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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Musician of the Week Chris Huff

Chris Huff is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer specializing in hooky retro pop songs that combine different genres. His sound has been described as "Bob Dylan and David Bowie jamming in Jamaica"; his songs have also been favorably compared to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed, Woody Guthrie, Kurt Cobain, Martin Sexton, and Dr. Dog.

His latest CD Death and Texas LP is now available at CD Baby and iTunes. The disc has begun to garner excellent reviews (Origivation, Oct 2008), as well as attention from websites like where "Hey Now Now" placed at #8 in the Jam Bands category for June 2008.

Chris's musical background goes something like this: started on classical piano, moved to jazz bass with a big band, strummed some folky guitar after a bike accident as therapy, sang a cappella, opera, and gospel both solo and with award-winning choirs and ensembles, studied bluegrass in Kentucky, immersed himself in the electric guitar (focusing on anything pre-Van Halen), and hit the streets singing and playing in bars, clubs, restaurants, and wherever would have him (venues including Carnegie Hall and CBGBs). Along the way he has played and sung with progressive rock bands, large soul groups, little alternapop combos, scored for independent film, and written and performed children's songs and new age Kirtan chant. So, at this time in history where mixing and matching genres to create endless subgenres is all the rage, Chris is uniquely qualified for this sort of work with his eclectic, all-encompassing musical background and multi-faceted, flexible writing and singing voices.

For some people, this kind of genre-hopping might indicate a lack of focus but for Chris it serves to highlight his core musical philosophy. "I think of what I do as musical gumbo," he says. "In the way the great jam bands pool together all of their musical influences to produce something new, my main goal with my Death and Texas LP was to create a retro pop album that pulled from a variety of sources. It would be almost like listening to a mix tape except, of course, all the songs would be performed by the same person."

The CD was recorded while Chris was traveling around the US and Canada freelancing with a Broadway tour. He produced several projects for members of the company, most notably for Broadway singer Randal Keith (Les Mis?rables, Phantom, Spamalot).

Other projects include his first CD North Cathedral Way which led to being a Finalist in the 2001 Independent Music Awards sponsored by Musician's Atlas. He also co-wrote liner notes for David Bowie's live and well CD (Chris's contribution is the first thing you see inside the cover). Bowie, who "quite liked" North Cathedral Way, sent a film crew to shoot a live performance of Chris in Central Park and featured video clips on of Chris playing "Moonage Daydream" among other select Bowie songs.

Chris has opened for Hamell on Trial, Brooks Williams, Stanley Jordan, and played "The Killing Moon" live with Echo and the Bunnymen. He has also worked as a sideman with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul, and Mary), Amanda Green (lyricist of Bway's High Fidelity), and Chuck Hammer (Lou Reed, David Bowie, TV/film composer).

Visit Chris on his website and blog.

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