Willie Carmichael
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Willie Carmichael

Bend, Oregon, United States | SELF

Bend, Oregon, United States | SELF
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter




"Highest Rating!"

"Being the recipient of top quality music for the past 16 years, I dare to be taken lightly when I say that the new "Whistling Past the Graveyard" album by Willie Carmichael & The Jack-Booted Thugs is one of the very top gems amongst all the diamonds. With strong voice, mind-bending lyrics and a spare group of players--the groove is relentless--and the grit is what world-class roots music is all about. My highest rating on this one! - Eddie Russell, Outlaw for Peace Radio DJ (Columbus, TX) August 22, 2006

"Brilliant Debut Album"

Willie Carmichael is relatively unknown in the singer/songwriter world, but if you are able to craft in a song in such a beautiful way your memories with a needed dose of humor about your birthplace "This is Oregon", with "One-Arm Johnny", a brilliant real life movie scenario in his repertoire, with "Closer to the Bone" motivating everyone to take more risks in life ("a little more Bert and Ernie, a lot less Al Capone, we're all gonna have to learn to live...a little closer to the bone"), then he cannot stay unknown much longer.

Some themes are less than joyous happenings, ("Got a honeymoon house but no one's home, king-size bed but I sleep alone. After 'I do" there was nothing left to say, I saw random acts of kindness as she drove away..."). Willie does not lose sleep over it and responds pretty philosophically "...that's life, too bad, she's gone, so sad, that's life, too bad, so long, so sad!"

Extremely wonderful story telling songs that color his and our Americana/folk world beautifully and in which a little flavor of blues is never far away.

Complete hilarity with "Mr. Gibson Sends Regrets" and "Jesus and the Ice Cram Man", while the breathtaking and beautiful "Ezekiel's Girl" and "Wasco County Work Farm", with J. Patrick Lombardi in a shining role on the mandolin and lap slide guitar and a slice of "Amazing Grace", definitely will not leave anyone untouched.

But all that excellence has to step aside for the songs "Let Us Roll Mommy" and "Build it on the Hillside", and the closing song, "Whistling Past the Graveyard", which represents memories of your mother, your deceased wife, the visit to the graveyard makes it so intense that words fall short to express their feelings.

Brilliant debut album from a classic singer/songwriter who for this recording was accompanied by Dale Largent (drums), Ed Zancanella (bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar), J. Patrick Lombardi (slide guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, bass), and Peter Heithoff (upright bass), but especially his heart!

****1/2 stars (out of 5)
Translation by Mieke and Paul Benton
- Rootstime (Belgium) (www.rootstime.be/) January, 2007 issue


"This excellent disc is apparently the first from a singer/songwriter who is pushing fifty. One senses that the talent has slowly matured through the trials of life. It's not all happy--there are stories of loneliness, sickness, drugs, and death--but it is never heavy or morbid. There are some tasty lines: "King George the 2nd our dear President" (Closer to the Bone), some stories within which one can read between the lines (Ezekiel's Girl), and some short and catchy lines: "I spend my prayers on hungry Africans and my money on ice cream" (Jesus and the Ice Cream Man). All this is delivered in a warm baritone voice with stripped down arrangements that get down to the essentials. Electric guitar, and sometimes mandolin or lap-steel take the lead. When there are drums, there is an atmosphere of country folk and blues. "This is Oregon" sounds like it came from a Greg Brown CD. "Closer to the Bone" could be Tom Waits. Not bad as godparents for a baptism." - Le Cri du Coyote, American roots music magazine (France) February 2007

"Willie Carmichael & The Jack-Booted Thugs--"Whistling Past The Graveyard": Watch out for your funny bone"

"If you ask Willie Carmichael, 'sometimes you just need to be smacked upside the heart'. We're not sure exactly what that means, but we do know his music is apt to land blows on your funny bone and sentimentality receptors if you're not careful. For "Whistling Past the Graveyard", Carmichael enlists the talents of local players Peter Heithoff, Dale Largent, J. Patrick Lombardi, and Ed Zancanella to bring his songs to life. With touches of blues and politics, Carmichael's no-nonsense vocals, sweet heartache, spirituality (see "Jesus and the Ice Cream Man), and creative arrangements, the album is raw and colorful...." - Jeff Trainor, The Source Weekly (Bend, OR) November 9, 2006


2006: Willie Carmichael & The Jack-Booted Thugs: Whistling Past the Graveyard.

Willie Carmichael: Serious Business
More from Oregon's grown-up boy genius songwriter. This time the Thugs are on the side.



Songs that’ll make you laugh and cry and call up people you used to know to chew their ass or beg forgiveness.

Winner: 2010 Sisters Folk Festival's Dave Carter Memorial Songwriting Contest 2010

Finalist: 2007 Sisters Folk Festival's Dave Carter memorial Songwriting Contest

Honorable Mention: 2007 Woody Guthrie Song Contest, 2007

Nominee: 2002 Just Plain Folks Best Lyric Contest