Friday, July 1, 2011
Welding Burns from Rod Picott, or Water Pump, Thermostat, Radiator, Head Gaskets
"I learned a little somethin' about how things are,
No one gets a bonus
'bloody knuckles and scars
No one remembers your name
Just for working hard." - Rod Picott
"Rust Belt Fields," from Welding Burns
On the title track of his new CD Welding Burns, Rod Picott sings about "broken dreams, wrecked cars, broken bones and welding burns" over a spare instrumentation spiked with banjo and fiddle. I'm new to Picott's music but he's another of those hard-working, road-warrior troubadours who's winning a fan base one road show at a time. And deservedly so.
On Welding Burns Picott mines the fertile territory of the everyday in Guthrie-esque polaroids of the 21st Century where folks are scrambling with jobs lost and love lost, trying to get along.
Some of the tunes like "Black T-Shirt (and a parking lot)" remind me of our own Midwestern mid-century days and nights growing up. Others like "410" with its tale of desparation puts the mirror up to the dark side of tough times. Tunes like "410" will appeal to listeners who like the hard-scrabble character stories of artists like James McMurtry and Dave Alvin.
Like both of those artists, Picott has a rough-hewn voice with plenty of grit. But he can also put a sweet purr down to serve sweeter songs like "Little Scar," a longing, romantic tune remembering a girlfriend through little things like her knees exposed by her summer dress. Another notable track is the melodic and melancholy reminiscing of "Jealous Heart."
"Sheetrock Hanger" has a real anthemic feel that definitely makes me think of Woody Guthrie and his songwriting pals.
The spare production is beautifully played and arranged with fine emotional punctuation from pedal steel, fiddle, banjo, harmonica and harmony vocals.
Like a lot of indie folk songwriters, Picott is a solo act on the road. And last month he had some really bad luck when his vehicle broke down in the midst of a string of important dates set to launch this CD. But headaches turned to triumph when one friend and fan donated her frequent flyer miles to get Picott where he needed to be. Meanwhile friend and fellow musician Stacey Earle (who's performed at Omaha's FolkHouse with her husband Mark Stuart) posted Picott's plight to her website staceyearle.com asking folks to donate via the web to help Picott out.
The website hasn't been updated yet but you can see the original post and part of the story at staceyandmark.com/RodsRide.htm
Via Facebook and his publicist Picott recounted the latest to me today:
"I just have to rent a one way car from Nashville to Waynesboro VA. on Tuesday to pick it up and continue the tour. With 256,00 miles it was probably time for some tidying up but it could have picked a better spot than the mountains of Virginia. So goes the road...I changed out the radiator myself when it broke down but it also needed a water pump and of course when the water pump died the head gasket blew as well. Stacey Earle put together a paypal fund and raised $1300 towards the final bill of 1475.00, isn't that amazing? So I'm just blown away by both the gesture and the generosity of people. I have great friends and great fans as well."
He ended the note with what sounds like the beginning of another song
Two car rentals
One cab ride
One borrowed car
Visit rodpicott.com for more on the artist and for info on how to get the disc from Village Records. For more on the disc, purchase info and a sample of the title track see rodpicott.com/ROD_PICOTT/STORE.html And friend Rod up on Facebook. He's a talented songwriter with heart, depth and lyricism worth your attention.