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Josh Joplin
Born United States
Genres Alternative rock, folk
Occupations Singer, songwriter, producer
Associated acts Among The Oak & Ash
Josh Joplin Band
Josh Joplin Group

Contents

Biography

Josh Joplin is an American singer-songwriter. Joplin, was born in Washington DC but grew up in Conestoga Valley, in the heart of Lancaster, PA until at the age of 12 his family relocated to Columbia, MD.

Joplin, who was never a great student began guitar lessons with his math teacher who promised a to give him the crucial credit he needed to pass the 7th grade if he could learn to play a song proficiently by the end of the year. His interest in guitar and music, especially folk music outgrew his initial need for a passing grade. Though he made it through to the 8th grade Joplin dropped out altogether after the 9th and began his career as a folksinger.

He spent the next couple of years traveling around the country, busking on the streets, taking odd jobs, and working in restaurants. It was while he was living in Denver for a short stint that he was given his first opportunity at the Swallow Hill Folk Music Center to perform in front of an attentive audience opening for singer-songwriter Bill Staines.

Later that month he met folk-blues legend Dave Van Ronk who encouraged Joplin to move to New York City but he left shortly after his arrival upon listening to MacDougal Blues a record released by Atlanta songwriter Kevn Kinney. Josh Joplin relocated to Atlanta.

Still heavily influenced by his heroes Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, and Woody Guthrie, Josh landed a regular gig at Sylivia’s Atomic Café. Eventually he got some shows opening singer-songwriters at Trackside Tavern in Decatur, GA but when it was learned by the clubs manager that he was still underage he was forbidden to play there without a chaperon, so he was often the charge of the performers he was opening for, especially Shawn Mullins and Natalie Farr.

In 1996, wanting to play with other people Joplin was introduced to Geoff Melkonian who played bass and viola and Jason Beucker who played drums. After playing a few shows together as Josh’s backing band, the three decided to continue to play together simply under the name Josh Joplin Band. They released an album later that year called Projector Head. The three toured tirelessly throughout the south and northeast eventually garnering a small but loyal following.

In 1997, they released Boxing Nostalgic themselves and later that same year added Allen Broyles to their line-up on organ and piano. Broyles appears on two tracks of Boxing Nostalgic. Their expanding fan base and record sales increased exponentially, drawing the attention of major labels but never fetching them a deal.

In 1998, Shawn Mullins, still riding high on his success with Lullaby signed the quartet to his own SMG Label. He produced Useful Music and performed on many of the songs. Shortly after its release Jason Beucker, was replaced on drums by Ani Cordero then Eric Taylor. Deb Davis was also added on lead guitar and the band made a slight name change Josh Joplin Group.

In 2000, Useful Music was picked up by Danny Goldberg’s new label Artemis Records. It was repackaged and re-released in 2001.Many songs were totally re-recorded. Producer Peter Collins created a remix to a ballad called I’ve Changed for radio, which ended up as an alternate version on the album, but the bulk of the transformation came from former Talking Head and producer Jerry Harrison who re-recorded Matter, I’ve Changed, and an additional track called Camera One. Camera One went on to become the first number one hit at triple A radio by an independent record label ever.

The band made their television debut that year, appearing on David Letterman first, followed by Conan O’Brien, and The Late-Late show.

Josh Joplin moved to New York City in 1998 but still toured and played with Josh Joplin Group. The band followed the success of Useful Music with The Future That Was, which was recorded at Adam Schlesinger and James Iha’s studio Stratosphere and was produced by Rob Gal. Though it received much more critical acclaim it had very little commercial success. Josh Joplin Group disbanded in December of 2003.

In 2004, After being inspired to by his then neighbor Dan Zanes, Josh Joplin began recording a solo record with the friends he grew up with as well as the math teacher who originally taught him guitar. On August 23, 2005, released Jaywalker on Eleven Thirty Records.

Among The Oak & Ash

In 2008, Joplin started a new group with Nashville-based singer/songwriter Garrison Starr called Among The Oak & Ash. Their self-titled debut album is planned for release on June 16th, 2009 on Verve Records.

The seeds of Among The Oak & Ash—the name is borrowed from the title of an old folk song—were planted during Joplin's teen years. It was then, as an itinerant high-school dropout, that he was introduced to Appalachian musical traditions via the repertoire of the unsung Indiana combo Hurricane Sadee, whose performances of folk and bluegrass standards opened Joplin's eyes to a new world of lyrical depth and musical expression. A well-worn Hurricane Sadee cassette became a touchstone for Joplin, and it was from the group that he first learned several of the songs that appear on Among The Oak & Ash. Hurricane Sadee leader Cari Norris is guest banjoist on the album's version of "Shady Grove."

As he built his own musical career, Joplin discovered a close friend and kindred musical spirit in fellow singer-songwriter Garrison Starr. Starr, like Joplin, had signed to a major label while still in her teens, and had spent much of her adult life performing her compositions for audiences around the world. So when Joplin began to consider making an album of the folk songs that had influenced him so profoundly, it was natural that he would call upon Starr to collaborate on the project.

Although she had little background in traditional folk, Starr soon embraced the challenge. "Josh came to Nashville, played me songs and talked about his concept," she recalls. "When I saw how passionate he was about it and we actually sat down and started playing together, I just fell in love with the songs, and fell in love with playing music with Josh. I ended up getting excited about the project because of Josh's passion for the music."

Joplin and Starr then called upon a pair of highly regarded Nashville-based players, bassist Brian Harrison (Shelby Lynne) and drummer Bryan Owings (Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin), to complete the project's instrumental lineup. Recording in the relaxed atmosphere of Harrison's Nashville home studio, the four musicians approached the sessions with a sense of organic intimacy that's reflected in the album's heartfelt performances.

Working without the funding of a record label, and without any outside influences, they were able to focus entirely on the music.

"It was probably the first time I've ever been in the studio where I wasn't worried about anything," Joplin states. "It was a very relaxed atmosphere, and there was never a sense of being on the clock."

"It was a great creative environment," adds Starr. "We recorded everything in six days. We did most of the record live, without many overdubs and not much production. We just went in there and played the songs, and the whole thing felt completely natural and honest."

Unlike many recent projects that have explored folk and bluegrass material, Joplin and Starr had no interest in creating a self-consciously old-timey sound. "I think that this music has been held onto rather preciously by a lot of the people who've revived it," Joplin observes. "But if you look back on the people who originally created this music, they weren't purists, they were just expressing themselves with the tools that were available to them at the time. That's what we wanted to do: to be faithful to the songs without treating them like museum pieces. One of the things that made me want to work with Garrison was her urgency and irreverence, and I think that those qualities played a big part in how the performances turned out."

With Joplin and Starr's vibrant musical rapport still evolving, and with a virtually bottomless wellspring of songs from which to draw, Among The Oak & Ash represents a formidable new outlet for both artists.

"We're definitely looking at this as something that has a future to it," says Starr.

"We're still just starting out, but this has been a lot fun, and it's something that we'd like to keep doing as long as we're having as a good a time as we're having now," adds Joplin. "We definitely won't run out of material."

Discography

Studio albums

External links








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