by Brian Baker
If Axl Rose announced he was planning the next Guns 'N Roses album as a tribute to Tony Orlando and Dawn, that would be only slightly more surprising than Matt Baumann's left turn from his Ambient Jazz saxophone tone poetry to the sparsely appointed Americana released under his reimagined guise as WolfCryer.
Oddly enough, when Baumann defected from saxophone to banjo, the quality that linked his two disparate musical directions was a spartan sense of atmospherics and an expansively moody palette; while the outcomes couldn't have been more different, there was a fascinatingly similar philosophical link between his two sonic identities.
As WolfCryer, Baumann has been slightly more in tune with the singer/songwriters to which he swore fandom back in his tone/drone Jazz days (Warren Zevon, Tom Waits and Jason Molina were particular favorites), and over the past three years of his newly established Folk/Roots persona, he has managed to amass a catalog of songs that more than amply proves the wisdom of his career shift. His 2012 self-titled WolfCryer debut turned a lot of heads in the local Folk community, and Baumann spent the subsequent year working on his chops and making a new name for himself in a crowded scene that always seems to make room for quality purveyors.
Earlier this year, Baumann released the fruits of his most recent labor, the four song EP Wild Spaces, which came on the heels of a pair of EPs in late 2013, The Long Ride Home and Hell's Coming Down. The three brief but potent releases showed Baumann expanding his sonic possibilities as he incorporated more acoustic guitar and harmonica into his songs and left the banjo as an infrequent but still welcome guest. Baumann's proposed full-length debut, originally slated for this past summer, hasn't yet materialized but in the meantime, he's whetted our appetites with a new eight-song WolfCryer EP, The Prospect of Wind.
Like many of his avowed heroes, Baumann turns his songwriting talents toward society's downtrodden on The Prospect of Wind, with a particular interest in the personally felt ravages of war. It is an age old topic of literature and song, because no matter how sophisticated mankind becomes at the destruction of life, the simple desolation of the survivors never seems to change to any great degree. To that end, Baumann channels his inner Dylan in the lyrics and the cadence of the EP's title track ("There's an ember in the kindling, from a cracked and careless hand/Just waiting for the moment to rise and scorch the land"), nimbly displays both his love for and his study of Warren Zevon on "The War" and "When I Go," and waves his Springsteen flag with pride and admiration on "Box of Bones" and "Both Hands on the Plow."
As has been the case from the start of his relatively short but extremely potent tenure as WolfCryer, Baumann has no trouble notching his songs with some of the characteristics of his favorite singer/songwriters, but he does it in the constant pursuit of his own musical identity. You may detect a glimmer of some of his monolithic predecessors in the songs that comprise The Prospect of Wind, but you'll come away knowing that you've experienced another great WolfCryer album.
WolfCryer's CD release show for The Prospect of Wind is Friday night at the Southgate House Revival in the Revival Room. Admission is $10 and the show starts at 9 p.m.
by Brian Baker
Cincinnati Folk singer/songwriter Matt Baumann goes on a prolific release spree with much more music coming soon
Five years ago, Matt Baumann was exploring the fringes of avant garde Jazz and creating sparse Ambient soundscapes with nothing more than his alto/tenor saxophones (he occasionally duoed with friends Eric Barnett and Jim Feist, but largely worked on his own) and a vision of crafting a quietly powerful body of work. At the time of our last interview, in late 2008, Baumann namechecked all the right Jazz influences — John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Jan Garbarek — but he also ticked off a number of singer/songwriters whose work had been more inspirational than influential, from Warren Zevon and Tom Waits to Jason Molina and David Bazan, saying that he attempted to channel their passion and not necessarily their method of expressing it.In 2011, disillusioned with the local Jazz scene, Baumann opted for the singer/songwriter route, learning to play the plectrum banjo but maintaining his lone wolf performing status. That may well have been Baumann's inspiration for adopting the nom de plume of WolfCryer, as well as his desire to begin a fresh new direction. His acclaimed eponymous debut EP dropped in 2012 and he's been steadily working the Folk/Americana scene ever since, but the last few months have been especially productive with the release of a trio of evocative, emotionally engaging and typically atmospheric EPs. The first,The Long Ride Home, dropped quietly last September and showcased a new WolfCryer of sorts, as Baumann added acoustic guitar and harmonica to an arsenal already loaded with melancholy melodicism ("Roll Call of Ghosts") and intelligent wordplay ("Never Carry More Than You Can Hold"). <a href="http://wolfcryer.bandcamp.com/album/the-long-ride-home">The Long Ride Home by WolfCryer</a>The next two WolfCryer EPs, sporting four tracks each, have come in fairly rapid succession; Hell's Coming Down came out at the end of November and Wild Spaces dropped on New Year's Day, both generally following the template of The Long Ride Home and both stacked with highlights, like the lovely "Andromeda" and winsome "whiskeyheart" (where Baumann's banjo makes a welcome reappearance) on the former, the expansive "Lonely Country" and the heartrending "Better to Be" on the latter.<a href="http://wolfcryer.bandcamp.com/album/wild-spaces">Wild Spaces by WolfCryer</a>Baumann was a cluster recordist back in his Jazz days, and that aspect of his creative life hasn't changed much; on the heels of his last three EPs, released over the course of the last three months, his plans for the new year include both his debut and sophomore full-length albums (the proposed title track for the latter, "Box of Bones," is posted below). Originally slated for next month, WolfCryer's debut album, The Ivory in the Narrows, has been pushed to a summer release, but his Feb. 15 release show at Southgate House Revival remains intact as Baumann is re-releasing The Long Ride Home, which was never given an actual official release in the first place. <a href="http://wolfcryer.bandcamp.com/album/box-of-bones">Box of Bones by WolfCryer</a>If you think a guy and a guitar is drab, give WolfCryer a shot; given the slightest opportunity, he'll build a quiet and beautiful new room in your heart.
Plus, benefit concerts, tunes (and blooms) at the Zoo and more
0 Comments · Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Local rockers 500 Miles to Memphis celebrate their 10th birthday with a blow-out concert in Newport. Plus, area Folk/Americana artists unite to help Covington venue stay afloat, Rosie Carson, The Graveblankets and others perform for Cancer Family Care of Cincinnati at Molly Malone's in Covington and the Cincinnati Zoo's "Tunes & Blooms" concert series finally gets some spring-like weather.
by Mike Breen
Area Folk/Roots musicians team up to try and save Covington club/hangout Geez'l Pete's
Musician Matt Baumann, who performs as the Folk act WolfCryer, and several area Folk/Americana musicians are teaming up this Wednesday to help a local music venue that has given them a home over the years. The club Geez’l Pete’s (508 Madison Ave., Covington) is having financial difficulties to the point where the electricity has been shut off. This Wednesday, a “Save the Pete!” benefit will be held at the club, with music starting at 6 p.m. and running on three performance spots — busking on the street outside, “backporch” jamming and acoustic performances inside the club by candlelight. “Geez'l Pete's is a hub for many local musicians,” Baumann says, “and the only one that I know of that keeps a library and store on site for the albums from most of the local musicians.”There is a suggested donation of $5 and beer and booze will be available to purchase. Artists scheduled to appear include WolfCryer, Daniel Van Vechten, Dave Rohs, Tim Caudill and Tony Hall. Mark Utley of Magnolia Mountain headlines the night at 10 p.m. Click here for more info.Next Wednesday, April 17, Baumann and Co. will present another similar benefit at Geez’l Pete’s for the same cause. Kelly Thomas is the scheduled headliner, performing at 9:30 p.m.
Plus news on MPMF.12, WolfCryer, MidPoint Indie Summer and more
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Grasshopper Juice Records presents the sixth annual Adjust Your Eyes Music & Art Festival this weekend at downtown's Mainstay Rock Bar Friday-Saturday.
by Mike Breen
Former experimental artist Matt Baumann shows Americana prowess on new self-titled release
Former experimental Jazz artist Matt Baumann has totally shifted gears and is now performing as banjo-playing Americana artist WolfCryer. Tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine, Baumann (as WolfCryer) celebrates the release of his debut, self-titled EP by performing the recording live in its entirety starting at 10 p.m. From the sounds of the EP, WolfCryer is going to be a very welcome addition to Greater Cincinnati's eclectic, thriving Roots/Americana scene.Baumann’s music partner Eric Barnett (a.k.a. whiskeyheart) then takes over the stage after the live EP presentation, followed by popular local Indie Folk group Evans Collective. Wolfcryer comes back to close out the night at around 12:30 a.m. To listen to and then purchase the EP online, visit nobleoakrecords.bandcamp.com. Here's a little sample to whet your appetite. <a href="http://nobleoakrecords.bandcamp.com/album/wolfcryer-ep">WolfCryer EP by WolfCryer</a>Click here to read an interview with Baumann from CityBeat's Brian Baker in 2008, when he was crafting adventurous music with a saxophone.