Muddy Bottom Blues
Program #257 (August 20 at 8:00pm and August 21 at 3:00pm)
Since debuting in the late '90s as part of the burgeoning alt-country movement, American singer/songwriter Tim Easton has established himself as first-rate storyteller, recording a series of warmly crafted albums in the 2000s for New West Records that combined engaging and thoughtful lyricism with rugged folk, rock, and roots music traditions.
A well-traveled lifestyle that has included numerous world tours and stints living in the Midwest, Europe, and California has informed his songwriting both as a solo act and as part of the Americana trio Easton Stagger Phillips, which he formed in 2008. Basing himself in Nashville he continued to produce career highlights with 2016's vibrant full-band outing American Fork, and the stripped-down, all-acoustic Paco & The Melodic Polaroids.
Born in the Canadian border town of Lewiston, New York and raised between the two disparate locations of Tokyo, Japan and Akron, Ohio, Easton retained a traveling mentality into adulthood. Following his college days at Ohio State University where he gigged around the Midwest as part of the band Kosher Spears, he spent several years in Europe, busking and playing clubs in Madrid, London, Paris, Prague, and other culturally rich locales.
Having cut his teeth on an international stage, Easton returned to the U.S. and joined alt-country act the Haynes Boys, who issued their lone self-titled album in 1996 for New York label Slab Records. The band subsequently split, with its members joining various different projects and Easton pursuing his solo career.
In 1998, he recorded his first solo album, Special 20, with session musicians in Nashville, and released it on his own Heathen Records imprint. After inking a deal with EMI Publishing in the fall of 1999, he relocated to Los Angeles to explore scoring films and pursue a label deal. His performances at songwriter hubs like Largo and McCabe's helped earn him a recording contract with Americana specialists, New West Records, for whom he recorded 2001's The Truth About Us, which featured members of Wilco as his backing band. For the remainder of the decade, Easton settled into a solid rhythm of touring and recording, basing himself out of Joshua Tree, California and issuing several more highly-regarded albums for New West including 2003's Break Your Mother's Heart and 2006's Ammunition, the latter of which featured a guest spot from Lucinda Williams.
In 2008, he formed a new project with fellow troubadours Leeroy Stagger and Evan Phillips. Billing themselves simply as Easton Stagger Phillips, the songwriter trio recorded their debut album, One for the Ditch, in an Alaskan cabin, and supported its release with a tour of Alaska and Europe. Resuming his solo career, Easton issued a concert album, Live at Water Canyon, that same year then closed out his New West tenure with 2009's Porcupine.
Following a pair of self-released 2011 albums, In 1966 and Beat the Band, he left California and settled in Nashville, recording the stripped-down early-rock and country album, Not Cool, for the Thirty Tigers label in 2013. Around this same time, New West offered up the retrospective Before the Revolution: The Best of Tim Easton 1998-2011, which collated highlights from his years on the label.
2014 brought another collaboration with Stagger and Phillips, resulting in the band's second album, the more rock-driven Resolution Road. For his 2016 solo outing, American Fork, Easton worked with producer Patrick Damphier and a large studio band, capturing a spirited and fully arranged set. Changing pace, he followed it up in 2018 with the intimate all-acoustic Paco & The Melodic Polaroids, which he recorded live and direct to lacquer at Bristol, Virginia's Earnest Tube Studios.
2019's similarly stripped-down Exposition took a thematic approach in regards to American history. Using a minimal amount of gear and playing almost all of the parts himself, Easton recorded the album on location at the Okfuskee Country Historical Society in Okemah, Oklahoma, the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, and the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
(provided by Allmusic)