"No Place Like Home"
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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.)
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