFOLK


"Here's what critics and songqwriters alike have said..."

Here's what writers and critics have said...

“As a lifelong fan of True Deep American Strangeness, I came to a realization after leaving Milwaukee for the last time in 1959, that the Truest, Deepest American Strangeness is to be found in the Heartland, the Great Midwest. As a perfect example, take a song--any song--of Rich Krueger, and you will see exactly what I mean. Rich is an American Stranger, if I ever did see one.” - Peter Stampfel, The Holy Modal Rounders & The Fugs

“Richard Krueger is taking his folky guitar explorations and voice into places hitherto unvisited except by real seekers after the musical grail—sensitive and beautiful, shine on Rich!” - Gary Lucas, God and Monsters (with the Late Jeff Buckley) & Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band

"There's hardly a song under 4 minutes in length … but Krueger`s got stories to tell, moods to paint, and sometimes his brilliant, exuberant bursts require longer than the standard radio airplay time length. His unbridled wordiness, passion and irreverence invite comparisons to Loudon Wainwright III, Randy Newman, and the Sex Pistols…Lyrically artful and musically diverse, Krueger`s soulful voice carries us over his debris-strewn chaotic emotional landscape to a place of catharsis and - dare we say it - peace." – Emily Kaitz, singer-songwriter

"Talented...highly distinctive songwriter...cerebral, ironic....Richard Thompsonesque." - Michael Parrish, Dirty Linen

"Krueger`s melodies, phrasing, and carefully-crafted lyrics call to mind the very best singer-songwriters…Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen. But his vision is very much his own." - Jennifer Zogott, Folk Roots Magazine (Britain)

"The high point of my trip to Kerrville in 1996...Quirky, unique, original...A breath of fresh air amid the quagmire of mediocre self-produced CDs" - Jack Hardy, Fast Folk

"Rich Krueger`s songs come from the less traveled roads of the heart. I look forward to going there with him." - Ezra Idlet, Trout Fishing in America - Rockin'K Music


"GOBSMAG Review of the song "In Between Kingfish""

Translation:

Rich Krueger was born in Brooklyn, NYC in 1960. There he did all kinds of things and it can’t be really different if you would like to become a musician. For many years he was writing wonderful songs and accompanying them in the sphere of celebrities as Dylan, Randy Newman and Elvis Costello. Now take the song In Between Kingfish. It appeared on the EP Overpass, unfortunately still not in Spotify. Nice small detail: you hear John Fullbright, friend of Gobsmag, on accordion.

By the way, we almost forgot an important detail from his bio: "He does not bowl". Unfortunately, we do not either.

Rich Krueger is not the person to write long stories about. We don’t mean that in negative sense. What we mean: just listen to the music. And start with the beautiful In Between Kingfish. - GOBSMAG


"Indie Spoonful review of "What We Are" from Overpass"

Rich Krueger is a veteran to the Americana scene based out of the Chicago and the NYC regions. He has been writing and performing since 1985 both solo and with his band, The Dysfunctionells. Rich and the band have been featured on WXRT, PBS-Melbourne and WFMT. They have backed up the Holy Modal Rounders at their reunion at The Bottom Line in NYC. Recently, Rich was deemed as a Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Finalist. As a precursor to the two full length albums he plans on releasing this year, Rich has released a five song EP titled, Overpass, drawing songs from each of the projects. His song, “What We Are” is a great sneak-peak into what is to come.
The song begins with a soothing intro featuring a simple bass line accompanied by melodic lines on guitar and keys as other instruments fade in the background filling out the well-written mix. With a professional quality sound, the beautiful arrangement will captivate listeners right from the start.
Starting off the first verse, Rich enters singing, “Now that your world has gone turned inside out/And everything you hold true is plagued with doubt,/If there’s still a place where life’s wrestled free from fear,/And there’s a God who loves us,/It ain’t here,” showcasing his timeless sound. Rich's vocals make the track whole and organic with his compelling, story-telling style of singing.
“What We Are” is a song about the paradox of having hope that things will get better despite the long history of terrible things happening around us. Entering the hook he sings, “Take your broken wooden heart/And carve yourself a gypsy violin./Make it laugh just like a mother’s crying./Listen while it whispers “The world isn’t dying”/And “Tomorrow‘s really not that far/ Remember, tomorrow’s what we are,” offering us the glimpse of sunlight that promises to follow after the dark. Krueger's lyrics are as deeply compelling as his music.
Rich Krueger presents lyrical poignancy with memorable tunes making “What We Are” a great kick-off into his new projects that will leave you eager to hear what is on the way. His music is available for purchase via CDbaby as well as iTunes and Amazon. To keep up with Rich and his releases, visit his website. - Indie Spoonful


"Early Rich Krueger/Dysfunctionells Cassettes Review"

See the picture of the review in the picture section - Dirty Linen Review


Discography

http://www,richkrueger.com/
NOWThen 2018
Life Aint That Long 2018
Overpass EP 2017Troth Sessions EP 2002 Demos
Personal Overacheivement RIch Krueger (1996) Collection of demos
Tell Me A Story 1991 Cassette of home based Recordings

All Lyrics can be found in my website

Photos

Bio

WINNER of the 2018 Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Competition!

Finalist in the 2017 Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Competition

“Wince-Inducing Brillance” - Robert Christgau, Noisey

“So Damn Good”. - Frank Gutch, No Depression

Reviews at www.richkrueger.com/reviews

Rich Krueger is an interesting and generous guy who has something to tell you if you are willing to listen. Something that you might or might not enjoy, something that might even trouble you, but it will never be ordinary.

Krueger, who is now based in Chicago, IL, was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NYC.  He has been writing and performing with his band The Dysfunctionells since 1985. The Dysfunctionells, (who describe themselves as “THE Butt-Ugliest Band in Chicago”) have backed up the Holy Modal Rounders at their reunion at The Bottom Line in NYC, and Krueger has recorded with Peter Stampfel on his own and with the band.

This summer Krueger released an EP Overpass, which was the pre-cursor to two solo albums he plans to release in 2018. Overpass draws songs from each of the projects and features many great musicians from Chicago, Tulsa, Pennsylvania and New York City including John Fulbright who plays accordion on the song, “In Between Kingfish” (which is set to release with the 2nd project). Krueger’s friend and fellow musician, Robbie Fulks has claimed that “(Overpass) is the best thing Rich Krueger has done to date.”

Life Aint That Long, the first of the two was released 1.26.18 to critical acclaim.

The folk rock Bible, Dirty Linen (no longer in print) has called Krueger’s music “Richard Thompsonesque”, and Anti-folk noted that, “Krueger is an old folkie at heart (although an esotericist in practice), and has a folkie’s love of text above all.” Just this year Krueger was chosen as one of the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Finalists. His love of text shines on Life Aint That Long. He performs original songs with well-made, intelligent, thoughtful and sometimes disturbing lyrics. His songs are story songs with characters that aren’t always fully aware of or are in denial about what is happening to them. The songs are usually touched by humor, even the songs with heavy topics. They challenge his listener’s beliefs, not just massage their prejudices.

Guest artists on Life Aint That Long are too numerous to name, but all are friends of his, and supporters of his music. The album was mastered brilliantly by Dave McNair (Dylan, Bowie, Springsteen).  Along with Krueger, the core of the band is Vence Edmonds (The Dysfunctionells) on drums and Bill Kavanagh on bass. Kavanagh also recorded, engineered, and mixed the record and was one of the producers. Others involved in producing with Krueger were Urbana, IL legend Paul Kotheimer, and Jay O’Rourke, the former guitarist for The Insider who has worked on recordings with Robbie Fulks, Warren Zevon, and Urge Overkill, to name but a few.

A Neonatologist at The University of Chicago by day, Krueger came to writing songs because he grew up listening and singing translations of the songs of Belgian singer-songwriter, Jacques Brel. “I listened to these songs over and over,” he said. “They were braver, more honest and cut to the bone. I wanted to write like that.”

“I’m primarily motivated by having my songs heard by as many folks as possible, There have always been doctors who are writers, poets, and musicians, both professionally and otherwise. That’s not unusual. I make a living doing medicine that I enjoy (mostly), I help folks (mostly) and I’m fairly competent at it (mostly),” He jokes. “I’m not in need of making a living off of my music. But,” he adds, “I’m not gonna stand in anyone’s way if they want to pay me for listening.”

30 plus years of making music has allowed for Krueger to grow his fan base. He’s had fans that insist that he sing at their funerals, fans that will jump up and down after he plays a song claiming that the song is “amazing!” He has had fans that will pull up beside him while driving to ask if he had any recordings. Now, with Life Aint That Long, he can tell those fans, “yes”. And after 30 plus years of making music it’s nice to know that Rich Krueger still has something to say.