Sunday, March 27, 2016

Introducing Joe Crookston

Even though folk music is alive and well it's so far out of the mainstream these days that it's nearly invisible to those not actively searching for it. That's sad, because a lyrical talent such as Joe Crookston needs to be heard.

The singer-songwriter has recorded four CDs (one is out of print) and he tours extensively. However, despite his hard work he is quite typical of most coffeehouse performers in that he has only acquired a small fan base.

My introduction to Crookston was a free, eleven song, CD sampler I picked up at a John Gorka concert that contained tracks from those three CDs plus four other songs.

Crookston has a very pleasing vocal style that easily allows the listener to dig deeply into a song and his sparsely but cleanly produced records are a perfect setting for his vocals.

You do not need to strain to hear the lyrics from the Ithaca, NY native but you must concentrate to comprehend them. He writes about his family and the world around him. His work is much closer to traditional folk music than most of the fare offered up by today's more modern singer-songwriters.

Listen to the thoughtful imagery below on "Fall Down As The Rain". It was written in Washington State's Okanogan Forest. Crookston explained the piece in an email. "Hiking in the wilderness deeply connected me to the cycles of life and death and rebirth." He added, "Then on a more metaphorical level I know we are all one and all connected and this song explores the interconnectedness of all nature." Could it be about reincarnation?

"Good Luck John" discusses how we all have both good and bad luck and how each one can be interpreted as the opposite.

"The Nazarene" is about the writer's family, their ordinary and ultimately troubled lives.

"Georgia I'm Here" references Georgia O'Keefe.

The artist generously covers the work of others. All of us need a little assistance and sympathy from time to time Crookston tells us on his version of Mary Gauthier's "Mercy Now." The sampler also includes Peter Himmelman's "Impermanent Things" and a live take of "Texas Blues" by fellow folkie Bill Morrissey.

In addition to being a solo singer and songwriter Crookston describes himself as a "guitarist, painter, fiddler, banjo player, eco-village member and believer in all things possible."

The second video below (not from the sampler) is the result of a project the composer completed recently as Artist in Residence at the Folk Alliance International Conference in February, 2016. He worked with the National World War I Museum to create an original song and painting.

His vibrant paintings can be seen on his website.


  1. I hope this blog isn't Done Yet...

    1. No it isn't. I miss doing it. I just haven't had the time. I haven't even heard a lot of new music lately. I'll be back.