Signup for a folk alley account


Hear It First: Tom Brosseau, 'North Dakota Impressions'

September 13, 2016

by Kelly McCartney (@theKELword) for FolkAlley.com

Tom Brosseau ND Impressions.jpgSinger/songwriter Tom Brosseau moves through the world and comes to his art at a pace and a pitch unlike most others. Maybe it's that he's from North Dakota. Maybe it's that he's an old-school folkie. Maybe it's both. Maybe it's neither. Doesn't matter, really. What he offers up, musically, is something special. His latest release, North Dakota Impressions, completes the trilogy started with Grass Punks and Perfect Abandon, and continues his partnership with Sean Watkins as producer. It's an interesting and introspective song cycle, in typical Brosseau fashion.

Kelly McCartney: Quaint small towns and simple, humble lives are very often the punchlines of jokes -- except in election years when those values get waved around on flagpoles. Why do you think we have such a push-pull relationship with the Heartland way of life?

Tom Brosseau: Local news reporter and family friend, Marilyn Hagerty, was over to my parents' house for dinner the other week when I was home visiting. My father grilled, my mother made her famous "don't scare the cabbage" coleslaw, and we all drank a cold Grain Belt beer. It was a nice evening. We ate on the back deck.

Ever inquisitive and interested in relation to my new album, North Dakota Impressions, Marilyn wondered what I thought was so funny to non-North Dakotans about North Dakota. That was her particular take on the meaning of my new album title, anyway, and to be honest, I didn't quite know how to respond. But I could see what she was getting at. In the past, while on tour, I've been asked where I'm from and when I say North Dakota, people seem to be so caught up in the idea of a state that far north that they'll let out a little laugh, like their funny button just got brushed.

The search for community and connection are at the heart of social media... which often pulls people away from their actual communities and connections. What role do you see your music -- or music, in general -- playing to help tether folks to what's true?

One of the more interesting aspects of music these days is vinyl. You might say it's made a comeback. I used to be a record store hound at Budget Music in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Vinyl had, at the point I started buying music, been phased out. Completely. Today, half the store is devoted to it.

The vinyl enthusiasts appreciate the physicality of music. The relative expansiveness of the album artwork, the actual weight of the vinyl itself, and, since it seems vinyl manufacturers are boutique, they piece it all together bit by bit, and feature special colors and packaging. There's much to marvel at.

As a recording artist, it's a pleasure to have my music on vinyl. It makes me feel like I'll never die. Vinyl is like stone.

Home, for many people, is equated with a specific place. But it can also be a state of mind and heart that is carried along. Which is it for you? Or is it something else entirely?

When I'm away from North Dakota, I can feel it in my heart and, when I'm in North Dakota, I can feel it in my heart. It's better to be in North Dakota.

Talk to me about working with Sean Watkins. How'd that feel? What did he bring, as an artist/producer, that someone else might not have offered?

Sean Watkins produced my 2014 Crossbill Records release, Grass Punks. The work ethic we created for that album transferred to North Dakota Impressions. But then, it was a whole new deal. A whole new deal because this time around we knew just what to expect from one another, and that meant we needed to figure out a way to stay distracted enough in order to be magical.

Folk music can be very much like the Bible. So much of everything -- literature, art, culture, quoting -- is based on the Bible. In music -- pop, country, rock -- so much goes back to folk music, and Sean grew up with folk music. So it's like he has these laws instilled in him that he follows. Ask me how it feels to work with Sean, and I have to say it feels very truthful.

This album is the final installment of a trilogy, so where do you go next, artistically speaking?

Home, identity and local. These are at the heart of Grass Punks, Perfect Abandon, and North Dakota Impressions. But my work here is just beginning! I'll continue to explore these themes. In the work of others, like the Carter Family, for a covers album, and in my own work, too. Maybe for my next solo album, I'll head west for new material, to the oil fields, and see what else I can find.

###

North Dakota Impressions is out on September 16th via Crossbill Records and available at iTunes and Amazon.com.

Upcoming Tour Dates


Posted by Linda Fahey at 2:50 PM

Support Folk Alley During Our Spring Fund Drive!

 

Recent Topics

 

 

October 2017
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31            


October 2017


September 2017


August 2017


July 2017


May 2017


April 2017


March 2017


February 2017


January 2017


December 2016


November 2016


October 2016


September 2016


August 2016


July 2016


May 2016


April 2016


March 2016


February 2016


January 2016


December 2015


November 2015


October 2015


September 2015


August 2015


July 2015


June 2015


May 2015


April 2015


March 2015


February 2015


January 2015


December 2014


October 2014


September 2014


August 2014


July 2014


June 2014


April 2014


March 2014


February 2014


January 2014


December 2013


November 2013


October 2013


September 2013


August 2013


July 2013


June 2013


May 2013


April 2013


March 2013


February 2013


December 2012


November 2012


October 2012


September 2012


August 2012


July 2012


June 2012


May 2012


April 2012


March 2012


February 2012


January 2012


December 2011


November 2011


October 2011


September 2011


August 2011


July 2011


June 2011


May 2011


April 2011


March 2011


February 2011


January 2011


December 2010


November 2010


October 2010


September 2010


August 2010


July 2010


May 2010


April 2010


March 2010


February 2010


January 2010


December 2009


November 2009


October 2009


September 2009


August 2009


July 2009


June 2009


May 2009


April 2009


March 2009


February 2009


January 2009


December 2008


November 2008


October 2008


September 2008


August 2008


July 2008


June 2008


May 2008


April 2008


March 2008


February 2008


January 2008


December 2007


November 2007


October 2007


September 2007


August 2007


July 2007


June 2007


May 2007


April 2007


March 2007


February 2007


January 2007


December 2006


November 2006


October 2006


September 2006


August 2006


July 2006


June 2006


May 2006


April 2006


March 2006


February 2006


January 2006


December 2005


November 2005


October 2005


September 2005


August 2005


July 2005


June 2005


May 2005


April 2005


March 2005


February 2005


January 2005


December 2004


November 2004


October 2004


September 2004


August 2004


July 2004


June 2004


May 2004


April 2004


March 2004


February 2004


January 2004


December 2003


November 2003


October 2003


September 2003


August 2003