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Getting Older And Starting Over or Life As A Middle-Aged Songwriter
Someone said 50 is the new 40, but even 40 is pushing it when you're trying to break into the crowded industry of songwriting. Just ask Cleveland, TN songwriter - A Man Called Bruce. Most traditional venues want you to play at least SOME cover songs.
"Well..." whispered the usually outspoken man dressed in black, as he tugged gently on his long, white beard, "How's anyone gonna hear my songs if I don't go out and play 'em myself? Besides, I'm not trying THAT hard!"
Getting back to his normal, passionate tone, he said with a straight face, "Jason Aldean hasn't called me in months!"
I smiled nervously, trying not to, but he was looking right at me. It was one of those uncomfortable moments you have with someone you don't know very well and they say something ridiculous, but you can't tell if they're being serious or not. He sensed my uneasiness, and I think he liked it.
Smiling deviously, he blurted, "That was a joke!" I knew that. "Jason Aldean doesn't know me and he sure wouldn't call me if he did!"
I begin to relax a little and I learn more about why A Man Called Bruce is seeking to play his music in front of people more often. After all, he hasn't exactly been hiding in his basement recently.
Within the past few months, A Man Called Bruce has made appearances on WRCB-TV's '3 Plus You' and WDVX 102.9 FM in Knoxville. He's also performed on WUTC 88.1 FM several times - being featured on Richard Winham's Sunday show, and as the focus of a piece for Around and About. He's also been spotted facing the mics at Chattanooga venues such as Sugar's Downtown and Southern Comfort (next door to Sugar's).
The fact is, A Man Called Bruce has performed on the same stage (and on the same night) with local and regional favorites such as Robby Hopkins, Jennifer Daniels, Hannah Thomas, Tim Chastain, Summer Hullender, Jordan Hallquist, Ryan Oyer, Rance Helton, and many others. He has been a familiar face at the Chattanooga Songwriter's Association's Writer's Night during the Fall and Winter Series. He also performed at CSA's first Songwriter's Festival, sharing the bill with nationally known songwriter Roger Alan Wade and Nashville hit-maker Steve Bogard, who wrote the song 'Every Mile A Memory' for Dierks Bentley.
Bruce is scheduled to perform again for the Chattanooga Songwriter's Association's Spring Series, although dates will not be confirmed until the Winter Series finishes next weekend at Southern Comfort on Broad Street.
Live music by A Man Called Bruce is categorized as Americana Folk with an edge (one guitar, one voice). At least, that's what his Electronic Press Kit says.
I'd call his solo performances, 'Acoustic rock, country and folk.'
His upcoming self-released 2nd album, "Americana Rocks" features the songwriter playing all the instruments (drums, keyboard, electric & acoustic guitars, harmonica, and vocals), with the exception of one song featuring a guitar solo by Danny P, former axe shredder of the world touring, Arizona funk 'n roll outfit, Phunk Junkeez.
Listening to the 8 songs (so far) on his next record, I'm not sure the style of every tune fits with his last album entitled, 'Tennessee,' (released in November, 2010). This is more rock and roll style Americana that includes distorted guitars, more riffs & soloing throughout, and even wah-wah pedals in the song with Danny P.
Most of the songs on 'Tennessee' make it clear this was a solo project - simple acoustic guitar songs recorded with only one or two guitars and his often gritty, sometimes seemingly straining vocals. I'm not saying his voice sounds bad necessarily, because his pitch is usually good, but it's not the kind of voice you normally hear singing these types of songs. My opinion is that the better songs on the album would have benefited by having a warmer, maybe even a more youthful singer (don't tell him I said that).
With his new "rocking" record, I think A Man Called Bruce may even disappoint some of his listeners. He says he doesn't like the word "fans" because it sounds disingenuous. "I'm not some big name artist who doesn't share the same problems with the rest of us 99 percenters,"
"Younger cats?" That's quite an old fashioned expression, isn't it? I know this guy's no spring chicken (actually, he says he's ovo/pisce vegetarian), but isn't that like something an old jazz or blues player might have said back in the day? I have to admit, A Man Called Bruce can be a bit odd, even for a musician over the age of 50.
Getting back to the music, his solo performance repertoire includes all original songs ranging from folk ballads, to acoustic rock and country. He says his style has been compared to classic artists such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard and The Beatles. Richard Winham at WUTC 88.1 FM told him he sounds a bit like Jimmy Gilmore. I don't know if I agree with that.
But, the truth is he has written nearly 50 songs in the past 2 years. He showed me his black binder that holds his original lyrics. I've seen it before... next to the microphone at all of his live shows. I asked him why he just doesn't memorize the songs. After all, he wrote them.
His response was to tell me a story about meeting Matt Caldwell, an up and coming young Nashville artist and songwriter. He said, "Matt told me he asked some serious Nashville songwriters why they play gigs with their lyrics in front of them. They asked him, 'How many songs did you write last year?' Matt said, 'I don't know... why?' They told him, 'Get back to us when you've written over 200 songs in a year!' "
Bruce hasn't written close to 200 songs in a year, so I suspect he just has trouble remembering the words. I guess it's really not that big of a deal.
Music lovers can find out more about A Man Called Bruce at http://facebook.com/
Interested venues are invited to review his new EPK at http://AAAMediaLLC.com/
Page Updated Last on: Feb 19, 2012