Project Recovery Iowa, Brother Trucker create flood-inspired song When more than 100 staff members of Project Recovery Iowa met in Iowa City for a training session in May, they were able to express their experiences since last year’s storms and flood in a new way — with a song. "An Iowa Thing” tells the stories of people Project Recovery Iowa staff worked with in the past year. Listen to "An Iowa Thing," the song by Project Recovery Iowa and Brother Trucker. Project Recovery Iowa is a disaster mental health program administered by the Iowa Department of Public Health that provides counseling to those affected by last year’s natural disasters. Outreach workers around the state call on residents who were affected to try and help them cope with the emotional aftermath. Karen Hyatt, state administrator for Project Recovery Iowa, said the idea to create a song came out of wanting to honor the work staff members have done while also serving as method of stress relief. “The song is really a true depiction of what our workers have seen,” she said. Staff members worked with the Iowa-based roots rock band, Brother Trucker, to create the song. Outreach staff members provided the backup vocals for the recorded song. “What actually happened was so much better than what I thought it’d be,” Hyatt said. “It’s very therapeutic.” The song was recorded May 6 at The Mill Restaurant in Iowa City. At the end of Project Recovery Iowa, they plan to give the staff members a recording of the song as a thank you gift, she said. Even though the flood and storms were a year ago, Hyatt said Project Recovery Iowa is seeing more people seeking mental health help step forward, now that much of the physical work is over. Although not many people have heard the song so far, those who have relate to it, she said. “They see parts of their own community in it,” Hyatt said. The Iowa Concern Hotline, 1-800-447-1985, is the entry point for Project Recovery Iowa services. Confidential counseling is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Counselors can provide immediate assistance and will make referrals if needed.
"BECOMING EDUARDO" will premiere at the Breckenridge Film Festival in Breckenridge, Colorado--in early June. Original movie score by Brother Trucker.
Brother Trucker "The Flyover" Razor Wire Over the course of a dozen years and four studio discs, Brother Trucker's Andy Fleming has crafted a remarkable songbook that draws its musical inspiration from such venerable sources such as Springsteen, Petty, Mellencamp, Young, Dylan, The Faces, The Stones and various Southern rockers while keeping its lyrical roots connected directly, achingly to the Midwest. Taking its title from a disparaging/dismissive term for the heartland used by coastal snobs (while simultaneously referring to the downtrodden scufflers living all but unseen in our midst), "The Flyover" extends Fleming's gift for fashioning luminous, near-cinematic miniatures depicting the workaday battles of wrong-side-of-the-tracks underdogs with grace, clarity and empathy. As with all previous Brother Trucker records, "The Flyover" features the production and keyboard wizardry of unofficial "Fifth Trucker" Dave Zollo, and the disc's slightly murky, claustrophobic sound underscores the quiet desperation of its subjects. The lyrics alone (included) are worth the price of admission, and when Fleming and the boys channel The Boss channeling Chuck Berry on the impossibly kinetic, hipster hell-raiser "Friday Night Fights," you'll already have doubled your value with 11 varied beauties still to go. (Brother Trucker will host a CD-release bash at 9 p.m. May 6 at The Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Dave Zollo will open and sit in with Brother Trucker. Cover is $7.) -- Jim Musser
Brother Trucker plays Mill today BY REBECCA KOONS | MAY 06, 2009 7:26 AM Deep roots Many people probably don’t keep in close contact with their elementary-school friends. Brother Trucker’s Andy Fleming (vocals/guitar) is an exception. It could be said that Brother Trucker began when he and bandmate Mike Fitzpatrick (lead guitar) met in second grade. As Fleming put it, “We said we were a band before we could play instruments.” The rock/roots quintet that became known as Brother Trucker during Fleming and Fitzpatrick’s college days also boasts bassist Lyle Kevin Hogue, drummer Jim Viner, and keyboardist Matt Jesson. Brother Trucker will perform at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. today at 9 p.m. The evening’s festivities celebrate the release of the band’s latest studio album The Flyover. Iowa City native Dave Zollo, who produced the album, will accompany the band tonight. While the band’s musical influences vary from originators such as Howlin’ Wolf and Chuck Berry to rock legends including the Rolling Stones and the Replacements, Fleming said each Brother Trucker member “comes from a similar place musically.” These bands, as different as they are, have one thing in common for Fleming and the other members of Brother Trucker: They “create a sound that is uniquely theirs by the sum of their parts,” Fleming said. Since 1997, Brother Trucker has regularly performed in Iowa City. Over the years, the band’s connection to the city has grown considerably, both professionally and creatively. Each of Brother Trucker’s records is produced by and features the talent of local songwriters and musicians. “We have some of our dearest friends in Iowa City so it’s always a favorite of the whole band,” Fleming said. Brother Trucker remains driven and determined to keep progressing, while maintaining a strong relationship with supporters who have been there all along. Likewise, the band’s goals don’t focus on fame and glory. “[We want] to be recognized among the many great Iowa artists that have influenced and encouraged us — the next song, the next gig,” Fleming said. “The biggest goal is always to do our music as well as it can be presented.”
Davenport native Andy Fleming - vocalist, guitar player and principal songwriter for the Des Moines-based band Brother Trucker - says he's always looked at writing a song as telling a story. But with the band's just-released fourth album, "The Flyover," he upped the ante. "With this one, I tried to have one narrative where the story relates all the way through," he said. "As opposed to having several short stories on one album, I tried to make kind of a little short novel." The task wasn't as difficult as he thought, Fleming said. "It was just more of a question of telling a bigger story," he added. The music matching the lyrics met the challenge as well. "We tried to remember to let the music serve the purpose of the song," said guitarist Mike Fitzpatrick, another Davenport native. "(Fitzpatrick) creates kind of a lyrical bent himself," Fleming said. "He's a real journeyman guitarist, and he incorporates so many styles across the Americana spectrum." The CD debuts Saturday night at the Redstone Room, inside the River Music Experience, downtown Davenport. "Flyover" will be played during the first half of the set, from beginning to end, and the rest of the concert will be songs from the band's three previous CDs. "From the very first performance, we had people caught up in the whole thing," Fitzpatrick said. Whereas the other three CDs have debuted only in Des Moines, this release tour includes Davenport, Cedar Falls and the small northwest Iowa town of Pomeroy, all places where the band has developed a following. "We're doing the CD release parties now for fans who are actually waiting for the disc," said Mike Fitzpatrick, yet another Davenport native. "That's exciting." David Zollo, who produced the album, will be the opening act as well as sitting in with the band. Fleming and Fitzpatrick, both 40, have been friends since second grade and were tight through their years at Williams Intermediate and Davenport West High schools as well as the former Marycrest International University. Keyboard player Matt Jesson, a Bettendorf native, has been with the band for about two years. The Quad-City natives outnumber the other two in the band: Bass player Lyle Kevin Hogue is from Ankeny, Iowa, and drummer Jim Viner is from Des Moines. The band's sound is appropriately and unapologetically Iowan, Fleming and Fitzpatrick said, mixing blues, country and "meat-and-potatoes rock," to use Fleming's words. Fans around the state are embracing the sometimes Davenport- and Des Moines-centric lyrics whether they're among the growing fan base in Cedar Falls, Dubuque, Iowa City, Marshalltown or Pomeroy. "The cool thing about it in all these towns is how they relate to the Iowa lyrics. Even if it takes place in Davenport or Des Moines, people relate to the characters in these songs," Fleming said. He and Fitzpatrick hope "Flyover" will expand Brother Trucker's geographic route. The band already has played venues from Kansas City to Minneapolis to St. Louis, but the success of this disc may expand their horizons. Last summer included playing several festivals - even without a new CD to plug - and both men expect this year's schedule to be even fuller. With both its sound and its big-rig handle, Brother Trucker most often gets compared with another Americana band, the Georgia-based Drive-By Truckers. "They have a very Southern lens in how they view Americana, and we are very proudly Midwest, proudly Iowan," Fleming said.
DAVENPORT -- Brother Trucker will perform live at the Redstone Room,129 Main St., Davenport, on Saturday, April 4, at 9 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets and information are available at www.redstoneroom.com . Good songwriters have an eye for detail but use nuance to tell a deeper, bigger story. Andy Fleming, singer-songwriter-guitarist for the veteran Des Moines roots-rock band Brother Trucker, is one of those writers. His band"s long-awaited fourth album, "The Flyover," includes 12 gripping tales of the homeless, the forgotten, the loveless, the widowed, the refugee, the dysfunctional, the marginalized and the borderline criminal. Each one has an ounce of truth. Each one speaks to the kindness and cruelty of humanity. "These characters have been with me for all our albums, but on this one I wanted to have them relate," said Fleming. "They"re people of the Midwest — either characters I"ve met through gigging, or work or through conversations anywhere." Though Fleming"s lyrics are often at the forefront of discussions about Brother Trucker, the band"s sonic template brings them to life. Fleming credits guitarist Mike Fitzpatrick, bassist Lyle Kevin Hogue and session musicians, drummer Matt Winegardener and keyboardist David Zollo for helping to set the tone for each song. "I credit the Brother Trucker sound to Mike and Lyle. I"ve known Mike since I was 6, and he"s an understated journeyman who can play a lot of styles but it comes out Fitzpatrick. And Lyle has always been the voice of taste and the barometer of cool." Fleming said. "Matt"s a dear friend and he brought a sonic lift to the album, and Dave has always been like a fifth member of the band." Collectively, Fleming said, Brother Trucker hopes that the realism and messages of "The Flyover" resonate with listeners because it contains something they can identify with. "I hope that after people listen to the record, they have a sense of themselves and a better idea of the people around them," Fleming said. "The Midwest"s got soul."
Brother Trucker’s singer-songwriter-guitarist Andy Fleming has always had a knack for writing songs that champion the downtrodden, the forgotten and the working class heroes of society so that they remind us of the commonality of our humanity. But never before have Fleming’s subjects jumped to life so vividly and so collectively as they do on the 12 character portraits found on Brother Trucker’s anticipated new musical tapestry, “The Flyover.” The longtime Des Moines roots-rock band sets Flemings’ poignant lyrics about homelessness (“Downtown”), loneliness (“Home Cookin’”) and family (“Family Reunion”) into motion with Mike Fitzpatrick’s Mike Campbell-esque riffs and spacious chords, and the wonderfully understated rhythm foundation of bassist Lyle Kevin Hogue and drummer Matt Winegardener. Their collective efforts provide several highlights on “The Flyover,” not the least of which includes the Chuck Berry-inspired “Friday Night Fight,” the apologetic “Long Walk” and the dark bar heist tale, “Something Big.” CV
By Michael Swanger firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about Brother Trucker and a list of their shows, visit myspace for Brother Trucker. Brother Trucker’s tales from nowhere carry weight “They found him on the steps / Out in front of Saint Alphonsus / He was missing both his shoes / With some broken teeth responses / The bloody stained glass lying busted into pieces on the ground / The arresting officer familiar with the situation / Picked him up a day before at a notorious location / Pity on the boy with the black eyes lying on the ground / He lives downtown.” - Brother Trucker’s “Downtown” Good songwriters have an eye for detail but use nuance to tell a deeper, bigger story. Andy Fleming, singer-songwriter-guitarist for the veteran Des Moines roots-rock band Brother Trucker, is one of those writers. His band’s long-awaited fourth album, “The Flyover,” includes 12 gripping tales of the homeless, the forgotten, the loveless, the widowed, the refugee, the dysfunctional, the marginalized and the borderline criminal. Each one has an ounce of truth. Each one speaks to the kindness and cruelty of humanity. “These characters have been with me for all our albums, but on this one I wanted to have them relate,” said Fleming. “They’re people of the Midwest — either characters I’ve met through gigging, or work or through conversations anywhere.” Anywhere includes the numerous dingy bars and electric festivals Brother Trucker has played over the years; trips to New York and New Jersey to visit Fleming’s relatives; and Fleming’s previous day jobs like bartending while in college, or working in the field and in the Iowa Legislature for the Iowa Democratic Party, or working with refugees and others at the YWCA in downtown Des Moines. Over the years, those experiences gave Fleming insight into the struggle of everyday people and taught him the value of championing them in his songs. “It’s our soul,” he said. “It’s who we are. It’s important to show that, particularly if you’re from the Midwest because you’re not going to see yourself on television unless it’s a joke.” “The Flyover” got its name from Fleming’s experiences working alongside young political activists from the coasts who every few years stake temporary tents in Iowa to participate in the caucuses. Like a lot of Iowans, the 40-year-old Fleming despises the stereotypical images of our state perpetuated by the national media. “I get tired of hearing about the significance of the Iowa Caucuses and the insignificance of the flyover between the coasts,” said Fleming, who was born and raised in Davenport, earned a college degree in history, moved to Des Moines in 1992 and has a wife and two young daughters. “It’s a story that sticks in my craw. “When I would work on campaigns with these Ivy League kids, they were so amazed we Iowans could carry on a conversation with them. But by the end of the campaign, they wanted to be your best friend… I also wrote it with some of my cousins in mind who live out East. They don’t think that life exists outside of their own zip code.” “The Flyover” title not only admonishes the stereotypes of Iowans with a hint of cynicism, but it fits the cast of characters Fleming writes and sings about on it. Though he often shines a spotlight on their dark souls, he does so with empathy. “I think I really turned a corner with my songwriting after reading [John] Steinbeck,” Fleming said. “Whenever I get stuck writing a song, I pick up a Steinbeck novel and I can just read a chapter and get turned on by the way he describes and focuses.” Though Fleming’s lyrics are often at the forefront of discussions about Brother Trucker, the band’s sonic template brings them to life. Fleming credits guitarist Mike Fitzpatrick, bassist Lyle Kevin Hogue and session musicians, drummer Matt Winegardener and keyboardist David Zollo for helping to set the tone for each song. “I credit the Brother Trucker sound to Mike and Lyle. I’ve known Mike since I was 6, and he’s an understated journeyman who can play a lot of styles but it comes out Fitzpatrick. And Lyle has always been the voice of taste and the barometer of cool.” Fleming said. “Matt’s a dear friend and he brought a sonic lift to the album, and Dave has always been like a fifth member of the band.” Collectively, Fleming said, Brother Trucker hopes that the realism and messages of “The Flyover” resonate with listeners because it contains something they can identify with. “I hope that after people listen to the record, they have a sense of themselves and a better idea of the people around them,” Fleming said. “The Midwest’s got soul.” [For Andy Fleming’s song-by-song account of “The Flyover,” click here.] Scene notes Live, local jazz and R&B music returns to Gateway West, 520 Market St., in West Des Moines every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m., starting Feb. 11. … Organizers of the annual BRR (Bike Ride to Rippey) will host two concerts this weekend at the Rocking Horse in Perry as part of the fun-filled frozen festivities for thousands of bicyclists. Brother Trucker performs Friday and Matt Woods and The Thunderbolts perform Saturday. Both shows start at 9 p.m. … Thunderbird Kingsley plays Sunday, Feb. 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Des Moines Botanical Center for the weekly “Botanical Blues” series. Admission is $4. … New Kids on the Block, the quintessential ’90s boy band, has reunited and will perform April 6 at Wells Fargo Arena. Tickets, $27.50 - $65, are on sale through the box office and Dahl’s Foods. … Iowa rock band Radio Moscow releases its second album, “Brain Cycles,” on April 14 for Alive Records. The band is touring Europe in the early spring, but no Iowa dates have been announced yet. … New Found Glory plays People’s Court on April 22. Tickets, $17.50, are on sale now. … The Civic Music Association has announced the lineup for its 2009/2010 season. It includes: Americana fiddler Mark O’Connor (Sept. 18), jazz singer Kurt Elling (Oct. 9), the Vienna Boys Choir (Nov. 13), the swinging Russell Malone Quartet (Jan. 23, 2010), the chamber music of The Poulenc Trio (Feb. 26, 2010) and jazz singer Jackie Ryan (April 17, 2010). All shows will be held at Drake University’s Sheslow Auditorium. Season memberships are available now. Single tickets will go on sale in August. Visit www.civicmusic.org. CV Exploring ‘The Flyover’ with Andy Fleming By Michael Swanger Brother Trucker singer-songwriter-guitarist Andy Fleming shares with Cityview his thoughts about the songs on his band’s new album, “The Flyover.” The following is a track-by-track description of the songs he wrote. 1) “Downtown” - “I learned about a kid while working at the Y who was living on the streets because he was gay. He sometimes tried to pass himself off as a veteran, but he was always getting busted on it… It was the first song I wrote after [Johnny] Cash died [Sept. 12, 2003].” 2) “Moving Day” - “Being an Army brat myself I know what it’s like to move. It’s an untold story of our service men and women.” 3) “Bonita” - “I was trying my hand at writing short stories where you could add a chapter to a story if something inspired me. Bonita was a prison guard and the person describing her was making nasty observations that someone I wouldn’t hang out with would notice. So I backed the story up to her as a little girl and put empathy to her. I saw her as this girl you grew up with in the neighborhood who could play baseball with you.” 4) “Friday Night Fight” - “I was trying to emulate, from a songwriting standpoint, my favorite lyrical songwriter - Chuck Berry. It’s based on something that happened when I was in high school.” 5) “Heartbreak Road” - “I wanted it to have that Tom Petty, snaky feel.” 6) “Joseph” - “I drove down Southwest Ninth Street and saw the sign for City Brake and Clutch. That’s where that line comes from.” 7) “Billy” - “Billy is everybody. It’s one of my favorites on the record. We played a gig in Pomeroy and this big biker came up to me after we sung it with tears in his eyes and said, ‘That song’s about me. It’s the story of my life.’ I think about him every time I sing it. You try to write with a grain of truth, but when someone brings that truth back to you it resonates so much more.” 8) “Over Time” - “That’s about guys like you and me, coming home late from a gig. That’s about anybody working the weekends. You try to pass it off like you have more time than you really do. But in the end, Monday shows up whether you want it to or not.” 9) “Long Walk” - “In my mind it’s Billy and Bonita and they’re having a huge blow-up and he’s trying to talk her back into the car.” 10) “Home Cookin’” - “People can connect with the coach character. They’re always the guy who has the least amount to say but when they do they can sum it up quickly. The song is loosely based on a regular customer I had when I tended bar. He could cut you with a line real easy.” 11) “Something Big” - “It’s the pivot point in the story. Something is about to go down. The character in my head is Billy and he’s right on that edge of making a decision and he doesn’t know if it’s good or bad.” 12) “Family Reunion” - “There’s family turmoil coming to a head again.”
Brother Trucker “The Flyover” With their long-awaited fourth CD, The Flyover, Des Moines-based roots-rockers Brother Trucker finally present another heaping helping of their literate, soulful and cinematic brand of earthy, ‘pan-Americana’ music. Cranking out a heart-felt, dynamic and (as needed) proudly raggedy-assed sound that taps into the likes of Neil Young’s splintering Crazy Horse, The Faces, The Stones, myriad assorted Dylan combos, Southern rock and the heartland/populist themes of Springsteen and Mellencamp, the lads of Brother Trucker provide spot-on backdrops for the extraordinary, wrong-side-of-the-tracks tales spooled out by co-founder and resident singer/songwriter Andy Fleming. Recorded in 2005, The Flyover continues to extend the ever-rising arc etched by the band’s recorded work but, as Fleming puts it, “a whole lot of life went on between recording and releasing” the album. With its title referring to the vast expanse of the heartland that’s regarded by denizens of ‘major cities’ as little more than in inconvenient space between ‘real’ destinations, the allegorical The Flyover once again showcases Fleming’s wondrous gift for illuminating lives in the margins—of the ignored, the luckless, the forgotten and the invisible, self-destructive beings who’ve fallen through cracks in a society that’s off the rails. It’s an evocative, often-chilling narrative that interweaves tales of “Billy” (whose dreams of pro baseball dissolve into a dead-end roofing job), “Downtown”’s homeless Nathan, the substance-/physical-abuse cocktail of “Heartbreak Rd.”, the dissolute, embittered football coach of “Home Cookin’,” the loneliness of the long-haul trucker of “Overtime,” the displaced, neglected refugee of “Joseph (A Lost Boy No More,” the doomed, early morning bar-heist of “Something Big,” the rapid-fire, Boss-meets-Chuck Berry adrenaline rush of “The Friday Night Fight” and the nightmarishly-hellbound dysfunctional “Family Reunion.” Laced with booze and powder, dogged by catastrophic choices and economically pinned to the mat, these are people whose hopes have all but evaporated, yet the stories are buoyed by compassion, empathy and Brother Trucker’s exhilarating, dynamic arrangements. Brother Trucker’s fully-loaded, five-piece format remains one of the most flexible, energetic and inspirational combos in the Midwest, but on any given night, you may very well find them in a variety of configurations, including Andy solo, Andy and co-founder Mike Fitzpatrick (as an acoustic duo), Andy, Mike and Bassist, Lyle Kevin Hogue (as ‘The BT3’) … In every case, what you will get is to-the-bone, passionate musicianship steeped in pan-genre, rockyroll classicism that’s deeply, artfully connected to the very heart and soul of the Iowa/Midwestern experience. --Jim Musser May 2008
Third time's a charm for Trucker boys By KYLE MUNSON Register Music Critic 07/17/2003 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How can the image of a weather-beaten chair leaning against a rural front porch be all that compelling, let alone signal a leap forward for an Iowa roots rock band? Because the chair in question is just the first of many vivid scenes that spill out of Brother Trucker's third CD, the deceptively titled "Something Simple." Singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Andy Fleming always has had a sharp eye for what makes the common Joe and Jane tick. Now he has developed an ear that hears exactly how his lyrics can best settle into each song's groove and showcase the riffs from childhood pal and lead guitarist Mike Fitzpatrick. That chair is the first image in the opening song, "Side By Side," quickly followed by a cooler swarming with fruit flies, dirty socks, muddy boots, a damaged screen door, etc. By the end of the song, the middle-aged married couple at the center of Fleming's miniature drama have come brilliantly to life, and it's impossible not to have Fitzpatrick's licks running through your head. "Something Simple" refers to the characters" lives through these 11 songs, whether simply rough or sublime or a little of both. This CD has serious breadth. In the ballad "For J," Trailer label mate Bejae Fleming adds angelic backup vocals. Fitzpatrick becomes a master of minimalism, as if he's learned a thing or two from veteran Iowa City guitarist Bo Ramsey, whose own haunting, precision tones are heard on "Burnin" " (a literal trucker song) and "Jimmy." As with the previous two Brother Trucker CDs on Iowa City's Trailer Records, label boss David Zollo is master of ceremonies, both producing and (more so than before, it seems) playing piano/organ. Zollo also contributes a song, his decade-old "15 Dollars." Throughout, the rhythm section of bassist Lyle Kevin Hogue and drummer John Conlan keeps Fleming and Zollo and all solidly in the pocket.
Brother Trucker leads the way for 2003 CDs By Register Music Critic 01/01/2004 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Looking back on 2003, Iowa musicians unleashed a broad spectrum of new CDs, from gentle pop to metal that's guaranteed to make your ears bleed. The strongest impression was left on me by Des Moines roots rock band Brother Trucker, whose third full-length CD, "Something Simple," represented a confident leap forward in terms of Andy Fleming's songwriting, Mike Fitzpatrick's guitar playing and producer David Zollo's steady hand at the helm. Here are more Iowa acts that released new CDs in 2003 (with a brief description of their styles, plus hometowns). My apologies for any omissions: Ashanti, "Sin Fronteras" (Latin jazz, Pella) The Autumn Project, "Fable" (ambient rock, Des Moines) Black Market Fetus, "Midwest Meltdown" (grindcore/thrash, Des Moines) Casual Affair, "The Pursuit of Happiness" (acoustic rock, Des Moines) Des Moines Big Band, "Let's Play One" (17-piece jazz ensemble) Devil With Cheese, "Devil With Cheese" (metal, Des Moines) The Diplomats of Solid Sound, "Let's Cool One" (funky organ-jazz instrumentals, Iowa City) Bob Dorr & the Blue Band, "Fan Fair Favorites" (blues, Cedar Falls) Frankenixon, "Depth Perception" (expansive jazzy rock, Ames) The Hangdogs, "Wallace "48" - (alt-country, New York City by way of Stanwood, Ia.) House of Large Sizes, "I Ate the Painting" and "Portfolio" EPs (sterling indie rock, Cedar Falls) Hyde Park, "Dirty Grubbin" " (jazz-rock-jam, Des Moines) Index Case, "The Weak and the Wounded" (atmospheric metal, Indianola) J Trey, "The Time Has Come" (rap-rock, Cedar Falls) Kyser, "Birth, Life, Struggle" (hip-hop, Des Moines) L.A.D. Productions, "I Make Musik" and other releases (hip-hop, Des Moines) Little Mojo, "Trip the Light Fantastic" (folk-blues, Des Moines) Maritza, "Fires on the Shore" (Eastern European klezmer, Decorah) Max Power the Band, "3 Ring Circus" (rock, Des Moines) The Nadas, "Transceiver" (folk-rock, Des Moines) North of Grand, "Wrong Way Home" (punk-pop, Des Moines) Organ Donor, "Lonesome No More" (confessional rock, Des Moines) Sherman Hillside Stranglers, "Hellfire Fueled . . . For Her Pleasure" ("psycho-surfabilly" rock, Des Moines) Joe Terry, "Signet Has Come Up" (experimental pop, Ames) To My Surprise, "To My Surprise" (jangly pop-rock, Des Moines) Tremayne, "If I Could Have It All" (hip-hop, Marshalltown) William Elliott Whitmore, "Hymns for the Hopeless" (country-folk, Keokuk)
Brother Trucker sounding more refined ARTIST: Brother Trucker TITLE: "Something Simple" LABEL: Trailer Records Andy Fleming writes eloquently about the workaday world, and if his own work ethic as the leader of Des Moines roots rock band Brother Trucker is any indication, he knows of what he sings. The band, led by singer and songwriter Fleming, plays a very workman like version of bar band rock. There are no frills here, and that is fitting accompaniment for Fleming's lyrical tales of people dealing with everyday problems in everyday ways. With each disc, however, Fleming's compositions show increasing sophistication, both lyrically and musically. His vocals fit more seamlessly with the backing music, and the whole disc seems more refined, more natural. What once seemed simple for ease of performance now seems streamlined by design. And the band hasn't dallied in its pursuit of improvement. Few area bands have been as prolific as Brother Trucker, the band having released three discs in four years. By now, Fleming can capably paint quite a picture with his lyrics. "Harold's Barber & Beauty," for example, sets the scene in a small-town barbershop as ably as any short story. "Greasers don't like grown-ups, and they sure don't cut their hair," he sings. The band gets a well-placed helping hand on a number of tracks from David Zollo, Bejae Fleming and Bo Ramsey. Zollo, in particular, has become a valued side-man for the group. The Trailer Records honcho adds keyboards to several songs here, shoring up the melodies and adding heft to the tunes. The band's music understandably is perhaps best heard in a bar, which is much like seeing a play performed in a theater. But more and more, as Fleming and the group re-create that feel within the confines of a song, a Brother Trucker disc can bring the bar to you.
Welcome back kiddies and kittens. Are you ready to take a trip? I hope so, because this CD is overflowing with nostalgia and memories of a simpler time. Brother Trucker sticks to the roots of country and rock to create a time machine of sorts, so lets take a ride. Staying very story oriented throughout this album, "Something Simple" brings you into the world of many different people. This album is full of real people dealing with real-life situations ranging from "Jimmy"(track 10) dealing with the betrayal of his best friend and girlfriend, to people sitting around "Harold's Barber and Beauty"(track 2) shop watching life pass by outside. In the lyrics I was reminded of a cross between Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and roots country music. This record was full of "working man" pride and history, plus with Andy Fleming's soft but slightly raspy voice you will never hear a harsh tone or mood. He was able to keep the tone warm throughout the eleven songs and with cameos by his label-mates Dave Zollo on "St. Jude" (track 8) and Bajae Fleming on "For J." (track 4) the harmonies add a soothing element that can't be ignored. I think that my favorite thing about this whole album is that the music is a perfect compliment to the lyrics in every song. All of the instrumentalist play openly and are never busy giving the songs room to breathe. The drummer John Conlan and the bassist Lyle Kevin Hogue stay extremely tight together giving all of the other instruments room to play freely. Each of the songs are riddled with short fill solos and powerfully simplistic long ones that add the perfect accent needed. Mike Fitzpatrick on lead guitar has done a great job. With Bo Ramsey and Dave Zollo sitting in when needed, the music is rounded out very well. The only thing that didn't sit quite right with me was the fact that some of the songs go on a little longer than expected, but even that is reminiscent of roots country rock. So they did stay true to form. Overall I would say that "Something Simple" is a great chill CD. Everytime that I have listened to it I am reminded of driving down a two-lane blacktop in an old pickup truck with my arm out the window and I'm headed no where specific. I can see this album doing well.