Jimmy LaFave

Jimmy LaFave

Infobox musical artist
Name = Jimmy LaFave

Img_capt = LaFave at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival,
Okemah, OK.
(July 12, 2008)
Img_size = 300 x 300px
Background = solo_singer
Born = birth date and age|1955|7|12
Wills Point, Texas, United States
Died =
Genre = Folk
Alt Country
Country rock
Occupation = Singer-songwriter
Years_active = 1992 – present
Label = Red House Records
Associated_acts =
URL = [http://www.jimmylafave.com JimmyLaFave.com]
Notable_instruments =

Jimmy LaFave (born July 12, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician born in Wills Point, Texas, a small farming community located near Dallas. At a young age, LaFave's family moved to the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas where he attended junior high and high school. By the early teens LaFave was making music perched behind his Sears and Roebuck drum kit. It wasn’t long before his mother traded a drawer full of green stamps for his first guitar and the switch to singer-songwriter was in progress. His family later moved again - this time to Stillwater, Oklahoma - where LaFave completed high school.Wood, Arthur. Jimmy LaFave. "Kerrville Kronikle", Issue #18, 1994.] Although he has lived in Austin, Texas since 1986, many people think of him from being from Oklahoma because of his strong musical ties to the state and what he often refers to as his "red dirt music." It was in the Oklahoma landscape that he began to define his sound, which in part, is a combination of his experiences there among so many authentic songwriters from the tradition of Woody Guthrie. [http://www.ribbonofhighway.com Ribbon of Highway website] Retrieved March 7, 2007.]


While still living in the small farming community of Wills Point, Texas, LaFave played drums in local garage bands. When his family moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma during his sophomore year of high school, LaFave played drums in the high school band, but eventually switched to guitar. An older brother showed him how to play a few chords and LaFave taught himself to play James Taylor and Bob Dylan songs by playing along to records.Cuccaro, Richard. [http://www.acousticlive.com/feb_9.htm Jimmy LaFave: Bringing Red Dirt Music to the World.] "Acoustic Live", Vol. 9, Issue 9, February 2008. Retrieved Feb. 13, 2008.] By age 15 he was writing and singing his own songs and the first incarnation of his band, The Night Tribe, appeared. After high school LaFave played music at night while working a number of day jobs. For a year or two he managed a club in Stillwater called Up Your Alley and recorded "Down Under" (1979) and "Broken Line" (1981) at Lamb Recording. During the early 1980s, LaFave traveled to several other cities to determine what the music scene was like. After visiting Nashville, Los Angeles, and Austin, he decided to move to Austin saying "I liked what was going on there." [FolkWax. [http://www.visnat.com/entertainment/music/folkwax/mp3/bio.cfm?artistnumber=1284 Jimmy LaFave biography.] "FolkWax E-Zine". Retrieved April 9, 2007. (Free with registration.)]

Mixing blues, jazz, and country influences with the lessons learned from his musical hero, Bob Dylan, LaFave is both a perceptive songwriter and an appealing singer. The years in Stillwater, a town that LaFave said contained a magical energy, left their mark. Other Oklahoma musicians besides Guthrie who inspired LaFave include J. J. Cale, Chet Baker, and Leon Russell. According to LaFave, the college town of Stillwater, Oklahoma was a young city with a lot of bars and other places to play music. Red Dirt music grew from a specific place in Stillwater - an old two-story, five-bedroom house called "The Farm" - which was, for two decades, the center of what evolved into the Red Dirt scene.Wooley, John. [http://www.reddirtrangers.com/band.htm The Red Dirt Rangers: The Band] . Red Dirt Rangers website. Retrieved Aug. 8, 2008.] The house, located on the outskirts of Stillwater, was the country home of the Godfather of Red Dirt Music, Bob Childers. Eventually Childers left The Farm, but the Red Dirt scene continued to grow and thrive. News 9 website. [http://www.news9.com/Global/story.asp?S=8336493 Red Dirt breeds music.] May 16, 2008. Retrieved Aug. 8, 2008.] Many Austin artists, including Townes Van Zandt, Joe Ely, and Guy Clark regularly played in Stillwater. When asked if he thought a ley line ran through Stillwater, LaFave said "The dirt is real red there - which indicates the presence of iron, and that element certainly has magnetic properties."

Moving to Austin, a strong singer-songwriter community, challenged LaFave to hone his writing skills. LaFave's "red dirt music" sound is a mix of rock, folk, rockabilly, and country, grounded in the landscape of his Texas and Oklahoma influences. LaFave says that his record, "Texoma", celebrates the time he spent in Texas and Oklahoma and the sound of the music there.Dexter, Kerry. Jimmy LaFave: Roots Along the Red Dirt Road. "Dirty Linen", April/May 2002, p. 32-6.] In 1992 he signed with Colorado-based Bohemia Beat Records and recorded his debut, "Austin Skyline". The album featured four Dylan covers and its title is both a tribute to Dylan (LaFave loved Dylan's "Nashville Skyline") and his new hometown of Austin. In his review of LaFave's "Cimarron Manifesto" (2007) for the FolkWax E-Zine, Arthur Wood calls LaFave "one of the finest Dylan interpreters ever. [Wood, Arthur. [http://www.visnat.com/entertainment/music/folkwax/mp3/album.cfm?reviewnumber=2235 Red Dirt Tribute and More] . "FolkWax E-Zine", May 16, 2007. Retrieved May 18, 2007. (Free with registration.)] Most of the songs on "Austin Skyline" were taken from live recordings of two shows LaFave played in Austin on two different nights at the Chicago House and at La Zona Rosa. Some of the songs were recorded in Marcia Ball's garage recording studio.

The debut album was followed by "Highway Trance" (1994) and "Buffalo Return to the Plains" (1995), also on the Bohemia Beat label. In December 1995 LaFave won the Songwriter of the Year Award at the Kerrville Music Awards. In March 1996 he won the same award at the annual Austin Music Awards. [ Stambler, Irwin and Stambler, Lyndon. "Folk and Blues: The Encyclopedia." St. Martin's Press, 2001. ISBN 0-312-20057-9.] LaFave's visibility spread nationwide in 1996 with an appearance on PBS' Austin City Limits. He was paired with Lisa Loeb for an evening of "acoustic ballads and electrified folk-rock numbers" during the show's 21st season. [Public Broadcasting Service. [http://www.pbs.org/klru/austin/artists/program93.html Lisa Loeb and Jimmy LaFave on "Austin City Limits"] Retrieved June 21, 2007.] In 1996, LaFave also made an appearance at a tribute to Woody Guthrie held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. LaFave was hand-picked to participate in the celebration by Guthrie’s daughter, Nora. [PopMatters. [http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/42146/jimmy-lafave-cimarron-manifesto Jimmy LaFave: "Cimarron Manifesto"] Retrieved June 21, 2007.] The 10-day celebration, held in September 1996, included other notable musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, The Indigo Girls, Ellis Paul and Ani DiFranco. [ Robicheau, Paul. Ellis Paul’s got Woody Guthrie under his skin. "Boston Globe", September 20, 1996.] DiFranco's record label, Righteous Babe, released a compilation of the event, "'Til We Outnumber 'Em", in 2000. [RighteousBabe.com. [http://www.righteousbabe.com/store/prod_albums.asp?id=350 "Til We Outnumber 'Em."] . Retrieved June 21 2007.]

In July 1998, LaFave performed at the inaugural Woody Guthrie Folk Festival held in Guthrie's hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma. He has returned to Okemah for the festival every year since and in 2007 became a member of the Woody Guthrie Coalition - the organization behind the festival. [WoodyGuthrie.com. [http://www.woodyguthrie.com Woody Guthrie Coalition Board of Directors.] Retrieved Dec. 19, 2007.] Of the festival, LaFave said "...there's definitely something special going on in that scene. It's almost an American music festival secret. It's like beyond description....like, something is happening there that's literally changing the universe....it's rearranging the molecules of the planet...such really soulful musicians."Skaff, Hillary R. [http://www.austinmusicmagazine.net/mag-pdf/_AMM-06-07-issue-Web/AMM-06-07-issue-Web.pdf Jimmy LaFave: Pure Americana.] "Austin Music and Entertainment", Issue 12, p. 14-16. November/December 2007. Retrieved Dec. 18, 2007.]

Between 1997 and 2001, LaFave released another three albums on Bohemia Beat, including the 1999 double-CD "Trail" - a 15-year retrospective of bootlegs, live performances, radio performances and studio outtakes. LaFave left Bohemia Beat when he was signed to Red House Records and his first release on Red House was "Blue Nightfall" in 2005. In his review of "Blue Nightfall" for Freight Train Boogie, Bill Frater stated "This is his best work yet and if you don't know his work, a great introduction to an important artist." [Frater, Bill. [http://www.freighttrainboogie.com/Archives/Archive-L.htm#BlueNightfall Freight Train Boogie Review of "Blue Nightfall".] Retrieved May 9, 2007.] LaFave's second release for Red House was "Cimarron Manifesto" in 2007. [Red House Records. [http://www.redhouserecords.com/LaFave.html Jimmy LaFave: "Cimarron Manifesto."] . Retrieved April 4, 2007.] On June 11, 2007 "Cimarron Manifesto" hit #1 on the Americana Music Association chart. [Americana Radio. [http://www.americanaradio.org/ama/displaychart_beforetracks.asp?mode=lw&dtkey= Americana Music Association chart] for the week of June 11, 2007. Retrieved June 12, 2007.]

In 2003 LaFave produced a Woody Guthrie tribute show called Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway. The ensemble show toured around the country and included a rotating cast of singer-songwriters individually performing Guthrie's songs. Interspersed between songs were Guthrie's philosophical writings read by a narrator. In addition to LaFave, members of the rotating cast included Ellis Paul, Slaid Cleaves, Eliza Gilkyson, Joel Rafael, husband-wife duo Sarah Lee Guthrie (Woody Guthrie's granddaughter) and Johnny Irion, Michael Fracasso, and The Burns Sisters. The Godfather of Red Dirt Music Bob Childers, also known as "the Dylan of the Dust,"Propaganda Media Group, Inc. [http://www.propagandamediagroup.com/artists/ribbon_of_highway_endless_skyway/bio.htm Ribbon of Highway - Endless Skyway: Concert in the Spirit of Woody Guthrie] . Retrieved February 6, 2007.] served as narrator. [http://www.ribbonofhighway.com Ribbon of Highway website] Retrieved January 25, 2007.] When word spread about the tour, performers began contacting LaFave whose only prerequisite was to have an inspirational connection to Guthrie. Each artist chose the Guthrie songs that he or she would perform as part of the tribute. One of the songs Gilkyson chose was "Pastures of Plenty", while Cleaves chose "This Morning I Am Born Again" - a song he wrote using Guthrie's lyrics. One of the songs Paul chose was a song he wrote using Guthrie's lyrics - "God's Promise". [Sun-Times Staff. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20030129/ai_n9613368 Woody's pastures of plenty.] "Chicago Sun-Times", Jan. 29, 2003. Retrieved January 25, 2007.] LaFave said, "It works because all the performers are Guthrie enthusiasts in some form".Martinez, Rebekah. [http://www.hcnonline.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=6963646&BRD=1574&PAG=461&dept_id=532207&rfi=8 Tribute to Woody Guthrie Tour makes a stop in Conroe Feb. 16] , "The Courier", (Conroe, TX.), Feb. 7, 2003. Retrieved February 7, 2007.] The Ribbon of Highway tour kicked-off on February 5, 2003 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The abbreviated show was a featured segment of "Nashville Sings Woody," yet another tribute concert to commemorate the music of Woody Guthrie held during the Folk Alliance Conference. The cast of "Nashville Sings Woody," a benefit for the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives, also included Arlo Guthrie, Marty Stuart, Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Janis Ian, and others. [Fairleigh Dickinson University. [http://alpha.fdu.edu/wfdu/Folk%20Alliance.htm 15th Annual Folk Alliance Conference: Nashville Sings Woody] . Retrieved February 6, 2007.]

In 2007, at Nora Guthrie's invitation, LaFave spoke and performed at Woody Guthrie's induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

In his review of LaFave's "Texoma" for FAME David Schultz said, "LaFave's songs are reminiscient [sic] of the Dust Bowl heritage of Woody Guthrie, the early rock of Chuck Berry, the quiet folk reflections of Bob Dylan, and the rock anthems of Bruce Springsteen." [Schultz, David. [http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame/p01771.htm Review of "Texoma"] . "Folk and Music Exchange", 2001. Retrieved March 13, 2007.] "LaFave's music is not lubricated with advertising dollars or formulaic song structures. It's honest, thoughtful and sincere - like baseball and mom's homemade apple pie."




External links

* [http://www.jimmylafave.com Jimmy LaFave Website]
* [http://www.myspace.com/lafavejimmy Jimmy LaFave on MySpace]

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