First time here? Let me introduce myself.
Hi, I'm Robbie Fulks and this is my website. I play and write music, mostly country of one stripe or another. I think you knew that if you came here, but if you're unfamiliar, click below to hear and see examples of my style. Otherwise click around as you please and let the magic that is me enfeeble your defenses.
Check out some songs
|(I Love) Nickels and Dimes|
|Mad At A Girl|
|Countrier Than Thou|
Here's a cool performance of "Cigarette State" from Youtube.
Jon Langford and I were at the Bloodshot office the other week and for some reason we sang "Yesterday's Wine" and "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" into a camera:
My complete schedule at South by Southwest the coming week is: Tuesday, trade show 1PM; Wednesday, Continental Club 9PM; Thursday, Broken Spoke 4PM; Friday, Yard Dog 12:45PM; Saturday, Brooklyn Country Cantina 2PM. The bookend shows are solo and the others are acoustic quartet (Raines, Cobb, Gjersoe).
Robbie Gjersoe, Jenny Scheinman, Alex Hall, Beau Sample, and I recorded a take on Paul McCartney's 1974 country hit, "Sally G," for release on a WFMU fundraiser. See a hilarious promo vid Mike Shelley made, here: http://michaelshelley.net/2014/. Great station, great on-air talent, fully worthy of your support.
I just booked a Prairie Home Companion for June, and I'll give more details soon, as they emerge.
If you're in Chicago on March 23 and interested in seeing me (and my group) in an intimate house concert sitch: http://www.thepigandweasel.com/shows/robbie-fulks
Speaking of house concerts and the like, I'd be happy to hear from any U.K.'ers who want to have me in August while I'm on the island. Club promoters too. After my stint with the Mekons is over I'll have some flexibility to float around for a few days, in case there's anything productive to do, and I don't get over there often, so...drop Robbie a line. I'm always here.
A little housecleaning before I disappear into the wilds of Austin, TX for some kind of musico-pathological convivium...
New dates. I just posted some, take a look. (I'm pushing for "take a look" as the new, uppity person's version of "check it out.")
Stray Birds. I was cameoing for my friend Jodee Lewis the other night at Old Town, and the openers, a fiddle/bass fiddle/utility-but-mainly-flattop-guitar trio, were notably terrific. Take a look! I was so impressed I bought a record; but I found it less persuasive than the live experience, which makes unignorable their playing prowess, vocal blend, and enthusiasm. They used a Neumann KM184 on the guitar and a DPA 4099 on the fiddle, and had no onstage monitoring -- a solid and smart blueprint for a good listening experience from both sides of the footlights. I'm a fan of the Stray Birds!
South by Southwest. A couple people asked me at the Doc Watson blowout last night where in particular I was going to be this week coming up. For now: Continental Wednesday, Broken Spoke Thursday, Yard Dog Friday. Those three are with Shad Cobb, Missy Raines, and Robbie Gjersoe. I'll be playing more shows down there alone, and I'll post a full layout of my Austin schedule shortly.
Next record. During these ridiculously cold months I've been working on songs for my next one. In fact I'm just about to disappear into a hotel in Glenview for a couple days to try and get some intensive woodshedding done. I've got plenty of new songs written, but I don't have anything like a stylistically consistent dozen -- maybe not even a good dozen, yet -- and the best ones don't seem to follow logically from Gone Away Backward, which it's my hope to accomplish. Previously I haven't worried about consistency with the previous record. If anything, I focused on contrast over consistency; but with this one I'd like to continue on with a musical sound and lyrical perspective that both I and the reviewers felt good about. So I'll have to save these nice songs begging for drumkits, Philharmonic backing, and comic space alien narrators for another day, and try to keep my head firmly in the land of banjos and senseless murders.
Side projects. Man, I've got some exciting long-term projects underway, but since most of these things seem to wither in time, and it seems both bad form and bad luck to publicize far-off, in-progress things, I won't say more. So why say even this much? Because I'd like everyone to know that, as 2014 winds on and I get out to perform less, I'm not sitting idle at the manse. I'm doing exciting things that I refuse to speak to you about.
8K run. On the 30th I'll be participating in the Shamrock race in Chicago. This is a modest bit of an undertaking for me: being an above-averagely fit but definitely unathletic 50-year-old (jeez, 51 by racing day), someone who runs daily but only 3 miles on an indoor treadmill, I need to train. If anyone knows all about running, I'd appreciate any tips. My self-invented regimen, which I've been at for a week, is to run 5 miles twice a week, my regular 3 for four days, and one day of rest. I do my 3 miles in 30 minutes, and the two 5's I've run I've gone at a faster clip, finishing in 40. I'm in the 6-mile-an-hour group so I think I'm safe from both false heroics and death-by-trampling. Next week while I'm in Texas I plan to start running outdoors, which I haven't done in ages (I like the efficiency of taking in some news and popular music while on the treadmill). So that's my profile, in case you have any bright ideas that could steer me better. I've been sore all week, but not too sore to work out...I think that is a good place to be. But what do I know about the world of, as Mitt Romney says, sport? I mean, take a look at me!
Carson Daly. My next appearance on that show is March 17 (technically the early morning of Tuesday the 18th). Set your thingamajigs.
Books. I'm currently reading Days of Fire by Peter Baker, The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie, and Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me by the great Javier Marias.
Records/discs/non-physical thingamajigs. I'm enjoying Paul Carrack's new one, Rain or Shine; collections of Georgie Fame and Nervous Norvis; Bear Family's Merle Travis box, titled Guitar Rags and a Too Fast Past; Paul Bley's Improvisie; a good-sounding board recording of NRBQ in 1973 (with both Anderson and Ferguson) that someone in Atlanta nicely gave me (thanks!); Watson/Grisman's Doc and Dawg; Takeshi Terauchi's Nippon Guitars; and John Sieger's and Greg Koch's A Walk in the Park.
I Heart Doc Watson! And who doesn't? A night of "Way Downtown" and "Coo Coo Bird" and "Tennessee Stud" and suchlike, by me and Gjersoe and Steve Doyle.
Harold entered my world, and that of every nerdo comedy fanatic in the 1970s, with his characterizations of Moe Green, and Crazy Legs Hirschman, and the sinister "Whitey" from Leave it to Beaver's 25th Anniversary, and all the other great -- somehow, heartfelt -- work he did on the early SCTV. Like Tina Fey or Joe Flaherty, he didn't instantly jump out of a group in which others were physically reckless or chameleonic or bound-for-glory charismatic; like them, he was a brainy person with a strong, philosophically centered perspective on what comedy was for and how to get there, to the character, the joke, the shaped scene; like them he was a leader. Once you figured that out, the quality of his work, and of the group work consistently around him, became clearer.
I think of him (now that he's prematurely dead and I am thinking of him) as on the other side of the Michael O'Donoghue mirror. Too simple but maybe there's something to it: Michael was mean-spirited (just being descriptive, I'm sure he would gleefully agree) and Harold was kind-spirited, and, above the college-hardened coolness and anarchy-loving opposition to established authority of all kinds that marked both men's influential productions, the difference in tone was decisive. Harold's characters were relaxed and their lips were usually turned up at the corners. The gentleness that he introduced into the adamantly ungentle world of the National Lampoon (in his writing for Animal House and direction of Vacation, an adaptation of a considerably harder darker Lampoon story) was an adulteration, but it's inconceivable that that school of humor could have made it alive out of the 1970s without the change. The strident, fuck-you bleakness of early SNL (which I still love, by the way, the show and the attitude) hasn't aged nearly as well as the goofy, kid-friendly SCTV. That show's comedy will never need to be explained, and first-generation SNL already does.
SCTV, Animal House, Caddyshack, Vacation, Groundhog Day, Analyze This -- what a legacy of creative achievement that is. Not to mention his lovably laid-back acting in Stripes, Ghostbusters, Knocked Up, and a dozen others. I have only one small personal connection, a two-degrees-away connection, to him, through an actress friend from Multiplicity, and from her I learn that he was in life exactly as he appeared in his work, whipsmart and irresistibly kind, and it would be a big surprise if it were otherwise. Harold Ramis, one of the funniest of his generation, a guy who made it rich but never stopped talking back to power, a class act all the way.
Pussycat Trio, which is me, Robbie Gjersoe, and Beau Sample. We go in for the swinging midcentury stuff, peppered with whatever else we feel suits our skills & instruments; this Monday we'll pay respects to Django Reinhardt, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Martin, the Fort Worth Doughboys, and Paul McCartney, among others.