Tim Gearan
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Tim Gearan

Somerville, Massachusetts, United States

Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
Band Americana Folk

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"Gearan has a 'Remedy' for roots-rock fans."

You can't call it a best-kept secret anymore because the place is packed every week. Tim Gearan has had a Monday residency at Toad in Cambridge for 10 years now - and it's the busiest, flagship night for this roots-rock emporium.

Gearan also lives right up the street, but it's clear that his musical reach is much broader. On his new album, "No Remedy," he runs the gamut from rock and funk and gospel inspired by the Staple Singers and Blind Willie Johnson, to the country dynamism of Steve Earle and the piquant, off-beat satire of Gearan's idol, Randy Newman. "Randy is my man," says Gearan, who celebrates the new release tomorrow night at the Lizard Lounge.

"No Remedy," which is Gearan's fourth album, comes closest to capturing the high-energy, full-throttle spirit of his Toad soirees. The kickoff is the Springsteen-like "City of Refuge," featuring Gearan's biting slide guitar (he used to back Grammy nominee Susan Tedeschi) and smoldering horn bursts from local stalwarts Paul Ahlstrand and Scott Aruda, who typically back him on Mondays. The bluesy "Turpentine" sounds like Newman crossed with Levon Helm of the Band with its wry vocal that "the devil may care, but I tend to doubt it/ And the other guy is never at home." Local mandolinist Sean Staples adds some great filigree. Gearan is equally inspired on the scorching rave-up "Fickle Betty" (with Andy Plaisted wailing on drums) and the sudden solo-acoustic turn of "Cubby Oil Man," a reference to a Somerville oil company employee. With self-deprecating humor, Gearan sings to his lady, "I would get a job if I only knew how . . . I swear I'll understand if you run off with the Cubby Oil Man."

Gearan has a deep, drawling voice that quickly wins you over. His ragtime cover of "Sittin' on Top of the World" and James Taylor's "Lo and Behold" are further highlights, though most of his tunes are original and testify to his hard-gigging talent. He also plays Fridays at Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge in a more stripped-down setting. He is all over town, frankly, and often sits in with Session Americana as well. And he just performed on a bill in Scotland with fellow locals Alastair Moock, Rose Polenzani, and Kris Delmhorst.

But he really turns it loose with this new disc, which features area all-stars such as lap-steel guitarist Steve Sadler and bassist Lou Ulrich (formerly of Groovasaurus). They're the Boston equivalent of a roots-music dream team. In the liner notes, Gearan also thanks "the Monday night creatures at Toad." But you don't have to be a Monday creature to appreciate this new disc. Just hop on the bandwagon and enjoy.

-The Boston Globe - The Boston Globe - 2/15/08


"He's Gearan up for Fame"

For years, the singer-songwriter has stuck to the cozy confines of Boston, where he’s revered by fellow musicians and roots music enthusiasts. But Gearan’s just too talented to remain a local hero. His world might get messier after the release of his fantastic new album, “No Remedy,” which Gearan will feature at a CD release party at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge tomorrow. Playing to adoring audiences in friendly pubs within a two-mile radius of his home, Gearan has become the residency king of the Hub. He plays regular gigs at the Burren on Sundays, Atwoods Tavern on Fridays and, for 12 years and counting, Toad on Mondays. The Midway Cafe offered another weekly gig, but Gearan turned it down. “I can only handle so much of me as it is,” he said over a few pints at the Burren. “Playing weekly residencies around town isn’t the most lucrative businesses in the world,” he said, “but I saw no point in stopping. It’s probably a flaw in my business thinking. People are so used to having you around, you become part of the decor.”

There’s no publicity machine churning away for Gearan. He puts his faith in talent alone. “I always kind of felt I was doing a ‘if you build it, they will come kind of thing,’ ” he said, “so I’ve stuck with it, keeping my nose to the grindstone as a player and a songwriter. But I’ve never really put myself out there. I joke about it all the time, telling people I’m huge in Porter Square!”

Gearan cut his teeth as a sideman, playing guitar on the road for 10 years in Toni Lynn Washington’s band. When his wife got pregnant, Gearan decided to stay close to home and began writing songs. His first few records abandoned Washington’s blues-soaked r & b for minimalist country folk. “I did a complete 180,” Gearan said. “I wanted to get far away from the r & b standard, horn band thing.” But on “No Remedy” he’s returned to his r & b roots. Approximating his raucous Monday nights at Toad, a large band swings behind Gearan’s raspy baritone. Gearan is so pleased with it that ambition may finally win out over comfort.

“Literally, this is the first time I’ve ever considered doing a publicity push,” he said, “and it’s all because of this band. These are my oldest and best friends in Boston. It’s a special record for that reason. We’ve been talking about doing this for 10 years and now we finally did it.”

-The Boston Herald

- The Boston Herald


"CD Of The Month"

Moving Day is a mature and focused work through and through. Gearan’s guttural voice bears a captivating, rustic quality — similar to the smoky style of M. Ward — yet evokes the warmth and wisdom of a time-tested songwriter.

Gearan starts Moving Day with “What Went Wrong,” a song driven by an incessant percussive loop (wine glasses?) and a quick, choppy acoustic rhythm. His voice resonates smoothly through the musical proceedings, providing a narrative centerpiece. The song actually sounds a lot like the theme to The Sopranos.

The album’s folky acoustic ballads are complemented by subtle banjos, violins, and some bluesy, Southern swing, perfected on “One Last Try.” Gearan dwells on particular phrases, such as “little heart sing” and “high and strong,” emphasizing how effective simple phrases can be when complimented by the right musical atmosphere. Soothing female vocals serve as the perfect counterpoint to Gearan’s crackling voice. The ballad “Sometimes” features a satisfying electric twang, while Gearan hums about the hope and aspirations of future love while reminiscing the pain of past heartaches.

Gearan’s southern blues influences are obvious on Moving Day, especially the old-time feel of Robert Johnson or the careful lenses of Randy Newman. Gearan has lived throughout the US, but is a well-known Monday night staple at Toad in Cambridge.

A gifted songwriter and performer, Gearan has crafted a classic sounding album full of moments of understated beauty. In particular, the title track stands out as a prime example of how the meaning between words — and the moments between notes — hit hardest and with the most poignancy when left to linger in sparseness. Gearan spends the song playing with phrases beginning with “Something ‘bout”: “Something ‘bout a real long drive / North on 95 / Something ‘bout coming around / To what you’ve found.” Of course he never tells the listener “what it is.” Rather, his words circle around the most ineffable of emotions, brushing up against them, but letting the sparsely performed instruments communicate their introspective beauty. (Guernica Records)

www.timgearan.com

-Michael Aceto
-The Northeast Performer
- The Northeast Performer


"Wat een heerlijk freaky begin van een cd!"

A singer-songwriter moves to Boston and lands himself 10 year residency at a famed club. And he packs it out every week. Good fortune or deserved recognition? If you are a singer-songwriter with a penchant for soulful, thought-invoking roosty rock there is inevitably a warm welcome awaiting you in Boston, that Mecca of likeminded souls. Given that Gearan is currently into a ten year residency at a famed club in Cambridge Massachusetts, it is fair to say they have embraced him as one of their own. A style that casually rambles between Randy Newman and J J Cale, a kind of laid back Stephen Fearing if you like, Gearan is from a breed of songwriter that has perfected the art of making their subjects or characters as real to you as they are to them. Delving into the homes and minds of blue collar America with a passion and understanding of how these people live and breath without ever sounding excessively earnest is a skill that only great storytellers can pull off. Yup, you can file Gearan in that drawer for sure.“What Went Wrong,” a little bit Dylan a little bit Waites, takes a sideswipe at losing oneself from the scene of a crime whilst “Moving Day” is an almost perfect reflection on what it means to leave home and all those things you have taken for granted over the years. You can practically smell the brown overalls and feel the dust off the dustsheets. Gearan manages to hold your attention to the songs by practically grabbing you by the arm and dragging you into the story....he is subtle yet still leaves the door ajar for you to enter. It makes for a utterly compelling experience and earmarks this New York songwriter out as one to keep an eye on. You kind of get the impression that something special could be in the offing at some point. In the meantime "Moving Day" is a cracking record and will more than bridge the gap until the masterpiece arrives. No pressure then. - Americana-uk.com


"Trouble Wheels"

"Gearan has long been a roots-guitar MVP in the Boston area, but he’s also a talented songwriter and singer. The latter is no surprise to the folks who’ve been packing his Monday-night residency at Toad for years. "Trouble Wheels", his second album, brings his lyric, composing, and vocal skills to the fore, framing them in arrangements dominated by acoustic guitar and dobro. The playing is spare and exquisite, Gearan supported by fellow journeymen including Steve Sadler on guitars, banjo, mandolin, and accordion, Sean Staples on mandolin, and Jim Fitting (The Coots, Treat Her Right) on harmonica. Gearan's work is not precisely folk nor country, but a rootsy acoustic rock. The biggest surprise here is his burnished baritone vocals, a talent heretofore kept well hidden in his blues forays, but notable for its ease of control and resemblance to folk star John Gorka's rugged emotive power. If there is a poster child band for Americana music it would be The Band, and Gearan's "Green" evokes the best of that group's work."

-The Boston Phoenix - The Boston Phoenix


Discography

No Remedy (2008)
Moving Day (2006)
Trouble Wheels (2005)
Back Home (2002)

Photos

Bio

Tim spent his childhood years in New York, traveling back an forth from NYC to the suburbs. In Tim’s home growing up, there was always a guitar handy to hack around with, and so he was inspired to pick it up at a young age. Tim started to take his practice more seriously in his teen years by learning to sing and play like his heroes; The Beatles and The Stones, of course, and subsequently many of their influences (Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddly, Bob Dylan) to name just a few. For a long time after that, Tim was a real nose to the grind stone blues student. While learning the ins and outs of traditional blues, he always had one iron in the songwriting fire.

By the time Tim was in his twenty’s he was playing for audiences and creating a style of his own. Since then he has made a living playing music in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Martha's Vineyard and has been in Boston since the 1980's. Around 1992, Tim began playing guitar with and writing songs for W.C. Handy nominee Toni Lynn Washington. During that time, Tim toured clubs and festivals in Europe and the U.S.

The release of his debut CD, “Back Home” has allowed Tim to reveal his enormous creative range and delightfully understated song writing, exposing the emergence of a talent to watch. Along with playing his music for crowded rooms around Boston at venues such as Club Passim, Johnny D’s, the Regent Theater and others, Tim has enjoyed about a 10 year residency on Monday nights at TOAD in Porter Sq. Cambridge. Tim’s Monday night gig has been called “one of the premier hangs of the Boston music scene.” At the 2004 Boston Music awards, Tim bashfully received a Gibson Guitar “Unsung Hero Award” presented by long time supporter Billy Conway (Treat Her Right, Morphine).

Tim's wide range of writing styles is a reflection of the music he loves to listen to, with influences ranging from Randy Newman, and J. J. Cale to Ray Charles and The Band. Comparisons have also been made to Doug Sahm, Guy Clarke and Chris Smither.

Call it American music, rich in the traditions that have surrounded this talented songwriter. With a gifted cast of musicians, Tim has crafted a refreshing but familiar acoustic down-home feel that has been and will continue to connect with audiences for years.