The Rolling Hayseeds


Rolling Hayseeds
"No Place Like Home"

Singers/songwriters Rich Kaufmann and Kevin Karg celebrate the next chapter of their decade-long collaboration in what has come to be known as "alternative country" with a brand new CD, as well 
as a completely new supporting cast of Hayseeds.

The much-anticipated No Place Uke Home is the first new collection of Rolling Hayseeds music in over three years. Produced in their hometown of Philadelphia, No Place Like Home chronicles the
work of a creative duo who, like many of their contemporaries, are clearly seeking to stretch the boundaries of their genre. However, Kaufmann and Karg eschew the somewhat hackneyed 
ontological crises-country vs. rock vs. pop, tradition vs. innovation, song vs. concept, etc.-that seem to obsess their peers and, instead, take aim at some less obvious "alt-country" shackles.

In "It's Starting to Show" Kaufmann allegorically wonders "what good is free will?" while Karg, in "Wide Awake", laments that it "feels like I'm the only one all the time." What's striking is that these observations occur over platters of music that, respectively, owe much to 70s AM-radio pop and  80s vocal/crossover country-certainly not the usual endpoints for the modern altsongwriter feeling a little boxed-in.

Throughout the remainder of No Place Like Home Kaufmann and  Karg continue to examine their genre's heretofore hidden underbelly. The bouncy "Woolly Thinking" weaves the musical spirit and vox pop of  "outlaw country" around the tale of a lonely man whose Letter to the Editor you probably gloss over every day. In "When It's Time to Stop" and "Guess Who's Lying?" Kaufmann (in duet vocal with former Hayseed singer Dorothea Haug) explores conflict, shame, deceit, selfishness and regret, first via an eclectic "kitchen sink" of acoustic and vocal instruments, and then within the anthemic confines of modern rock-country. Karg only takes a minute of your time for "I'm Thru" but consumes quite a few more for the relatively-optimistic "Fat Chance", running a Pedersen-ara-DilIards gamut from naked solo confession to roaring soaring opus (punctuated by longtime Hayseed Mark Tucker's riveting lap steel). Then, for his own Iate- '60s nod, Kaufmann 
grudgingly concedes in "If I Were More Like You", but on his terms-a Nilsson fingerpicked ballad. Finally, each writer pays overt tribute to influences: Kaufmann to Steve Young via Rodney Crowell on "Home Sweet Home (Revisited)", and Karg to Waylon Jennings via Chips Moman on "(Just to) Satisy You". The ample interpretative talents of the classic Hayseeds rhythm section of Mike Frank and Jon Kelsey elevate these songs to a point far beyond the original work.

Prior to the break to regroup and record No Place Like Home, The Rolling Hayseeds spent the better part of a decade anchoring the independent music scene in Philadelphia from a decidedly country-flavored perch. Since their first show in 1990-opening for former ESD recording artists
Go To Blazes-the Hayseeds have won numerous music awards, shared stages with just about every notable artist of their ilk, and are commonly acknowledged to have paved the way for the burgeoning local alt-country scene, which has most recently spawned E-Squared recording artists
Marah. 1996's Tangled Up in You CD, produced by George Manney and Slow River/Rykodisc recording artist Charlie  Chesterman,  received  much  airplay in Philadelphia and on Americana/roots formats throughout the country. The release of Tangled began a year and a half of Hayseeds performances in support of the disc, culminating in an appearance at 1998's SXSW Music Conference. Former and current Hayseeds now populate many other bands and musical projects, and one has even gone on to begin a new record label, Groove Disques. All told, it's safe to say that the Rolling Hayseeds are a broadly-known and well-respected force in contemporary alternative-country music.

Joining the incredible roster of the emerging Record Cellar label, The Rolling Hayseeds will spend the year 2000 promoting No Place Like Home regionally and throughout America.

The Rolling Hayseeds:
Rich Kaufmann - vocals, acoustic guitar
Kevin Karg - electric guitar
George Manney - drums
John Popovics - bass
Rocco Notte - harmonica, keyboards

RICH KAUFMANN began his musical journey as the teenaged leader of the '80s post-punk Electric Love Muffin, who released three albums (on Restless and Buy Our) and toured North America numerous times before their breakup in 1989. As well as being co-leader of the 
Rolling Hayseeds, Rich has maintained an active solo career, culminating in his work on the No Electric Guitars record in 1998, which also featured songs by Dave Bielanko of Marah and Frank Brown of Buzz Zeemer. Rich lives with his wife, Amy Smith of the Headlong Dance Theatre, in 
South Philadelphia.

KEVIN KARG stumbled onto a life of music from a Steeltown upbringing and an Ivy League education. The Rolling Hayseeds were formed from the final version of his proto-cowpunk band, The Fjord Rangers. Kevin has been active in countless musical projects over the years, and has appeared as an instrumentalist and vocalist on dozens of recordings. He is a member of the National Academy of the Recording Arts and Sciences and, while co-leading the Hayseeds, is also currenuy the bassist for Shanachie recording artists The Hangdogs. Kevin, a/k/a "Big Country", lives in 
Center City Philadelphia.

GEORGE MANNEY can stake a solid claim on the title of "Most Valuable Hayseed." Producer and engineer for all recordings since 1996, he now takes a turn behind the drum kit. In his little bit of time away from the Rolling Hayseeds, George manages his LMJ Productions and his GEO Sound recording studio.  LMJ Productions has released two CDs thus far, and has a hand in the No Place Like Home release as well. For many years, "Show Me The Manney" has been a staple of the Philadelphia music scene, most notably in his long-running stewardship of the legendary "Last Minute Jam" at J.C. Dobbs'.

Bassist JOHN POPOVICS begins his second stint with the Rolling Hayseeds, having also served from 1991 to 1993, before leaving to complete a PhD in Engineering Mechanics. "Dr. Pop" has a long performance history with Philadelphia and Chicago alt-country acts, and is also currently a member of popsters Nixon's Head.

Multi-instrumentalist ROCCO NOTTE spent many years as the creative power-behind-the-throne of Arista recording artists The A's. His compositions include "Woman's Got the Power", which just charted again in 1999 thanks to a new recording by Jennifer Holliday. Rocco joined forces with the Rolling Hayseeds after first appearing as a guest musician on many No Place Like Home tracks.

(Ed.Note.: The No Place Like Home CD was originally designated Home Sweet Home Revisited; the title was changed at the eleventh hour for legal and other reasons.) 

Rolling Hayseeds
No Place Like Home

The Rolling Hayseeds have always seemed like the underdogs of the Philly music scene. After all, in a town with a rich history of R&B and a wide selection of rock clubs, the idea of an enduring alt-country band is something of an anachronism. Over the years, however, the group has built a loyal following through its hot live shows and inventive original material. It hasn't been an easy road, though, and this new disc finds the two main Hayseeds, Kevin Karg and Rich Kaufmann, fronting a fresh cast of players after a few-year hiatus. No Place Like Home definitely benefits from all that time off. There's a maturity to the songwriting, an attention to small but potent details that only comes through careful refinement. The exquisite way in which the Kaufmann-penned leadoff track, "It's Starting to Show," builds from its stark opening, and the sweet resolution at the end of the verses on Karg's "Woolly Thinking" show an accomplished sense of craft. At the same tim! ! e, there's also a relaxed air of good humor that lends genuine warmth to the driving "Guess Who's Lying?" and the mini-suite "I'm Thru"/"Fat Chance." It's obvious here that Karg and Kaufmann reunited more for the pleasure of playing together than for any career objective. And only the closest of collaborators could've pulled off a tune like "When It's Time to
Stop," with its complex changes and its funny/poignant vocal bridge. Ultimately, the Hayseeds may never build a rabid Philly fan base for the country-renegade likes of Rodney Crowell and Waylon Jennings, both of whom they cover here to strong effect. But with efforts this fine, they might still make the city--and possibly the world--sit up and take notice. ****