Wednesday, July 20, 2011

FFFreakout #273 - Russell Hoke Feature (Aired on 7/21/11)

Russell Hoke "Lullaby Waltz" from He Would Have Been A Fine Young Man
(Interview segment)
Russell Hoke "Twisted Mountain" from He Would Have Been A Fine Young Man
Russell Hoke "Weird Wendy" from He Would Have Been A Fine Young Man
Russell Hoke "Worms in My Brain" from He Would Have Been A Fine Young Man
Russell Hoke "Oh, Grand!" from If I Had Been the Universe
Russell Hoke "Goodbye, Gypsy" from If I Had Been the Universe
Russell Hoke "Hey, Marie" from If I Had Been the Universe
(Interview segment)
Russell Hoke "Haunted Brain" from Haunted Brain
Russell Hoke "Brown-haired Smile" from Haunted Brain
Russell Hoke "Girl of Glass" from Haunted Brain
Russell Hoke "Someday Among Flowers" from The Magic of My Youth
Russell Hoke "Why Is It So Hard When It's So Easy?" from The Magic of My Youth
Russell Hoke "Angelic Choir" from The Magic of My Youth

We recently came across Russell Hoke's records while flipping through the tastefully stocked bins of Dusty Groove America on a recent trip to Chicago. Tucked in their small "Folk & Country" section sat these fascinating looking hand-assembled and hand-scrawled record jackets, with titles like Haunted Brain and If I Had Been the Universe, that looked positively out of place among the more recognizable selections of the genre. With absolutely no knowledge of what any of these would sound like, we took a chance and laid down the coin on Hoke's He Would Have Been A Fine Young Man record. And what an amazing record it is!! The album is a haunting work of psych-tinged folk and bluegrass that sounds like some lost late-sixties/early-seventies gem, adding a bit of intrigue and confusion to the 2011 copyright date.

After tracking down more of Hoke's records in the ensuing month, though, it became apparent that much of his material was actually recorded throughout the 80's and 90's, but is only now, in recent years, being released in small quantities by Hoke himself. His work brings to mind various left-of-center songsmiths such as Michael Hurley, Holy Modal Rounders, Lee Hazlewood, Syd Barrett, Daniel Johnston, and we'll even go out on a limb and say Neutral Milk Hotel. It's outsider music indeed, but not in the overly oddball fashion that this tag typically connotes. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to chat with Russell recently over the phone and ask him some questions about his music and his string of new releases. We aired that conversation on this week's show, along with various song selections from his catalog.

To buy some of Russell Hoke's records, check out Dusty Groove America and Fusetron. You can also buy them direct from Russell by contacting him at:


Jordan Scribbler said...

VERY excited to hear Russell "Rusty" Hoke on this music blog! I've been listening to his music from old tapes since I was about seven or eight (He was friends with my ex-brother-in-law, more than likely the same Ryan who drew one of his album covers.) He is honestly one of the best songwriters I've ever heard and the fact that he's not as indie-famous as Daniel Johnston I've always considered a crime. I hope to hear more of Rusty, preferably on some sort of world tour.


Free Form Freakout said...

We couldn't agree more. Thanks for writing.

Blueguitar said...

Thanks for doing this show! It's nice to see Rusty's music reaching more people. Those of us who have been listening to it since the 80's have been hogging it to ourselves for too long. Time to share. I liked the second half if the show beetter than the first. Also, would have liked to hear some tunes of of Cosmic Outlaw (first released in 1988 .. on CASSETTE). Next time!

Free Form Freakout said...

Thanks for checking out the show. We tried to present a wide variety of Rusty's songs (so many good ones to choose from), so glad to hear that you liked the second half. We would have loved to played something from Cosmic Outlaw, but that was the one album we didn't have at the time of recording. Guess we'll be spinning stuff from that on future shows!!

Lee o' Pold said...

Great show. I have been friends w. Lord Hoke since the days of yore and am glad that his music is finally getting some much deserved attention. So many stories with that man. You could tell he was a little shy in the interview, which alas can but only scratch the surface. To those who like his music, you might be keen to check out some of his aphorisms and poetry. Nietzsche meets Ol Possum or something thereabouts.

-Lee Scrivner